by Hendrick Smidderks, pastor of Northwest FMC, Wichita, KS
In the early 1950s Free Methodist missionaries were motivated by the lack of healthcare around their rural Mozambique mission station. Missionaries had been living there for some time, pursuing church planting and evangelism, but their hearts were burdened with the people’s medical needs. A hospital was built and transformation began.
Intervening years brought Mozambique’s independence and 15-year civil war. Through all of the devastation and turmoil, FMs continued to serve God in heroic ways, never giving up on the idea of caring for the needs of neighbors.
Alfredo was brought to missionaries at the Inhamachafo Mission Station in the late 1940s. His father had died and his mother could not afford to care for all the children at home. As the oldest, Alfredo was presented to the missionaries with the request that he receive an education.
Through the ministry of several missionaries, Alfredo received an education and, following high school, was sent to work at the Nhaloi Hospital. He served as an orderly and nurse assistant under Dr. Marguerite Palmer, Kathryn Smith Grissom and Florence Carter. Soon the staff recommended Alfredo for further training. By the time of Mozambique’s independence, Alfredo was a nurse and moved into the government health service. He never walked away from his roots, however – upon retirement from government service, Alfredo petitioned the church and government to allow him to bring his advanced training back to Nhaloi Hospital. Today, in his 70s, Alfredo ministers in an area where malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS are serious challenges.
With training similar to a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner in the United States, Alfredo treats patients at Nhaloi as a primary care provider. His compassion flows from his deep faith. His love of Jesus has equipped him well to care for people. His attention to detail is borne of the conviction of a life called to holiness.
Today Alfredo is passing his medical knowledge and Christian faith on to anyone who is interested. The government of Mozambique is sending nursing students to Nhaloi to complete training rotations. These students not only receive hands-on experience, but are also given the great privilege of sitting under the gracious, careful training of a man who has come full circle.
From a child who was handed off to missionaries more than 60 years ago, to a leader, caregiver, and professional, Alfredo is shaping healthcare in Mozambique one person at a time. From the depths of poverty and tragedy to the dignity of reinvestment, Alfredo is uniquely positioned. What does a transformed life look like? It is a life that comes full circle – from needing to providing, from hopeless to helpful, from simple to wise, from receiving to giving.
This article can be found in the January-March issue of Free Methodist World Mission Pulse magazine. Click here to read other articles from that issue.