I had the chance to participate in a medical mission elective experience at Karanda Mission Hospital in Mt. Darwin, Zimbabwe. The trip was led by Scott Armistead, CMDA Richmond faculty leader and former missionary doctor in Pakistan. In addition to myself and Dr. Armistead, two other 4th year medical students and two residents participated in the month-long experience.  All of us have an interest in medical missions and global health, and this experience allowed us to explore that interest from a uniquely Christian perspective. While the elective was scheduled for the month of January, I was able to arrange my schedule to allow me to stay for an additional month. 

The two months I spent in Zimbabwe was life-changing – professionally, personally, and spiritually. Medical needs are great in this low-resource setting, and as a 4th-year medical student, I was given significant clinical responsibility from the get-go which was challenging and scary but also an amazing opportunity to grow in my clinical skills. As a future OBGYN, I especially appreciated the opportunity to work with surgeons in this low-resource setting, who nevertheless found creative ways to provide life-changing interventions to patients. Personally, I enjoyed the chance to connect on a deeper level both with the team from VCU and with local staff, many of whom have become close friends. Most importantly, this trip deepened my faith walk and challenged many of my assumptions about who God is and how He works. I was so inspired to see Christians in this setting who, by nature of their circumstances, are forced to walk by faith every single day and rely on God to provide for their most basic needs. As an affluent American Christian, I often have the illusion of self-sufficiency. This can result in a desire for control rather than relying on God and walking by faith. After returning, I’ve been reflecting often on what I learned from Zimbabwean brothers and sisters and striving to apply this to my own faith walk. 

My time in Zimbabwe was truly life-changing and left me excited to pursue more opportunities in global health and mission medicine in the future. I’m grateful to CMDA for providing an amazing mentor in Dr. Armistead, and for the many opportunities, both short- and long-term, we have to serve both locally and globally that CMDA provides. 

Andrew Kirk 
4th-year Medical Student