Living Stones

Think about the most significant influences on your life.  Who shaped the person you are?

Was it a parent, grandparent, teacher, friend, pastor. . .a colleague?  

Maybe a mentor who gave you a wise word of advice at a critical moment, or offered a hug when your heart was breaking.  Maybe this person never did one spectacular thing, but instead consistently showed up and cared, month after month, year after year.      

The book of 1 Peter contains a beautiful image of living stones.  As you think about legacy an influence, the number one way that your impact in Africa will last is through the people you love and train and empower.  Training of trainers, teaching of teachers, discipling of disciples.  

I hope that you have the chance to work with some of the remarkable people pictured here next time you are in Kijabe; to speak words of wisdom and encouragement and to share your heart with our “living stones.”   

Dr. Natalie, pictured above, is training to be the first pediatric anesthesiologist in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country of 80 million (that’s twice the population of California).

Dr. Allan Kochi is one of ten pediatric anesthetists in Kenya, population of 48 million.

He and Dr. Natalie are part of the pediatric anesthesia training partnership between AIC Kijabe and University of Nairobi.

Dr. Newton and the Impact Africa team recently hosted simulation training at Kijabe for Managing Emergencies in Pediatric Anesthesia.  The conference hosted providers from seven nations across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Sam Fabiano, PAACS general surgery resident visiting Kijabe for a three month rotation from Gabon.  After he completes his residency, he plans to return to his home country of Angola.

Dr. Dimingo Gomez is a first-year general surgery resident at Kijabe in partnership the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons.  He will be one of only 12 surgeons in Liberia when he completes his training.

Samuel Mwangi is an Emergency and Critical Care Clinical Officer graduate.  The ECCCO program was created to give clinical officers extra post-graduate training needed to perform at a high-level in ICU, HDU, and Emergency care.

Kijabe ECCCO training contains a strong mission and discipleship component, and graduates are entering partnerships with training hospitals on Kenyan borders and beyond.

This program has given rise to creating Pediatric ECCCO curriculum, and we hope to see certification happen in the coming year.

Dr. Manakhe Nassiuma is a first year PAACS surgery resident who worked at Kijabe during her internship, was hired on to run the AIC Kijabe Nairobi Clinic, then recently accepted into the general surgery training program.

She is following in the footsteps of phenomenal female surgery residents at Kijabe.

Dr. David Jomo was posted at Kijabe for internship, excelled, and is now part of the orthopedic surgery residency program.


Do you ever think about the ways the world will be shaped because of your life?

What change do you seek to make?

What do you hope to accomplish either personally and professionally, through your friends and your family?

I want to impress upon you that wherever you are, and whatever you are doing your life will have far and wide, oftentimes in the smallest and most unexpected, miraculous places.

Below are then and now pictures with several founders who left an indelible legacy on Kijabe. And at the end, a tribute to Elizabeth Richter.

Justy Stoesz, who started lab training at Kijabe hospital and worked here for nearly 40 years.  Still a Friend of Kijabe, we communicate just about every month!  Below is the lab today, greatly developed in terms of technology.

Brothers, Dr. Bill and Dr. Arthur Barnett, carried the work from mid-century until the 1980’s.  They built the hospital in its current location, and still have family working both in East Africa and in leadership roles with AIM.  Dr. Bill recently celebrated his hundredth birthday!

In the pictures of the hospital below, the white roofed, cross shaped buildings are the ones the Barnett brothers oversaw, in addition to building the Heron house.  The theatre complex, maternity, outpatient, surgery/physio clinic space, Bethany Kids building, Dental, ENT clinic, palliative care, and chapel came later.

Dr. Dick Bransford continues to provide surgical care for special needs children in East Africa, particularly hydrocephalus and spina bifida patients – as he has for half-a-century.  Dr. Bransford founded what is now Bethany Kids.  Our children’s hospital and pediatric surgery & neurosurgery programs are result of his tireless work.

Nettie Sinclair worked for several decades to launch nurse training at Kijabe Hospital, what is now known as Kijabe College of Health Sciences, training hundreds of students each year.

This message is in honor of Elizabeth Richter, who died this week at age 93.

Elizabeth Richter, or Grandma Betty, as I know her lived a beautiful, faithful life.  And I want to share just small story of legacy as a tribute, because it affects the very words you are reading.

