Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Gift of Obedience

“Everybody’s salvation begins in somebody else’s obedience.” —Dr. Dennis Kinlaw,former president of Asbury College.This truth carries much weight when you think about it.

Recently, an e-mail hit my inbox that piqued my curiosity.
Mae Verheyden, office manager for our publishing
and media department, had just received a request from
someone asking for media presentations of WGM ministries
in the country of Kenya. On top of that, he had expressed a
desire to raise money for the Tenwek Community Health and
Development ministry. With my curiosity aroused, I tried to
find him in our donor database, to no avail. “Interesting….”

Wondering what step of obedience had mobilized this man
into action, I made connection with him by phone.
I found out that Dr. Mike Liske had been a classmate of
missionary surgeon Dr. Russ White at the University of Michigan
(as a Buckeye fan, this was difficult to swallow) back in the
’80s and they hadn’t been in contact for over 18 years. They had
touched base by e-mail, and Mike had decided to go on a missions
trip to Kenya in January of 2008 to assess the capabilities
of Tenwek Hospital to host a team to perform heart surgeries
on children.

As a pediatric heart specialist from Vanderbilt Children’s
Hospital in Nashville, Dr. Liske was overwhelmed by the abundant
number of cases of rheumatic heart disease, which is now
only a minor problem in the U.S. The condition can be pre-

Hospital Admissions at Tenwek 1983 2006
(per 100,000 population served)
Measles 399 1
Diarrheal Diseases 786 143
Whooping Cough Deaths 21 1
Malaria 686 227
Community Awareness
Immunizations 20,318 70,217
Health Committees 3 120
Volunteer Health Workers 63 1,578
New Challenges (total)
Physical Assault 116 132
Cases of HIV/AIDS 0 989

vented by treating strep throat with antibiotics like penicillin,
but in many regions of the Third World, when a child gets
strep throat, he or she is not treated. This in turn can lead
to rheumatic fever and, ultimately, rheumatic heart disease.

Touched with this great need, Dr. Liske recalled a paper
about a preventive medical approach used in Costa Rica where
antibiotics were offered to patients without the use of a throat
culture, resulting in a dramatic reduction of rheumatic fever
cases. Dr. Liske suspected that such a successful program
could be the key ingredient to a scientific study to determine if
village community workers dispensing antibiotics to children
without the use of a throat culture could prevent rheumatic
heart disease in a sub-Saharan nation. If this concept could
be proven, then that approach could be used in other African
regions as well, and so he spoke with Jonathan Bii, the on-site
director of the Tenwek Community Health and Development
(TCHD) program. Mr. Bii reviewed the results of the TCHD
program (which were very impressive) with Dr. Liske, who
could see from the statistics of patients who had been treated at
Tenwek Hospital that the TCHD ministry had made an impact.

Unfortunately, the TCHD program had recently lost a large
portion of its $180,000 per year donor funding. This loss not
only puts the community health and development ministry in
jeopardy but also inhibits this vision of preventing rheumatic
heart disease. So Dr. Liske’s dream has a two-fold target: (1) to
help the TCHD in general, as its funding has decreased, and
(2) to initiate a preventive program to reduce rheumatic heart

As I pondered this burden on the heart of Dr. Liske, I interjected
a question into our phone conversation. “So, what crisis
happened to you, a busy father of four preteen kids, to take this
step?” He responded, “There really wasn’t a crisis. I just came
to a point in my life where I wanted to use my skills and training
more directly for the Lord’s service in a setting that doesn’t
have the abundant medical resources we enjoy here in the U.S.,
and it just so happened that the needs at Tenwek matched what
I was interested in doing and studying. I was also excited about
having the opportunity to work with a number of wonderful
people like Jonathan Bii; Dr. Russ White; and Dr. John Spriegel,
medical director of the Tenwek Community Health program;
as well as Dr. Ron Johannsen, a cardiologist from Minnesota
who has volunteered at Tenwek and has worked tirelessly in
putting together the equipment needed for our future surgical

That hits on a basic calling for every Christian! Offer yourself
a living sacrifice to God; then take the next step of obedience
(Romans 12:1-2). And you know, offering yourself may be
a crisis experience, but on the other hand, seeing the need and
using your skills and resources to meet it may just be “what the
doctor ordered.” 
November/December 2008 Call to Prayer 13

Can God use your obedience to help Dr. Liske hit
his target? Project # 25172 for Tenwek Community
Health and Development
Dr.Liske’s dream has a two-fold
target: (1) to help the TCHD
in general, as its funding has
decreased, and (2) to initiate a
preventive program to reduce
rheumatic heart disease.

Learn more about the ministry: Dr. Liske can be reached at