Tag Archives: missions

One of the last things I did in Guatemala…

It was the fountain, seen in the background as this young girl explains why she likes the Liceo Bilingüe La Puerta, the school I founded and worked for 14 years. Whew! What a labor of love!

As I think back now, it is almost hard to remember the blood, sweat and tears invested into this place. The fountain is symbolic, a splash of beauty and tranquility to crown more than a decade of untiring work.

The beauty heals. To see children still being ministered to, to see the school functioning as a safe place, to see kids be raised up in God’s gold standard, is rewarding.

Even if you don’t understand Spanish, I invite you to watch this video, in which the girl, unprompted, unscripted, shares naturally what flows from her heart.

Just passing by turned into a miracle


“You know we just can´t pass by without stopping in to say Hi.

It is considered the height of rudeness in Guatemala to not dutifully greet EVERYONE. No being too busy.

So Dianna went in to see Surama, and I waited. Apparently the Holy Spirit took over. She asked Surama if she had spoken in her heavenly language lately. The question provoked panic which brought repentance. Surama, who had lived years as a deadened Christian, came alive with a vibrancy with which she is still serving Jesus. She works at the school I started.

When you serve Christ 24-7, you never know when God will use you. Now God is using Surama.

New and old followers of Christ


It has been four years since I was missionary in Guatemala. As the years pass, there are old dear friends still in the work — and they warm my heart. Then too, there are new friends, also a joy. The video is of Andrea, who shyly explained what she liked about the school, el Liceo Bilingue La Puerta, that I left working in Guatemala. I’m proud of her.

Africa medical mission report #3

Africa medical missionBANJUL, THE GAMBIA — From beginning to end, the animals drove Lighthouse Medical Missions personnel… er, batty.

Bats were the culprits behind the recent lethal Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. It scared us.

Pigs were to blame for our return flight delay Saturday, getting sucked into the right jet engine. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the flash from the wing. I heard an explosion like a tire blowout. It conjured images of the plane trundling off the edge of the runway and catching fire.

Welcome to standard operating procedure for Lighthouse Medical Missions. Since its inception in 1998, medical practitioners have attended to 50,000 patients. Well, that statistic is not correct anymore. This past week we saw another 1,400 — in spite of Ebola fears working in our minds.

Christians in Africa

I got to pray for Muslims and Christians alike after they saw medical practitioners

Actually, the virulent hemorrhagic fever caused by Ebola prompted two-thirds of our team to take of the unusual step of evacuating on April 3.

The epidemic started when somebody ate a natural incubator of the virus: bats. Eating “bushmeat” is not on my bucket list, but to somebody in Guinea Bissau it must have seemed a delicacy, and that’s how the deadliest virus known to man roared onto the human scene, health officials said.

I stayed with 16 team members who decided to weather out their fears and stick with the original travel itinerary. I was just starting to breathe easy as the Brussels Airline jetliner was picking up speed on the runway. Then came the pop and a thud. Then the pilot slammed on the brakes.

medical team in the Gambia

The Lighthouse medical mission team in the Gambia 2014

“That was scary,” said mission leader, Dr. Robert Hamilton. It was an extraordinary admission for him because I have never known the Santa Monica pediatrician to be afraid of anything. It was Dr. Hamilton who persuaded us to stay in The Gambia.

And he was right. We didn’t get sick from Ebola.

And we were safe on the runway.

This was my first African medical mission with the Lighthouse group. As I interviewed veterans of these trips, I pondered the healthy dose of adventure and misadventure, the knack for getting into unheard-of predicaments, only to escape unscathed, as if cheating death.

Where is the borderline separating “dedicated” from “crazy?”

On The Gambia River.

On The Gambia River.

Then I remembered Marco Polo. He made a years-long journey back from China to solicit capable missionaries to evangelize the Chinese, according to his book. After a year, only two dared to accompany Marco Polo, his dad and his uncle. But at the first rumor of war, the pair fled to Rome, leaving Marco Polo and his family to return alone. I realized we must continue to manage risk. After all, this IS Africa.

Prior to the trip, I had steeled my nerves for the worst gore medicine witnesses. On previous missions, doctors had attended to machete-chopped victims of civil war and even performed a mastectomy with only some lidocane injections. Like Joseph Conrad, I was prepared to say, “The horror! The horror!”

As it turned out, the cases were tame. In The Gambia, where half of the 45-member team worked, we saw mostly pain, fungus, malaria and worms. The other half-team traveled 100 miles by bus to Guinea Bissau and didn’t hardly treat anything worse.

One thing emerged to me as an eye witness. Lighthouse Medical Missions has an impact way beyond the temporary relief of 30 Motrin pills. By coordinating with local pastors, they essentially maintain field workers year-round who teach such principles as hygiene and household budgeting.

