A doctor who served with World Medical Mission follows God’s call to full-time service at Kibogora Hospital
The following story is from the latest edition of On Call, the quarterly publication about medical professionals who go into the field through World Medical Mission.
Before they ever met, Dr. Tim and Linda Berg shared a desire to serve the Lord through missions. As a medical resident and then a surgeon, Tim used his skills to minister to the sick in China, Yemen, India, Kenya, Haiti, and most recently, Rwanda.
In 2012, the Bergs decided to “throw caution to the wind” and serve for a year at Kibogora Hospital in Rwanda. The one-year commitment extended into two years and finally brought the Bergs to a crossroads.
“After much prayer and struggling to seek God’s will in a difficult decision, filled with a myriad of repercussions, we decided that we believe God is calling us to stay in Rwanda,” Linda posted on their family blog. “While it hasn’t been a particularly easy journey, we are so grateful that we took that step of faith and answered the call to come.”
The process of moving from Kerrville, Texas, to rural Rwanda with four teenagers—Hannah, Stephen, Ruthie, and Samuel—added to the challenge of transitioning to full-time service, but the children adapted to the “new normal” of missionary life. Hannah is attending a university in the United States, Stephen and Ruthie are students at the Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya, and Samuel is being homeschooled in Rwanda.
The decision to live in Rwanda opened a floodgate of opportunities for service for Tim and Linda. Linda wants to teach English at a nearby school and start a sewing co-op to help impoverished women earn money to feed their families. She even dreams of building an orphanage and school that may include a small clinic where Tim can lend a hand from time to time.
“Tim dreams of adding another operating suite to the hospital and improving the post-surgical care available, as well as recruiting more American or British doctors to join him in this work,” Linda said. “He also is working now to develop curricula to further train the interns assigned to him.”As a surgeon, Tim faces the daily challenges of practicing medicine in a resource-limited hospital in a developing country.
“Since I am the only surgeon here, I really get to know my patients very closely,” Tim said. “By necessity, I must usually rely solely on my patients’ stories and my examination to make decisions before and after their operations. There are no MRIs or other fancy tests to do around here to help make a diagnosis. Medicine is more personal and less reliant on machines and computerized technology out here.”
It was difficult to leave family, friends, their home, and even the family dogs when they moved to Rwanda, but in a small way, the Bergs are beginning to understand what missionary martyr Jim Elliot meant when he wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
The Bergs have settled into their new home at Kibogora Hospital and feel at peace.
“Often, when the day is ending and twilight falls, I like to take a few moments before going home and just stroll around outside the wards, taking things in, not really as a doctor with a therapeutic agenda but more like a visiting relative or friend,” Tim said. “As the kids give me their laughter, smiles, and waves, the burdens of my day’s hard work begin to lift and melt away, and I find a smile on my own face and gratitude in my heart for this work God has given me to do.”