Respect the person you treat – that is missional, right?
By MK Lim

 From January 2015, for five years, Andrew Chew and Sok Hui Goh served as medical missionaries at the Soddo Christian Hospital in Ethiopia. Andrew was program director of the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS), while Sok was the hospital medical director. In January 2020, they returned to Adelaide where they were later interviewed for the OCF Heritage Project. 

Michelle Tan, a medical student at Adelaide University, asked them about practising medicine with much more limited resources than what is available in Australia. The Chews spoke of difficult decisions to make, e.g., who gets ventilated, and that there is no single-use surgical equipment in Ethiopia. Rather, everything is ‘reposable’, reusable-disposable: use till broken, then discard. Things are done differently, for example, maxillofacial surgeries with dental wires rather than plates, with very good results. Surgeons also have to look at what they are trying to achieve. For example, should cataracts operation restore navigation sight or reading vision if a patient is illiterate and the big need is for them to find their own way to the toilet, restoring their dignity, and freeing up young children to go to school.

As medical director of Soddo Christian Hospital, Sok worked with the national staff, and mentored middle management to ensure good quality of care. She had to make sure that the hospital did not run out of essential supplies: blood, essential drugs, oxygen. To this end, she not only put processes in place, but she was also intentionally relational and sought to empower her team of Ethiopian nationals. 

 This was the second time the word ‘relational’ featured prominently in the interview. The first was much earlier, when Sok spoke of her experience in OCF Melbourne in the 1970s. She recalled being mentored by Pastor Allan Webb, and Bruce and Ruth Morton. Sok said of the Mortons, ‘They were very relational in the way that they pastored us, and then we would go to them for advice.’ The Mortons had been missionaries with the Borneo Evangelical Mission, then OMF. When they returned to Melbourne, they took young Sok under their wing. They would pick her up for church, and she used to bring many OCFers to their home for lunch. It seems as if being relational is core to being Christian.

When asked if they had anything to say to medical students, Andrew said, ‘I think the scope of service is not important. It’s who you are and how you treat every individual that is important. I think the place is not important. You can treat people here. You can treat people in Ethiopia, you can treat people in London, but we – you need to treat them – as a Christian, respect the person that you treat. That to me is missional, right?’ 

Listen to Andrew and Sok Hui’s childhood and journey to Australia here

Listen to their experience in OCF here

Listen to their medical missions story here

If you would like to listen to the full interview contact us via our Facebook page.

If you have any material related to your time in OCF, please scan and upload to our website here. The process of writing OCF’s history will begin in July 2021, so please get your material to us as soon as possible.