Dr. Bruce Steffes: Leadership in Medical Missions

Dr. Bruce Steffes: Leadership in Medical Missions

Bruce Steffes
BBC alumnus Dr. Bruce Steffes is making a difference worldwide for Christ.

Since early 1998, he has spent the majority of each year as a volunteer physician and general surgeon in Haiti, Belize, Guatemala, Brazil, Kenya, Uganda, Togo, Benin, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola, Papua New Guinea, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan.

In early 2006, Dr. Steffes became the Chief Executive Officer of the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons, a general surgical training program for African residents. PAACS is a rural-based health initiative and is a part of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.

Watch a special video with Dr. Steffes here.

A surgeon and educator living near Fayetteville, NC, Dr. Steffes is originally from Lapeer, MI. He spent a pivotal academic year at Baptist Bible College in 1969-70. Later, he graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint and the University of Michigan College of Medicine. He was trained in general surgery at the University of Florida and also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

He is the author of "Handbook for Short Term Medical Missions," which is being revised and expanded into two books, "Medical Missions: Get Ready, Get Set, Go!" and "Your Mission: Get Ready, Get Set, GO!" He also travels as a speaker to service groups and missionary conferences in the U.S.

Dr. Steffes has been recognized for his work with PAACS with the 2008 International Medicine Award (from the Institute for International Medicine) and induction to the Medical Missions Hall of Fame, located at the University of Toledo in Ohio.

Read more In the Spotlights here.

Insight Questions

What led you to BBC?
After having a full-ride scholarship set for the University of Michigan, I heard a presentation by Wendell Kempton, which was clearly a call for me to spend a year in Bible school in preparation for my career in medicine. I made a decision to attend that night - not realizing until a year later that it would cost me my entire four-year scholarship. Still, a fair trade.

What made you want to be in the medical field?
This has been my desire since a little child- odd since there was no one with a college degree in my family and nobody in the field of medicine. I do not remember wanting to do anything else.

What do you do?
I spend the fall teaching at Methodist University Physician Assistant Program and working full-time as CEO of PAACS. The other eight months a year, I am working as unpaid CEO of PAACS, usually traveling and teaching overseas.
I have three grown children, Michelle, Ryan, and Bethany by my first marriage and one son, Sean, by my second. My wife Michelle "Micky" and Sean usually travel with me.

What is the mission of Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons?
To train African physicians to become missionary surgeons for the great ongoing need in Africa. Medical missions is the most cost-effective method to bring people to Christ and plant churches - and is the model of healing and teaching that Christ used.

What were you involved in while at BBC?
Since I was only at BBC for one year, the undergraduate major issue was not really an issue. Bible, history and the music classes (including acappella choir) were the most remarkable and helpful for me throughout the subsequent years. I was active on the soccer team, the statistician for the basketball team, sang with a quartet on weekend worship teams, and toured with the choir.

What was your time like at BBC?
It was a great time to start over and begin to live the Christian life I always wanted to live prior to that time but didn't. The small student body was more like a family and we couldn't get away with anything - the faculty knew everything we did. It was perhaps the happiest year of my life.

How did your BBC education prepare you for your life in ministry and leadership?
Bible, history, and music classes (including acappella choir) were the most remarkable and helpful for me throughout the subsequent years. The understanding of the Bible and God were by far the greatest impact, but the music program brought me the most joy in my day to day life. Some friendships from there have lasted a lifetime. The intellectual rigor of the classroom has stood me in good stead.

Who among the faculty and staff at BBC do you count among your greatest influencers?
Coach Jim Huckaby, Dr. Don Ellsworth, Dr. George Hess, and Dr. Rembert Carter.

What are the greatest challenges you face in your role?
In my role as CEO of the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons, resources are so limited but the need is so great, both in the area of need for health and in the need for spiritual healing. Individually, as a missionary-physician, it is hardest to have someone die in your arms that you might have saved back home - and the chronic fatigue, overwork, and discouragement are constant companions for all missionary surgeons.

What are the greatest joys in your role?
Personally, to always rejoice that I serve a God of second chances and forgiveness. Professionally, to realize I have been given the gift of the ministry of reconciliation. I can not only take part in the physical healing of patients (which is only good for a maximum of 70 years or so) but I can also share in the spiritual healing of patients which is eternal.

What advice would you give a student who is interested in doing something similar?
I think a year of Bible training would stand anyone in good stead. I found that the academic rigor of BBC compared well to that of the University of Michigan and prepared me well.

Contact information:
323 Damsel Court
Linden, NC 28356
Cell: 910-551-6783
Home: 910-630-3366

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Posted on: 4/27/2010 2:20:10 PM

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