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