Written by Dr. Karen Thompson

Dr. Thompson (center front) with Rock Church team

Recently, my fiance and I had the privilege of partnering with a group from Rockford, Illinois to go on a mission trip to Egbe, Nigeria.  The Rock Church, from Rockford, Illinois, invited us to join them for a short mission trip to Egbe where I was able to assist on the medical side, and my fiance was able to participate on the construction side of things there in Egbe.  Neither one of us had ever been on a mission trip nor was it an experience that we will never forget.

Dr. Kantayya and Dr. Thompson

Several months prior to the trip, I had found myself in a transition period between jobs and life in general.  It was at this time that God started working with me to pursue volunteer experiences while I was awaiting God’s direction regarding my next “career” assignment.  I had always longed to be a part of a mission experience but, being a physician in training, I had never had the time to pursue an opportunity.  In only a “God way”, I was put in contact with Dr. Kantayya from the “Rock Church” to inquire about any opportunities.  Interestingly, Dr. Kantayya and his group had two remaining spots for the upcoming trip to Egbe.  Dr. Kantayya tells the story of how they had just offered up a prayer for the remaining two people the night before I contacted him.  God is amazing, never too early and never too late.

Fiance electrician Brian and the electrical maze

Long story short, I have to admit that if someone would have told me that Egbe, Nigeria, was going to be my first mission trip, I would have run scared.  However, God knows exactly what He is doing and called me in a way that I could not refuse.  In fact, I was so blessed that there was a need for an electrician for this trip, enter my fiance who is a 30 year, experienced, union electrician.  My fiance was just as excited about the trip as myself, and we began the process of monthly planning meetings, immunizations, and financial arrangements.

Even though Nigeria is experiencing its share of civil unrest, I never once was fearful about our safety or questioned God’s protection.  We had several opportunities along the way to doubt, but God remained faithful, and we trusted God the whole way.

Dr. Thompson seeing patients

My time in Egbe was spent giving lectures to the medical residents, working in the outpatient clinic seeing patients, helping to organize a medical supply room, and getting the opportunity to operate in a Nigerian operating theatre.  WOW!  My fiance had the opportunity to help with the demolition of the old outpatient clinic and salvaging any electrical supplies for the new facility.  He also helped mentor some of the nationals in electrical work.

Each day we had the honor and privilege of getting to know the nationals there at the Egbe hospital compound. What an amazing group of individuals.  It was incredible to see the love these people have for God and for us! The real blessing was not what we did for the people there at Egbe, but what they did for us.  It really put into practice what Paul talks about in Philippians 4:12, “I have learned the secret of what it means to be satisfied in any and all situations, whether hungry or well fed”.  AMEN!

Fulani children

The pinnacle of the trip had to be the night we spent with the Fulani tribe.  I had never even camped in America let alone in the middle of the African bush with a group of individuals who do not speak any English. Talk about taking a leap of faith and trusting God.  A missionary to the Fulani tribe, named Raye, was very gracious and organized this trip for the 6 of us.  Raye waited until we had arrived and there was no turning back to tell this city girl (me), “Oh, by the way, see that stalk of corn nearby??  The last time I was here, I helped to kill a King Cobra at that site”.  Thanks Raye…..   This overnight experience turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of my life thus far.  The fact that God is allowing the hearts and minds of the Fulani people to allow us into their camp is amazing.  They were the most generous people, offering us gifts in the form of food the whole time we were there.  

Dr. Thompson on hospital walkway

I feel so blessed and privileged to have been a part of the team there at Egbe.  The friendships that my fiance and I made with the other team members are hard to describe.  God knows exactly and precisely what He is doing at all times.  There is nothing random with God.  Thanks be to God and the Egbe Revitalization team for allowing us to play a small part in this project.  God is alive and well in Egbe, Nigeria.

Our team song for this trip was a Matt Redmond song, “Never once did we ever walk alone, never once did you leave us on our own, You are faithful God, You are faithful…”.  He is faithful!