I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong– that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. (Romans 1:11-12, NIV)
The faith of students I work with continually encourage me. Among many examples are those of two recent graduates who have given me permission to share their stories. I became acquainted with Belen and Greg shortly after each had started their freshman year at Loma Linda. At the time, I realized they were each experiencing some initial challenges in managing the workload.
When I talked with Belen, I learned that she was commuting to Sacramento, California, twice a month to help her mother manage her business. Like many immigrant families who depend on their children for tasks that require fluency in English, Belen’s family had relied upon her from the time she turned 18 to fill the role of administrator in their adult-care home. Before she started medical school, her parents separated; and she and her mother were unable to find a new administrator.
I seriously questioned whether Belen could continue her work in Sacramento and succeed academically, but she did both tasks during her first year-and-a-half of medical school. Her faith in God and her commitment to be a medical missionary sustained her. Belen married her medical school classmate, Jason Lohr, both LLUSM class of 2001, and they are now living out their faith at our mission hospital in Ile Ife, Nigeria.
Greg, LLUSM class of 1999, and Audrey Shank, LLUSM class of 2001, also met when they were medical students at Loma Linda. Greg started school with the vision of becoming a missionary surgeon. But he struggled with the volume of material he was required to master. He literally studied nearly every waking moment. While in the shower and during breakfast, he reviewed notes he had covered with plastic. Then, after his personal worship, he would head to class. After classes and labs, he would study through supper and until he went to bed, taking just a thirty-minute break for exercise and friends. But he still had difficulty.
After following a recommendation that he be evaluated, it was confirmed that he had dyslexia. Taking advantage of the help that was available for students who have learning differences he persevered. His diligence produced results, and he was accepted into a surgical residency (for which he gives all glory to God). He finished it while Audrey completed a residency in family practice. Today, Greg and Audrey operate a remote mission hospital in the northern African country of Cameroon.
The faith of these students demonstrates how God works through obstacles and human limitations to accomplish His purposes. Today, if you are facing obstacles or are disheartened by your sense of insufficiency or weakness, I hope you will remember the stories of these students. And I hope that you will be strengthened by the promise of God that strengthened them: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)
– Henry Lamberton is associate dean for student affairs for LLUSM