Betty’s son John was instrumental to launching Friends of Kijabe, and is now serving as our first board chair.  Her granddaughter, Arianna is my wife; pediatrician at Kijabe.  Without Arianna’s bold dream, strengthened by the prayers of her grandmother, I would never have come to Africa certainly would not have found this leadership role in fundraising and storytelling.  Betty’s other children and grandchildren have been instrumental to us in providing advice, funding projects, mailing thank you and Christmas cards, housing supplies until they are ready to be shipped to Kenya, and always holding our hospital up in prayer.

Grandma Betty is making an impact on a continent she never even visited, something I find beautiful and amazing.

Giving Tuesday

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and trust that even in Australia you were able to find a Turkey to celebrate!

I would like to share two patients with you if you wish to participate in Giving Tuesday. Please include their names in the additional information field at checkout.

Brian, pictured above, is a sweet boy intubated in ICU bed one.  A gift of $100 will cover his care for a day on the ventilator.

Marion, chemotherapy patient has been with us off and on for the last 6 months.  The balance of her care beyond what the family and insurance have been able pay is $500.

Donate at:

Love is the Best Metric

September was a great month for Friends of Kijabe.

5 KCHS students funded; a check in the mail for Bob’s Pediatric EM fellowship; a vital and quite expensive tissue processor purchased; a follow-up visit from pastor Hellmers to check on the surgical NICU project; needy patients able to return home. . .

$35,000 donated in one month. Wow!

$120,000 for Kijabe Hospital projects and patients given since June!


However, I was talking to a good friend about this, and he asked an insightful question: “Is the amount raised your metric for success?”

Not personally. Measuring success by numbers alone is a bit like measuring self-worth by facebook likes – not a great plan. Numbers will rise and fall by season, by campaign, by need, by market conditions, even by the day of the week an email arrives in an inbox. Numbers tell a story, but not the whole story.

What excites me much more is the heart and motive behind the gifts – the reason why you give. A note of blessing can mean as much as the gift itself.

Here’s some examples, hope they are as inspiring to you as they are to me:

“My brother passed away in February and since I am the only living sibling, we were blessed with some extra funds and it has been fun to distribute some of this blessing to various ministries we know about and would like to support.”

“While at Kijabe, I remember how low the (Needy Children’s) fund would run low and we would have to wait for money to come in. Always wanted to do this but wasn’t sure how. Thank you for Friends of Kijabe. The Lord bless you guys.”

“God is so good… we’re thankful, honored, inspired to be part of what you and the team are doing in Kijabe.”

“Tell the lab that we love them and think of them often. We pray God will continue to bless and enrich their lives for their faithfulness to His calling. I long to see them and rejoice in God with them. They are beautiful people and I so love them.”

Simply beautiful.

I am convinced that out of all measures of success, love is the best metric.

Pediatrics and Maternity Teambuilding
Several of the thirty children in our always-full newborn nursery/ICU.
Dr. Lee Demeester on his 19th trip to work in the Kijabe pathology department.
Boaz, one of the KCHS students whose loans are now fully funded!



How do you run a hospital with a budget of $10 million to standards of a $100 million facility?

How does a mother of 3, making $2.50/day, pay for a $1500 femur repair for her son?

How does the pathology lab buy a $20k tissue processor when their purchasing budget is $0?

How do you increase staff salaries for 800+ employees by 20% without increasing patient costs?

How do you upgrade the maternity unit when there are six laboring mothers in waiting and two in active labor within the deliver room?

How do you get a sit-down meeting with senior leadership of the World Health Organization and Red Cross?

How do you maintain the infrastructure and staffing to perform 10,000 surgeries in a year?

How do you see 500+ outpatient visitors in a day with 6 treatment rooms?

How do you ensure decide what sort of lifesaving measures should be allocated to an 800 gram preemie?

How do you train nurses and clinical officers to be the best in the world for $2000 a year?

How do you house 15 surgery residents and their families so they can study at your facility?

How do you achieve infant mortality rates on par with the United States?

How do you cut surgical-post operation infection in half year-over-year?

How do you keep 15 missionary doctors engaged and happy in their work, avoiding burnout?

How do you retain Kenyan consultant staff who could earn 2-10x their salary elsewhere?

How do you convert to an EMR without funds for a $300K hardware cost?

How do you steward healthy relationships with the local community that enables them to join in your work?

How do you navigate the cultures of different tribes, ethnicities, and nationalities working together?

How do you handle orthopedic caseload when the waiting list is 1-year long?

How do you become sustainable within the many overwhelming, dichotomous needs?

How do you make health care provision a ministry – what does Healthcare to God’s Glory actually look like?

How do you ensure that every guest and every patient has a great experience at Kijabe Hospital?

