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In 2013, my husband Kyle and I had a conversation about both his passion and his discouragement about the missions partnerships we were trying to develop through our church. As the lead pastor who had planted the church a few years back, he’d long held a desire to plant missions in the DNA of our people. But things were moving slowly, some partnerships hadn’t gotten off the ground, and he wasn’t sure what to do.

A few days prior to that conversation, I had interviewed my college roommate, Christina Gabrysch, for my blog about her experience of raising children overseas. “Perhaps”, I said to Kyle, ” you could contact them and just find out more about what they’re doing?”

And so he did. Kyle talked with Jeremy, Christina’s husband, and told him about our church–how we have an inordinate amount of medical people because of the University of Virginia’s elite medical school and hospital, how we have college students eager and willing to give their time to go overseas, and how we were seeking partnerships that we could invest in for the long haul. Jeremy simply said, “Why don’t you come and see what we’re doing?”

And so he did. Kyle and our worship pastor, Joseph, set out to see. They visited Soddo Christian Hospital, went bed-to-bed with the chaplains as they prayed for patients, saw people who might have died if not from the care of the medical staff, heard about the hospital’s focus of discipleship, and met the international doctors who have committed to training Ethiopian doctors. He came home with a new, tentative partnership between Charlottesville Community Church and Soddo Christian Hospital.

This week, I am here in Soddo because of that partnership. Our first team is on the ground, helping teach computer classes to the Ethiopian staff, working and training workers in the lab, taking on tasks around the hospital, and even enjoying a game of kickball with the national staff.

In just a few days, we’ve discovered a few things. God is working, that’s for sure. And His people are working in His name, that’s also for sure. But one thing stands out to me: the international workers have a visible joy in what they’re doing among the people of Soddo, and they are doing excellent work, but they cannot do their work alone. Some of it they must do alone; none of our team members can go in and help with a brain surgery or deliver a baby. But some of it they can’t do alone. They need encouragement. They need to remember and celebrate what God has done and is doing. They need the time and space to remember and celebrate what God has done and is doing. The caretakers at some point need to be cared for.

As I prepared for this trip, I got the requisite vaccinations and made arrangements for my children and made plans for our team. In my mind, it’s always been a nine-day trip, and then I’ll return home and go about my regularly scheduled life. But being here, I’m reminded that this isn’t a trip where we do a few helpful things and go home. This is a partnership, a relationship, and we will state our intentions with our consistent presence, encouragement, and prayers. We’ve essentially said that these doctors and their families will not go at this alone.

So really the preparation begins as we leave, as we ask ourselves: How can we continue to serve? How can we continue to help? How can we remember our co-laborers in prayer and verbal words of encouragement?

If you have ever contributed to Soddo Christian Hospital in some way, you have essentially joined in partnership with God and with those He has led to this place. Remember these doctors today. Offer what encouragement you can. Remind them that God sustains them and that Christ is sufficient. Tell them in whatever way you can that they aren’t going at it alone.


St. Luke’s Health Care Foundation
(630) 510-2222
St. Luke's Health Care Foundation PO Box 4465
Wheaton, IL 60189-4465