In ET, May 2014, World Mission featured the strategic work of Mandritsara Good News Hospital, Madagascar. This month, Dr David Mann, recently retired from many years missionary medical work there, shares about his colleagues. Readers unacquainted with this thriving work will readily understand that most successful ministries, including the apostolic ministry within Acts, have been team enterprises, albeit with gifted leaders.
Meet some of the team of Malagasy Christians and overseas missionaries in Mandritsara. They are ‘like jewels in a crown’ (Zechariah 9:16), each one hand-cut by the Master for the glory of King Jesus.
Dr Adrien was a chest physician in probably the best hospital in Madagascar’s capital when he was asked to head up the proposed ‘Good News Hospital’ (GNH). GNH had no buildings, no staff and no money — just a vision. But like Abraham of old, trusting the Lord, Adrien ‘obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going’ (the town where the project would be located had not yet been decided!).
He travelled to England to learn English, and to Zaire for training in surgery before moving to Mandritsara. For the past 20 years he has led the work, and developed club-foot surgery and the repair of obstetric fistulae. His wife Gisele has overseen the Good News School, seeing it grow from 5 to 300 pupils. But their great passion is to share the gospel.
Dr Francis came to Mandritsara 15 years ago as a general doctor. But he has a great burden for the rural poor, and became leader of the Community Health team. They have established clinics, undertaken vaccination and taught toilet-building. And everywhere they go they have spread the gospel.
Many villages now have gospel churches thanks to this ministry. Dr Francis also leads the children’s and youth work in the Mandritsara Bible Baptist Church where the all-age Sunday school, which 400 attend, has 30 teachers.
Dr Hanitra came to GNH to work in general medicine, but then trained in eye surgery under a missionary eye surgeon. She is the only eye surgeon for a large area and has the joy of restoring sight to many blind patients. Her department’s motto is ‘I am sending you to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God’ (Acts 26:17-18). She visits several other towns, travelling by MAF or Helimission, to perform cataract surgery. It is hoped that this will result in the planting of gospel churches.
Theophile and his wife Vololona, a nurse, felt God calling them to join the project when it first began. But there was no post for Theophile. He had been working in a supermarket in the capital, Antananarivo. They hesitated to go to Mandritsara, 900km away, but their pastor urged them to obey God’s call.
So, for the first year, while Vololona worked as a nurse in the hospital, Theophile looked after their children. Then, when someone was needed to open an X-ray department in the hospital, Theophile was sent to the capital for three months of training and returned to set up an excellent X-ray service in Mandritsara. His greatest love is gospel work among children. He leads the Holiday Bible Club and hosts a weekly gospel radio programme for children.
Pastor Julien comes from near Mandritsara. His elder brother was converted while studying in the Soviet Union. Upon returning to Madagascar, Julien stayed with him in Antananarivo and was converted.
He is a native speaker of the Tsimihety dialect and God has greatly used him. The Mandritsara church has grown to be one of the largest Baptist churches in the country, with many village church plants under its wing.He went to university to start medical training, but failed the first year. So he became an assistant nurse at the GNH in Mandritsara. The Mandritsara Bible Baptist Church, which had recently been founded, called him to be their pastor, and sent him for training in southern Madagascar.
Mr Radesana is from Mandritsara. He and his wife were Roman Catholics, but they could not find God. One day while walking down the street he saw a sign ‘Bible Baptist Church’. He had a feeling that the answer to his search lay in the Bible, so he decided to visit the church and soon came to know the Lord. He became hospital evangelist. The Lord has also enabled him to plant gospel churches in several villages.
Mat Linley came to know the Lord shortly after leaving university through the witness of Katy, a medical student who later became his wife. He worked as a water engineer in the UK and came to Mandritsara in 2003 to work with the Community Health team, while Katy came as a doctor. After further professional and Bible school training in the UK, they returned to Mandritsara, where Mat helps train village pastors and leads the missionary team.
Dr Victoria Parsonson (see ET, December 2014) was not a Christian when she was finishing her A-levels. She had hoped to study medicine, but developed an eye condition and lost her sight. She was devastated and cried to God (‘if He was there’) to help her. She had corneal transplants. As she regained her sight she began working in an office alongside a Christian lady.
Soon Victoria was converted and, in God’s providence, obtained a place at medical school. As a student, she visited Mandritsara where God gave her a love for the Malagasy people, and renewed her love for medicine. She returned to Mandritsara for three years as a junior doctor. She learnt Malagasy and taught Sunday school in a village. She has now returned to the UK for specialist training.
Sarindra had trained as a mechanic, but became addicted to alcohol as a young man. One day, in a drunken stupor, he saw a sign advertising some gospel meetings. He felt an inner compulsion, went along and was wonderfully converted. He began to share a daily Bible verse with colleagues in the factory where he worked.
Claudia was one of these colleagues. She too was converted and later became his wife. Sarindra saw a notice displayed in the Scripture Union offices in Antananarivo for a mechanic for the GNH in Mandritsara, 600 miles away, and sensed God’s call. They have been working there for 18 years. Sarindra leads the maintenance team, and has also been involved in planting a church in the neighbouring town of Befandriana.
Dr Matt Sherratt first came to Mandritsara as a medical student. He was struck by the gospel focus of the hospital. After completing his training in anaesthetics in the UK and learning French, he returned to Mandritsara with his young family.
Of course, an anaesthetist is not much use without a surgeon. So Matt has been doing what many missionary doctors have done over the years — learning on the spot. With the help of colleagues and visiting surgeons, he is now a capable surgeon, being both anaesthetist and surgeon for his patients. But that is not all. Like all the staff at Mandritsara, he is also evangelist for his patients. That is the raison d’être of the Good News Hospital.