Monday, December 31, 2007


To see more photos, click this link: PICTURES (Warning: baby nudity)

Wow. No words to adequately explain what we are feeling. We are definitely one step closer to understanding the magnitude of God's love for His children. Until you've held your newborn baby, I guess you just can't really explain it.

We’re parents! Nathan Paul Gray was born on December 29, 2007, at 9:59 am, 7 lbs 4 oz. Taking after his father, he was stubborn even in the womb. He refused to rotate his head in the correct direction to make it through the pelvis, despite all attempts by the obstetrician to turn him. Therefore, he entered the world in the best of all places for a surgeon’s son… the operating room! His first words were, “Nurse, wipe my brow!” Just kidding, it was the typical irritated holler of a person being rudely pulled from a warm, dark, cozy environment to a bright, cold, harsh one.

Becca and Nathan both weathered the process beautifully. Becca is healing quite well and has her pain well controlled. Nathan is healthy in all respects and doing well. I have always told Becca that not all babies are cute and that I would shoot her straight about our own. Nathan is perfect, clearly the best looking baby ever created.

Becca will be in the hospital for the next few days until cleared to go home after her surgery. We are proud as can be and excited about the upcoming days/months/years. Till the next update!

To see more pictures, please click here. (Warning, baby nudity.)

Paul and Becca

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The nursery

Has nesting begun? Probably... The nursery is now ready for the new arrival.
To view more pictures, click here.

Could be any day now. Should be this week. Or medicine will intervene on Jan 2.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Soddo Update From The Anderson's

Though we are still trying to get to Soddo, Duane and Jackie Anderson, the orthopedic surgeon in leadership of the PAACS residency and his wife, are already there. I wanted to include an update from their time and service at Soddo. Hope you enjoy!



Last November Dr. Cal Jones helped jump start our fledging residency program. This year he has returned for five weeks and sees improvement. "These are a great group of young surgeons," he comments. He especially enjoys letting them do surgeries under his careful supervision. Cal is from Baltimore, MD., a retired vascular surgeon, with a continued interest in the hospital. His church small group made a significant contribution to our new pharmacy building. He is delighting in taking progressive pictures of the building to share with his wife and friends. It is a pleasure to share Thanksgiving with him again this year. And what a surprise to have him remember our (Duane's and Jackie's) birthdays with special gifts.

Dr. Mark and Alison Karnes were our new duplex neighbors for the first two weeks of November. From Muskegon, Michigan, the Karnes had earlier missionary experience in Cameroon. After living in the States for the last 20 years, they are eager to return to Africa on a long term basis.
Dr. Mark set to work delivering babies; in fact, his wife and I watched twins born on my and Duane's birthday! It was a C-section and Mark fastidiously explained each step to the resident. A healthy boy and girl were quickly wrapped in blue sheets and fell asleep. The next day Alison accompanied me on my hospital rounds with our woman chaplain, Sarah, translating. We gave two baby blankets to the tired mother who is concerned about caring for twins.
Alison was a great partner for the two weeks. She gladly took my English students when I was busy cooking for all our visitors. She enjoyed the prayer times on the wards, pausing to hear from God concerning each patient. She visited schools and found opportunities to teach in the future.
On one of her last days, I gave her my old monkey puppet that has arms that wrap around your neck. When you move the mouth, it squeaks. We entered the children's ward and frightened many of them at first. The monkey dispensed gum so eventually we overcame the fears. Even grown men would scream and pull back as if the cloth toy was alive with an evil spirit. When she removed it from her arm, a great gasp went up.
Soon we had a crowd of student nurses and patients' relatives following us down the covered walkway to another ward. In orthopedics, one of our favorite girls pulled back in alarm. We coaxed her to touch the monkey and soon she followed us, confident that is was a lot of fun. Over an hour of joking and laughing brought joy to many bored patients. They are asking Sarah, "Where is the monkey? When is it coming again?"
Dr. Mark expressed enthusiasm at developing the OB/GYN department of the hospital.
We hope Mark and Alison will return as long term residents here.

