A Medical Missionary - In Preparation

'The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. (Matt 10:7-8)
Our family was part of a Salvation Army congregation in South Africa's Port Elizabeth. It was there I was schooled in the faith as a child; it was there I made a simple commitment to be a disciple of Jesus; it was there I entered into the full life of an active church as it created fellowship and responded to the needs around us. One of the special visitors to the church was from the Mission to Lepers. I listened with a young person's mixture of intrigue and revulsion, but felt strangely 'moved with compassion' to do something.
It was in that congregation that I discovered a vocation to cross-cultural mission and started on journey that took me to the University of Cape Town Medical School, and a few years later to postgraduate study followed by training to be an officer of Salvation Army's at its International Training College in London. Shortly after commissioning and ordination came appointment to the Chikankata Hospital in Zambia. Was I ready for this dual ministry of 'preaching and healing'? Medicine, my seniors felt, would be an invaluable asset. It was, but was I really ready?
As you travel south from Lusaka the road to the mission crosses the Kafue River and climbs into the nearby Munali Hills. There is a plaque commemorating the fact that David Livingstone (Munali - the red one!) had viewed the river there. As we passed it in later years I would often tell colleagues about it, and also that David Livingstone preached his first sermon in Africa in the Salvation Army hall in Port Elizabeth! It had once been a Methodist Church. That had been 1841.
Born in Blantyre, Scotland Livingstone did his medical training in Glasgow and then at the British and Foreign Medical School in London. He attended some theology lectures alongside his medical studies, but then spent 15 months with the London Missionary Society at Chipping Ongar in Essex. Dr Michael Waters drove us past the building in the early 1980s after we had done a joint review of leprosy patients at St Giles Homes and Hospital at East Hanningfield. Was it rather pretentious that I felt we had been part of the great surge in missionary activity that Livingstone had inspired?
When my wife, Margaret and I arrived at the mission, I wondered whether Livingstone felt as I did on arrival at what would be my first 'missionary' appointment - how best to retain this balance of medicine and mission. I recognised as a balance necessary for my own work. It is a balance also shared by the Leprosy Mission.