05 Mar Dr. Nate Cook Will Return to Mission Work in Africa
As we have begun to tell people that we are once again moving to Africa, we are confronted often with the question, “Why?” It is a logical question and one that I would expect from people that love me and my family. It usually is followed by many more…
“Why would you go to Kenya when you just settled back in Wilmington?”
“Haven’t you just started a pediatric practice? What does Marc think?”
“Aren’t you afraid?”
“Are you taking the kids this time?”… (Wait, what? Of course we are taking the kids!)
I have heard many a basis and motivation for mission work. It can be simple philanthropy, the pleasure in doing something for those who don’t have as much. Often times it’s for education, expanding your knowledge in a particular culture, language, or skill set. It can be a love for a certain people group or nation. Or based on a desire to travel and explore other parts of the world. But my reasoning is spiritual – I love God… I want others to know about His love and grace.
My wife, Becky, and I met 17 years ago in Senegal, working among the Lebou people on the coast of West Africa. Under the canopy of stars (unfathomably bright in the African bush), we fell in love and committed our lives to mission work. In my hours of study during medical school, I felt assurance that I would someday use this knowledge to help people with little access to quality healthcare. We have worked in America, in wonderful hospitals and clinics, with beautiful people, caring for children. But there is always a deep draw to go back overseas to work with the underserved.
We love the African people. We feel at home in Kenya, just like we do in Wilmington. Our kids thrive at Rift Valley Academy, just like the wonderful education they receive here in Wilmington. We often say that we move from paradise (Wilmington) to paradise (Kijabe). It is not for everyone, but it is for us.
And the need is great. I am a pediatrician with a little bit of medical knowledge to pass along. In 2016, approximately 5.9 million children died under the age of 5 worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, a child is 7 times more likely to die than in the U.S. Becky is a pediatric Hematology/Oncology nurse. There are only 3 pediatric oncologists in Kenya compared to 13 at UNC Children’s Hospital alone. Most East African countries don’t have even one. Children with cancer in Africa have less than 20% chance of survival compared to over 80% in developed countries.
Dr. Sarah Muma has dedicated her life to helping kids with cancer in Africa and Becky is joining her to begin meeting this need through education of nurses. Kijabe Hospital uniquely fits our roles in medical mission work. We have the opportunity to train African doctors, clinical officers and nurses. Through education and mobilization of quality healthcare providers, we hope to make a difference to some of the most underserved areas in the world.
But not everyone can go overseas and not everyone should go. I often stand amazed at the ministry Dr. Marc has with his patients right here in Wilmington. He knows them, loves them and they trust him explicitly. It is high-quality healthcare for children and families in Wilmington and it is the reason we built Dockside Pediatrics, a direct primary care practice. Being a missionary is not about how far you go, but it is loving those in front of you and helping to meet their needs. Dr. Marc is doing this here and I will do it in Kenya. And you can do it with those around you. Love well. Serve well. To those in front of you!
Dr. Nate and his family hope to move back to Kenya in August 2019. If you would like to follow their adventure and learn about life and missions in Africa, visit their blog. If you would like to financially support their ministry, go to https://usgiving.aimint.org/missionary/1022420 to give a one-time or monthly donation or download their prayer card.
Dockside Pediatrics is Wilmington’s first and only pediatric practice that provides excellent, compassionate service through the direct primary care model. Unencumbered by the red tape of health insurance, Dr. Marc Yandle and Dr. Nathan Cook are able to offer personalized care that includes direct access, extended office visits, newborn home visits and so much more!