Dear Friends in Faith,

Armenia, a predominantly Eastern Orthodox country, was the first nation to adopt Christianity as the state religion--even before the Roman Empire did so under Constantine. The language, distantly related to Greek, possesses its own unique alphabet and script, devised by a monk in the 5th century.

A hundred years ago Armenia's Christians suffered the first modern genocide. A million and a half lost their lives, a fact still denied by its more geopolitically influential neighbor Turkey. Many of the victims refused to renounce their faith and convert.

Some managed to escape. Others were rescued by foreigners, including missionaries. In the Armenian genocide museum, I stood in a room honoring these heroes with a Rwandan whose family fled the machetes to safety on a mission compound in Uganda; with a Kenyan Samburu woman who avoided female circumcision and child marriage with the aid of the church; and a Jewish man whose family spirited him out of Germany on the Kindertransport to England in the late 1930s.

The Armenian diaspora is three times the size of the current population of the country. Among the descendants of survivors is a successful Armenian-Russian businessman named Ruben Vardanyan. His grandfather grew up in an orphanage run by missionaries.

"...today I can have a discussion with you about my wealth because 100 years ago four missionaries went to a crazy place where there was a war and saved 150 kids. Now I'm the rich person, and I want to give back," he told an interviewer.

He and others founded the Aurora Prize, which brought me to Armenia because one of the doctors AMHF supports, Tom Catena of the Nuba Mountains, was a finalist. Tom didn't win, but it was nice to see a medical missionary recognized by the wider humanitarian community.

At a panel discussion, a man from the United Nations asked a question about the role of faith in addressing humanitarian crises. He elaborated that faith can be both positive and negative. A discussant, an on-the-ground worker, responded (paraphrasing following a translation):

If I were not a Christian I would have committed suicide. I lost 60 members of my family. You [in international organizations] have your workplans and outputs and strategies. This is not yourselves talking. What we need is commitment. What I think she meant was: Authentic human concern is not conveyed at a distance, in offices and meetings, following grand plans. It is through person-to-person relationships. The mission model.


I have accompanied visitors interested in our HIV community support program to Malawi. We stand outside a dilapidated village hut and knock. 'Ndikudwala."
I am sick. The door opens. A woman crawls out on her knees and collapses, then vomits. Profoundly dehydrated, she looks like she may have meningitis. Her 12-year-old daughter, also HIV-infected, and her year-old son, recently recovered from malaria, are stable enough to remain with neighbors. We put her in the ambulance and return to Partners in Hope. Her blood is teeming with malaria, requiring two days in the hospital. She recovers.

If we had not visited that day, there would have been two more orphans in Malawi. So what happens to those not visited?

It takes some time to remember this client. About five years ago she suffered from a severe bacterial infection. One of our community health workers arranged daily injections. Earlier this year she had been admitted to Partners in Hope for severe anemia. We don't fight a single war so much as a running series of pitched battles.


A former patient greets me in the foyer. "Mukunenepa," I say. You are fattening (a compliment!). He looks well. Much better than the day four years ago when he presented to the hospital in respiratory distress. An HIV-associated skin cancer had spread throughout his lung. The chest x-ray was dense with tumor. Death appeared imminent. A colleague and I administered emergency chemotherapy, and repeated the dose with better medicines the next day. Following a course of treatment, then another course, he has done well.

Kaposi sarcoma in the lung. After treatment the x-ray looked almost normal.

Later he writes to me:

"I was so happy to meet you at the hospital today. Thanks for helping me the time you were here in Malawi.

I believe that among the assignments God had for you in Africa is to save my life. I have been longing to meet or write you so that you can bear witness of God's work in you and that you should know that God didn't send you to Malawi just for nothing. You came to restore my health.

Thanks for rescuing me from the mouth of the grave. I am really short of words and may God continue blessing the works of your hands.


We too give thanks to Our Lord Jesus Christ for rescuing us from the mouth of the grave of sin and death. We know He never sends us anywhere "for nothing," for no purpose. It is a great encouragement to be reminded of this promise.

Serving with you,
Jon, Amanda, Matthew, Aaron, and Anna

About the Fielder's Work
Jon directs African Mission Healthcare Foundation, which supports health facilities in multiple countries. He also teaches and sees patients at Maua Methodist Hospital. We live in Kenya at the invitation of the Methodist Church of Kenya. To support the Fielders, you may give online, or a check may be sent made out to African Mission Healthcare Foundation and sent to AMHF, PO Box 2783, Westerville, OH 43086.
Thank you for your partnership!