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Teaching to heal: A volunteer story

Imagine a child whose life has been spent in shadows and darkness because of a simple cataract. For most people in developed nations, a quick trip to the ophthalmologist would resolve this issue, but for those who have little to no access to quality health care, their world continues to dim.

For over 40 years, Mercy Ships has been dedicated to providing hope and healing to those in need. Still, our mission would be impossible without the dedicated volunteers who join us on our hospital ship to provide surgical and medical care. Today, we want to honour one such volunteer —Dr. Glenn Strauss.

Dr. Strauss joined the Mercy Ships volunteer family back in 1997 as an ophthalmologist with the Caribbean Mercy. Over the years, he and his wife Kim continued to support and volunteer their skills for short-term missions, helping many find healing where there once was none.

After years of serving, Dr. Strauss and his wife decided to close their practice at home and commit their lives to serve with Mercy Ships full time.

“We felt like we were in a position where we had a lot of years that we could really be offering our best,” Dr. Strauss said. “Sort of the ‘first fruits’ idea, where we want to offer our best to the Lord. So we joined full time.”

Dr. Strauss and his wife became involved full time in 2005, where they developed Mercy Vision —a training program incorporating spiritual and medical skills training for surgeons and paramedical workers of Central America and sub-Saharan Africa.

While serving with Mercy Ships, Dr. Strauss had the opportunity to perform the very first surgery on board our current ship, the Africa Mercy, but he never forgot his first passion —teaching others. For years, Dr. Strauss had the opportunity to train professionals in countries where medical training was nearly impossible to find. Over time, those students began to teach others, resulting in even more healing.

“I had ‘grandchildren’, essentially since the surgeons that I had trained, were now training surgeons in Africa,” Dr. Strauss said. “They were being very effective. And so there was a desire to see if we could maybe scale that or incorporate that into some of the other mentoring work that was being done with Mercy Ships.

“Eventually, his passion for educating and training took him away from the surgical table and into the classroom. Dr. Strauss’s last surgery was the final one for the 2019/2020 field service, which was cut short due to COVID-19. Now,Dr. Strauss has the opportunity as the Programs Medical Capacity Building Director to share his experience in the OR with even more medical professionals.”

What is so interesting to me is that I’ve been part of the story of the Africa Mercy for all these years, and have been able to build a training program in ophthalmology that I believe has been effective both spiritually and professionally with the surgeons that I’ve been working with,” he shared. “Now I have the opportunity to expand that into other areas within Mercy Ships with the new training programs we are developing for our future projects. I think it’s exciting to see that there’s a new area we’re able to tap into. To go far beyond what we’ve been able to do so far.”

We are so thankful for those like Dr. Strauss, whose dedication to the mission of hope and healing will see generations changed.


There are so many ways to support the missions close to your heart this #WorldHumanitarianDay — Join us in our mission of bringing hope and healing to those in need!