Combining Medicine and Missions
To pediatric surgeon David Smith (’81), Bethel means more than an education. It was at Bethel where he fulfilled his dream of earning a chemistry and mathematics degree to work at Miles Laboratories; it was at Bethel where he met his wife, Carolyn; and it was at Bethel where he says he received “top-notch” training, allowing him to become the first Bethel student to finish a four-year degree and continue on to medical school.
“You could say Bethel has entirely shaped my career, my family and my missionary calling,” says David.
You could also say Bethel was where the Smiths gained an interest in missionary work after hearing friends discuss their experiences. After honeymooning in Australia and Papua New Guinea learning about mission work, David later entered medical school where he pursued medical missions, with his wife by his side.
“My fourth-year electives in medical school were used to go to mission hospitals and gain hands-on experiences,” says David, who spent five months in Israel and Kenya on a fellowship that year.
“It’s been a great adventure,” says Carolyn of this time. “I did all sorts of odd jobs wherever David was in med school.”
David initially specialized in surgery, and later pediatric surgery. He traveled alone to Albania to work in the refugee camps during the war in Kosovo. Then, ironically, instead of traveling to help others, God allowed the world to come to the Smiths when they began a private practice in Fort Wayne in 1998 — the only pediatric surgeon practice in northern Indiana.
“We’re a gateway city,” says Carolyn of Fort Wayne. “People who are refugees come to us. And a lot of those people we minister to.”
The practice has served patients from Yemen, Burma, Bosnia, Somalia, Sudan, The Republic of the Congo and Haiti.
“My missionary service to God is to provide compassionate medical care to the displaced, poor, emotionally shaken, sick immigrant children,” says David.
As far as resuming travel overseas to carry out this missionary service, Carolyn says they are waiting on God’s direction.