An investment made 50 years ago in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to yield powerful results today. Christian medical missionaries have persevered within the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a nation that has suffered through decades of intermittent political turmoil sometimes widespread and sometimes localised to hotspots, the resulting disruption of social order has impoverished people especially in the more rural agrarian communities of the eastern regions.
The price paid by some of these missionaries was extremely high, for example Helen Roseveare. Dr Roseveare started a nursing school and was replaced, as Director by Dr. Philip Wood, Dr. Nancy and Philip shared much of the teaching and the school is still training registered nurses for the DR Congo.
An Old Testament prophet warns against despising small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10). It is likely the leaders of EMAS Canada underestimated the value of their investment in the air ticket of a medical student for an elective term when in 1968 Nancy Houser Wood, then a medical student at University of Toronto was sponsored by EMAS Canada on a short-term mission to work in the lab at Mengo Hospital. She visited neighboring Congo during her visit to East Africa and became convinced that God was calling her to a career in medical missions.
After graduating from medical school and marriage to a general surgeon, Dr. Philip Wood, the young couple started their careers as missionaries through WEC International. They worked in various hospitals in the eastern region of Congo but were based at the Nyankunde Hospital which was started in 1949 by Dr. Robert O Stephens.
A major part of the Wood family’s work in Africa was their investment in the lives of future leaders. From teaching nurses in classrooms and on ward rounds, to demonstrating surgical techniques in operating rooms, there was always a continuous and systematic instructing of colleagues to develop both those qualities of character taught by the Bible for Christ followers, and the competencies for clinical medicine acquired over years of service in the Congo.
EMAS was not part of the life and ministry of Drs. Wood, after Nancy’s short-term mission to Uganda, but Nancy has come home, so to speak.
Collaborating under the banner of Centre Medical Evangélique, (CME), a trans denominational grouping of Christian medical missionaries has grown into a significant contributor to medical education in the eastern provinces of DR Congo.
EMAS was invited back into the lives of Philip and Nancy to provide the administrative resources for a project that invests in the education of Congolese healthcare professionals, hospital administrators, and church leaders
The small beginnings of an air ticket to Uganda all those years ago, is now an invitation to participate in sponsoring the education of specialized medical personnel for DR Congo: among them are surgeons, an oncologist, a community health specialist, and an ophthalmologist to name a few. Their training will take place in Dakar, Cameroun, Uganda, and the DR Congo, and, furthermore Philip and Nancy will lead an EMAS team that will also teach medical student at University of Shalom of Bunia and nurses at the Institut Superieur de Techniques Medicales (ISTM) also in Bunia. We expect in the next five years to be part of this exciting development by training future leaders, beginning in July, 2018.
Recruitment for this new EMAS team is expected to start in October; Centre Médical Évangélique has a long history of association with Canadian doctors and nurses.
photo: Directors of CME and ISTM of Nyankunde
For news and updates on this venture contact Dr. Peter Agwa or Drs. Philip and Nancy Wood
All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV)