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Four decades ago the world was introduced to a
medical terror the likes of which few other global alarms can even be compared.
The scourge I’m writing about is HIV/Aids.
Let me ask you: When was the last time you read
something about this dreaded disease? I’ll bet you can’t remember. It has
virtually dropped off the radar screen when it comes to news reporting.
You may be asking me why I’m writing about this
topic if it is no longer a blaring headline news story. That would be a fair
and reasonable question. My answer is equally fair and reasonable. It is also
direct. The scourge we know as HIV/Aids is still very much alive and well in
our world. Please excuse the obvious oxymoron, “alive and well” in referencing
this deadly, debilitating disease.
Recently, my wife and I were honored once again
to be hosts in our home to our good friends, Dr. Tim and Muriel Teusink. These
two Christian missionaries are simply amazing. Kinder, more godly people you
will rarely find. They are home on furlough during which time they travel
around North America visiting those churches and individuals who support them
through finances and prayer.
I became acquainted with the Teusink’s in early
2002 when I took a team of six from our church, the Ripon Free Methodist, to
spend two weeks in Ethiopia. Our arrival in the capital city, Addis Ababa,
coincided with the opening and dedication ceremony of three brand new medical
clinics which would provide much needed health services for this beleaguered
city of nearly three-and-a-half million. Dr. Tim Teusink was at the forefront
of this advance in medical care.
Roots in Ripon - Author Chuck Roots
Our intrepid team was welcomed into the Teusink’s
home and embraced as family, even though we had never met. After our two weeks
were over, and we returned home to Ripon, as the pastor, I strongly encouraged
(as did the others) that our church of 100 souls provide ongoing spiritual and
financial support for the Teusink’s missions work. Though I have been retired
from church ministry for three years, I am pleased to announce that our church
continues to support these folks.
During our recent visit, I asked Dr. Tim if I
could interview him for an article for my “Roots in Ripon” column. He readily
agreed. So, we sat and discussed his years of medical missions, with a driving
question I had of just how he wound up immersed in HIV/Aids. To better
understand this man and the reasons he felt God leading him into the field of
medicine and missions work, you need to know that he came from a family of
Christians who were strong in their faith. His parents wanted to be
missionaries, but were unable to pursue this goal. Instead, his dad became a
pastor with the Reformed Church of America in Holland, Michigan where Dr. Tim
was born. They later moved to Washington State which has been home for Dr. Tim
Dr. Tim told me two things had a profound effect
on him growing up. The first thing that made a lasting impression on him was
the doctor who gave exceptional compassionate care to his brother who was
suffering from cerebral palsy. The second thing that has had a life-long impact
was the strong urging (or “calling”, if you will) by God to follow a career in
medicine, but more specifically, on the mission field. This was confirmed years
later when he met Muriel (hailing from Canada) who also knew without a doubt
that God was calling her to be a missionary. Her parents had also wanted to be
missionaries. So, the die was cast for them both, you might say.
“I am not a visionary,” Dr. Tim was quick to
state. Instead, he expressed his desire to be faithful in what God has called
him to do.
The Teusink’s serve under the mission’s
organization known as SIM, formerly the Sudan Interior Mission, first
established in 1893. In the 1980s, SIM’s acronym became the Society for
International Ministries, but is today better known as SIM. So great was the
impact of SIM, that 40% of Africans today claim to be Christian.
In 1984, Dr. Tim was sent to the nation of Rwanda
in Africa. It was here that HIV/Aids first became an issue for him, facing the
reality of a populace of 25%-30% infected. Routinely performing
surgeries, he was acutely aware of the growing concern of this new virus that
was beginning to infect and kill people at an alarming rate. Little was known
about it, even in the world of medicine. Dr. Tim was a young husband and
father, so he grew increasingly concerned with the possibility of infecting his
own family due to his constant contact with Rwandans carrying the virus. He
wrestled with this problem until God made it clear to him that he was to
continue in his medical practice and leave the welfare of him and his family to
God’s sovereignty. He continued with surgeries for the next four years, dealing
with the nearly daily needle pricks from infected patients.
It is because of this close proximity to HIV/Aids
infected patients that Dr. Tim has become a recognized authority on this
scourge, being named “Missionary of the Year” in 2012 by the Christian Medical
& Dental Society. He continues to travel throughout the world, but
primarily in Africa, teaching bioethics to medicos and other health
professionals as to the best ways to treat those afflicted with HIV/Aids and
Please pray for Dr. Tim and Muriel Teusink as
they continue to honor God through their life’s work and passion, battling the
scourge of the century.