I have just arrived home from the PAACS Commission meeting in Chicago, Illinois. God knew I needed some extra coddling on the way home – I was very glad for the unexpected upgrade to First Class section on the homeward journey. As you recognize, I have been working as an unpaid volunteer within PAACS with one part-time administrative assistant since 2006 and as things were growing, we have run faster and faster. Some things were not getting done in the manner that I would wish and the attached sketch was representative of where we were – the wheel may have been turning but the hamster was dead (or very nearly so!) At this meeting, I was very grateful that the Commission decided to do two things to help the organization and to help us: they are going to institute an immediate search for a new executive director and a new developmental officer (fund-raiser) and they have agreed to begin paying me a modest salary in September – to replace the income we lost when I resigned from the teaching position. I will stay integrally involved but in a new position – Chief Medical Officer which allows me to concentrate on the residents, the programs and the academic component. Once those two new people are in place, they will hire some more administrative help and a part-time book-keeper. The latter position will give Micky back some of her life – she is spending 20 – 30 hours a week keeping the books for PAACS and serving as my assistant in matters financial. She has been an amazing blessing to me and to PAACS.
If you know of anyone who would make a good Executive Director or know an experienced fund-raiser, let me know. The best candidates are always the ones that others have already employed – we will recruit them away if we can and if God puts this ministry in their hearts. Also, if you would like to give to PAACS to underwrite our personal ministry with them, please send a check to CMDA-PAACS, PO Box 9906, Fayetteville, NC 28311-9906 and indicate on the check its purpose. We will continue to support our ministry and travel with our S3 Ministries as well.
Also, while in Chicago, I had the chance to speak to a team of surgeons and administrators led by Bob Cropsey and a new missionary surgeon, Tom Kendall, who were from Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) who are still hoping to put a PAACS program in Togo. The financial considerations may delay it a few years, but I continue to pray that it will someday happen.
Last week, I attended the SAGES (Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons) in Salt Lake City. I gave a presentation on tropical medicine and infectious disease for surgeons as part of a full afternoon’s post-graduate course on humanitarian surgery. It went well and I was amazed how often the other speakers referenced the good work that PAACS was doing. While I was there, I got an unexpected e-mail from a surgeon who was a minimally-invasive surgery fellow at Duke when I taught part-time at the VAH there. He is now a very well-respected surgeon with a named chair at a University in the Midwest and influential in SAGES, the American College of Surgeons and in his profession. He wrote, “I hate that I just now saw that you were here at SAGES this year. Hope all is going well with you. You had a big impact on my career and I have not forgotten you. Really wish we had gotten a chance to catch up.” That unexpected note was a great encouragement to me. How gracious of him to write it. In fact, we actually did get a chance to speak and I hope to visit him in June at his university.
On the home front, we once again celebrated our wedding anniversary by being apart. It was our 16th anniversary. It seems like just yesterday – but if that were true, then I have to wonder where our tall young boy came from. He turns 13 in May and continues to be our joy. He is scheduled to take the set of TerraNova examinations in his school this coming week and we would appreciate your prayers for him. He does not test well and has a bit of test anxiety. He and Micky are working hard at home schooling and I would like his scores to reflect his efforts and his real knowledge. He went back on Friday to spend the day with his old class so he could get the “hellos” and excitement behind him in order that he could concentrate on his exams this week. He will take them four days this week.
We are excited that my mother, Ardith, is coming for a visit from the 15th – 21st of this month. She will then complete the circuit by visiting my sister, Sally, in Wake Forest and then Cindy in Tennessee. We praise God that her blood condition is remaining quiescent and that she is enjoying pretty good health after a rough winter in Michigan.
We leave April 26 for the CMDA-CMDE (Christian Medical and Dental Associations’ Continuing Medical and Dental Education) conference to be held in Greece. This is the first time that we are holding this conference for the African and Middle Eastern missionaries off of the continent of Africa and it is exciting that we are having a record attendance including medical missionaries from Asia and S. America. It will effectively be the first trans-world medical mission conference. Rev. George Murray will be the spiritual life speaker and we have a robust CME conference set up. I have given someone else the opportunity to be the worship coordinator, and I must confess, I will miss that honor. I am involved in giving one lecture and being involved with both the PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) and ACLS (Adult Cardiac Life Support) courses. There will be some PAACS-related CME and business there as well. After the conference, we are taking a several day bus tour “In the Footsteps of the Apostles” with a Christian tour group. We are excited about seeing how the New Testament will come alive.
Some of our PAACS residents had their visa applications for visas to Greece denied despite lots of letters, documentations and even political pressure. They are deeply disappointed and those of us who are in CMDE are also deeply disappointed. Some deliberations are continuing. Please pray!
Errata: I was jet-lagged last time I wrote The SteffeScope. Egypt has 90 million, not 30 million.
Praises and Prayers:
- Thank you for your prayer coverage of the PAACS meeting. Now the real work begins. Pray for God’s direct leading and His blessing. Pray that God will lay it on the hearts of those who can give to give.
- Praise God for traveling safety.
- Please continue to pray for the visa issue for our African attendees at the CMDA-CMDE Conference in Greece
- Pray for Sean during his week of testing.
- Pray for the PAACS search committee so that God would lead them to the right people.
Bruce, Micky and Sean