St. Francis of Assisi said,
Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
When Brenda Mensah shared this quote with me, it struck such a cord because it encapsulates what I feel in my heart and soul and mind as we depart to Ghana on our 10th mission.
In 2007 when a small group of us set off as the first Ghana Health Team (GHT), we really didn’t have any clue what was possible, but we did what was necessary. We were wholehearted and gave it our best. It sure didn’t take long before we started to prayerfully consider together with the Mensahs and the staff of Northern Empowerment Association (NEA) team what could be possible.
Is it possible to bring more health professionals? Let’s do it.
Is it possible to create a surgical program? Let’s do that too.
Is it possible to bring eye doctors and treat medical eye disease? Why not?
Is it possible to buy a laser and treat glaucoma? Go for it, Dr. McDowell.
Is it possible to do dentistry here — what about X-rays, what about restorative work for NEA staff? That can be done.
Is it possible to automate a pharmacy in a village with no electricity? Yes.
Is it possible to teach and train local professionals? Absolutely.
Is it possible to help NEA build and run their own hospital allowing for 24/7 health care in the region? That sounds impossible. That is impossible, and we told David Mensah so. So we just kept doing what was necessary and what was possible and now, the impossible is happening. 85% of funds are in. Shovels are going in the ground any day. God willing, the doors to the Leyaata Hospital will open in 2020, and the work of our GHT will end and will shift to train and teach and support the hospital.
How does one explain all of this? Moving from doing the necessary to doing the possible to doing the impossible doesn’t just happen by accident. For our Ghana Health Team, I believe doing the impossible is a direct result of four blessings:
- We are blessed with an incredibly committed group of leaders who return year after year to prepare, serve and lead. They have sacrificed a lot. We work hand in hand, side by side to assist NEA accomplish their priorities and their vision for their people. That’s how impossible happens.
- Secondly, we are blessed that we belong to an incredible community of healthcare professionals from all over the world who catch our vision, trust us, and come along to serve. Sixty of us from all over Ontario, Canada, UK, Ireland and Germany will soon leave to do the impossible hand in hand, side by side with Ghana’s health professionals.
- Thirdly, we are blessed with incredible community partners who give and give and give to us some more to allow us to do what we were born to do.
- And finally and most importantly to me, we are blessed with the truth of Matthew 19:26: “Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible, but with God, everything is possible.””
While we want you to pray as you usually do for our health and safety and our patients and the success of the mission, I want to leave you with a special prayer. It is a prayer by John Baille that says,
Make me a more worthy follower of the One who cared for the poor and oppressed. Let your power, O Christ, be in us all to share in the world’s suffering and redress its wrongs.
It is a powerful prayer. We do not want to depart for Ghana with any sense of pride or superiority. We want to depart with an attitude of service to NEA, to Ghanaians, to humanity, and we ask you to pray that we will indeed be worthy followers of Christ who cared so deeply for the sick and the poor and the oppressed. And pray that we will genuinely share in the world’s suffering. This is not an easy task humanly speaking. What we witness there can be horrific and can force us to put up boundaries to protect ourselves. I confess that so often I have said to myself, “Block that out, pretend that didn’t’ just happen,” in order to be able to carry on and get through my day. Forget the four-year-old who died of diarrhea, block out the image of that woman who died from an illegal abortion, don’t remember the teenage boy whose leg is chronically infected rendering him lame, don’t think about an infant growing up without her mom because she died unnecessarily giving birth to her. (Even now, a part of me doesn’t want to remember.)
This is why this prayer is so important. When we are willing to honestly share in that kind of suffering and when we are willing to stand in solidarity with those who suffer, it is then and only then that we can truly engage in the seemingly impossible task of redressing the world’s wrongs. In fact, the very moment I finally realized that we needed to help NEA build this hospital came while I was trying to process, with great anguish, how that four-year-old died from diarrhea just moments before I could lay my hands on him. Pray we will never become immune to the injustice and inequality no matter many missions we have been on and no matter how painful the suffering is to witness. Pray that it will not be ok with us and that injustice will spur us on to ask, “What more can I do?”
Thank you for helping this amazing group of sixty do the impossible — your support means everything to us.
If you want to follow our journey, you can sign up to receive the team updates that I write. If you read these and send comments to us, Kim reads them out during our breakfasts and they really do encourage us!
(This post is an excerpt of Dr. Wilson’s remarks delivered at the Uxbridge Baptist Church Commissioning Service on October 21, 2018.)