In 1994, I was sitting at our dining room table with my wife, Julie and our three sons. My oldest son, then seven, glanced up from his plate of spaghetti, looked me in the eyes and said, “Dad, did you know to God, obedience is more important than sacrifice?” He went back to his dinner; unaware of the decision I had to make that evening or how the words would change our lives forever.
That evening was the deadline to commit to a medical mission trip to Guatemala that our good friends had asked us to accompany them. Each time we had been asked before we had lots of legitimate excuses: we had just built a beautiful Victorian house, we had three busy boys, and my sports medicine and orthopaedic trauma practice was booming. Probably, if the words hadn’t come from my son’s mouth, we would have once again deferred.
That week in Guatemala changed us–from the inside out. Thinking that we were going to help people, it was our own hearts that needed medicine: it came in the form of families that had nothing, but were rich in spirit, a young boy with polio that dragged himself across the cement floor to greet us with overflowing joy, a young unwed mother with a newborn baby with bilateral syndactaly (the child’s fingers were all stuck together) that fractured my hardened heart and many, many more people who touched our lives.
Shortly afterward, we sold everything and started on a most excellent adventure of medical missions, serving with great organizations: Operation Blessing, Mercy Ships, the Healing Rooms and Hope Force International.
Our journeys have included work in Central America, the jungles of the Amazon, the Ukraine, many parts of Asia, including North Korea, and the war-torn country of Sierra Leone. We have served in two of the worst disasters in modern day history, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami (Sri Lanka) and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.