Zimbabwe and Karanda Mission Hospital Trip

Dr. Dan Stephens - Karanda Hospital

Meeting an Urgent Need

While Sharing the Gospel

Dr. Dan Stephens 

Having grown up on the mission field and then served for 30 years as a full time missionary I have had lots of contact with short term missionaries. We always hope that the short term  mission trip will be a stepping stone to full time missions but have found that this is rarely the  case. However we have been blessed by help and support from numerous short termers and  look forward to the return of many. They have been a great resource in providing help, filling in  vacancies, doing much needed projects, training the staff and long term missionaries and  providing immediate and often long term support. We praise God for short termers and  especially those who return for second and third trips, men and women who are committed to  our ministry and feel a part of it, although they can only commit to short term trips.  

My most recent trip to Zimbabwe and Karanda Mission Hospital was rewarding, fulfilling and  also in some respects, heartbreaking as I saw the tremendous need that exists and the lack of  adequate resources to meet the needs. I have been told that “you can’t do it all”, “you can’t  help everyone”, “you can’t stay forever.” My father was so grateful that I went back to Karanda and he desperately wanted one of my sons to follow in my footsteps to carry on the work at the  hospital. We need to do our part, we need to say Yes to God but we need to trust God that He  will make a way for the work to continue. We need to help where we can. But I can let you  know that there is an untold amount of help you can do. It is not easy to meet all the  regulations and to jump through all the hoops but in the end it is worth it. People appreciate  all you do for them and even when the outcomes are not perfect, they understand, and are  grateful for what you did for them. 

As medical short termers there is a tremendous amount that you can give. People are coming  to you, the hospital staff is waiting for you, there is no limit to the amount of work you can do  but you have a choice: you can go or not go, you can do what you feel you are able to do or  what you should do, often realizing that you are the last resort for many. You can share the  Gospel and extend that hope you gave here on Earth to many that will last for Eternity. 

One brief Story: I was called to see a man who was stridorous, and having difficulty breathing.  The patient’s doctor wanted to know what was the problem. I scheduled a bronchoscopy and  found a large laryngeal cancer essentially filling his larynx. I attempted a biopsy with the bronchoscope but our forceps were inadequate so I chose to use the Upper endoscope and was  able to get a good biopsy. As I was writing up my note I got an urgent call from across the room  that the patient was no longer able to breathe, his sats were in the 40’s. I grabbed a scalpel and  opened up his trachea and was able to push in a tracheostomy tube. The patient recovered  well. Unfortunately there is no radiotherapy available in Zimbabwe and very costly  chemotherapy which most patients cannot afford. After talking with length with a patient who  could not talk – only write – fortunately in English, I offered a laryngeal exploration with  probable total laryngectomy (he had no gross adenopathy). He accepted and underwent the  procedure. He recovered well and I have rarely had a more grateful patient. What his future  holds I do not know. He was anxious to get back to work. I was anxious that he receive the Gospel and be able to talk with me again in Eternity. As short-term medical missionaries, we have this  opportunity – to meet an urgent need and to share the Gospel to have Eternal outcomes.