“Doc, can you help…”
But those words, “Doc, can you help…” are more than a title on a blog entry. That is a desperate plea that the Brockingtons and other medical missionaries hear day after day as they live out their calling to serve God’s most vulnerable people.
Jared and Jenny are among several ACU alumni practicing in underserved parts of the world through Christian Health Service Corps, founded by Greg and Candi Seager. Other ACU alumni are Will (’93) and Allison (Smith ’95) Caire and Dr. Kent (’03) and Amber (Carroll ’06) Brantly. Haley McNeese (’17), a registered nurse, will begin serving with CHSC in northern Mexico in spring 2020.
Jared, from near New Orleans, and Jenny, from suburban St. Louis, met as students at ACU, drawn together by their passion for medicine but bound together by their faith. While in school, they participated in multiple short-term medical trips in Guatemala and Indonesia. They married two weeks after graduation from ACU and traveled that summer to Uganda and rural Zambia to work alongside a Christian physician before enrolling that fall at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, where they each earned a doctorate of osteopathic medicine.
After medical school, they moved to Houston, where Jared completed training in pediatrics in 2014. He is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. Jenny completed her training in family medicine in 2014 and is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. While in residency, Jenny also completed the Diploma of Tropical Medicine Program through the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
“Four months before finishing residency,” Jenny said, “all of our colleagues were signing contracts for full-time jobs, and we had no clue what we wanted to do with our life.”
They originally planned to work in the United States for a couple of years, using the time and financial benefits to find a place to serve internationally. Instead, they chose a small non-profit hospital in Malawi to begin their life as international medical missionaries. Life was hard there, living on a solar- and wind-powered compound about four miles down a dirt road, surrounded by mud huts and thatch roof villages. Nearly all their patients were sustenance farmers whose wealth was estimated by whether they wore shoes.
But both Jared and Jenny knew from mission trips earlier in their lives that they wanted to serve in places exactly like the one on Malawi. Jared got his first taste for mission work when he went on a spring break campaign to Guatemala as a freshman with Dr. Tony Rector, former medical director for the ACU campus clinic.
“It was his first trip out of the country,” Jenny wrote, “and the joy of the people, despite their life of hardships, flipped his entire suburban middle-class America existence upside down.” He later lived with a Guatemalan family for a summer while participating in the Medical Evangelism Training Program with Health Talents International.
“Life with his host family opened his eyes and heart to the beauty of faith,” Jenny said, “and how it can be lived out in a culture that is so drastically different from his own.”
For Jenny, that eye-opening experience came in the summer of 2006 on a mission trip to Nias, Indonesia, with other pre-med students and former ACU professor of chemistry and biochemistry Dr. Brian Cavitt (’98). There, she experienced abject poverty, mixed with being awakened each morning at 5 a.m. by the Muslim call to prayer blaring across the city.
“Experiencing friendship among Muslims while on the trip,” Jenny said, “ripped apart all my preconceived ideas of what it meant to be a Christian.”
Jenny originally was a nursing major at ACU but changed her major to biochemistry so she could pursue a degree in medicine. After graduation and their wedding, Jared and Jenny headed out for a summer in Uganda. They stayed in the home of alumna Dr. Ellen (Little ’92) West in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. During their stay, the Brockingtons traveled with West and a team from Abilene to Zambia for a week of rural mobile clinics.
“It was this time in Africa,” Jared said, “that solidified in both of our hearts that God was calling us to live out our faith as Christian physicians overseas.”
Chogoria, where the Brockingtons currently are serving, is a village of 2,500 people in rural east central Kenya. Villagers work on large, prosperous tea estates and till their own gardens. An average day’s wage is $3, which means people often have two or three different ways of earning money.
Now four years into serving overseas, dating to 2015 when they moved to Malawi, the Brockingtons expect to continue their work overseas for several more years. They have two children, both born in the United States. Sophia, 4, was born while the Brockingtons were serving in Malawi. Oliver, 2 months, was born in the U.S. during the Brockingtons’ service in Kenya.
In Kenya, the couple’s ministry focuses on medical education as well as discipleship. They provide direct medical care as well as supervision and education of medical and clinical officer interns at the hospital. They both also are clinical faculty in the family medicine residency program at Kabarak University.
They may be teachers, but Jared and Jenny will tell you they have learned much about life and faith while serving in Africa. They are addicted to learning, whether about medicine or the different cultures in the United States and abroad. They are constantly exposed to new people and new experiences.
“We live in a culture of storytellers,” Jenny said, “in which even simple questions generally have lengthy answers.”
That was difficult for the fast-paced Americans at first, but now they have grown to appreciate the slower pace of life and the richness of the stories. Now, they listen and connect. And they look for openings to share their Christian story.
“Living in community, connecting with others,” Jenny wrote, “that is the first step to making a way for Christ.”