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Using your practical skills in mission

Originally printed in MMN's June 2024 magazine

Have you ever considered how you might be able to use your professional skills in mission? There are so many opportunities to put your training and experience to good use in cross-cultural ministry - whether you've trained in medicine, business, engineering, veterinary work, music, or something completely different. Any of the SWAN member mission agencies would love to help you explore what possibilities there might be for you! If you're studying on a course that includes a practical placement or elective, have you considered the possibility of doing it with a mission agency? This is what Susanna decided to do, when she got in touch with Medical Missionary News (MMN) to arrange a medical elective in Peru. Read on to hear her reflections on how she found it...

Susanna's Story

The four weeks I spent in Trujillo, Peru were truly unforgettable.  I am so grateful for the financial support I received from MMN, and I thank God for His abundant provision in making this elective possible.


This was the first time I had ever travelled to South America and also the first time I had been away from home for this length of time, so I was excited for the adventures ahead and expectant to see God move. My time in Peru was divided into three parts: hospital placement, language school and serving the local community. I was also able to connect with a local church and learn more from their church planting, medical and education ministries.

My placement was in general surgery at a hospital in Trujillo. The days would normally start on the ward rounds where the surgical team would assess and review new and follow-up patients. During my placement, I encountered patients with a wide variety of conditions and learned about the most common surgical procedures that take place. I was able to further develop the clinical skills that I had learnt throughout medical school and develop my diagnostic reasoning, communication and procedural skills. This elective has enabled me to experience what surgical care looks like abroad and the diverse approaches to surgical treatments that are available.


At the language school, the Spanish classes were divided into three categories: conversation, grammar and medical Spanish. Having a different focus for each session enabled us to have a well-rounded set of language skills. The conversation classes enabled us to develop our speaking and listening skills as we covered a whole range of topics. The grammar classes allowed us to study the rules and structures of the language in more depth - this helped us communicate more effectively with both patients and colleagues in the hospital and at the community fair. It was important to communicate with the patients in their native tongue, and so I am so grateful that this elective had language lessons incorporated into the programme.


Every week, we served the local community through the community health fairs that ran throughout the city. The programme had partnerships with various local organisations including the national police service, local churches and other local authorities, which meant that we were able to serve a wide variety of patients with various health needs, often from low-income backgrounds. The community fairs prioritised locations where healthcare was hard to access including rural areas and prisons. At these community fairs, we were able to provide free clinical consultations and appropriate medicines for those in need.


Trying to adapt to a new culture, with new people, while learning another language was a huge challenge for me; but, by God’s grace, each day got easier. The main focus of my prayer throughout this trip was based on Matthew 5:14-16 which says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”.


Every day was an opportunity to be a light to those around me through my words and actions. It was also so encouraging to hear the stories from the missionaries that I met and who kindly invited me over for a meal. It was such a blessing to spend some time in fellowship and prayer and so inspiring to hear the amazing ways in which God was working in the more rural areas in Peru.


Overall, this trip has truly been one of the highlights of medical school and has encouraged me to seek out other opportunities similar to this in the future. Everyone was so kind, welcoming and caring. It has been such an incredible learning experience and it has been so insightful to see how medicine can look different in other countries. Although I went to Peru by myself, I left with many friends all over the world.

Please pray for me as I continue to discern how the Lord wants me to serve both in the UK and overseas when it comes to my mission work. My hope is that I will be able to use the skills and gifts God has given me to love people and share the Good news of Jesus Christ.

Susanna's reflection on her elective was originally published in MMN's June 2024 magazine. To find out more about MMN's work and how you can get involved, click here. To explore other types of practical placements, get in touch with a SWAN member mission agency!


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