Treating the medical needs of the impoverished may not be a typical honeymoon, but it’s exactly what Canadian doctors Molly Lin and Sing-Chi Lam wanted.
The young couple had a wedding planned for early April in St. Albert, near Edmonton, after which they were to travel to Kenya for a month-long deployment at Tenwek Mission Hospital, which serves some of the nation’s poorest people.
The deadly COVID-19 virus didn’t stop their wedding—they still went ahead with a very small ceremony in Edmonton on April 11—but it forced them to postpone their World Medical Mission trip to Kenya.
Instead, they’re now busy helping to fight COVID-19. Molly is part of an infection prevention and control team at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital. Sing-Chi is serving as a physician from their Toronto home—providing “virtual care” to patients, including those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
During an earlier stage of the global pandemic, Molly was part of an infectious diseases team at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital treating suspected COVID-19 patients while Sing-Chi was helping at an Edmonton clinic, managing patients with COVID-19 symptoms or other challenges.
Why has the couple ignored the opportunity to have a honeymoon and instead jumped into the battle against COVID-19, and why would their honeymoon have been to a far-from-luxurious Christian mission hospital in Africa?
Because Sing-Chi says he and his fiancé want to start their marriage “by serving God’s people together.”
Molly, 30, is an internal medicine specialist who will be writing exams this fall to also qualify her as an infectious diseases specialist. Sing-Chi, 32, is a family physician who fills locum or temporary assignments in Toronto. They know that skills like theirs are badly needed to fight COVID-19, and at mission hospitals all over the developing world.
Molly has already served twice with World Medical Mission at overseas mission hospitals, including in 2016 at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya. It was during a nationwide physicians strike. Many public hospitals were closed, and facilities like Kijabe were flooded with extra patients, some of whom had walked for days for medical help.
Molly had a patient diagnosed with acute leukemia who desperately needed a blood transfusion but the strike had closed the national blood bank, and none of the patient’s relatives matched her blood type. “At that moment, I knew that God had placed me there for a specific reason because my own blood type was a perfect match for hers,” Molly recalls. “I immediately donated my blood and her blood counts subsequently rose to levels which allowed her to be seen by the oncologist to make a plan for her care.”
What did Molly learn from that experience, and from her other times at mission hospitals?
“Firstly, I learned that above all, God asks us to love Him in obedience,” she says. “Nothing is too big for God to handle, and He does not need us in the field, but He longs for us to love and obey Him in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves in.
“The second point I learned is to be convicted and sure of why we want to serve in the mission field. During long and difficult days, it is important to remind ourselves of that conviction so we may stay grounded in our walk with God and withstand the spiritual attacks we may encounter.”
Molly, who was born in Beijing, China, became a Christian in 2009 while living in Montreal. She was lonely and began attending a Chinese Alliance Church where she was warmly welcomed. Sing-Chi grew up in a Christian home in Edmonton. But he says his faith wasn’t truly real until 2007 when, while in university, he was baptized and re-dedicated his life to Christ at Easter.
The couple met while hiking the West Coast Trail, an infamously grueling 76-kilometer, one-week trek. They spent seven days getting to know each other, including their shared interest in serving God abroad. After the hike, they started dating—a challenge while Sing-Chi was working in Alberta and Molly was studying in Toronto.
“A big part of our relationship has been spent on the phone, whether it is texting, Facetiming, or calling each other,” Sing-Chi observes. “Medical missions came up as a topic of conversation when we first met as we were hiking, and it’s been on our minds ever since. We both love to travel and want to use the medical skills and knowledge that God has given us to serve Him, wherever that may be.”
Both remain intent on someday treating Kenyan patients together at Tenwek Hospital, and at other mission hospitals.
“We have a unique opportunity to reach out our hand and serve God’s people across cultures and continents because of our vocation,” Molly says. “Being obedient to God’s calling for our lives means responding to help those in need in the best way we are prepared to do, and in turn sharing the Gospel and pointing them to the only One who can truly heal.”
What would she tell any medical professional contemplating a World Medical Mission deployment?
“It will be life-changing—and the best decision you ever make. You will never regret saying ‘yes’ to God’s calling to go and serve.”
This article was published on April 6 and updated on April 16.
A medical ministry of Samaritan's Purse, World Medical Mission places volunteer medical personnel in short-term service in mission hospitals and clinics in the developing world, providing critically-needed resources as a witness of God's love. Your gift will help us fulfill this mission.