When I was a child, I watched a documentary at school about medical missionaries in Africa. That night, I knelt by my bed to talk to God. “Dear Lord,” I prayed, “please help me go to Africa someday so I can wear a white coat like the doctor in the film and help needy children.” I forgot about that prayer until many years later when I volunteered to serve as a dentist in Rwanda.

Rwanda is a country in central Africa with a painful past. In 1994, hundreds of thousands of people were murdered by their countrymen, and much of the country was destroyed. There was heartache everywhere.

Fortunately, Rwanda is amazingly different now. The country has been rebuilt, and the people have learned how to forgive and respect each other. Best of all, they’re hungry for the Word of God! I’m very grateful that God called me to share Him in Rwanda and has given me the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives through meeting their needs.

The street boy who taught me a lesson on persistence.
Visiting with guests at the Total Member Involvement evangelism and health campaign in Nyamata.
We had to pull many teeth from the children at the health campaign in Nyamata. When this picture was taken, they were still feeling the sensation of anesthesia, but I’m sure they’ll be happy not to have any more pain!

One Sunday, the clinic staff went to a Total Member Involvement evangelism and health campaign in a small town called Nyamata to provide free medical and dental care to those who couldn’t afford it. So many came that we didn’t even have time for lunch! But we didn’t feel fatigued because we were passionate about helping them.

One of my colleagues introduced me to a woman who had come to the campaign after experiencing intense tooth pain for a week. We treated her, and she went home that night completely free from pain. The next day, she brought a lot of people to our campaign! I heard her telling them, “These Adventist brothers are good. I came with severe pain, and they didn’t ask me whether I belonged to their church or whether I had been attending the meetings. They just helped me, so let’s go to the meetings!” More than 200 people were baptized as a result of God’s leading during the program.

On another occasion, I had temporarily been put in charge of the clinic, and I was very worried because some things weren’t going well. As I walked to a local restaurant for lunch, I met a boy who frequently asks me for coins. He had always behaved respectfully toward me, even when I had no money to give him.

However, this time, he grabbed me and said, “Friend, I’m hungry! Please give me food!” I told him that I had no coins and would give him some the next day, but he wouldn’t leave. Instead, he defiantly stopped me from continuing down the road.

I was struck by the way this 10-year-old boy asserted himself. “I’m not asking you for money this time,” he insisted. “I’m really hungry. Please let me eat with you.”

I took him along to the restaurant, and while we ate our meal, his behavior made me think. If this child stood in front of me and got what he needed, why don’t I stand before God and ask Him to help me in this work?

I had invited the boy to eat, not realizing that through him, God would minister to my own needs. I rushed back to my office and knelt down to pray with a faith I had never had before. I surrendered to Him all the problems that were weighing on me so heavily, and He resolved them one by one!

The boy on the street reminded me that when God sends you to do something for Him, He doesn’t send you alone. He sends His Spirit with you to help in every challenge. Once again, I found comfort in the promise of Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (NIV).

Sinercio Jonatan Nina Yupanqui A dentist from Bolivia, Sinercio Jonatan Nina Yupanqui serves at Kigali Adventist Dental Clinic in Rwanda through Adventist Volunteer Service.