Missionary Doctor – Two Chills in Africa

Feeling much better after a quick swim.

Shortly after arriving in Togo, we were given the opportunity to hike to a “nearby” waterfall. For only a few hundred CFA per person, we hired a guide to show a group of six of us the way. We started out on a “road” which was mostly flat but found its way over a few hills. It was midday, so I blamed heat and dehydration for my fatigue as we climbed the slow inclines over the course of about an hour. Eventually, the rusty red colored dirt road came to an end where a single-file path continued into the jungle. Along the way we passed multiple goats, huts, and people who were sitting at fires or cutting wood. Naked children ran up to us with big smiles or waved from near their homes. We fell behind our guide a few times and had to stop where there were forks in the path and call out for him to come back and find us. At a small group of huts we turned to follow a path that led up the mountain. I am pretty sure the path was vertical. I was no longer able to blame the heat alone: I admitted to being out of shape. Once beyond the climbing, the narrow path continued with a wall on one side and a sheer drop on the other (so nowhere to sit and catch a breath). Ultimately, the path led down steeply to a small pool at the base of a lovely waterfall. Here we clambered into the water for a cold and refreshing dip. It was so cold, in fact, that I experienced a shiver on the continent of Africa for the first time. Rebecca asked if it was worth the walk, to which I replied “no” but have to say that it was a good experience overall in retrospect.

Hospital rounds with Dr Rafter (short term medical missionary
through World Medical Mission) and Chantal (Togolese PA).
Seeing a patient in the clinic with Ephrem (PA originally
from Rwanda).

The daily routine for me in Togo included participating in hospital rounds each morning and then usually heading over to the clinic in the afternoon. If I was on call (which was about every three or four days), I would head back to the hospital in the evening to round on all the patients again. I probably saw around 20-30 patients in the hospital each morning and not quite that many in the clinic during the afternoon. This ended up making for some long days, but this is exactly the work I have been called to. I was able to see and treat some very interesting diseases. It was very encouraging to watch some of these patients improve dramatically as we treated them. Several children with malaria and typhoid fever came in very sick and near death, but were laughing and playing by the time we sent them home. Children are the same everywhere. Some warm up to people slowly and others light up with the least attention. The children we treated were a blessing to me.

One man, who went by the name Felix, had been treated at the hospital months prior after a work injury. He had fallen from a pole and ended up having one of his legs amputated. I was able to pray with him and a few others after a bible study with one of the other missionaries in the housing facilities next to the hospital. The next Sunday, following baptisms at a local church plant, Felix committed his life to Christ. This is what it’s about! This hospital opened in Togo the year I was born, 30 years ago. Churches that those medical missionaries started are still there and have planted churches in neighboring villages. The hospital and clinic have proven to be effective ways of showing Christ’s love to hurting and dying people, but the impact of continued discipleship is evident in the daily lives of hundreds of people there who love Jesus and have been called to ministry and missions in their own homeland. Praise God.

The urgency of sharing Christ becomes real in the hospital. One man whom we believed to have suffered a stroke was not doing well when we rounded on him in the morning. I prayed over him even though he was in a coma. I asked Jesus to make Himself known to this man somehow because we were not able to share the gospel with him. Less than an hour later the man had died.

This is the young man with Hep B
shortly after praying with him
(days before his death).


I saw one 14 year old boy each morning for nearly two weeks. He had come to the clinic feeling unwell after being treated for malaria and typhoid fever for several weeks already. We admitted him to the hospital and gave IV fluids and medication. He seemed better after a few days so we sent him home. He ended up coming back even worse the next day. We later discovered that he was positive for hepatitis B and we thought there was a possibility of some type of cancer also. We had no way of treating him and he became worse each day. I walked to lunch one day feeling unwell and so took the afternoon to sleep. When I tried to get up for supper, I began experiencing violent shakes with chills. This was the second time I experienced chills on the continent of Africa. It was evident that I had a fever and so did not see patients at the hospital the next day. When I headed back to the hospital the following morning, I was informed that my patient had died. I had prayed with him for his healing and salvation. I know one of the pastors had visited him and his father several times, but I do not know what his last thoughts were. Did he call out to Christ? We had shown him love and told him whose love we were sharing with him. This is why we go.

Worship on Sunday morning.
Children reaching for my phone.
We were encouraged by many things in Togo: the spread of Christ and His church by missionaries and Togolese alike, baptism of brothers and sisters, the healing and recovery of many patients, smiling children, seeing people ask Jesus to become their Lord, and fellowship with other believers. Yet, Togo is full of people who have yet to hear the name of Jesus. There are Muslims throughout the country and many who are animistic. We have been informed that human and child sacrifice still happen in Togo. How dreadful that any should be sacrificed when Christ Himself has already paid that price for each of us. Pray that the knowledge of Christ would continue to spread through the efforts of the missionaries in Togo and through the Togolese believers.

Dr Fred Pfenniger rounds on a baby boy with multiple birth
defects including cleft lip and palate.

This short trip allowed me to learn and allowed me to serve the people of Togo and to serve the missionaries who live there. I learned a lot from Dr. Fred during morning rounds. He and his wife are finishing their two years at the hospital through World Medical Mission. They and some of the other long-term doctors hope to come back, but must return home for a time. The hospital is already hurting for more help and will soon be without four of its doctors. This is part of the gap that I and a few others with World Medical Mission seek to fill. The hospital can only continue to function while there are doctors there to run it – and two or three are not enough for a hospital as busy as this. Surgeons and obstetricians are also needed. Pray that the Lord would provide long and short-term physicians with Christ’s heart for people where they are needed.

Just after delivery.
We are home now (although the definition of home becomes less clear). We arrived after safe travels and have reunited with our children. There are many things that need to be done before we can move to language school and then to Togo, but we are trusting the Lord to provide. At this point, we need to find people to join us in our work by agreeing to help us with monthly financial support. We are currently estimating a need for about $4000 each month. We have no doubt that our Lord will provide when we obey His call on our lives.

We find at every turn hardship and difficulty, but there is always an equal measure of Christ’s own grace. We cannot wait to see what He will do. Worship Him today. Thank Him.

Dr. Seth

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