Listen at: or on Apple Podcasts episode 5 under Friends of Kijabe


We (Ginny and I) had both an outward and inward Call to Africa.  Outward is Mark Newton saying to me, Rodger you’d be perfect for this environment because you love Africa, you love the people, you’re an academician and you know how to teach.  And he paid me a left-handed compliment, you’re older and not scared of old drugs, older technology, or lack of technology.  

We had been interested in missions, not for years but decades, so we had felt an inward calling. We felt when those two things coalesced it was time to think about it and consider it.  

When we think about low resources or limited resources, we usually think about medications and technology, but actually human capital is huge.  I could get an I.D. consult, a cardiology consult, all kinds of studies in a fairly short period of time.  Here a lot of those specialists are not present so you can’t consult somebody and get another opinion, you have to create the opinion on your own.  

There is a saying within medicine, you don’t choose your specialty, your specialty chooses you. When you go through rotations a third or fourth year, some things just resonate with you.  Getting up at 4 am and going in to do pediatrics, anesthesiology, surgery, internal medicine – somehow at the end of the day, you don’t know where the time went because you were totally engaged, enjoying it, captivated by it.   

Some people that happens over multiple locations, some people it’s just one thing that stands out. I would say you need to evaluate what resonates with you and move in that area.  

Missions has changed quite a lot in the last few decades.  30, 40, 50 years ago, they were looking for a surgeon who would do everything. Do the spinal, lay the patient down, do the surgery, handle the complications.  But now, especially at places like Kijabe or Tenewek, there is a need for internists, pediatricians, emergency room physicians, anesthesiologists.  A big need here is for an infectious disease consultant.  At this stage in overseas missions, almost any specialty could find a place to use their skill set.  

With every class we go through a discipleship study called Gospel-centered living.  We debrief with them, the second class talked about how they had become a community, a family, there was no longer a spirit of undercutting and competition that had existed before.  They recognized that came about as they realized the depth and breadth of Jesus Christ.  I think many Christians think that if you believe in Jesus, you’re saved, your sins are forgiven. . .but after that, it’s just a lot of hard work.   It’s a gate you enter in, but then as you walk the path you’re working every day to follow the rules and obey the laws.  We try to explain to them, your sins are forgiven, but the righteousness of Christ is credited to your account.  When God looks at you, he sees the righteousness of Christ. As if that’s not enough, we are adopted as sons and daughters.  and we have the inheritance rights of sons and daughters.  

I think it’s in John 6, the disciples ask Christ, what do we have to do to please God.  The only thing you have to do is believe on the one he has sent.  

As you mature in Christ, it’s a walk of repentance and faith, it’s not a legalistic structure of following the rules. It’s really a relationship.  You know repentance in the Bible can also be translated as returning, and that speaks to the relationship.  Repent from your sins, return from your sins into relationship.  

Lots of things are different here in a faith-based hospital.  We pray with every patient before we anesthetize and they go under for surgery.  I’ve been walking through the ICU where I’ve had patients stop me and ask me to pray with them.  And I’m happy to do that.  I think medicine is a very tangible way of showing the love of Christ.  

Ginny and I believe this is exactly where we should be right now.  For this season of our life, this is the time, this is the location, and we’re doing what we’re called to do.  There is a lot of comfort in that.  

The thing I’ve grown in over the last years is resting in the sovereignty of God.  God is good, God loves us, it doesn’t mean difficult things don’t come into our life 

One thing we ask our discipleship students is, “if God were looking down at you right now, looking at you, Rodger Barnett, what would be the expression on his face?”  

Most people would say, “The expression on his face is condemning or angry or just disappointed that I’m not doing a better job.”  

But in actuality, God rejoices over us with singing.  If we come in faith through Christ, He rejoices over us.  

There is a lot of security and peace in understanding that God is sovereign, he has all this in control and the chaos that I experience on a repetitive basis doesn’t mean his plan for redemption and renewal of this creation isn’t moving forward.  

David – Medicine and healing as a picture of a renewal is very tangible to people.  I was blind and now I see, I was lame and now I walk.  I get it, this has just happened in my body, and now I understand what that means for my spirit now.  It’s the tangible benefit of love and faith through medicine that is unbelievably powerful.  

African Inland mission, when they move into a new community, set up a health, education, and church.  It’s those three things together that help a community to adopt and receive faith.  

One of the things that is going to happen is Mark Newton and I will be so old we won’t be able to be here. The goal isn’t just care for patients, and it isn’t even just to train people, it’s to train clinicians to train other clinicians so it becomes self-sustaining.  

The lack of safe anesthesia and safe surgery account for more deaths than HIV, TB, and Malaria all added together.  Though it’s not easy to corral these diseases, they can all be cured with medication, HIV can be stopped, TB and Malaria can be cured.  Safe surgery, safe anesthesia, you need skilled practitioners operating in a complex structure.  That’s why it’s so much harder to get a handle on it, the structure involved and the timeline to train people is so long.  

In many ways, I feel like what we are doing at Kijabe is a drop in the bucket.  There’s maybe 1,000 well-trained clinicians in Kenya able to safely administer anesthesia, for a country of 50 million.  But it’s like the mother Theresa quote, “if you cannot feed 1,000 people, feed one.”  

I think of that often when we are doing surgery that can be life changing for a Kenyan child. There’s probably a huge number we are not affecting, but at least that one is being touched today.  

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