The annual medical students missions conference was held from September 27 to 30, 2012. It was a blessed time of gathering together of over 700 registered delegates, including about 200 students from Pondicherry, Bangalore, several colleges from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, CMC Ludhiana, and even a group of 6 students from Sri Lanka. Shiloh 2012 provided the opportunity to listen to some great Bible teachers, as well as to hear from doctors working in mission hospitals in remote parts of this country.

Shilo 12 (2)

The theme of the conference was the ‘Stewardship of Healthcare’ based on I Corinthians 4:7 – “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”, a theme that reminded us that our profession is a gift from above, to be used with care and with gratitude.

The plenary speakers were Dr. Rajkumar Ramachandran, Dr. Arul Anketell, Mr. L.T. Jeyachandran, and Rev. Arun Andrews. Each of them spoke on different aspects of the theme, ranging from stewardship in the context of the Christian gospel, to the outworking of our faith in daily living, especially in the context of work, family and relationships.

There were multiple breakout seminars arranged on different aspects of medical mission work – including public health and policy making (Dr. Bobby John, New Delhi), wholistic health care and nation-building (Dr. Raju Abraham, alumnus of CMC Vellore, presently with EHA in Kachhwa, UP), the science-faith interface (Mr. L.T. Jeyachandran), rural medical missions (Drs. George (Laji) and Sheila Verghese, Manali), palliative care (Dr. Reena George, CMC Vellore), and missions in private medical practice (Dr. James Zachariah, Vizag).

Each of these speakers spoke and shared with a passion to communicate truths learnt over many years of learning and growing in their own fields. The response from the students was very encouraging, with several asking questions to clarify long-standing doubts, and several deciding to take the first step of visiting pioneering areas to see the work for themselves.

Shilo 12One of the highlights of the Shiloh conference is the John Scudder Oration, and this year it was jointly delivered by Drs. Laji and Sheila from Manali. It was fascinating to listen to the story of their journey, how they took up rural medical work after finishing their undergraduate studies at CMC Ludhiana, how the work grew from a hospital to a school and then to outreach camps in the high mountainous regions of Himachal Pradesh where there are no medical facilities.

Dr. Laji was recently conferred the FRCS degree in recognition of his outstanding contribution to medical work in India. The ‘Living Waters’ had the crowd in rapt attention as they sang on two of the evenings of the conference. There were two short presentations highlighting the work of two specific mission hospitals – Dr. Philip Finny, an alumnus of CMC Vellore, and presently working at the Duncan Hospital, Raxaul, Bihar; and Dr. Lisa Choudhrie, an alumnus of CMC Ludhiana, and working at Padhar Christian Hospital (MP). Each of them spoke on the challenges and opportunities of working in North India, and the far-reaching effects of people willing to use their medical training at grassroots level.

Shiloh-2012 was therefore a reminder of our common heritage as medical professionals, as well as a challenge to step beyond the confines of our own limitations and comfort zones, to respond to the health needs of our country, and to support our alumni and friends who are making a difference on the frontlines? echo of our own institutional motto ‘not to be ministered unto, but to minister.’