Judy Stewart from Yakima, WA, arrived November 8th with the New Covenant and Real Life Ministries team. Judy's red hair characterized her energy and passion for teaching. At 7 AM Friday she began her twice a day teaching to the staff nurses. Amber, another nurse from California, helped her the first three days before following the team to Dilla, Ethiopia. Judy continued through Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. She even squeezed in teachings in the middle of the day at the local nursing college. Thankfully, we were able to house her in the duplex on the living room floor so that she was available to help Dr. Mark Karnes with night deliveries. What a whirlwind of activity for a first timer in missions! We think her partnering with Sister Tigist, the nursing college instructor who also does quality assurance training here at the hospital, helped win her students.

We welcomed familiar white faces Thursday, November 8th. Jim Putnam and Brandon Guindon from Real Life Ministries, our local Post Falls, ID, church arrived a bit stiff and jet lagged. They plunged into teaching at the Friday chapel with Jim's personal testimony and the need for discipleship in the church. Intense meetings continued throughout Friday and Saturday. People were challenged, encouraged and interested. Several doctors expressed a desire to start small groups as well as be in a group so that they can experience what they were taught. The fruitful time seems to be the beginning of some great growth here. Pray we can follow up with materials and meeting times. Duane and I both desire to be effective disciple makers. We are hoping another couple from RLM's staff will join us to jump start this work. We feel inadequate but Jim encouraged us that God has placed us here for this time for a reason.
We enjoyed a group pizza night on Friday. I made 16 pizzas for the group. We used our outdoor eating area with the wood burning pizza oven. Candlelight broke the pitch blackness of the African night and the fellowship seemed anointed by God's Spirit.

To make disciples that make disciples is our goal. Duane is casting that vision again to his small groups. I (Jackie) was very encouraged by several of my relationships here. Tzion, the hospital account, shared with me this morning that she had been taking our Bible study materials and teaching them to several of her friends. This is what I had hoped would happen! We both laughed and hugged as we talked about multiplication of disciples. I am also encouraging a second group of women to take the proverbs lessons and teach at least one other person each week. We will see what happens!

He was so sad. His mother says he is 13 but he looks more like 8 years old. Dirty, ragged, with no shoes, he is obviously very poor.
He is a burn patient with the right forearm and hand attached the upper arm since he was an infant and fell into a fire.
Adequate care would have saved this arm but he lives in a far bush area where Dr. Mary Vanderkooi and Dr. Ruth Droppers have a twice monthly health clinic. They told him about the free care for the poor at Soddo Christian Hospital so he and his mother came by bus.
His hand is contracted with fingers embedded into the arm. He was probably bandaged tightly in that position for too long.
Dr. Frehun and Dr. Duane Anderson separated his hand and forearm from the arm and then skin grafted the defect.
His elbow is now at 90 degrees and he is wiggling his fingers slightly. We gave him a clean T-shirt and toy. He will have a little use of his hand and elbow. He seems to be happy and less fearful now.

A young 18 year old insulted his neighbor's wife and was attacked with a machete with the intent to cut his head off! He threw up his arm to protect his neck and the machete sliced through his wrist, almost completely amputating it. He cut all the tendons except three. He cut all the major blood vessels and nerves. And completely cut through the bones of the wrist. He arrived in the OR about three hours after the injury. Dr. Jones, visiting vascular surgeon spent four hours repairing the ulnar and radial arteries. I pinned the bones in the wrist. He left the operating room with slow capillary refill to the middle finger and a cool hand which indicates poor blood supply. I expected the hand to be cold and dusky the next morning but to an answer to our prayers and to our delight, the hand was warm and pink. Three days later Dr. Frehun and I repaired his many severed tendons and repaired the ulnar and median nerves. The surgery lasted another 3 -4 hours.
He was ready to go home two days later. His father did not want to pay the bill and gave many reasons why he couldn't! We hope he does his follow up care and follows our instruction after all this effort to save his hand.

