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Dr. Bryan Pruitt supervises Jaiden Branstrom, a senior nursing student at Oklahoma Christian University, as she practices sutures on a pig’s foot in the fellowship hall of the McDermott Road Church of Christ at the IHCF seminar.
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Photo by Erik Tryggestad

Medicine as mission

In a broken world, conference highlights the need for Christians who labor in medical fields to witness faithfully to ‘the least of these.’

PLANO, Texas — Many a bucket of chicken has graced the fellowship hall of the McDermott Road Church of Christ over the years. 

But it was pigs’ feet that adorned the folding tables on a recent Saturday morning. Under the watchful eyes of skilled physicians, students practiced suturing during the International Health Care Foundation (IHCF)’s annual Medical Missions Seminar. 

@christianchronicle PLANO, Texas — Dr. Bryan Pruitt supervises Jaiden Branstrom, a senior nursing student at Oklahoma Christian University, as she practices sutures on a pig’s foot in the fellowship hall of the McDermott Road Church of Christ at the annual medical missions seminar sponsored by IHCF/African Christian Hospitals. #medicalmissions #medicalmission #sutures #pigfeet #pigsfeet #suturepigfeet #suture #churchofchrist #mcdermottroad ♬ original sound – The Christian Chronicle

Some, especially those pursuing nursing degrees, caught on quickly. Others didn’t, including one who said the experience affirmed his decision to go into physical therapy.

Skill development was just a small part of the seminar, themed “To the Least of These: Faithful witness in a lost and broken world.” Presenters talked about how their medical skills are a tool to lead the lost to Christ.

Kevin Linderman of IHCF playfully presents Jordan Yarbrough with the Boyd Award for International Christian Service. Yarbrough, a nurse in Angola, joined via Zoom from Africa.

Kevin Linderman of IHCF playfully presents Jordan Yarbrough with the Boyd Award for International Christian Service. Yarbrough, a nurse in Angola, joined via Zoom from Africa.

Micah Gill and his uncle, Dr. James Gill, talk about spiritual mentoring during their session, “Seeking First to Understand: A relational approach to discipleship.”

Micah Gill and his uncle, Dr. James Gill, talk about spiritual mentoring during their session, “Seeking First to Understand: A relational approach to discipleship.”

“Yours is not the call to the World Health Organization. Yours is not the call to the CDC,” said Dr. Robert Lawrence, chief medical officer for the State of Alaska Department of Corrections. “You go because you hear the voice of the Lord.”

And Christians don’t need to go far to serve, Dr. Shannon DeShazo said. Though she has participated in missions to Uganda and Mexico, her work as a family medicine specialist focuses on the underserved populations of McKinney, Texas.  

Dr. Shannon DeShazo and her husband, Jon, at the Medical Missions Conference.

Dr. Shannon DeShazo and her husband, Jon, at the Medical Missions Conference in 2020.

DeShazo, a member of the McDermott Road church, shared her struggles with perfectionism and self-worth during her childhood, which “convinced me to spend my life telling others they are not trash,” she said. 

Many people in medicine strive to become a great doctor, a great nurse or a great pharmacist, DeShazo said. She urged students to “strive to become the person, not the thing.” 

“When you focus on submitting to God’s will, you will want to become the person he wants you to become.” 

“When you focus on submitting to God’s will, you will want to become the person he wants you to become.”

Filed under: CDC International Health Care Foundation medical missions Medical Missions Seminar News Partners Top Stories World Health Organization

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