Feature

A Medical First

By

On June 27, 1952, Tata Tomasi Paku, president of the C&MA church in the Republic of the Congo, addressed hundreds of Congolese who were gathered to dedicate the new medical hospital at Maduda.

“For many, many years we have earnestly prayed for a doctor to come to Congo and for a hospital of our own where our people could receive help. I am an old grey-headed man now, and I almost did not get to see the answer to our prayers. It was only last year that Dr. Kroh arrived here to help us . . .”

At the encouragement of C&MA Foreign Director A. C. Snead, the Board of Managers changed its policy on sending doctors to the mission field and in September 1949 approved Dr. Dean Kroh’s appointment to the Congo, making Kroh the first medical doctor assigned to an Alliance mission field.

Kroh’s wife, Esther (Galbraith), had already served a term as a missionary and registered nurse in the Congo by the time they were married. Arriving together on the field in 1951, they began overseeing the new medical unit at the Kinkonzi Hospital and treating patients just three days later. At times during that first year of ministry, the small staff would treat more than 200 patients a day. Kroh’s skills as a surgeon also helped the clinic treat urgent cases that could not be addressed before his arrival.

The C&MA Annual Report of 1951 states: “We believe that a medical mission has a definite responsibility spiritually toward each patient. Before the dispensary is opened each day, a brief service is held which includes a hymn, an evangelistic message and prayer. Many hear the gospel who would never enter a church.”

An old chief came to the hospital with chest pain and it quickly became apparent that his days were numbered. Surprised and despairing, the chief was making his way out of the clinic when he felt someone pull him back. It was the hospital chaplain, who spoke words of comfort and eventually led the man to Christ. The chief spent the rest of his life urging the young men in his village to live for Christ and not waste their lives as he had.

This is just one example of the many people who were touched through the holistic ministry of Kinkonzi Hospital. Physical healing opened the door for spiritual healing, filling voids that villagers once sought local witch doctors to ease. The success of Kroh and his staff at Kinkonzi proved that medical outreach was an effective way to reach people for Christ and paved the way for other Alliance medical missionaries to be sent out.

Dean and Esther Kroh have long retired from the field and now live in Pennsylvania. “What greater motive or goal could one have in the medical missionary field than to show forth the love of Christ through the care of a patient’s need?” he says.

—Jenn Whiteman, C&MA National Archives

Past Alliance Life Issues

Share

Get Involved...

Pray.

We cannot “Live the Call Together” unless prayer is central to all we do.
Pray with us »

Serve.

Is God calling you to service? We’re here to help you connect your passion with God’s purpose.
Serve with The Alliance »

Give.

Help build Christ’s Church by supporting the ministry and workers of The Alliance.
Give today »