Bereket means blessing. It is the name of the slight eleven year old girl sitting with two leg casts upon the hospital bed in the far right corner of the orthopedic women’’s ward at Soddo Christian Hospital. A bright grin breaks out as she sees Sarah, the chaplain, and I enter the room. Denashish( Good Day),” we call as we turn left and right to greet the women and their relatives gathered around the beds.
Bereket has club feet. She was born this way in a city two days travel from Addis. She could not walk far but school was near home so she has knowledge of Amharic as well as English. She seems bright.
“I had no friends,” she whispers shyly. “I walked to school with my younger brother. The children would imitate my funny walk, shout and stare.”” Her big brown eyes are serious and her face downcast in memory.
Her mother heard from a missionary that a specialist was in Soddo. With the help of the missionary, the two traveled to the hospital. Dr. Anderson could help her but it would take a long time and many casts on her feet. Slowly, the feet turned in the proper direction and meanwhile they both were hearing about Jesus.
“I didn’t hear about Jesus in my church,” Bereket sweetly smiles. “As we prayed and listened to the chaplains, I learned God is faithful. I can be saved by His righteousness. Before I believed that if we do good things, we could become righteous.”
Colored papers are on her wall showing the Bible stories we have taught her. A slightly tattered children’s Bible, an early gift from me, is tucked inside the bedside table.
Her mother returns from shopping with a plastic bag of bananas. Soon the ward is happy with many eating the produce. Bereket calls me to her and gracefully, with hand on opposite elbow, gifts me with a banana and piece of gum. I am delightfully surprised and her mother is pleased as well.
Bereket’’s mother is passionate about her new faith. She is attending the chapel services and sharing with other patients. She wants to be an evangelist!They are both blessings to me.

Attached to this newsletter

1. The fistula patient that has been in the hospital for a long time. I wrote about her last month; her name is Kaybitu. Dr. Mark Karnes, Dr. Cal Jones, and several residents/ staff are praying for her .

2. Dr. Mark and Alison Karnes, Duane and Jackie, and a German medical student, Sebastian Van Aarken.

3. The burn patient

Sunday, November 4, 2007

7 Months Gestation

Well, here she is, folks. If the boy is half as active on the outside as he is on the inside, we are in for an energetic 18 years.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Questions regarding financial support

We are already amazed at everyone's generosity and God's faithfulness in meeting the needs! It warms my heart knowing that God has put such caring and supportive people in our life. We cannot do this alone, but a team will be necessary. I have no doubt that the Lord will meet all needs and we eagerly look forward to serving you and sharing with you as this all proceeds towards departure and beyond.

A common question has been coming up as we have been sharing the vision of our plans in Ethiopia. What exactly do we need, financially speaking?

We are looking with an eye toward the "long haul." We hope to build a long standing relationship with you and certainly plan on staying on the mission field for a career length of time. This would ideally need monthly giving. We will be able to head overseas once our budget is met on a monthly basis. Though we certainly plan on sharing more in detail with you when we get in touch with you personally, I wanted to give a brief description of how this looks. Including our personal and ministry budget, accounting for all costs, we will need around $3400 per month in support. Though this number is daunting, the encouraging reality is a little here and little there really adds up.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

And thus it begins...

After a mere nine months, it's time for the next post on this blog! Our hope is to use this as a reliable means of communication and updates. Ergo, new posts are soon to follow!

We have now become missionaries with an organization called Global Outreach (GO). GO is a non-denominational sending agency that exists to facilitate getting missionaries to wherever the Lord is leading them. GO does not maintain its own projects or ministries under its own institutional name so it does not dictate to its missionaries where they are to go or what they are to do. Obviously, they remain vigilant to be sure all of its missionaries and their activities are consistent with GO's beliefs and standards. We have been very impressed with their integrity and devotion to the Gospel and are happy for their help and accountability.

Becca and I have now started the process of support raising for Ethiopia. If you are reading this, you have probably already received a letter from us. I wanted to give a brief explanation of how we are going about all of this. The first letter was an introduction, intended to share just the basics and let you all know that the time of departure is approaching! Over the next nine to ten weeks, we will be getting in touch with each person in order to share the details of what God has laid on our hearts. We know you all have busy schedules and we want to honor them. While letters are helpful, we do want to share face to face with you, if possible, or at least on the phone, if not.

As a typical, prideful American, I am fearful and leery of the whole idea of asking people for money. As a Christian, though, I must move beyond that and try to explain our process. We feel God is leading us to leave our jobs and move our family to Africa. There we will be ministering to the needs of the people of Soddo, Ethiopia, through the avenues of surgery and other medical care, nutrition and evangelism. In addition, we will be involved with discipling and training African doctors to become surgeons so that they too can carry on the ministry of Christ across Africa. If this is to succeed, there are many needs that must be met. This will include God's blessing and grace, consistent and persistent prayer, the relational and emotional support of family and friends, and funding. We are absolutely confident that God is faithful to provide those needs. As we discuss these needs with you, please understand that we wish only for God's will and direction in all this. As we head into this ministry, we want to invite you into it, as active and necessary participants. That is, we want you to be a part of it, an owner of it. Therefore we want to point not to ourselves but God in heaven as we share with you. Please pray that He would lead you to a "yes" or "no" about this, and then obey! Again, we are confident that God will provide, so please do not worry if the answer is "no".