Because the pastors are Africans, they work at a fraction of what it would cost to maintain an American. They learn from U.S doctors and pastors and transmit it longterm to the local population.

On Sunday morning at the Lighthouse Church in Banjul, Pastor Alusine Kpewa was teaching on financial savings, a lesson virtually ignored by the poor of developing countries.

“I do not want the child of God to live all your life in debt,” said Kpewa (pronounced Peh-wah).

People can escape the syndrome of the eternally extended beggar’s hand.

As a fruit of twice yearly Lighthouse Medical Mission, there are over a 100 churches, concentrated in West Africa. They are ramping up operations. They have dug wells and founded schools.

So whether it’s bats or pigs harrying us, we must continue to take to Africa the love of God manifested in a practical way.

If you would like to participate with finances or volunteering, check out the webpage www.lighthousemedicalmissions.com . The ministry is a part of the Lighthouse Church and the Lighthouse Christian Academy. Virtually anyone can come on an Africa medical mission, but come prayed up.

This time it was bats and pigs. Next time, it will be something else.

This report first appeared on the santamonica.patch.com

Africa medical mission report 1

BANJUL, THE GAMBIA — From Southern Italy to California to West Africa, Dr. Kevin White’s participation on the Lighthouse Medical Mission is as improbable as it is unusual.

Africa medical missions

Dr. Kevin White in Africa medical mission.

On March 31, Dr. White, a cardiologist and two nurse practitioners attended to 300 patients here, kicking off a clinic that is likely to grow in numbers and seriousness of cases as the week progresses.

A pediatrician from Ventura, Dr. White was a chef carousing in Naples in 1985 when he woke up on a park bench to see an Anglican Church. Surprised to see such a thing in the land of Catholicism and wanting to hear some English, he stumbled in — to find his life totally change through Jesus.

Now instead of serving alcohol, he wanted to serve humanity, so he studied dietetics on the American East Coast, then medicine. When he diagnosed an old missionary from Africa with malaria, the patient told Dr. White that God wanted him in Africa.

So Dr. White set up practice in Southern California with the exclusive purpose of raising money to fund his twice-yearly forays into the Dark Continent. He leads teams from his church. Now, two-thirds of his family is in The Gambia with him — as is two-thirds of his office.

beautiful African children

That’s me with the kids. I fell in love with the kids!

“This is the week I go broke,” quipped Dr. White, who left only one doctor behind manning his office. He now is attending three times as many patients as his busiest day is America — 100 patients a day. The need is critical, and West Africans don’t have access or finances for quality medical attention.

On Monday, there were patients with pain, a snake bite, and a keloid. Though the Lighthouse Medical Missions coordinates logistics with local churches, all are welcome to the free clinics. Gambia’s huge majority is Muslim.

I came to observe and report on their activities. I’m impressed with the level of compassion in every team member’s heart. After a breakneck pace for eight hours, the nurses, high school students, nursing students, a retiree and others were still smiling.

On these trips, medical practitioners are a premium, but no one is useless. At the first hour, I was packing pills. Later I was praying for patients and then sweeping up. It seems not too many of our patients and a few of our volunteers didn’t understand the concept of a trash can.

I’m no stranger to the Third World. I was a missionary in Guatemala for 16 years. But even I had trouble plugging in the fan that didn’t have a plug; it was just two wires that were stuck into the outlet.

malaria pills

Don’t forget to take your malaria pills. (I kept forgetting.)

Try as I might, I couldn’t get them to stick, and the fan kept shutting off.That’s when Dr. White surprised me giving me the tip: Stuff two plastic ear speculas in with the wires to wedge them in. It worked, and doctor and patients enjoyed the breeze.

Yeah, he’s been to 17 Africa week-long trips since he started in 2004. But I was a missionary full time for 16 years in a developing nation. How does he know more than me?

I guess Dr. White’s a certified intrepid medical missionary.

If you would like to help pay for volunteers or medicines, or fund a water project, your tax deductible donation can be made at www.lighthousemedicalmissions.com

NOTE: This article originally appeared on the SantaMonica.Patch.com on April 1.

Off to Africa

Social scientists can’t understand altruism.

Africa medical missionsMost of them chalk it up to “wanting to feel important.” This makes me laugh. If I just wanted to feel important, why wouldn’t I make a lot of money and be important? There is more to altruism than they want to recognize.

A number of us are going to Africa Thursday to participate in a medical mission. By any measure, it’s not tourism. It’ll be a whole heck of a lot of inconvenience, uncomfortableness, hard work, sweat, and endangering our own health. So why are 50 people WANTING to go on the Lighthouse Medical Mission’s trip this year to Gambia and Guinea Bissau?