How do you provide world class health care in the developing world?


When you think about the magnitude of these questions, you realize two things:








Students and Teachers


I love this moment, as Dr. Beryl Akinyi gently guides the hand of her trainee to show her the proper hand position to place a suture.

I love this moment even more because it is a picture of dreams achieved and countless glass ceilings shattered: three Kenyan females performing a mastectomy.

Beryl finished her PAACS surgery residency at Kijabe Hospital and  has become a skilled general surgeon and an excellent teacher.

We are honored to watch the student become the teacher, the greatest gift any of our surgeons who have invested their lives at Kijabe could ever receive.




“A person gives because the story they tell themselves is of greater value than the gift.”

Seth Godin recently told me this when I asked about charitable giving. Aside from the fact that I received a personal message from one of my heroes, this brilliant insight really touched my heart.

We heal. We give. We teach. We love.

We care about AIC Kijabe because we are the sort of people who see the intersection of need and opportunity and act.

We don’t count the cost of caring, because the cost of not caring would be infinitely more.

In the past two weeks I have watched our volunteer doctors work tirelessly, at their own expense.

Why? Because they are the sort of crazy, beautiful people who fly around the world to work on their “vacation” and know the paradox firsthand – we get life when we give our lives away.

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

We must also recognize our brilliant Kenyan and East African colleagues working in the trenches before, after, and alongside the missionaries and volunteers.  They are learners and teachers, the present and future hope for African medicine, treasures of incalcuable worth, and our hearts are always with them!

Value Statement

What do you find remarkable about these two pictures?

For me, it’s the look of love on the faces of the parents as they hold Dominic and Josh B, children with cerebral palsy.

These amazing parents are fighting the hard battles of caring for a special need child, magnified by complex social issues of poverty and stigma.

The Needy Children’s Fund is not just about meeting a financial need, it is also a statement about values. You have sent a message to these parents, “We value you, we care for you, you are not alone, your commitment to love is so important. Carry on in the good fight.”

Superhero Sidekick

This has been a tough weekend – violence in Charlottesville and Kisumu with the Kenyan election results have shaken us.  

Arianna and I have oscillated between anger and helplessness; I’m sure you did too.  

Our best friends bought plane tickets to Kijabe 9 months ago. . .if the politicians say the wrong words, the long awaited plan for their arrival this week could fall apart.  

If you are like me, you question purpose and calling in these “valley of the shadow” moments. The sun is shining on a beautiful Saturday, but a shadow of brokenness hangs overhead.  

What are we doing in this world? What can we really accomplish? Will forces of hate and darkness overwhelm the good? Can I change anything?  

I read a brilliant response to Charlottesville by Sarah Benincasa, who advised taking action by aligning ourselves with those working for good in the hard situation:

I believe in the Superhero Sidekick theory of helping, which is to say that if you’re trying to ally yourself with the interests of an oppressed group of which you are not a part, you pull a Robin, not a Batman. You’re not the star of the show, so you don’t direct the mission. You listen, you learn, you assist. You definitely don’t lounge around and wait for the superhero to do all the work and then take all the credit. You also don’t throw up your hands and wail, “WHAT WILL WE EVER DOOOOOOO? THIS IS HOPELESS!” when Batman is right there going, “Um, Robin? There’s like ten things you could do today that would help everybody out. You listening?”

Here is the reality: I feel angry and helpless when I try to take a responsibility on my shoulders that was never meant to be mine. When I try to be Batman instead of Robin.

“Come to me, you who are weary and heavy burdened. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

Who are the superheroes around me – doing the hard work, continuing to struggle for good – day in and day out – in season and out of season?  

Who is the faithful nurse, intern, manager, or student? What do they need to succeed?  

Am I listening? And if so, how does the superhero need help?  

Let’s take tragedy as a reminder to be involved with the people and organizations doing good work in our neighborhoods. And if you would like to respond by contributing in Kijabe, we would be so grateful.  


Quiet in Kenya is unnerving. 

After a very busy two months in Kijabe elections week arrived and the hospital went strangely quiet for several days. Staff came to work late and left early to make it to polling stations, where they received a painted finger to show they voted.  

Volume is diminished, but as has frequently been the case during the days of the government nursing strike, and patients are arriving in late stages of illness. Hard cases and loss are the norm.  

The official results announcement should come at any minute, and we hope that peace will follow. . .but the country is braced for trouble, the memory of 2007 still etched in hearts and minds.  

Pray for peace to prevail, for wise voices to speak words of unity. Ask that kelele – the noisy African normal – would return.