Last November, ENC alums Mathew and Tammy Woodley followed the call to missions all the way to Papua New Guinea (PNG). After completing the Samaritan’s Purse Post-Residency Program, Matt accepted an assignment at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital.
This is not the first time the Woodleys traveled oversees to serve. Matt participated in a number of short-term mission trips, including a medical trip to Haiti following the earthquake in 2010. This assignment will be longer with an initial commitment for two years. However, the Woodleys said they are open to staying longer.
Matt said it was the experience in Haiti that opened his eyes to the need for quality, consistent medical care.
“Immediately following the earthquake, there was a surge of interest in Haiti with many doctors and particularly orthopedists making the short trip,” Matt said. “This interest quickly waned, and by the time I arrived, it was very apparent that there needed to be a longer-term solution. Although additional short-term assistance is needed in a time of crisis, I am excited to be a part of a hospital and staff committed to this region for the long run.”
Matt said he believes medical missions have a unique role in God’s kingdom.
“Many people who would never dare to enter a church will pass through the doors of a hospital to seek medical care,” Matt said. “God has been using Kudjip Hospital in PNG to bring about amazing works of physical and spiritual healing for 50 years in one of the most medically under-resourced areas of the world.”
In PNG, there is one doctor for every 20,000 people, with many of those practicing in urban areas. As an emergency medical physician, Matt said he is excited to work within his comfort zone, but also to learn new things outside of his specialty.
“I will be working in all areas of the hospital, including the inpatient, outpatient, ER, tuberculosis, and obstetrical wards,” he said. “I look forward to learning from an incredible group of U.S. and PNG doctors already working at Kudjip. Most importantly, I am excited to be a part of a hospital that is committed to praying for and sharing the gospel with each and every patient.”
Tammy said her current role is to support her family by re-establishing a daily routine and helping their kids adjust to life in PNG.
“Buying food, cooking, and cleaning are all much more time-consuming in PNG, and I’m still learning how to do most of those things,” she said. “In addition, I am homeschooling our kids: Elana, 5, is in kindergarten and MJ, 3, is in preschool.”
After their family adjusts to life in PNG, she hopes to use her certification in elementary education to help out at the school for the missionary kids at Kudjip. Tammy said she loves educating and is grateful that in each place God leads them, He opens doors for her to work with kids in one way or another.
While the Woodleys knew about Kudjip Nazarene Hospital, they never considered it as an option for their first long-term assignment due to its remote location. That changed when ENC professor Bill McCoy visited his parents, who serve at Kudjip, during the summer of 2015. Tammy worked for the McCoys during her time at ENC.
“Bill was familiar with our long-term goals throughout Matt’s medical training,” Tammy said. “After the McCoys returned from PNG, they informed us of an upcoming need for physicians at the Nazarene hospital and initiated our communication with the missionary leadership at Kudjip.”
Over the next year, Tammy said it seemed like they couldn’t go more than a few days without God reminding them of PNG. Every National Geographic film they watched had some strange animal from PNG, every medical article Matt read had a rare disease found in PNG.
Matt and Tammy said they felt more prepared, because of opportunities ENC provided them to be involved globally while in school.
“There were many opportunities I was able to take advantage of, including studying abroad at Africa Nazarene University for a semester, going on short-term mission trips to Haiti and Trinidad through the ‘Fusion’ program, and lastly, being involved daily in a very diverse student body,” Matt said.
Tammy said during her time at ENC she considered whether or not she could live a life in missions.
“I’ll admit, a big part of that was because I met Matt and knew God had big things planned for him,” she said. “However, God did begin to stir my heart for ‘the least of these’ as well.”
Matt and Tammy said the friends and mentorships they formed at ENC helped them prepare for this journey.
“[The faculty were] well adept at disciplining us, not only while we were attending ENC, but even now,” Matt said.
Matt said he knows that no matter where they go, he and his family find ways to serve together.
“The thing I enjoy most is finding ways for our family to serve the Lord regardless of where we are — whether that’s a homeless shelter in Kansas City, our local church in Erie, PA, or hospitals in Honduras, Kenya, and now Papua New Guinea,” he said. “Surrendering our lives to Christ has taken a lot of sacrifice and patience; however, getting to share the hope of Christ to people in desperate need with my family by my side has been my greatest joy.”
For more information on what the Woodleys are doing now or how you can help support them, visit www.woodleysaroundtheworld.com.