I was packing vitamins last week with Dal Basile, whose self-effacing service to humanity inspires me. She’s the nicest lady, but she’ll turn feisty if you so much as drop one vitamin on the floor. They cost 20 cents each, she says. Donations cannot be wasted at all. Thankfully, I didn’t drop a single pill.

If you wish to donate to Africa medical missions, feel free to go to this webpage.

Legacy

El Liceo Bilingue La Puerta

Students in 2014 in the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta, the school my wife and I founded with so much work. Good people joined and helped us.

I’ve known churches that dive kamikaze when the pastor leaves, so naturally I was anxious. But it’s been four years since I sought refuge in the United States from criminal threat. And the church my wife and I started 20 years ago is thriving. So too the school.

It feels like I died. (At just about anybody’s funeral, all the good things are remembered. When somebody dies, you see what his impact was.)

The Door Bilingual School in GuatemalaNow that I’m visiting Guatemala again, I’m seeing people who I reached out to 20 years ago. They express profound appreciation.

“I don’t know who he is, but I’m going to go give him a hug,” one schoolkid said. The kids thronged me. My eyes misted… Even those who never knew me appreciate the years of toil to establish a work of God.

colegio cristiano Guatemala

He’s Mikey, but I call him “Einstein Hair.” I love that little guy.

People are still getting saved. The school continues to be a safe harbor. The disciples continue to labor to extend God’s kingdom.

For the first time in my life, I can see a legacy. And I ask myself: What will my legacy be in the United States?

Arrived and blessed in Guatemala

missionary Guatemala

Pastor Isaias came and prayed for a couple to have a child. They had been sterile for a decade. Here’s Salma, who came nine months later.

Shy like a schoolboy, I entered the Christian private school I founded in Guatemala. Would anyone remember me? I was prepared to be seen as a stranger. It had been over a year since I had visited.

Soon the kids crowded me, hugging me, reminding me that I am useful, that this is what I have chosen to live for (not money). Love is my reward.

We are scheduled to preach revival in the coming days, but today was a day of recovery from the red-eye flight. Too anxious to see friends family I had left here when criminals brusquely ended 16 years of missionary work, I rushed off to the school. I am amazed to see miracles in progress. The joy of the kids filled me with joy.

Thank you for praying for miracles in the coming days as we minister the love and power of Christ in this beleaguered Central American nation. Much love to all my friends on the blogosphere.

I’m off to Guatemala. Please pray for revival and miracles!

photo(9)

At the Lighthouse, even such hardened rivals as UCLA-USC love each other and live in harmony.

We are heading to Guatemala and expect to see miracles in the healing crusade. So please put your mustard seed faith into a prayer for the Door Church in Guatemala and your servant.

Much love, Mike

Mimi’s miracles

Mimi, always so vibrant and full of life, at left, with her mother and older sister.

Mimi, always so vibrant and full of life, at left, with her mother and older sister.

Because Mimi was born with two spinal cords, her parents came from the countryside to Guatemala City for successive surgeries. First doctors saved her life. Then they helped her to walk. Eventually she gained control of her bladder. She would have been identical twins but the zygote only partially split.

Pastor Ludving leads the church and school heroically, at great personal sacrifice.

Pastor Ludving leads the church and school heroically, at great personal sacrifice.

Ludving and Nelly wound up attending my church. Ludving was about to buy some alcohol to drown sorrows when he heard the praise music and came in. He didn’t get saved. He had already accepted Jesus. The worship exhilarated and lifted him out of despair. They came to the church.

The Door Church in Guatemala City

The Door Church in Guatemala City

When he decided to do something, Ludving never did it half-way. Right decision after right decision led the couple to hosting, then pastoring, a pioneer church. When thugs chased me off, the Holy Spirit pointed to him as the man to take over.

Pastor Ludving with Mario Artiga

Pastor Ludving with Mario Artiga

To my way of thinking, Mimi should be gloriously and completely healed by now. She is not. On Thursday, she is submitting to her umpteenth surgery, this time to correct kidney failure (she has four kidneys, but only one completely developed and only one works). Urine backflow from her bladder is poisoning her one good kidney.

Faith is not always a snap-of-the-fingers miracle. Faith is grinding out the healing over the long haul. I like the instantaneous variety. But not everything is quick like a fire-cracker. Mimi’s miracles have drawn out inexorably for 16 years, her age. The battle is raging dragging on, and the faithful keep mustering faith.

Ludving and Nelly

Ludving and Nelly

It’s pointless to ask why. Blaming God like an atheist solves nothing (although I suppose he feels high and mightily justified in his bitterness). That’s not what we want. We want final and complete healing for this precious girl.

Mimi is a spunky girl. Despondency affects her parents, her sister, me — but not her. Thanks for helping us pray for her. Let me know how I can help you pray for your needs.