All Other Ground is Sinking Sand


Rainy season is upon us.

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When you move from one country to another, you expect changes.  What we had not planned for were the significant changes that have taken place here at the hospital since our arrival in Liberia.  These changes have caused us to be much busier than we had imagined possible, but they have also caused us to cling more closely to our solid Rock who we are confident was not surprised or caught off guard by any of these changes or challenges.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

A little over a month after our arrival, ELWA’s surgeon (and briefly my very capable surgical mentor) Dr. Jerry Brown was recruited by the new Liberian government to lead the administration at the main government hospital to facilitate revitalization and advancement there.  It truly is an honor and very revealing of Dr. Brown’s character and capabilities that he was recruited for the job.  I am thrilled that a Godly man who cares deeply about patients and who has a strong medical and surgical background has been placed into a position of authority to help bring about positive change in the health sector of Liberia.  Please join with me in praying for Dr. Brown as he deals with day to day management issues and pursues long term goals to help make this facility a quality referral hospital for the country of Liberia.

When darkness veils His lovely face,

I rest on His unchanging grace;

In every high and stormy gale,

My anchor holds within the veil.

The direct implication of Dr. Brown’s leaving ELWA was that I was left as the only surgeon here, and a baby American surgeon at that.  Living near the ocean where the path I walk to the hospital each day is sand, and now entering into rainy season, I am regularly experiencing obvious examples of sinking sand. Frankly, after only a month I was both overwhelmed and exhausted.  Being stretched professionally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually began to make me sink.  But what a powerful place we find ourselves in when we have finally come to the end of ourselves.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  After laying down my pride and having my team mates here in Liberia join with us in fervent prayer, ELWA was able to locate and hire a young Liberian surgeon who has helped to ease the workload, both physically and intellectually, and with whom I can alternate call.

His oath, His covenant, His blood

Support me in the whelming flood;

When all around my soul gives way,

He then is all my hope and stay.

During all of this, Nathan and I have felt very supported by our two organizations, Samaritan’s Purse and SIM.  They have been seeking for the best long-term solution for us and have been generous to work with us to allow us to stay here in Liberia in spite of the less-than-ideal circumstances.  Both organizations have been praying with us and working diligently to try to secure a long-term surgeon for the hospital and mentor for both myself and my Liberian colleague.  While a permanent surgeon has not yet been located, it has been wonderful to watch as God provides, in His timing, for coverage and mentorship through multiple short-term surgeons, the first of whom is here with us currently and has been a huge blessing.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

What has been the most significant encouragement for me over the past four months has been God’s clearly apparent leading and guiding.  “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” (Psalms 16:8).  What a joy to proclaim out loud to my patients that God is the great Physician and the only one who can heal, to pray with them before and after surgery, to feel His presence with me literally at my right hand guiding me surgically through case after case.  There are so many stories of God’s faithfulness and His healing power… stay tuned for a soon-to-follow blog post highlighting a few of these examples of God’s provision as well as another with more details of day-to-day life and Nathan’s happenings.


Author’s Note: Please ignore Nathan’s finger in this photo. We’re going to give him a pass. Shortly after this photo was taken, a very large wave literally knocked me off this rock and during Nathan’s rescue efforts, both of our phones were lost at sea. Ok, well, they were irreperably damaged. Also, it should be noted that Nathan told me not to climb onto this rock, that the waves crashing over it were too strong. As usual, I should have listened.