In South Africa, a country that has yet to reach the peak of COVID-19 infections, and with a population that has HIV, diabetes and other chronic illnesses to factor in, people sometimes need more than just medical help. Ministering to his patients in a holistic way, is something that this Johannesburg doctor – Dr Elijah Nkosi – has learned early on in his walk as a disciple of Jesus. This is his story:
My name is Elijah Nkosi. I am 59 years old, a medical doctor in private practice and a member of the Johannesburg Church of Christ. My wife Valerie and I have been married since 1992, and we’ve been blessed with three lovely children. We have two other children from previous relationships that I had before we got married.
We were met by Jack Ingle, then a member of the church in Johannesburg, on my wife Valerie’s birthday in December 2004. We were visiting a wine farm while on holiday in Cape Town when Jack invited us to church. On our return to Johannesburg, we went and enjoyed the message and the fellowship. I studied the Bible with Dr Mark Ottenweller (during his time in South Africa) and Valerie and I joined his family group. We were subsequently baptized a few months later in 2005.
In our family group meetings and my study sessions with Dr Mark, he shared about the period when he was still practicing medicine, and how he would counsel patients psychologically and spiritually after he had diagnosed their medical ailment. He said that in a number of instances he would then write two scripts for these patients. One would be for the medicine that they required. The second one would be Bible verses that he shared with them to read at home. He said that seemed to make a difference in how these patients responded to him and they showed appreciation for the spiritual counsel.
I qualified as a medical doctor in 1986 and have been in private practice in Soweto, Johannesburg, since 1990. As part of my training as a General Practitioner, I treat people who have general illnesses, that sometimes include mental challenges. These individuals might also be anxious and depressed. In some instances, they need medication to treat their ailment. But, what I realized, and it has worked quite favorably for me and these patients, is that they also need counseling. This could be psychological and/or spiritual.
This has led to occasions where I would share scriptures such as Philippians 4: 6–7 “ Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God ”; and Matthew 11: 28–29 “ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls ”; and Matthew 6: 21–34 that deals with where your treasure is.
During those discussions and sharing, I would see the mood of these individuals change. Some would smile and open up about their challenges, and show appreciation for the biblical message that I’d be sharing. I would then write these scriptures on a piece of paper and give it to them together with their prescription for medicine.
These experiences have made me realize that we can serve God in many different ways. It shows that many people are hurting and require spiritual support; and that we can reach out to them. Most of my patients know that I am a Christian and at times they would come to me and ask for scriptures and spiritual guidance. I thank God for putting me in this position that allows me to serve Him in this particular way. To God be the glory. Amen!