“Healthcare just has an easy connection to Christianity because God invented it,” says Dr. John Randal. “In medicine, we understand a little niche of God's creation differently than other people and I get to show (patients) his handiwork.”
Dr. Randal is a highly experienced robotics surgeon and one of the early robotics adopters in North America. This means that many invasive surgeries that once required large incisions, longer recovery, and risked more complications are now done laparoscopically, thanks to advanced robotic technology. This is Dr. Randal’s niche.
And while most patients will never fully realize every benefit that comes from this skill set, for Dr. Randal, that’s ok. He made a promise a long time ago to do whatever it took to glorify God in the process. Justice, mercy, and humility (Micah 6:8) in and through his work are Dr. Randal’s success metrics.
“I walk through my days, and I don't know what's going to be in the next room. But I know God just wants me to fill that space with as much Jesus as I can pack into it. And then (I) come back and see what he’s done with it,” Dr. Randal explains.
It’s 10 pm and Dr. Randal has just wrapped up another complex surgery. Long and demanding hours are his norm, always moving from one surgery to the next. This rigorous schedule means that he doesn’t always have a lot of time to interact with his patients. And yet, God is using these brief moments to make a profound impact in the lives of his patients, both physically and spiritually.
“One thing that medicine affords is it just gives you automatic, deeper relationships – especially in surgery. Because if somebody is facing surgery, they're scared and a lot of times, it's cancer or a really critical time in their lives,” says Dr. Randal.
Within the first hour of meeting, Dr. Randal might know more about his patient’s life and fears than even their closest friends and family. It’s through these very real, very raw conversations about their health and next steps that Dr. Randal has seen God move.
“To be able to speak Jesus into people’s situation, and sometimes their hearts, is just cool,” Dr. Randal says.
Alice is one such life impacted. Alice came to Dr. Randal in need of a complicated surgery to address two different cancers she was battling. The surgery was flawless, Dr. Randal remembers clearly.
Knowing the nursing department was short-staffed, he stopped by her recovery room to drop off a special carbohydrate drink and a warm blanket – items he knew would help post-surgery. Months later, Alice had fully recovered and was thriving. To his surprise, she had become a Jesus follower and credited much of it to him and his team.
“You showed me Jesus,” Alice shared. “Do you remember what you did,” she asked.
The successful surgery immediately came to his mind.
“Yes, the surgery,” she said. “But it’s when you brought me those blankets and got me those drinks,” she said. “I just saw Jesus so clearly.”
What a great reminder that God invites us into his kingdom story, allowing us to fully participate in ways we might never expect. In Alice’s case – it wasn’t the complex surgery that spoke loudest, but rather the simple act of her tired surgeon reaching out with a warm blanket and refreshing drink that reflected Jesus.
“Professional excellence is what gets us in the door,” Dr. Randal says. But it shouldn’t stop there. He has learned that being willing to make yourself uncomfortable and to suffer a little bit for another person often best reflects the heart of Jesus.
But Dr. Randal didn’t always dream of making a kingdom impact as a highly specialized robotics surgeon. It wasn’t until college that he began to explore medicine as a potential career path – and it wasn’t because of any special “calling.” In fact, he wasn’t even a Jesus follower at the time. No, Dr. Randal was looking for stability and financial security. “I wanted the security of it, (because) my childhood was anything but secure,” he shares.
Dr. Randal was a farm kid who grew up learning the value of hard work and hand-me-downs. Like most kids, he wanted to fit in at school and in an effort to avoid being teased for his second-hand clothes, he taught himself to sew. Little did he know, sewing was developing his fine motor skills right there as a kid on the family farm. These skills would be critical as a future robotics surgeon.
“Maybe (God) didn’t teach me fine motor skills in the way that I would have wanted, but who am I to complain? He found a way, even though I was still his rebellious enemy,” Dr. Randal remembers.
Looking back, Dr. Randal clearly sees God’s hand in his life, using every challenge and difficult moment to move, guide, and shape him into the surgeon he would one day become.
“Preparation doesn't always sound very attractive, but (God) takes you through it because he's loving, and he has a future that he already knows about. And when you get to that future, you turn around and go, ‘Oh, that's what that was about! That was preparation,'” Dr. Randal shares.
Fast forward to early 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic has severely burdened healthcare systems around the world. Dr. Randal and his fellow colleagues were struggling under their own caseloads and wrestling with the still-unknown impact of the virus. One colleague was deathly afraid of contracting it because he had multiple high-risk comorbidities.
So, Dr. Randal volunteered to take all his COVID patients. To say this shocked his colleague, was an understatement. Who would willingly put their own health at risk for an adversarial colleague? Only someone whose own life has been radically transformed by Jesus.
This selfless act of kindness was a game-changer for him. Suddenly, this highly competitive, and usually malicious, relationship transformed into friendship. Together, they began talking about everything from work to their personal lives – and especially Dr. Randal’s faith. Eventually, this colleague gave his life to Jesus.
“He thanked me for being his unexpected friend and said that I had proved myself faithful as a friend in Christ,” Dr. Randal remembers from one of their latest conversations.
Dr. Randal's story shows so clearly how God uniquely shaped and equipped him – even before knowing Jesus personally – for the good work that God had in mind from the very beginning (Ephesians 2:10). One of the ways in which Dr. Randal lives this out just so happens to be as a robotics surgeon.
You, too, were uniquely shaped by God to go into the world using your professional talents and gifts to do good work, bringing kingdom flourishing and reflecting the hope of Jesus in every place.
So, what would it look like for you to fully participate in God's Kingdom story in and through your everyday life and work? Check out our Scatter Foundations Video Series to learn more or signup for our Scatter Email.
Scatter Stories is a monthly series highlighting how God is using everyday people in everyday jobs to make a kingdom impact around the world
Written by: Kristin Boyd