The Power of Role Models

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By: Dr. Karen Stoufer

“Watch this”, said Dr. Murray, the experienced large animal vet who had invited me, a pre-vet hopeful city girl, to go on my first-ever farm call with him.  I stood there in the dark shed, while Dr. Murray approached the old cow with the broken horn in a muddy pen. He gave no indication of what he was going to do and then swung up the large keystone dehorner and removed the horn and top of the skull all at once. Blood spurted out, the cow bellowed and Dr. Murray turned to look at me. I realized this was a test.  Was I going to faint or cry or was I a female worth mentoring toward a veterinary career? The test was unfair but at the time, there were fewer than 500 female veterinarians in the entire country and many practitioners were opposed to women in the profession.  Luckily, I neither cried nor fainted, nor told him what I was thinking about such unfair tests (!), and he and his partner became encouragers and mentors for the next few years, leading up to my acceptance into Cornell’s veterinary college.

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My Duty is Joy

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By: Dr. Troy Sammons, CVM Fieldstaff serving in Kenya/South Sudan

Do you remember the door prize goldfish in a bag, or the goldfish you could win as a prize in the carnival at the local fair whose goal in life was to swim aimlessly and bored, around a blurry constantly changing outside world?

I think in the past six months I can affectionately say I have felt a tiny bit like those goldfish, packed up into a nice clean baggie of water, putting on my best googly eyes and entering into a brand new fish tank with lots of excitement as the treasured carnival prize, only to be caught up again and transferred to the next fish tank with the same great excitement when the last excitement wore off. All the time wishing, I was just left alone to grow fat and happy and be one of those six-pound goldfish who barely swims and just floats along, totally ignored by the kid who won him ten years earlier. Oh what joy!

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Changing Lives Through the Credibility of Veterinary Medicine

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By: Dr. Fred Van Gorkom

Veterinary medicine uniquely provides credibility within different cultures. People can use their skills to serve in areas where traditional ministry work may be more challenging, and it may more easily open doors to discussions that otherwise may hardly occur. Years ago, when I first began serving in Ethiopia, I told everyone, “Just call me Fred”. Not long after, I was called into a high ranking government official’s office for questioning.

This frowning official thought that he was questioning an imposter. He was astounded, “If you really are a veterinarian, why won’t you let anyone call you Doctor Fred?” I quickly prayed and explained that I follow Jesus who told us to not be called by any special names. He examined my credentials and sounded like a judge handing down the verdict: “Well, in this country, you are to be called Doctor Fred,” he ordered.

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The Act of Receiving

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By: Dr. Julie Henderson, CVM Associate

The Bible has so much to say about giving. …you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35 NASB) Almost everyone who was raised in a Christian home, and many who weren’t, remember learning this admonition to give to others. But not as many learned the grace of receiving. The act of receiving another’s gift with grace is something that many of us stumble on. But when we refuse another’s gift we deny them that blessing that comes with giving.

I think it is a matter of pride – who wants to ask others for help? When we first decided to go to Mozambique we were tempted to fund ourselves because we were not accustomed to depending on others for support. We had savings and in addition to that we sold the vet clinic which gave us even more. And it seemed the “noble” thing to do. We calculated that we could probably manage without asking for help from others for at least a few years, maybe longer. But thankfully we received wise counsel to the contrary. Self-funded missionaries tend to be “loose cannons” if you will and can easily lose their way. And of equal importance, we would be denying others the opportunity to give to the ministry. By denying them the blessing of giving we might also be denying ourselves of the blessing of their prayers. We would be entering the “front lines” of a spiritual battlefield and would need a strong body of prayer warriors. So we humbled ourselves and gracefully received the gifts and prayers of many.

But it was even harder and more humbling to receive gifts from the poor in Mozambique. So many times people we had helped in some way would say “thank you” later with a portion of their harvest. It happened the first time when Teresa brought me about twenty pounds of beans from her garden. Teresa was a single mother of four children who also took care of her blind grandmother. The previous year she had been struck by lightning which burned the flesh off the soles of both of her feet. After the hospital turned her away, I helped her by treating her injuries with medicinal plants and she healed beautifully. She was the first of many to follow who opened the door to that ministry.

Teresa lived about four miles from our home in a tiny hut. She was a subsistence farmer and was so poor that even buying essentials like cooking oil, soap and salt were difficult for her. I knew how her family lived because I had spent about two months treating her in her home. So the day she showed up at my door – after walking four miles on her scarred feet– it was very difficult for me to receive her gift with grace. The beans she was giving me could be the difference between going hungry and having enough later in the year when her food stores would be low. Every fiber of my being wanted to refuse her gift and tell her to keep it for her family. But instead I swallowed hard and received her lavish gift with as much grace as I could muster. It was a valuable lesson for me and the beginning of a friendship. The relationship could deepen because the giving went both ways. Had I refused her gift I would have denied her the blessing of giving and also put up a barrier. The barrier would say, in effect, “I am greater than you”. But by receiving her gift I said instead “We are equals and can have a real friendship now.”

Of course the greatest gift we can receive is the free gift of salvation given by Jesus Christ. But many stumble here and miss the mark because we are too prideful to receive His lavish gift with grace. No, we would much rather earn our salvation. But salvation is a gift that is too precious to be bought.  We can only receive it when we are at the end of our rope and come to Jesus as spiritual paupers (Matt. 5:3).

The reason salvation is free to us is because it cost God everything. It cost the atonement of God as the Son of Man – He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:21)  It cost our Lord the agony of Gethsemane and the cross of Christ. Oswald Chambers wrote “The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened. But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God.” [1] We cannot earn our salvation; we can only receive it with grace. But we can, in thankfulness, give back to God our own lives to use for His divine purposes. And in this mutual give and take we become His friends. Greater love has no one than this – that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends…(John 15:13-15)

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Don’t Let Debt Control You

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By: Dr. Pat Murack

Debt. Whether it is from a credit card, a mortgage payment, and/or that mountain of student loan debt, most of us have some form of it. The key to being financially healthy is to control the debt and not let the debt control you.

According to the AVMA, the average veterinary graduate in 2013 had $162,000 in student loans. That is a lot of money but not something that needs to control you. Do not be like the prodigal son and spend all of your new-found money (veterinary salary) on foolish things. But instead align your heart to God and let him guide you in your finances.

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