FORT WORTH — Scott Brown traveled to Ethiopia in 2006 to watch over the adoption of Enoch, a 3-month-old, 5-pound boy with big brown eyes.
It was the first adoption the Gladney Center for Adoption would oversee in Ethiopia, and Brown, its executive vice president, wanted to make sure it went smoothly
And it did — until the couple preparing to adopt Enoch realized that something was wrong with his head. Tests showed a condition that is fatal about half of the time in Ethiopia: craniosynostosis, when a soft spot in the skull closes too quickly and prevents the brain from growing.
The couple, not sure they could handle a baby with such medical needs, backed out of the adoption. When Brown learned Enoch could die without treatment, he persuaded doctors and medical personnel at Cook Children’s Medical Center to operate to save Enoch.
Three years later, Enoch is healthy and happy. He is now Brown’s grandson, having been adopted by Brown’s son and daughter-in-law, Ryan and Abby Brown.
“We feel so blessed and fortunate that God chose to place him in our lives,” Abby Brown said on a Gladney video. “We call him our little miracle.”
But there are more babies and children in Ethiopia whom Scott Brown and doctors at Cook Children’s — some who belong to Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth — want to help.
That’s why they are in Enoch’s homeland now on a medical mission.
There, more than half a dozen local medical personnel are visiting hospitals and clinics in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, and in the remote village of Gunchire.
They are giving lectures, making rounds, performing surgeries and sharing thousands of dollars of donated medicine and supplies, hoping to help save and improve the lives of Ethiopians.
“These are genuine people who are doing the very best with what they have,” Brown wrote in an e-mail from Ethiopia. “My vision for this trip is that it is the first of many.”
Living out their faith
For many, this trip is a way to serve their church, help others and share their faith.
For several years, Christ Chapel and its members, which include Brown, have worked to help orphans in Ethiopia, even building an orphanage in Gunchire.
Now they are evaluating the medical situation there, to see how they can be the most effective.
“A key vision of our church is to be ‘a church without walls,’ ” said Dr. Michael Stevener, this mission team’s leader and a neonatologist at Cook Children’s. “Members are encouraged to be the ‘hands and feet of Christ’ in service to the needy both locally and around the world.
“For me personally, the trip is part of a spiritual calling to live out my faith using my abilities and resources to help others.”
He and others say there are more Ethiopian doctors in Washington, D.C., than in all of Ethiopia. Many move to the United States after getting their training. Those who stay, Stevener said, truly love their country and want to make a difference.
Christ Chapel Executive Pastor Bill Egner said the impact that local doctors have on their Ethiopian counterparts could create a ripple effect for years to come.
“It’s about empowering those good doctors to become more of what they would like to become,” said Egner, who led a pastoral trip to Ethiopia in January.
“There are techniques or tools our doctors can teach that will make substantial impacts — and make a difference in people’s lives from Day One.”