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Blood, Sweat and Jesus by Kerry Stillman

Blood, Sweat and Jesus by Kerry Stillman
Why did you decide to write Blood, Sweat and Jesus?

The 25th anniversary of the medical work in Cameroon became the catalyst that got me reflecting and then gathering the stories of people who had passed through our hospital. Having witnessed so many wonderful demonstrations of God’s love and power to transform lives it only seemed right to share it with others. Writing this book has become an act of thanksgiving to God for all that he has done.

Who have you written this book for?

I started writing this book for myself and my team in Cameroon to start with; to serve as a reminder of the past, so that we would never forget what God has done. As it developed, I realised that this was a much bigger story that deserved to be shared with all those who have taken part in the ministry of this special place in Cameroon; all those who have come, all who have prayed and supported the work, and all those who have made it possible. The book is also for any who want to join us in thanking God for his great love, and for those who want to be explore how God can use them for his purposes.

Why did you choose this title?

I confess that choosing the title didn’t come easily! When the thought of Blood, Sweat and Jesus came to me though, I just knew that this was the right title. It encompasses what our lives in Cameroon have been about. Blood represents our commitment to providing a good quality medical service for the people who welcomed us into their village. Sweat represents the extreme hot climate we found ourselves in that touched every area of life, and the sheer hard work that kept us company through the years; Jesus, of course, is our Lord and the reason for everything we are and have done; he is the one we love, represent and invite others to follow.

Having grown up in the UK, how did you end up working at this hospital in Cameroon?

There was a long journey of preparation while I was in the UK that led me to Cameroon. From the age of 17 I knew that God had called me to share the good news of Jesus with those who had not heard about him. By my mid-20s, having now trained as a physiotherapist and working in London, I felt God reminding me that he wanted to use me to invite others to follow Jesus, but this time I realised that he meant in a different part of the world, among people who had never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus at all. This led to much research, prayer and discussion. Finally, I discovered that the MCWA team in Cameroon were searching for a physiotherapist to join them; it felt like a perfect fit for me so I went for 11 months initially and ended up staying there for over 20 years so far.

You have looked back over 25 years of the hospital ministry to write this book. How would you describe what God has done through this ministry, and how does that make you feel?

What God has done through this ministry is truly wonderful. It was never anticipated that such a large medical facility would become established, serving such a large number of patients. Everything about it has surpassed the original team’s expectations: the speed of its development, the provision of visiting specialists and helpers, the great calibre of employees, the distances that people would travel to come there. Then there have been all the incredible ways that God has touched so many lives in healing bodies, minds and spirits. It all makes me feel so privileged, in awe and so thankful to have been a part of it in some small way. Being invited to this place so many years ago has changed me forever and I will treasure the honour of being a messenger of the gospel to the precious people of Cameroon.

You have included testimonies of people who have been touched in some way by God through the hospital. Is there a particular story that really stands out for you?

There are so many! All the stories that have been included have made a mark on me and my teammates. Perhaps the most personal story to me is that of Samira as she was the first Fulbe person I had the honour of leading to Jesus many years ago. She has become very special to me as we shared many years of life together with its ups and downs; we got to know each other very well and learned to love each other deeply as sisters in Christ.

What are some of the challenges of working in a very different faith and cultural climate to your own, and how do you deal with them?

There are so many differences and challenges that adjusting and dealing with them becomes a way of life - language, climate, food, how to behave in the culture, how to communicate, how to buy stuff in the market, how to drive on the roads, how to keep your spiritual life fresh, how to keep connected to your family and friends back home, staying safe, working in a close team. At the beginning of my time in Cameroon it was all an adventure and exciting; this then gave way to culture shock and learning to take the challenges along with the wonderful things about being there. Now many years on, there are still challenges but they don’t knock me off balance like they did before. Experience, maturity, having great colleagues on the field and support from home, and a growing trust that God is indeed the Good Shepherd that he claims to be have all helped me to deal with being a visitor to Cameroon.

Have you learnt anything new/ been reminded afresh about your own personal journey with God as you have looked back over your life while writing this book?

Writing this book has been a very positive experience for me. All the reflection, talking things over with my colleagues, collecting stories, going right back to the beginning when the medical project was a vision and an idea - this has all reminded me of how wonderful God’s purposes and plans are for his children. He has been so faithful, taking care of all the details and poured his love and grace on so many. Besides all of this, it has been faith-building for me as I recall all the people who have come to faith in Jesus. It has truly been a reminder to me that God is for the nations, he is for all people and he makes a way for Jesus and the gospel to be known. Personally, when I first came I did not expect to spend more than 20 years of my life in Cameroon but, as I have mentioned in the book, it has all been a privilege for me to have done so. Writing this book has reminded me that I am honoured to be part of the world-wide mission of God, inviting all and any to come to Christ.

Do you have any advice for someone who is considering whether God is calling them to work overseas in either a vocational or missionary capacity?

If someone is already considering working overseas then I would suggest that the Holy Spirit is already at work, calling them to join in with what God is already doing. It is not ‘normal’ to think about going to another culture to invite people to follow Jesus; this thought has been put there by the Holy Spirit. I would say start by doing something - find out what is going on in the mission world, talk to organisations, someone in your church or someone you know who has been involved in mission. Taking Jesus’ command seriously, to ‘go to the ends of the earth’ with the gospel, will never disappoint you. I have never regretted it and I would encourage anyone who is thinking about this to take it to the next step. God is very good at guiding us if we ask him to do so.

Lots of churches have links to missionaries /overseas workers – but how can the individual in the pew really support them in a meaningful way?

Get to know the overseas workers and the work they are involved in by receiving their newsletters. This will also let you know how you can pray for them and will build your faith too as you find out what God is doing. When the overseas workers are home, get to know them. We are normal people who like to make friends too! My home church in the UK has been very supportive of my life in Cameroon right from the beginning, which has been priceless for me. It encourages me no end when I attend my church and people come up to me who I have never spoken to before, and yet they know who I am and tell me they have been praying for me. This has been possible because the church leadership is committed to supporting the overseas members and keeps us visible to the wider church community by praying for us and talking about us when we are absent.

What do you hope readers will most get out of reading this book?

I hope they will be able to join me and my team in thanksgiving to God for all that he has done through the medical work in Cameroon so far. I hope they will be built up in their faith, to pray bolder prayers, to expect God to use them too in taking the Gospel to those who have not had an opportunity to hear it yet. I hope that those who read it who don’t know Jesus for themselves yet will be drawn to him and come to love him as I do. I hope that this book is more than ‘a good read’; I want it to be challenging to the reader, encouraging them to make themselves available in greater measure for God to use for his purposes, wherever they are in life.

In one sentence, how would you describe Blood, Sweat and Jesus?

Blood, Sweat and Jesus is evidence that God can use anyone anywhere, in order to demonstrate his love and power to transform lives through encounters with Jesus.

Is there anything we can pray for the hospital?

Let’s keep praying that God’s hand will remain on that place, that his favour will rest upon on it, that good quality medical care will continue for many years to come and that many people will meet Jesus there.


 

 
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