The Transformational Potential of Missional Healthcare

EMQ » September–December 2023 » Volume 59 Issue 4

Uganda: Anil and Shalini Cherian (center) went to Uganda in 2014 to start a healthcare professional training institute. In this photo, they are with a group of their students. Photo courtesy of Anil Cherian.

Summary: My wife, Shalini, and I moved from India to East Africa as medical missionaries, in 2014. In partnership with others, we trained more than 100 South Sudanese people to help fill the country’s desperate need for more healthcare workers. We also discipled young men and women to encourage them to follow Jesus Christ. And through the combination of these ministries, we saw the seeds of transformation sown into our students and their communities.

By Anil Cherian

On a sunny morning in September 2014, I walked into the department of immigration in Uganda’s capital city. I went up to the window of the visa officer and handed him our applications for 1-year missionary visas. As he read our forms, he looked up at us with wide eyes and stared for a moment. Then he said, “Christian missionaries from India! I thought you only came to do business.” After asking my young Ugandan colleague, Gilbert, multiple times if our claim to be Christian missionaries was authentic, he finally relented and stamped our visas.

About two years earlier, Dr. Vinod Shah – the CEO of the International Christian Medical and Dental Association (ICMDA) – approached my wife, Shalini, and me with an offer. ICMDA had agreed to start a health training institute in partnership with the ministry of health of the Republic of South Sudan and the Episcopal Church of Sudan. The institute would educate South Sudanese young people to be healthcare professionals.

Dr. Shah wanted us to move to East Africa as healthcare missionaries to lead this initiative. We had only learnt about South Sudan a year earlier and had never dreamed that God would call us to move to Africa. But we agreed and moved to the region in early 2014. Uganda’s proximity to South Sudan and large diaspora community of South Sudanese, made it a strategic place to begin.

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