Interview: How my faith inspires my work
Asas de Socorro (‘Wings of Help’) is a Tearfund partner working in some of the most remote areas of Brazil. The organisation focuses on health, education and sanitation, using aircraft to bring help to distant communities.
We asked two of Asas de Socorro’s volunteers, Paulo Tsai and Cristiane Reynoso, to tell us about the relationship between their faith and their work.
Please tell us about the work you do.
Paulo: I graduated as a doctor 20 years ago and specialised in radiotherapy. I first heard of Asas de Socorro through a talk at a church. In the trips with Asas de Socorro, I carry out all types of medical care. I also train health workers and give educational workshops to people.
Cristiane: I am a dentist. I always liked helping people, and for me dentistry was more than a profession – it was my life’s purpose. I started volunteering in health care while I was still a student. Some years later I learnt about Asas de Socorro. I agree with their aim of not just curing health problems but also helping people to prevent them.
How does your Christian faith impact your work?
Paulo: The work is challenging, because no matter how well you have planned, many unexpected things happen. In remote locations, there are no resources to help us diagnose illnesses. There are limitations in referring people on to more specialist care. There may be a shortage of medicine. These things show how limited we are, regardless of our educational background. But we have faith that God is in control of our work. We know he can provide the resources and inspiration to solve problems that are beyond our abilities.
Cristiane: My Christian faith affects my whole life and all my choices. Being a Christian means responding with all our hearts to what we learn from Jesus. This encouraged me to choose a profession in which I could help people, especially
those who were unable to pay. By serving these people I can live out my faith in a practical way.
What are the most challenging and rewarding things about your work?
Paulo: Challenges include understanding the local culture and the environmental factors that make certain diseases common. Many health issues are related to social problems. We have to communicate with people in a way they can understand and work together to solve the problems.
It is very rewarding to find that for many problems there are simple solutions with excellent results. We provide health education and encourage behaviours that will have a positive influence on the health of future generations.
Cristiane: Helping people change their eating and tooth-brushing habits is a big challenge. This is especially true for adults. Children pick up new habits more easily. It is rewarding to see the smiles of people who have had their front teeth restored. Sometimes we see people coming to know Christ, and that is very rewarding.
What advice would you give to Christians considering a career in health care?
Paulo: God gives us our gifts and skills to enable us to do his will. So do not be afraid of all the things that could go wrong. Instead, trust that God can do great things when we cannot. Caring for patients in a loving way and showing interest in them will often be more important than just making an excellent diagnosis.
Cristiane: If you have never taken part in a trip as a volunteer, try it at least once! I challenge professionals to go and feel what it is like to give what nobody wants to give, where nobody wants to go. You will not receive any payment, but you will be richly rewarded in other ways.