Heather Marten, MD, Assemblies of God World Missions, felt a calling to be a missionary when she was 12 years old. In high school, a teacher encouraged her to pursue a career in medicine and since then, Dr. Marten has achieved her dream. Currently, Dr. Marten works in pediatrics at Southwestern Medical Clinic (SWMC) in Stevensville, Michigan. Since joining the SWMC staff, she has been to Sudan, India, and Zambia and has continued to return to Zambia time and time again. Below is an excerpt about her most recent trip and the impact she and others are making in the lives of women and local church congregations.
We just completed a return journey to Chadiza, Eastern Province of Zambia where we screened for cervical cancer at different schools around the area where the local congregations meet. One of our goals is to help connect the local church to the community for both spiritual and physical needs. During our time of screening, pastors and church leaders visit homes and pray with those in need. There is something special about praying with a woman who has a normal exam but hasn't had children or is struggling in her marriage or to make ends meet.
Although we are thrilled to have screened and diagnosed more than 1,000 women, the numbers don't capture the satisfaction of knowing a woman—who would have died a painful, needless death in five or six years—now will live to see her children marry and have children.
The last day of the trip, we did a Community Health Evangelism vision seminar for 16 local pastors and church leaders. We are excited to see them mobilize into their communities in new ways!
Each time I teach about cervical cancer to different women's groups, I am struck again by the analogy of cancer and sin. Cervical cancer starts as a small infection you can't even feel. Slowly over time, if it isn't taken care of by the immune system, it causes cell damage. If we look carefully, we can find it in a pre-cancer stage. If no attention is paid or treatment is given, slowly, over time, it grows into cancer. By the time major symptoms appear that can't be ignored, damage has been done, and it is very hard to contain or treat. Death is a result in the late stages.
How true is that of sin in our lives? Often it starts out small and seemingly harmless, but if left unchecked, it grows over time and causes much pain and destruction in our lives. We need frequent spiritual check-ups and to ask the Holy Spirit to examine our lives and then allow Him to remove the sin while it is small. Even though it may hurt a little now, it will save much pain and sadness in the future. I am always grateful for our Great Physician.
Thank you to my partners at Southwestern Medical Clinic Foundation who have supported this project since 2016 with equipment and funds to make my cervical cancer screening training and missions work a reality. It is my hope and prayer that we can continue to save lives and local pastors will continue to catch the vision for community health evangelism. God has truly blessed us and I so praise Him for all that He is doing through His people!