“Rivers in the Desert” 7-10 July ICMDA Southern Africa Conference
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in a wasteland” Isaiah 43:19
The conference was held in a town called Okahandja at the Hodygos Youth For Christ Centre. The beautiful arid Namibia proved to be the perfect environment for our meetings and the food was fabulous. Namibia is now part of the Southern African regional countries of the ICMDA (International Christian Medical & Dental Association). Previous regional conferences in the region have been held every 4 years in the following countries: Zambia (2000); Malawi (2004); South Africa (2008); Zimbabwe (2012). The Namibians courageously took up the challenge to host this year’s conference as part of celebrating their medical school’s first graduates this year. We had 150 delegates from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi, and Mozambique. It is also amazing how far people travelled to come to this conference. The farthest east was Dr Moises Sitole from Beira, Mozambique. Sponsorship money raised played a huge role in offsetting travel cost of students traveling from Durban, Mthatha, Pretoria, Cape Town and all over. Every country somehow put into place a strategy to get people to the conference. I mean, how do you explain the fact that 20+ students come from a cash-crises Zimbabwe? We were fortunate to have Dr Vinod Shah, General Secretary from the ICMDA office in India attending the conference as well.
Namibian medical students who came to the South Africa National CMF “I have a good story to tell” conference in Pretoria last year sparked the initiative. I remember visiting Namibia in 2014 to spy out the land, and hanging out with the students assisted by two interns, Dr Frans and Dr Betty. Then the group was ‘small’. Then in 2015, they exploded onto the scene when they came with a whole bus to the Pretoria CMF Conference. Now they managed over 150 people in a conference. Truly a river has arrived in the desert.
It is difficult to comprehensively state what happened at the conference, so I have some quotes:
“As a medicial student I was convicted to selflessly give myself to the call of God to serve people and not lord over them. Prof Sam highlighted the fact we ought not to see ourselves as more important than others, but rather use the opportunity we have to water the dry deserts of those in need. I also learned that wherever I may find myself as a doctor no service will be too small, for every drop counts, and there is no individual who will be of no use if they be willing to be used by God. A cry was made for doctors to be willing to take the challenge of practicing community based medicine, for this is where there is opportunity to know people and be a witness for Christ unto them” .
“It was a wakeup call indeed to rejuvenate the river flow in our deserted lives. There is no way we can become good doctors without the Holy Spirit working in us as long as we walk by the Spirit so that we may bear fruit which will ultimately dissipate and flourish in our workspace. This includes the patient, teaching staff, and profs along with colleagues.”
“That we are Christians who are doctors not doctors that are Christians.”
“I was reminded of the importance of humility and the attitude of service towards patients, looking for Christ in them and being Christ to them.”
“I received quite a lot of freedom from Prof Sam’s talk, specifically what he said about metaphorical understanding. I was encouraged in knowing that I didn’t have to be discouraged by not knowing the answers to the mysteries of God.”
A big thank you to all those who led the various sessions:
- Prof Sam “Rivers of living water: maintaining the Flow over a Lifespan”
- Dr Tygie “Every drop counts”
(Apologies – the audio recording was poor, so no audio, but I am sure you can invite them to do the talk again.)
- Seminar Leaders: Dr Emmanuel S (Zambia), Dr Patrick Masokwane (Botswana), Dr Jane Bates (Malawi), Dr Farai Charasika (Zimbabwe)
Sessions: Dr Jan Kunene “Worldviews and Medical Schools”, Dr Sam Fehrsen “Reflective learning”, Dr Alida Connell “Mental Health and Boundaries”, Dr Goody “Mentorship”, Dr Farai Charasika “Community engagement”, Dr Martin Bac and Dr Mfanelo Sobekwa “Saline Solution”.
“Champions” is one of the active practical ministries reaching out to pre-teen and teen HIV orphans that has grown up in the network of CMFs that we have in Southern Africa. One can see the fruit of the leadership that has risen in the student ranks,inspiring them with confidence to reach out in prayer and counseling.
God has blessed the Southern Africa region with elders and youth.
“I was specifically challenged and convicted by the teaching on the servanthood and simplicity one ought to have in the medical profession, and that the true need in Africa is doctors who are willing to selflessly give themselves to communities for the glory of Christ.”
“I came to understand that every desert season provides an opportunity for growth and understanding of the ways of God.”
This conference would not have been possible without Anzelle (CMF office), Dr Felicia and Dr Uapa.
We are glad to announce that the next ICMDA regional Southern Africa conference will be in Botswana 2020 (although please keep in mind that the international ICMDA is in India in 2018).
Dr Jan Kunene