Following Jesus to the ends of the earth
Serving as a medical missionary in Nepal with World Medical Mission
When Dr. Jessica Westerholm makes her rounds, she often clasps her open palms together with a smile and says "namase," a common greeting of respect, before tending to her patients.
Her quiet voice and gentle touch calmed the fears of 8-year-old Vikam as she examined his broken leg. "I was playing soccer," he said. "I fell." Jessica comforted Vikam, checked his leg, got him to smile, and moved on to the next patient.
Jessica arrived at Tansen Hospital in May to begin serving for two years as a general surgeon through the Post-Residency Program. The Samaritan's Purse program enables young Christian physicians who feel called to medical missions to practice overseas and lay a foundation for a lifetime of service.
The journey of faith that brought Jessica to Nepal began with a childhood dream.
"In eighth grade, one of my assignments was to write about a dream I had for the future, and at that point I already had a sense that I wanted to go into medical missions," Jessica said. "I wrote about being able to care for people's physical needs as a nurse and also being able to share the love of Jesus with the people who came for medical care. So, those were kind of the beginning seeds of the vision that God had given me."
It was hard for Jessica to leave her family and friends to practice medicine halfway around the world, but she has found a new home in Nepal.
"I really love being in a cross-cultural context," Jessica said. "I enjoy learning languages. I enjoy the challenge and the opportunity to practice very general medicine and general surgery, and having to be creative and think on my feet."
The setting is remote, and resources are often limited, but Jessica is happy to have seasoned medical missionaries on staff who understand the challenges of practicing medicine overseas.
"I'm blessed at Tansen Hospital to have other, more senior surgical colleagues here," she said. "And that is part of the vision of the Post-Residency Program, to place post residents in a place where there are more senior colleagues in their specialty, and if possible, to provide some mentorship."
Jessica is also pleased to share in the spiritual mission and vision of the hospital. A pastoral team made up of Nepali believers comforts patients and provides spiritual care. Patients are welcome to attend services and hear the Gospel in the hospital chapel.
"I see people who are made in the image of God," Jessica said. "I see people who are hurting and broken, and who are not just needy in their bodies, but also needy in their spirits. And I see people that I have an opportunity to be Jesus to."
While Jessica was completing her medical studies and turning her attention toward Nepal, she had the encouragement and prayer support of a Christian friend named Paul who had followed God's leading, working on various mission projects in Africa, most recently in Mozambique. On October 6, 2012, Paul and Jessica were married in Canada. They will return to Nepal as a missionary couple.
"We definitely both feel that God is calling us into long-term service overseas," Jessica said. "I'm just blown away by the goodness of God."
Ways you can help
Please pray for Jessica in Nepal and other doctors serving the poor in countries like Honduras, Ghana, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Pray that God would equip them with everything they need emotionally, physically, and spiritually in order to share their medical expertise and God’s love with hurting people.
Your generous gift to World Medical Mission will help us recruit medical professionals to volunteer overseas, bringing assistance to desperate patients and hospitals around the world. Donate Here