The greatest revelation I walked away with after my Discipleship Training School (DTS) was that I was created to be an overcomer. We all know that life always has challenges, but the joy of following Jesus is that we are empowered to overcome whatever lies before us.
I was deeply impacted by this thought in the lecture phase of my DTS and during my outreach phase, I experienced this truth at work in my life. My team and I were on board the m/v Pacific Link for two weeks in Papua New Guinea and served in the medical clinics in the East New Britain Province. An amazing aspect of these medical clinics is that anyone can be a part of them regardless of their experience or skillset.
There are important non-medical roles that need volunteers in order for clinics to take place. Going into my two-week outreach on the ship, I was confident that wherever I served, no matter how small, I would be contributing to something life-changing. As the time came for roles to be assigned for clinics, I scanned the list to find my name. I read that I would be the script for Dr. Tommy Walters, the surgeon on board.
My first two thoughts were “What does being a script mean exactly?” and “Oh no. Surgery means blood.” While other volunteers thought surgery would be so exciting, I was terrified. In my whole life, I become faint at the sight of needles and sick at the thought of blood. I wanted to be flexible and serve where they needed me, but I just wasn’t sure if this was going to work out.
Initially, I was told I’d be taking notes for the doctor and wouldn’t have to be in surgery, but by the first day of clinics, that wasn’t the case. Dr. Tommy needed an extra set of hands and I was his go-to person. Nothing in me felt like I could do this but I didn’t want to be lead by fear so I decided I would at least do my best and try.
This wasn’t a matter of not wanting to do something; I truly didn’t think I was capable. We began our first surgery in a room with no electricity, no running water, and no air flow! It was hot and humid and I was seriously nervous. All I could think was “If I get sick or pass out, I will be so embarrassed.”
As I stood at an awkward angle, gloves and mask on, holding my cell phone up as extra light, Dr. Tommy made the incision. Day after day the Holy Spirit strengthened me and sustained me to do this work. The motivation you find when you are helping others and a part of a larger purpose is amazing. Throughout my time in the clinics, I assisted in 33 surgeries where I held clamps and blotted blood, amongst other things.
The most surprising part is, I actually found myself enjoying this work!
It was such a joy to serve the people of PNG and to support the incredible work of Dr. Tommy Walters. Most of the surgeries were the removal of lipomas, small deposits of fat beneath the skin. The conditions were not life-threatening, but the treatment was life-changing for the patients.
An 8-year-old girl had a lipoma removed from above her left eyebrow. Can you imagine how differently she feels about herself without that being the first thing people notice about her? An older woman had a lipoma the size of a tennis ball removed from her right shoulder blade. Think of how much more comfortable she can sleep at night.
We served communities that are many hours away from the nearest hospital and where most cannot afford to make the trip. It was difficult to meet locals who came seeking care but weren’t able to be treated due to the severity of their conditions. In the midst of that, we were still able to offer them the hope of Jesus and the love of the Father.
During our two-weeks on board the m/v Pacific Link, we served and impacted over 3,000 people through surgery, free medication, immunizations, community engagement, Bible distribution, and prayer. I felt so blessed to be a part of this outreach and meet so many beautiful people. I was also grateful to be personally challenged by serving in my role because it was an opportunity for God’s grace to sustain me.
I believe out of all the volunteers on the ship, I was the least likely to succeed in this role and yet God placed me there. Experiencing His power being made perfect in my weakness has changed my life and become part of my testimony. I’ve never been more confident that I’m able to do anything God is calling me to do and even enjoy the challenge of it.
YWAM Ships Kona Staff