A Medical Missionary – And Helpful Mentors

To Timothy my true son in the faith....  Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved.(1Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:15)
Formal study was a necessary part of David Livingstone's preparation, as also with mine. It was necessary to seek the approval of professional bodies and licensing authorities, be that for medical practice or Christian ministry. But there’s more to the formation of character and skills than certificates, diplomas or degrees. We all owe a debt to family background. Livingstone’s family, as mine, had a great influence in shaping the foundations of faith. But there are others who contribute to our development.
I look back on teachers of significance for me: Mrs van Huysteen who recommended me for a scholarship for high school, and Cecil Clements who did the same for university. I admired many of my university lecturers, but probably none more than Professor of Medicine, Frank Forman, a gracious and gentle man who saw me rushing around the ward as his house physician and told me to ‘go calmly’ He also emphasised to us newly qualified doctors the importance of continuous learning. ‘Your education has only just begun,’ he would tell us. ‘Keep reading, keep studying.’  The few weeks with Stanley Brown at the Leprosy Study Centre some years later introduced me to mycobacterium leprae and to an experienced missionary for whom I developed enormous respect over later years.
Livingstone’s work in Africa began in Kuruman where he worked under the tutelage of the well-experienced Robert Moffat. Marriage to the Moffat’s daughter, Mary, meant that he also became part of the family. But probably the most important contribution that Moffat made was to tell his son-in-law: ‘ ... I have seen in the morning sun the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been.’ He inspired Livingstone to stretch beyond where we are, to look beyond the horizon, and to go!
My arrival at Chikankata Hospital in 1968 was to join a Canadian missionary, Dr Gordon Carter. His experience, acquired in earlier service with Sudan United Mission at Vom in Chad, enabled him to provide me with an invaluable start. He would leave me to take over the leadership of the hospital 18 months later with lots of sound advice which I could absorb slowly. ‘Don’t expect everyone to approve of what you’re doing all the time,’ he told me, ‘If you’ve got 60% you should be okay.’   
I look back with gratitude at these and many more mentors over the years. I, like Timothy, have been fortunate to have those who have regarded me as a ‘true son in the faith, They’ve helped me not only in my professional but also personal development. More important than a 60% rating with colleagues or 100% with a professional body is to present oneself to God as one approved.

July 2022