As I walked in front of the ER at Pioneer Christian Hospital in the Republic of Congo, I heard a far too familiar sound. The death wails of a young mom and dad who lost a child to malaria. A heart-wrenching sound our healthcare providers come to know far too well. Later that day, in the same unit I helped ventilate another infant back to life that had stopped breathing. I felt the weight of the parent’s agony wondering if their baby would meet the same fate as the child from a few hours ago. I was only at Pioneer Christian Hospital for a week, but in that time, I saw the death of two children. They died, simply because of where they were born, taken by the diseases of poverty. It made my heart go out to our physicians in a neighboring African country fighting a malaria epidemic in the middle of the COVID pandemic. They had just reported to me malaria had taken the lives of 70 children under five in the last 60 days. Mission hospitals can be places of great sadness. These moments of seeing children die are painful reminders of the terrible realities of life for the poor in the developing world. They are also reminders of how hard medical missions can be, and the toll it can take on the human spirit for those serving. The vast amount of maternal and child death seen by most of our providers is hard to comprehend. I have come to marvel at the resilience of our missionaries working in these facilities.
Mission hospitals can also be places of great joy and restoration, and that is what I witnessed on my visit to Pioneer Christian Hospital this year. I had an opportunity to follow CHSC missionary physician, Dr. Joe Harvey on hospital rounds. Dr. Joe and Becky RN Harvey are the founders and directors of Pioneer Christian Hospital in Republic of Congo. I watched as he ministered to moms, prayed with every patient, and demonstrated Christ’s love compassion, and mercy. I have known Dr. Harvey since 2003 and I have always been impressed with how the Lord used them to
create this mission hospital in the Congo. That is why when they came to me wanting to transfer over to CHSC last year we were happy to receive them. It is a privilege to support CHSC missionaries as they cope with these unique challenges in medical missions.
Dr. Harvey is the only missionary physician left in the Republic of Congo, and the hospital he and his wife Becky established the only evangelical mission hospital there. Dr. Harvey was called to be a missionary doctor to the Congo in the 3rd grade. His commitment never wavered. Nor did he or Becky’s commitment waver toward the patients, or this community they call home. Joe and Becky moved to the Congo 25 years ago and raised their children there. Olivia, their oldest daughter, is also a CHSC missionary midwife now serving at the hospital. The Harvey’s remain committed to their life’s work, caring for the poor in the Republic of Congo.