Kathy Rice, RN, Tim Rice, MD and their youngest daughter Nancy moved to Vanga, Democratic Republic of Congo in 2015, to work in a rural village hospital. Kathy was given the position as head of the Nursing School in Vanga, educating 250 of Congo’s finest future nurses and midwives. Tim serves as the Chief of the Medical Staff of the 480-bed Vanga Evangelical Hospital and is also Director of the Family Medicine Residency program at the hospital. Together they want to see God raise up and train the next generation of Congolese medical leaders to serve and disciple others in Congo.
Traditionally, Congo has a “chief” culture where the chief is boss supreme. He can do what he wants for life… or until he is overthrown. The chief culture permeates all of society in Vanga, including the hospital hierarchy. When the Rices arrived in 2015, they walked into a situation where the medical director and the administrator held all the power at the Vanga hospital. The leadership of the hospital allied themselves with other forces in the village…the chief, the witch doctor, etc. As so often happens, this power was being used to benefit themselves at the expense of the functioning of the hospital, bringing the hospital to the brink of bankruptcy. Paychecks for the doctors and nursing staff routinely we’re paid 3-4 weeks after normal payday.
This situation became a showdown between good and evil. Was God powerful enough to overcome the forces of Satan, fear, witchcraft, and cultural norms? It seemed an impossibility….yet God is able to do above and beyond all we can think or imagine. In a series of remarkable events, beyond all imagination, God removed the hospital leadership!
In one example, the group of leaders who wanted to coordinate a significant disruption, borrowed a flash drive to write their communication. Forgetting to erase the incriminating note on the flash drive, they returned it where the plans were revealed to the appropriate authorities. All glory and praise to God!
In the end, Tim was given the position of medical director of Vanga Evangelical Hospital. When one considers his limitations in French, lack of experience in hospital management, and the state of crisis the hospital was in, particularly financially, one begins to realize that God indeed chooses the weak things of the world to confound the wise and to demonstrate His power. In partnership with the new Congolese hospital leadership, salaries are now paid on time.
For additional evidence of God using the weak, one need look no further than the fact that Kathy continues to teach in the midwife program in French! She has limited French and no practical experience as a midwife. In partnership with the Congolese teaching staff, she is training a new group of midwife students to serve the mothers of Congo.
Over just a few months, programs to strengthen the financial accountability and to improve the quality of care across the hospital have been implemented. In addition, the Rices are working to refresh the nursing school buildings (https://internationalministries.org/projects/249) and the hospital which has suffered from over two decades without significant investment beyond a limited amount of maintenance and upkeep.