Norm Boeve ’61 and Carolyn Brinkman Boeve ’63 met at Calvin in 1959 and married in 1963. They had an early sense that God would call them to serve.
“We had no idea of what our future life would hold, but we had a common goal of some type of foreign medical service,” noted Carolyn.
After Calvin, Norm’s medical training at the University of Michigan, Denver General Hospital, the University of Washington and Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids, punctuated by Air Force service in Vietnam and bases in Tennessee and Montana, all provided a wealth of valuable experiences.
The Boeves now see that history as important background for a successful medical practice in Grand Haven, Mich., from 1973 to 2010 and providing practical knowledge for service in developing countries.
In 1976 they received a call from The Luke Society about a need for spine surgery on young people in Taiwan, where a polio epidemic left countless children paralyzed from the waist down and twisted scoliotic curves in their spine. Norm was not a spine surgeon, but the Boeves felt a strong call. Off they went with their four children to the Norwegian Missionary Alliance Hospital in Pingtung, Taiwan.
“In three months we did 30 to 40 complex fusions with one minor complication. God’s awesome direction and blessings of that mission were obvious,” said Carolyn.
In 1998 they joined International Aid on a trip to Kenya to visit several of the sites they supported with their gifts for medical equipment. The last stop was at the Africa Inland Mission Kijabe Hospital. They stayed on to become better acquainted with the mission and decided that this would be a possibility for future service. As Norm moved away from active practice, the Boeves have now made a number of annual trips, for about a month each time.
Kijabe is located on the edge of The Great Rift Valley about one hour northwest of Nairobi. The hospital, whose motto is “Health Care to God’s Glory,” is one of the best in East Africa and just celebrated its 100th anniversary. The staff is a mixture of Kenyan nationals, long-term missionaries and shorter-term volunteers from several countries.
Norm assists or supervises resident surgeons for the balance of the day. All patients are prayed over before surgery begins. The hospital operates four days a week and holds one clinic day, seeing maybe 125 patients.
“Because of the large volume of cases and the volunteers who have preceded us, the Kenyans are very skilled in complex cases and they have shown me much,” said Norm.
They are relatively new to total joint replacement surgery, so that is one area where Norm can contribute as well as in the basics of surgery.
Carolyn’s role has been in support of other missionaries and especially the Pediatric Chaplaincy Program.
It was in 2005 that Carolyn first met Mercy, soon to be the new chaplain on the pediatric ward at Bethany Kids Kijabe Hospital. She works with Chaplain Mercy as a volunteer and is witness to some of the many mothers and children who are introduced to “the only true God, and Jesus Christ.”
After accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior, these new Christians need mentoring; contact is maintained with them after they leave the hospital as they return to their towns and villages, guiding them into Bible studies, prayer groups and churches. Chaplain Mercy has personally trained more than 400 of these new believers in evangelism discipleship.
“Through the reputation, draw and mission of Kijabe Hospital, it is thrilling to see the gospel permeating much of East Africa,” said Carolyn. “These mothers and children are telling of the love of Jesus, found at Kijabe Hospital through not only the chaplains and volunteers, but all those who cared for them—doctors, nurses, physical therapists, social workers, administrators, engineers, maintenance personnel and countless others. It’s a huge team effort to bring health care to God’s glory.”