Imagine taking a blank sheet of paper, telling God that you will do whatever he asks, then signing your name at the bottom, leaving the rest for him to fill in. Imagine God telling you to go to the highlands of Papua New Guinea to work in a hospital in 1964, when a hospital did not exist there. What would you do? Question God’s plan? Doubt that you truly heard God speak? This was the experience of Neville Bartle, one of the early missionaries at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital. A month after receiving this rather puzzling call from the Lord, he received a missions magazine. The cover story: Nazarene General Assembly collects funds to build a hospital in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Three years later, after finishing his training as a laboratory scientist, Neville arrived at the newly built hospital. God’s plans are so much more than we could think or imagine!
Story after story like this was shared during the 50th Anniversary celebration for Kudjip Nazarene Hospital. During the week-long celebration, we heard testimonies from pioneer missionaries, the first PNG nurses, locals who helped build and staff the hospital, and long term medical missionaries who have served here for upwards of 30 years.
It was heartwarming to see Joyce Bartle, one of the founders of the Kudjip Nursing College, reconnect with the seven ladies who comprised the first class of nursing graduates, many of whom worked at the hospital for their entire careers.
We heard the story of Jan Watson, an Australian nurse, who felt called to seek training as a nurse anesthetist in the US at a time when there was no surgeon at Kudjip. A few years later, in 1985, Dr. Jim Radcliffe, Kudjip’s first surgeon, arrived and found that God had already provided an anesthesia provider and a PNG scrub nurse, Auntie Margaret. Jim and Margaret have been working together for the past 32 years.
Story after story of God’s faithfulness and provision. Story after story of not only the physical, but the spiritual impact that the hospital has made on this area. In the past 50 years, the hospital has grown and expanded, added a nursing college and bible college, started many rural health centers and planted hundreds of churches in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. It was amazing to look back and see the bigger story that God has called me to be a part of. I’m excited to see what God has in store for the next 50 years!