Third Tour of Duty to Africa By: Mark McGee

I’m returning for my third tour of duty.  And I consider this a duty.  I’ve learned something in the past few years.  I know better, now.  And, more importantly, now that I “know better” I must act upon that.

My first trip to Swaziland began with God getting my attention. There was a family discussion with my three children.  My eldest daughter was 16 and my twins were 13.  I discussed the opportunity to go and serve orphans and vulnerable children with the skill God gave me as a dentist.

Initially, I chose to ignore traveling. I had the usual excuses.  I didn’t have enough time.  I’m a solo practitioner so there wouldn’t be anyone available to see my patients if I left the office for 11 days. Besides, there were over three hundred patient appointments that  had already been scheduled during the time we would travel.  There was no time available to reschedule them.  We were simply too busy.  So, I ignored God.  But my children didn’t.  After months of the topic coming up at family dinners,  I explained to my children that it simply wasn’t logistically possible.  “ I’ll send a check” I told them.  Not good enough.

With just a few days left to sign up for a trip, I was driving my (then 12 year old) daughter to school. She asked “Dad, are we going to Africa?”  I explained again how it just wasn’t possible to move 300 plus patient appointments.  As we pulled into the school, she turned to me and said “Dad, your patients will understand.  Besides, if we don’t go and help those kids in Africa, who will?”  She closed the car door and walked into school. If my 12 year old daughter had learned how to answer God’s call, well, so could I. I had decided not to listen to God.  God knew that I was listening to my child.

MInutes later I walked into my office, announced to my staff that I would need their help in rescheduling our patients because I was going to Africa.

An extensive list of plans, equipment and supplies was put together.  Logistics of doing dentistry in a remote orphanage in the hills of Swaziland were attempted.  Ultimately, I had to trust God in making it all come together to do  “His work”.

I could fill your hearts with some amazing stories of His providence during out first 11 day trip to Swaziland.  There simply isn’t room for it here. Ask me personally though, and I would be happy to do so.

Two years later, my son (then 15) and I travelled back to Swaziland.  This time though with a greater understanding of what it means to not only be called by God to serve, but to dutifully obey Him.

My son filled most of his days working with a local church while I treated long lines of smiling, and sometimes frightened, children.

My body was exhausted at the end of every day, but my heart was filled with emotions so deep and powerful that they can’t be described beyond encouraging anyone reading this to simply go and experience it for yourselves.  It will transform you mind, you heart and your very soul.

So, here I am again. Fulfilling my duty. My duty to serve orphans, widows and vulnerable children as god has instructed.  But now,  I have a much greater understanding of what God wants for my life.  He doesn’t now, nor did He ever “need” me to accomplish His works on this Earth.  He is quite capable on His own.  He surely doesn’t want my money.  What He wants is my heart.

My twins Matt and Missy, now 17, will be traveling with me this summer.

James 1:27

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