Nursing student experiences medical missions in Kenya
For the summer of 2022, Margaret McElheny spent time in Chogoria, Kenya, with Samaritan’s Purse and World Medical Mission. She is a junior at Charleston Southern studying nursing.
Although she has always been interested in medical missions, this summer provided her with a unique opportunity to share the Gospel while learning what hands-on compassion ministry looks like.
This is how she described her experience:
“I was a nursing intern with Samaritan’s Purse & World Medical Mission working at Chogoria Mission Hospital. I lived on the hospital compound and was able to rotate through different specialties/areas in the hospital while working alongside Kenyan and American missionaries who were doctors and nurses. I got to practice many skills that I have learned in nursing school and see the differences between rural missionary medicine and what we would typically do in the U.S. I also spent a lot of time ministering to patients with the chaplains in the hospital’s chaplaincy program. I got to pray with nearly every patient in the hospital as they did their morning rounds and even led a devotional for the staff one day. I saw several patients give their lives to Christ and was able to present them with their first Bibles. On my days outside of the hospital, I worked with the homeschooled missionary and Kenyan kids that lived on the hospital compound. The hospital compound is a close-knit family! We held Bible study every Thursday night, and I was able to be mentored by several of the doctors and their wives while staying there all summer. And for fun, on the weekends when I had some free time, I was able to go on a safari and go hiking in Chogoria at Mt. Kenya (the second highest mountain in Africa!).”
Her motivation to go on a trip like this began with her mother, who is also a nurse and has participated in medical mission trips. McElheny said, “I see the profession of nursing as a calling to be the hands and feet of Jesus, so missionary medicine has always been on my mind. The Lord has also called us to ‘Declare His glory among the nations…’ (Psalm 96:3) so the combination of this biblical commission and my personal calling led me to medical mission work this summer. It was a great opportunity to see what life as a missionary would look like if I were to pursue more short-term or long-term trips in the future.”
As is often the case with trips like these, McElheny’s calling to nursing as a career was further solidified by her experience overseas. She said, “Over the summer, I learned just how much I love the profession of nursing and the act of caring for people at their most vulnerable moment. It really opened my eyes to how different healthcare is outside of the U.S. (not necessarily in a negative way). The people that I spoke to in the hospital were so happy to even have made it to the hospital. It was easy to share the Gospel with them because they saw it as a miracle to even be receiving the care that they were.
“The Lord reminded me many times of the story in Mark 5 where the woman has been bleeding for years and has seen so many doctors, but Jesus heals her and says ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go and be freed from your suffering.’ There was true suffering in this hospital, but there was also great faith. Many of the patients proclaimed how it was the Lord who has been healing them. This experience over the summer showed me how doctors, nurses, and health professionals can treat, but it is the Lord who ultimately heals. I saw firsthand how the Lord can work through my profession to heal people, which was pretty amazing.”
Through this experience, McElheny’s eyes were opened to the great need for the Gospel all over the world. Her education as a nursing student as well as her understanding of the Gospel equipped her to serve others well and will continue to shape her future around the care of others.