Planting Seeds

We leave for Tanzania in one week!

Thank you for taking interest in our trip! To date, I still do not have an exact itinerary of what we will be doing in Ntagatcha. So far, I know we will be doing lots of:

  • restoration work (painting, construction, home repairs, etc.)
  • teaching water safety, healthy eating habits & lifestyle choices, personal hygiene, & the importance of safe sex
  • teaching a CPR class
  • helping with the surgical clinic in the village
  • spending time with the children in the orphanage

I am sure we will also be helping teach Sunday school classes every Sunday.

As we get closer to leaving, I wanted to share a few things that have been on my mind the past few weeks.


One thing that has piqued my interest recently is how health care will be different in Africa and how we will use medicine to show Jesus to the Kuria people.

Each member of this trip has been required to get a slew of immunizations prior to leaving. So far, I have received immunizations for:

  • Typhoid
  • Yellow Fever
  • Polio
  • Hep A
  • Anti-Malarial and anti-Cholera pills

These are some of the common illnesses that Teamwork City of Hope (TCOH) sees in Africa and recommends visitors be vaccinated for prior to arrival in the country.

These illnesses have made me more conscious of my own health. I have made it a priority to get good sleep, rest during down time at work & a few hours before bed, exercise every other day, eat extra DGL vegetables and make sure I always have my water bottle nearby to stay hydrated.

During my time working as a medic in both Blacksburg & Radford, I have realized that health looks very different to different people.

The way I care for my body will likely differ from the way the Kurian people care for their bodies.

Patient care will probably be very novel in Africa as compared to patient care in the States.

The Kurians’ needs will undoubtedly be very unique, and this will alter the way we care for them.

In this manner, I expect our experience in the clinical environment in Ntagatcha to be notably unorthodox.

We are walking into the opportunity to address not only the physical, mental or emotional needs of these people; we have the chance to guide them spiritually and introduce the ultimate Doctor who can make it all better – the Great Physician.


We will most likely not have all of the resources that we need to restore each patient to complete health.

However, for some patients, just fixing their “boo-boo” is enough, even if their immune or cardiac health is still in poor condition after leaving the clinic.

Patients often are not able to identify exactly where their pain originates.

When you think of a doctor, you think of someone who heals your body. If something does not feel right, you go to him or her and expect them to make it better.

Many patients I have seen in Radford have called EMS for something conventional like abdominal pain or back pain and expressed their desire to be seen by a doctor.

While most people would roll their eyes and expect this pain to be nothing more than the toils of being a human being and working to live, I think it is important to recognize that sometimes mental or emotional pain manifests itself in physical form.

That is to say, these patients do not suffer from mental or emotional pain: they suffer from a broken heart. Or a hurting relationship. Or the loss of a job or something important to them.

It excites me to think that I have insight that will help these patients and encourage them to seek Christ to heal their bodies as well as their hearts.

Another thing that has been on my mind recently is how I should be appropriately preparing to preach the Gospel. Some of the Kurian people may hear about Jesus for the first time on this trip.

I consider it an immense blessing to be a part of this life-changing experience!

To think that someone has never even heard of Jesus is a little bit foreign to me. I find myself asking “how do you speak the Word efficiently so that it is easily understood and still truthful.”

It is hard to explain to someone that Jesus has come to save them, when they have no idea that they have needed saving.

So, how do you tell someone they need something if they don’t see the need themselves?

Luckily, I am only responsible for planting the seed – it is Jesus who will knock on the doors of their hearts and work in their life to show them their need for a Savior.


During service this weekend, one of our congregation members spoke about his experience preaching the Gospel in Spain.

He spoke about how the way mission trips are presented is often not consistent with reality.

God uses missionaries and people who travel to other countries to preach the Gospel for His sovereign Will, but He also uses the trip to build them up in faith, too.

The purpose of the trip, then, is not solely to make more disciples alone, but also to build better disciples.

It is humbling to know that this trip was meant for my teams’ spiritual growth too.

