Why We’re Here: A Fellowship of Healing (Dr. John Ng Shares)

“Doctor. Thank you very much for what you have been doing,” a Mongolian mom said in tears. Dad is sitting next to her, staring blankly at the floor, little child looking curiously at everyone wondering what’s going on.

“Your doctors have been doing all they could. Even if you were in the US, there isn’t much that we could do for you. The most important thing is to make sure that he knows you love him. Please go home and spend as much time as possible as a family and enjoy every minute,”  Dr. Sandler replied.

I was certainly not expecting to encounter this on the second day of our mission, sitting right behind the mother in tears, with my hand on her shoulder, only able to offer her my silent prayers.

“Please…if you can’t save my child, I hope you can at least help other children…”

“We are here exactly for this reason. There is a child named Jonathan…” Dr Sandler slowly explained the reason why we are here. Our translator’s voice gently faded, mixed with this mother’s cry, while I was trying to figure out what to think…

With a patient

Sally and patient

It is always the patients’ faces that remind me why I am placed on the mission field: a middle-aged man with a leg fracture who walked four days to seek healing in Cameroon; a mom who brought the finest blanket in her house begging us to save the infant in her arms dying from malaria in Kenya; a pair of parents to whom we just announced that there is nothing that we could do for the boy who they deeply love in Mongolia.

Still trying to gather my thoughts in the crammed office, all the faces of these patients just appeared in my head including those who we met at home in Jacksonville. I was expecting a reminder from God why we are here, but it certainly came much sooner than I have expected. It was only day 2 after our initial meet-n-greet and some light tourism. However, I did appreciate the perfect timing of this every heavy event and the hopeless yet hopeful request of the mother.

It immediately broke down the walls between us and the Mongolian doctors. We may have very different practice styles, treatment protocols, educational backgrounds, languages, technologies… but all that did not matter anymore… because we were reminded that we share the same burden and we were given the same calling. Our Mongolian and American team immediately mixed together and in the short four days, we had been learning, teaching, lecturing, seeing patients, reviewing formulary, going through protocols, looking up articles, reviewing doses and administration techniques continuously… just because we were constantly reminded by these new faces: full of fear, sorrow, unknown, love, distress.

The medical team: Mongolians & Americans (& one Englishman!) working together 

It didn’t take long to figure out the parents were putting all their hope on our joined Mongolian/American team just by the way they looked at us. After four days of battling together, I have realized that this fellowship had formed. An alliance formed from two different continents, linked by a child called Jonathan, a loving family, and a team of medical people who say “send me” when the challenges came. We know that we are not in control and we will not be able to save everyone, but we also know that we will continue to work very hard to answer our callings to heal.

On to the lighter side of this trip. Besides the time that I was working in the hospital… I have eaten a coffee-soaked milk curd (see below), explored the vast selection of North Korean dishes, feasted on horse steak and a steamed sheep head (much thanks to comrade Paul for sharing the joy of eating its eyeball), wandered to the run-down ger area, and tasted street kabob sold by gangster-looking people.

Milk curds (Steve mentioned my less-than-pleasant experience with them!)

Paul  & John eating sheep’s eyeball (from the sheep’s head dish)

Eating a street kabob sold by some questionable characters

However, the most enjoyable moment was having lunch today with our Mongolian colleagues – pizza with pickle toppings with French fries!

Pizza party!

“I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Mt 17:20b

-John Ng

Leave a comment


  1. Cathy Soud

     /  July 6, 2012

    Jonathan believed that verse from Matthew. Cathy

  2. Terry Humphrey

     /  July 7, 2012

    Thank you Dr. Shares for this post that touch every vein and muscle of this 12 year GI cancer survivor’s heart. Emotional yet comforting too know the Mongolian family came praying for a healing though even it may not be possible I believe they will leave knowing there is hope for others as this mission has bought a better knowledge to the medical team in treatmea


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