This is my first foray into writing a blog and I am not sure how it will go. I do know that it is a very convenient way of sharing information, and I will endeavour to keep it up to date with regular postings. I think I will find objective facts much easier to share and my own reflections more difficult, but we will see, and perhaps I will get better with practice. I realize that there is likely to be a variety of people reading the postings with different interests and backgrounds so I will try and give something for everyone. I should formally thank the elders at the Gospel Hall in Wallingford for allowing me to use the assembly website for this blog, and also Graeme Smith who has kindly agreed to keep the postings up to date.
For those of you who don’t know, I was brought up in a home where the Bible was read and I was taken to Christian meetings and Sunday School from an early age. Not that that made me a Christian. There was a time in my childhood when I realized that I was a sinner, that my sin had separated me from God and would ultimately lead me to hell apart from the eternal salvation that the Lord Jesus purchased for us all by His death at the cross of Calvary. To come into the good of God’s salvation involved a simple step of faith in the Lord Jesus. John’s Gospel chapter 3 and verse 16 reads, ’For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’. That was just what I did – believed God’s Word and accepted Christ as my Saviour. That one step of faith is the most important thing I have ever done – or will do – through life and has affected every part of my life. It has given me a purpose and direction – to live for Christ down here, a peace and a joy from knowing His presence, and a secure eternal future at the end of life’s journey – to be with Him in heaven. He is the Lord of my life, and this is the real reason behind my heading off to Zambia and, therefore, for writing this blog. Yes, I will be involved in medical work in the hospital at Chitokoloki, but even more importantly is involvement in Christian work there.
It has been quite a journey since the end of 2012 when I very definitely felt that the Lord was leading me out to Zambia. There was the necessary paperwork followed by interviews etc to get medical registration and work permit for Zambia. There was the need to resign from my work in UK as a neurodisability paediatrician – that was not easy, especially as I have built up a relationship with many patients and colleagues over the years. The next step was to tell the elders in my local assembly. I think they must have wondered what was coming when I asked to meet with them – but it was a further confirmation of the Lord’s will to know that I had their support. Another encouragement was the assurance of a welcome from the friends who already serve the Lord at Chitokoloki.
The final hurdle was the 3 months I spent in Liverpool studying tropical medicine. What fun to be a student once again (for the third time, I might add)! The course finished at the end of April and I emerged with the letters ‘DTMH’ after my name. It was an excellent course and I learnt heaps medically that should stand me in good stead for Zambia, as well as meeting a lot of interesting people among my fellow students. It was intense, so that there was a lot of work with the end-of-course exam hanging ever over one!! Anyway in the goodness of God I passed comfortably. I am so very grateful to the Christians in Liverpool who gave me warm hospitality – Sarah Hartridge who put up with a mature student with pre-exam fever in her home for 11 weeks and also Stephen and Carole Baker whose home was always open. I also enjoyed fellowship mid-week with believers in the Huyton and Larkhill assemblies – I was home in Wallingford every weekend.
God willing, on the evening of 27 June I will be on the plane to Jo’burg en route to Lusaka. I’ve still got a lot to do here in the way of preparation… I look to the Lord to undertake each step of the way and to guide in my involvement in both the medical and spiritual work. There is a feeling of anticipation as the time draws near, of quiet waiting on Him. I will be in Lusaka over the first week – there is the opportunity to attend the annual conference there over the first weekend in July. The speaker is a good friend from my visits to Murchison Hospital in S Africa, and I haven’t seen him or his wife for a number of years. Thereafter I will spend a few days on the Copper Belt where there are some disabled children who need assessment, and then on to Chitokoloki via Loloma. DV I will be there until the end of August.
This is a big step of faith and one in which I would greatly value the prayers of my fellow Christians. The God Who has led so far is able and I continue to look to Him for the way ahead. ‘Be strong and of good courage and do it: fear not nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God will be with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee…’ 1 Chronicles 28 v 20