God will fine-tune our skills as ministers of the Word, as medical practitioners & students, and as brothers & sisters in Christ.

How exciting is it that God has our best interests in mind!

This trip is going to be extraordinary. I cannot wait to leave even more on fire for God than when I left.

Lord willing, this team will have the opportunity to return to Tanzania this time next year and continue the good work that the Lord has started in Ntagatcha.

As Jacob, Sam & I prepare to show Jesus’ love, I will be praying that we have boldness and courage. This trip will force us out of our comfort zones and probably bring up several uncomfortable situations.

It will probably be difficult to introduce Jesus to the Kurian people at first, but I have full confidence that the Lord will provide the tools we will need.

The excerpt of Scripture that comes to mind as I ponder these things comes from John 13. Before Jesus was betrayed by Judas, He met with His disciples and prepared them for His death.

Before He departed, He advised:

34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Even if all of us completely fail to preach the Word, I know the Kurian people will be encouraged by the love my team and TCOH demonstrates to them.

We will be building one another up in Christ during the three weeks that we spend in Tanzania and will be doing several Bible studies, devotionals, and quiet times together.

I will do my best to post on the highlights of each of these gatherings as I am able to get internet.

Word of God

In closing, I wanted to leave you with encouragement that this trip will change lives.

I have trust that God will move through our team and use us to equip the Kurian people with the life skills they need to live healthy, meaningful lives built on the foundation of Christ.

I know that when we speak next week, it will not be us who speak, but the Holy Spirit in each of us. As Romans 8:26 says,

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”



It was then I carried you


  Thank you for taking the time to read this blog! It was with great hesitation that I started – I have hardly any talent or experience with blogging – but I recognized that many of my friends and family members wanted to keep up with my adventures while in Tanzania and Europe. I also saw blogging as an opportunity to share how God is and has been working in my life; He has been putting this trip on my heart since I was a wee-squirt in primary school. The fact that I will be working with the Kuria tribe in northern Tanzania in just under a month is a testament to the fact that God truly does follow through with His word and is totally faithful and trustworthy.

  The title of this blog comes from the poem “Footprints.” I still do not know who the author of this poem is because every site on the web states either anonymous or some random poet no one has ever heard of wrote it. Regardless, here are the words:

Author Unknown

I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets
of footprints in the sand,
one belonging to me
and one to my Lord.

When the last scene of my life shot before me
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
There was only one set of footprints.
I realized that this was at the lowest
and saddest times of my life.
This always bothered me
and I questioned the Lord
about my dilemma.

“Lord, you told me when I decided to follow You,
You would walk and talk with me all the way.
But I’m aware that during the most troublesome
times of my life there is only one set of footprints.
I just don’t understand why, when I needed You most,
You leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child,
I love you and will never leave you
never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints
it was then that I carried you.”

  Powerful words from our LORD and Savior! I identify with this poem because like many of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I have been met with very difficult trials and sufferings in life and have asked God “why.” “It was then that I carried you” is a reminder for me that even when it doesn’t necessarily feel like God is with us, He is working His will through our lives and we can count on Him to be faithful to all of His promises, even when this isn’t easy to do.

  John 10:10 comes from the passage in John where Jesus is explaining how Jesus is the Great Shepherd. The verse states: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” This has been the verse Jacob Moyer & I chose when we formed the medical ministry The Lazarus Project at our church Northstar Church in Blacksburg, VA. It reminds us that God is the provider of our health and wants us to rely on Him as sheep would rely on their shepherd for provision.

I feel so blessed to be embarking on this trip with Jacob Moyer and Sam Tabacchi, both of whom are members of Lazarus Project and Northstar church. We have been praying for this trip since the beginning of the year and have every confidence that the LORD is going to move through us, the other members of Teamwork City of Hope (TCOH) and in the lives of the Tanzanian people next month.

Please feel free to provide comments after each post. I am open to feedback and am looking for ways to better this blog. Can’t wait to hear from you all!

~ Justin
Proverbs 3:5-6