After appointment to serve at the Baptist Hospital in Paraguay, we began a year of language study in Costa Rica, savored by memorable experiences with other young couples preparing to serve all across the Hispanic world.
Dr. Thurmon Bryant, Area Director for South America, had earlier presented me with clear marching orders, “guide them to become a Paraguayan Baptist owned and operated entity”. No greater favor could have been bestowed to me, because these words dictated my every daily decision and management strategy. Initially, the hospital was labeled as an unwanted “white elephant”; however, with the strategic vision acquired in Tupelo and the sage counsel of Medical Director, Dr. Jovino Cabrera, my treasured partner, the process for change blossomed.
A Five Year Trial of “self management” was begun: financial performance improved, the spiritual ministry was intensified, the nursing school was elevated to bachelor degree program, and a mobile cataract surgery program was initiated, reclaiming sight for the poor all over Paraguay. God was clearly at work!
In 1995 the hospital transfer took place. The Centro Médico Bautista was a recognized lighthouse for Christ and pace setting institution. Soon afterwards a group of renowned cardiologists approached us to create a Heart Institute. After much prayer, we took a $1 million step of faith, resulting in blessings never contemplated. Just one year later the first successful heart transplant in the history of Paraguay was performed free of charge for truck driver, Pedro Nuñez, who more importantly received a second “heart transplant” in Christ! Since then numerous heart transplants for children, youth, and adults have been performed, many totally underwritten by the MedicalCenter. No other medical procedure more clearly depicts the overarching and life changing ministry of this hospital.
God led me through the remaining Beatitudes in Paraguay: mourning when my mother departed this world for the glory of heaven, pure in heart, in a great liberating confession before Dr. Henry Blackaby at an annual mission retreat, and peacemaking amidst a very difficult challenge as we had to reduce the Medical Center’s workforce due to the plummeting national economy.
In 1998 God confirmed to me that the very capable leadership was now prepared to assume the mantle and that our mission was complete. Two months after returning to the US the Paraguay Baptist Medical Center Foundation was established to help provide financial support. Over the last 13 years we have sponsored seven medical mission trips in partnership with CMB which have ministered to 27,000 patients, provided $73,000 in free medicines, and witnessed 3,000 people come to Christ! Even though my mission in Paraguay concluded 14 years ago, the Foundation has extended an exhilarating ministry with them.
No matter one’s age, a serious review of your life will reveal incredibly strategic moments and leadership by Our God. His Hand is clearly evident. He seeks is our openness to allow Him to accomplish His great purpose in our life and bestow blessings we could never imagine. And such confirmation of the past only points us to our future in Him. That’s where I am—in the next chapter!