Imagine a play or a movie in which the actors did their own makeup, set up the props, managed the lights, and shot the scenes all by themselves. The chaos would be astounding, in fact, there would be no play or movie produced.

There are hundreds of skilled workers with tons of special equipment working hidden away from our sight to produce an act of a play or scene of a movie.

Hidden from sight, behind the life-changing surgeries done by our surgeons and talks given by medical experts, are unsung heroes.

They are the backstage crew, some travel embedded in teams but remaining in the background, some never travel at all. Those that travel, do so to help our “main actors” be and do their best.

During our recent team leaders’ retreat we heard stories from far away places: surgery in Tanzania, and Cambodia, hospital staff training in Zimbabwe, dental care in Indonesia, to mention a few. All were made possible by an invisible volunteer army: fundraising, administrating, procuring, packing, and cooking. They are the operational backbone of EMAS Canada.

Mobilizing a full surgical team in Edmonton, Alberta for Cuenca, Ecuador with all the cadres of staff for preop, intra operative and post operative care is a daunting task. Someone does this work, freeing up our clinical crew until the first patient is in line for preoperative assessment.

When the team begins to work, some people will be backstage hard at work in a hot humid sluice room cleaning, inspecting, counting instruments, and preparing, and sterilizing the surgical packs.

Year after year our teams rely on hardworking volunteers who often pay to serve but never hit our headlines. Most of them do not want to be in the headlines.

We are proud of our hidden but crucial backstage crew like the nurses in the sluice rooms and the ones who stock up team supplies. Without them, there would be no education, medical aid, or service by EMAS Canada.

We are equally proud of our other volunteers who at times spend months living and serving abroad to mentor young leaders and give administrative support to our partners.

Our backstage crew often go the extra mile, working odd hours to live translate lectures across time zones, or rise early to prepare food for multiday fundraising cycling events.

Word count does not allow me to write about the backstage crew at our office, or the people in every country who feed us, transport us, pray for us, and arrange for our teams to get licensed.

Jesus had a backstage crew.1


Join us backstage to support upcoming team activities: June: Haiti, Winnipeg

September: Myanmar and Zimbabwe: Ontario.

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All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV)

1.Luke 8:1-3; John 12:7, 19:38; Luke 23:50-24:1-2

Feature image: Photo by Kevin Schmidt Unsplash by 2.0

A physician and surgeon in his native Kenya, Peter has a passion for Christ-centred healthcare and has a wealth of experience both hosting and sending short-term mission teams.


Executive Director’s Blog