Houston Medical Center nurse ministers in Kenya

February 13, 2013 

Bethany Crenshaw, a nurse at Houston Medical Center, spent part of her Christmas vacation working. That’s not uncommon for nurses, since illness doesn’t take a vacation, but Crenshaw’s work was literally a world away.

Crenshaw was part of a seven-person team that went to Nakuru, Kenya, as part of an FCA International mission group. While there she served at Mountain Park Academy, a school for about 400 children that takes its name from the church in Stone Mountain that sponsors it.

Crenshaw was involved in FCA as both a student at Houston County High School and at Georgia Southwestern State University, where she played softball. Since graduation in 2011, Crenshaw had been looking for a ministry to become involved with.

“I wanted something that combined the three things I love,” said Crenshaw. “Jesus, taking care of people and sports.”

While in Kenya, Crenshaw worked at a clinic that was open three days a week when a doctor came by. The clinic had few supplies, and the pharmacy contained only a few bottles of vitamins and antacids. The “nurse” was a local teacher familiar with the community members.

“One day, there was a little girl that came in,” said Crenshaw. “She was about 18 months old, and her 5-year-old sister had carried her down a mountain to the clinic. She had had hot tea spilled on her, had an open wound on her arm and was running a fever.”

The child went into convulsions in the clinic. Crenshaw, using only a capful of alcohol from the only bottle in the clinic, cleaned and bound her wound as best as she could.

“There was no Tylenol, no thermometer, not even any cold water for a rag for her head,” said Crenshaw. “The alcohol that we would just drench over a wound had to be used very sparingly.”

Limited to two suitcases, Crenshaw had filled them with medical supplies and put her own personal items in a carry-on. When the doctor saw the things Crenshaw brought, supplies like Band-Aids and Vaseline, she said he reacted like she had brought “a bag of gold.” The doctor was using a disposable stethoscope, and Crenshaw gave him hers before she left.

When not working at the clinic, Crenshaw assisted the other FCA volunteers with a sports camp.

“Athletics is a platform,” said Crenshaw. “To reach people, you have to care about them. You have to invest your time in them. Coaches are among the most influential people in the States, but to these kids, someone investing anything in their lives is a big deal.”

Crenshaw said FCA provided clothes, shorts, shirts and shoes for the children to use during the camp, but they were given out and taken up every night.

“The first year they went over, they let them take the clothes home. The kids would come back the next day without the shoes, which their parents had traded for food.”

One of the house parents at the orphanage associated with the school asked Crenshaw if everyone in the United States loves Jesus.

“She was so shocked when I told her no. She said that the way we lived here, with everyone having food and everyone having water, she just couldn’t believe that everyone in America didn’t love Jesus,” Crenshaw said.

The FCA is sending a freight container to the school in March, and Crenshaw would like to fill it up with medical supplies for the clinic.

“We just don’t realize how spoiled we are in America,” she said. “If we just gave up eating out once a month, it would provide so much for these kids. Thirty dollars to educate a child. And it’s not just education. It is hope and a future.”

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or allinekent@cox.net.

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