A Jewish American businessman and investor is paying it forward by supporting Christian missionary doctors who are serving African communities because these people have answered the call to “love the stranger.”
Mark Gerson, co-founder and chairman of the Gerson Lehrman Group, wrote in an article for Fox News that he and his wife have been grateful for the health care they’ve been receiving in the U.S..
As gratitude is an “enacted emotion” — meaning it is “a sentiment necessarily followed by action” — he decided to support other health care professionals who are giving their services in a region where it is badly needed: Africa.
Christian hospitals make up a third of all health care facilities in Africa, Gerson said.
“The saving (literally) grace for many of these patients is Christian medical missionaries — physicians forgoing modern American comforts to enact the great Jewish and Christian imperative (mentioned 36 times in the Torah) to ‘love the stranger,’” Gerson said.
There is an average of one doctor for every 30,000 people in African countries, he explained. And while a procedure like C-section is quite common in Western countries, only 20 percent of women in Africa are able to go through it for lack of qualified doctors who can perform the procedure.
In keeping with the holiday season, Gerson, together with the African Mission Healthcare Foundation, set up the L’Chaim Prize for Outstanding Christian Medical Missionary Service. The prize of $500,000 will be given to the institution that the winner represents.
“The prize will bolster the missionary’s high-impact clinical work, and will be granted, following AMHF guidelines, to the winner’s host institution,” the African Mission Healthcare Foundation posted on Facebook.
Gerson presented four finalists — four doctors working in different countries in the continent.
Dr. Jason Fader, who is “the only full-time surgeon outside the capital city.” Burundi has only 13 surgeons for its population of 10 million. Fader would use the prize money for surgical ward expansion and training of doctors.
Dr. Stephen Foster has served in Angola for 38 years. He plans to establish the first ever rotating internship in the country and to train 24 doctors so they can tend to an average of 4,000 people each year. Angola has a population of 21 million.
Dr. William Rhodes works in Kenya as a reconstructive surgeon. He plans the use the prize to train two surgeons and buy necessary surgical equipment so his hospital can accommodate 1,000 more surgeries per year.
Dr. John Spurrier has served in Zambia since the 1970s. Aside from improving HIV care, he also plans to improve electricity and water for the Macha Hospital, the mission hospital he operates, which is able to get running water for just two hours each day.
“In a world of dire need, four givers enact right sentiments daily with ridiculously limited resources, on behalf of the stranger whom we as Jews are commanded by the Torah to love,” Gerson wrote.
The winner will be announced on Dec. 13, according to the African Mission Healthcare Foundation.