We look forward to meeting with you and sharing with you!

In service of the King,
Paul and Becca Gray

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Hello, all!

We are Paul and Rebecca Gray. This blog has been created to serve as an informational platform to share what God is doing in our lives and, hopefully, in doing so, encourage you in your own life by pointing to the source of our joy, Jesus Christ.

I am completing my last year as a resident in general surgery at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Becca is a dietician, also at Baylor, serving in the trauma department. We feel God has called us to serve as career medical missionaries and are making plans to serve in Africa. Here in America it is difficult to imagine the experience of having a illness that requires surgery and yet having no chance of seeing a surgeon. Yet this is the reality for most people in third world countries. In Africa's best served countries (excluding South Africa), there are only one surgeon for each 250,000 people! In its worst served countries, there are only one surgeon per 1 million people! Furthermore, even if medical care is nearby, there is no chance of receiving help unless you are fortunate enough to have money to pay for these services. Most do not. Therefore, mission hospital represent the vast majority of medical care for most people in these countries.

How can one surgeon ever make a difference in this setting? As one of my attending surgeons argued to me, it's like peeing in the ocean! (I don't think "pee" was the word he used, but you get the idea.) First, God has never demanded that we help the entire world's problems. We are to love and care for our "neighbor" (Luke 10:25-37), that is, the person before us. We are only responsible for the people God brings into our lives, so Becca and I are content to help whatever people we can. Second, there now exists a unique opportunity in Africa to share our lives in an expanding way. There is a saying that states if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but if you teach him to fish, he eats for a lifetime. The Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) is an international organization dedicated to developing quality training programs in general surgery at Christian hospitals in Africa, and to assuring a high level of professional competence among its members.

How about some algebra! Instead of spending a career treating x number of patients, we can treat those patients while training y number of residents, who will each then go out and treat x number of patients in their lifetimes. For you math folks out there, that's a total of x times y patients! Now, let's really get crazy. If z number of those residents then go on to become attending surgeons and train y number of residents themselves, who each will then treat x number of patients, that leads to (x times y) raised to the z'th power number of patients impacted by one career spent with PAACS! Granted, there are multiple unaccounted for variables that will slightly skew this computation, and I'm clearly slightly weird, but I think you get the idea. PAACS is currently training African surgeons at four mission hospital across Africa and will likely soon expand to two more. In addition to serving the sick of Africa, we want to be involved with teaching and mentoring these African residents as they learn to serve Christ in mission hospitals and operating rooms across Africa.

One of these hospitals is Soddo Christian Hospital in Soddo, Ethiopia. Dr. Duane Anderson, an orthopedic surgeon from Minnesota, is currently serving as the interim program director and there are five residents training there. The program is in need of a long term general surgeon to serve as the program director and Becca and I are prayerfully considering offering ourselves to fill that post. Here's where we are at.

I will be working with the trauma department at Baylor for about one year after I graduate in June, 2007, to complete my board certification and pay off my student loan debt. This will also allow me to gain experience as an independent surgeon, taking care of the wide variety of patients in the trauma and urgent surgery settings. In addition, during the intervening time, we will be raising prayer and financial support to go to Ethiopia long term.

One of the purposes of this blog, as mentioned before, is to share what God is doing in our lives. We are the branches and Christ is the vine; we are completely dependent upon Him. If I am the finest surgeon in the world but have not the guiding and strength of Christ in my service to Him, I will utterly fail in Africa. We will desparately need your prayers! My hope is that this web site would serve as a generic update to keep you all informed of what is going on, to enable your prayers to be specific. This is merely to supplement our personal correspondence with you, however! We want to hear from you and share personally with you. Please feel free to email us at anytime!

For more information about PAACS or Soddo, please the web links on this site. I've also included a power point presentation I gave at a grand rounds at Baylor regarding a month we spent with Dr. David Thompson at Bongolo Evangelical Hospital, Gabon. Dr. Thompson is the field director of PAACS and was instrumental in its inception. Bongolo, a hospital with the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, was the first training site for PAACS. Beware, however, some of the pictures are not for the faint of heart!

God bless you!

In service of the King,
Paul and Becca Gray