November 5th, Micky, Terry McLamb (the PAACS administrator) and I drove the ten hours to Louisville Kentucky to participate in yet another wonderful Global Missions Health Conference held at the Southeastern Christian Church. It was the biggest conference yet with over 2800 people attending – all with a focus on medical missions. I spoke once, participated in one panel and spent most of the time talking to interested people. On Friday evening, we held a supper-hour get-together and three program directors (Joe Starke – Galmi; Russ White – Tenwek and Dave Thompson – Egypt) shared their hearts with the 100 attendees. On Saturday, the last plenary session also featured Dave Thompson as the speaker.
The Ebola epidemic was on everyone’s lips at the conference. I talked to Rick Sacra (from Liberia) and saw Kent Brantly several times across the room. Debbie Eisenhut, a general surgeon from ELWA in Liberia, talked with Kent Brantly about their shared experience with Kent’s illness and she also presented a breakout session that I attended. It is such an ongoing tragedy.
If you would like to help the Salias with their unexpected bills, you can donated to a special fund that the United Methodist Church has established: https://gp-reg.brtapp.com/drsalia
I was deeply touched when my 9 years of volunteer service in the role of leadership was recognized by the PAACS Commission on Friday night. I received a handsome logo-bearing plaque which read, “Presented to Dr. Bruce Steffes in appreciation of your faithful service and dedication of the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (Executive Director 2006-2014)” and received a standing ovation. They also have arranged for a get-away weekend in the NC mountains sometime in the future for Micky, Sean and me. And yes, I was very emotional about it. I am very thankful that God has given me great peace about the change despite the uncertainties and I look forward to working with an expanded team to finally accomplish some things that have been on the back burner for a long time. I am also glad that I can continue to work closely with the missionaries and trainees which is where the hearts and passion for Micky and me have long been centered. I will still need your prayers because although I have peace, it will still not be easy to give up the reins and have the patience to assist in new ways of doing things and in training my replacements in both roles. Pray for both them and me.
I did write a multipage document that summarized what I have done the last 9 years. I fully recognize that they were not my doings but the results of the wonderful team of dedicated people with whom I have had the honor to work. Rejoice with me about what the Lord has done!
2005 Nov. 2014
Number of PAACS training sites 2 11
Sites wanting to join 2 3
Number of PAACS residents 9 64 (as of January)
Number of PAACS graduates 3 43 (as of January)
Number of approved faculty 2 54 (as of November)
Number of Commission members 12 19
Advisory Council No Yes (17 members)
Task Forces 0 6
Short-term volunteer faculty 8 171 (2013-2014)
Budget $37 K (given) $1.33 M
We look forward to our early family Thanksgiving today and ask for prayer as I fly to Tanzania on Thanksgiving Day. I will be participating in administration of the COSECSA oral exams in Dar es Salaam.
We hope that you have a blessed holiday with your family and that your hearts are truly thankful for all God has blessed you with. We are deeply thankful for each of you and for your support of our ministry through the years. May God richly bless you.
Yours and His – thankfully!
Bruce, Micky and Sean