Written by Joy Vonk, MS, PA-C
God’s hand over our life timelines is undeniable and this past year for me has been another clear reminder of His constant leading and preparation. The last time I spoke at M3, I was working for the free faith-based Houston clinic, Casa el Buen Samaritano. At each M3 Conference, I’d asked God where He wanted me to be. Praying, “the answer is ‘yes’, God. Just tell me Your ask for my life in this moment.” True to His perfect planning, He was preparing my heart for a movement from full-time domestic mission work to international missions.
However, as often the case, my long-term missions (LTM) story begins with short-term missions (STM). M3 consistently offers an incredible selection of organizations and vendors to peruse. Last year after talking to Samaritan’s Purse’s World Medical Mission (WMM) booth representatives, I felt a connection with their ministry and began to pray over the list of countries and mission hospitals provided. Kenya kept coming to mind, but I thought maybe I was just acting out of comfort since I’d been there previously doing medical mission work. Then speaking to a WMM representative by phone, it became clear that God was indeed leading me back to Kenya. In fact my skill set perfectly matched an urgent need for a provider at Kapsowar Mission Hospital in Kenya. What a relief to know that the desires of my heart were ones planted by God to be affirmed in that sweet moment!
God encouraged and gave me freedom (scary freedom) to resign from my full-time paying job here in Houston. In a flurry of ‘ending well’ at a clinic I loved and packing, I was on my way with the support of many friends to work in Kapsowar for several months. From October 2019 to January of 2020, I worked alongside some of the hardest working, compassionate, and grit-filled colleagues I’ve ever had. As a volunteer fill-in hospitalist, God graciously loved me through many insecurities, fears, and feelings of incompetency in such a different environment. He further opened my eyes to the tremendous needs in this under-resourced setting. He opened my heart to the beautiful, cheerful, and chai-loving nationals. He opened my spirit with a desire to relieve the burdens of long-term missionaries.
When I left for Africa, I had no idea what was on the other side of that trip. It was my private sacrifice, my tithe, to God. I was trusting Him with the next-step answer. Yet truthfully, reentry to the US was harder that I thought, especially without a clear path ahead. I felt I didn’t ‘fit’ the same anymore, both in spirit and in geography. As I continued to wrestle with the discomfort and in-between, there was a soft but continued impression to return to Kenya long-term.
Now eight months after landing back on US tarmac, I’m about to depart that same tarmac to return to Kapsowar Mission Hospital. This time, I’ll be there for two years. Yes; all the same short-term fears, insecurities, and uncertainties remain. However, the long-term knowledge of my Father’s faithfulness, provision, and goodness make it possible to cover those thoughts with peace and surrender. The same work He began in me, and in this tiny rural piece of Kenya, He will carry out until completion.
M3 is honored to be a part of Joy’s journey. CLICK HERE to learn more about what Joy is doing and support her next step into long-term missions.
Like Joy, many of you may be asking God what He is calling you to do. We invite you to join us at the 2021 M3 Conference on February 19-20 where you can connect with others, be inspired, and find your mission. REGISTER TODAY and use code M3MISSIONS2021 for an additional $5 off the early bird rate.
Dr. Dennis Daniels serves as Professor and Director of Prairie View A&M University’s Undergraduate Medical Academy. Dr. Daniels is committed to helping train up the next generation of healthcare providers with the best skills and science without sacrificing compassion for humankind. In this video, Dr. Daniels shares how M3 plays an integral role in the compassion component of their training.
Shinji Strain, a medical student at UTMB Galveston, has been attending M3 since its inaugural year in 2016. Over the years, Sinji says he has learned a lot in terms of medicine and research and has also grown spiritually. M3 has made a significant impact on his life, and in this video, he encourages others to attend the conference to be challenged and meet people who will inspire and pour into them as young students. As Shinji says, “Come to M3 and your heart will be changed.”
As a young child, Sara Pross had a God-given dream to serve as a missionary in Africa. Although she didn’t know how or what that would look like, she tucked it away in her heart, only for it to later be ignited by the dying wish of her father when he told her, “Sara, make sure you live out your dream.” Watch this video to see how God used M3 to help in her journey to fulfilling her destiny.