Ministers of Hope to Tanzania

On The Road

On The Road has been honored to bring you stories of people making a difference within their own small towns, however, we’re in Elk Point, SD where a woman and the organization that she leads is making a difference all across the world.

“The tragedies and the celebrations of these massive problems that we haven’t had in this country for hundreds of years,” said Dr. Ralph Reeder. “The tragedies would be overwhelming if you didn’t feel that there was hope and that’s what is great about the name.  You know, you’re giving hope.  It’s not just one person got some special surgery.  It’s, it’s a hope to, to a community that needs, needs help,” said Reeder.

Dr. Ralph Reeder is a neurosurgeon from Dakota Dunes, South Dakota that is one of the true stewards ministering hope to the people of Tanzania, Africa.  Shannon Persaud is another. “Going off into the villages where people have to walk 4 hours, 4 days, whatever it is, to come see us and sit all day so we can see them.  They don’t say a word.  They just sit.  They’re very quiet, they’re not angry.  They’re very happy.  And that just fills your heart with such joy.  That…boy, these people are so thankful and grateful for your service,” said Shannon Persaud.

Doctors, nurses, university students and other volunteers make an incredible difference through Hope Ministries founded by Gayle Stroschein of Elk Point, South Dakota.  Gayle was inspired by a life changing moment. “2005, I went in for a routine mammogram.  Please everybody, get your mammograms.  And I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  So, I had to have surgery and then I had chemotherapy.  And so, at that time, I said ‘God, if you let me live, I’m here to serve’.” said Gayle Stroschein.

Even with her challenges, she believed then and now that she is truly blessed and is driven by her faith and heart to give back.  She chooses to give back to people living in a far-away-land 8,566 miles away from Elk Point. “They’re one of the poorest nations in the world and having jumped on the bandwagon with this organization over there.  I couldn’t believe the poverty.  Children laying in the street starving to death.  This is stuff I used to see in the Geographic Magazine as a kid, or your preschool told you at church to pray for these people.  They can’t, they don’t have food to eat.  To me, that wasn’t a reality for me.  I saw the reality of what it’s really like over there,” said Gayle Stroschein.

“What is it motivating her?,” asked host Mike Huether. “Gayle’s faith.  Gayle’s strength.  Gayle’s passion for the people in Africa,” replied Gayle Stroschein. “You pray with these people, you’re with them in faith.  You’re with them medically, helping them and providing what they need at the time.  But just that strength that she has and that courage, the courage to go over.  You never know what you’re going to find, you just don’t know,” said Shannon Persaud.
Hope Ministries became organized as a missionary non-profit organization back in 2013. “I started taking teams in 2014, and I go over twice a year.  And I’m going on my 25th trip here in about two weeks,” said Gayle Stroschein.  “Oh my,” said Huether. “Yeah,” answered Stroschein.
Working alongside Tanzania doctors and nurses, medical care is provided to about 200 patients per day.  The difference is powerful. “There was a 72-year-old man that came to me and his leg was basically healed and at a right angle.  And he came in with a walking stick that he had whittled out of a tree, and he had quite a large sore under his arm from that walking stick.  He injured himself when he was 18-years-old!  And never got it fixed, because he has no money.  He had no where to go,” said Stroschein.
The work is incredibly emotional. “You see some things that you know the outcome may not be the best outcome.  And these people, they don’t… their pain levels are so high.  They, they just take it.  They just take it, and you just all, you pray with them.  You pray for them.  And you do the best you can, and at the end of the day, you just melt down,” said Shannon Persaud. “I’ve worked among the poorest of the poor in South Dakota.  I’ve never seen children laying on the street starving to death,” said Gayle Stroschein. “And that’s why I always tell my team members, ‘You will come home and look at your, your world through different glasses’.”, said Gayle Stroschein.
Training and teaching others in Tanzania are a major component of Hope Ministries, as well. “Bringing our Western Medicine to a third-world-country, it’s very difficult.  They don’t have what we have.  But it’s the simple things that we can make a difference in,” said Shannon Persaud. “When you go to a place, you, you really need to be prepared to handle their culture, not have them handle your culture,” said Dr. Ralph Reeder. “It really should be in a servant mode, rather than in a show-off mode. I would suggest you need to go there with the idea, we’re going to teach you, so that when I leave you can do some of the things that I do.  And it’s, it’s served.  It’s led to deep friendships with, with my colleagues there,” said Dr. Ralph Reeder.

Gayle and her Hope Ministries team get back as much as they give. “You fall in love with the people.  The people are the most gracious people I’ve ever met.  They will thank you for the littlest things that you do,” said Gayle Stroschein.
Gayle wants to remind all of us that you too can make a difference, and you don’t need to travel far to do it. “You don’t need to travel all the way to Tanzania to give back and help somebody.  And, you’ll be surprised how that, what that does to your heart and your soul,” said Gayle Stroschein. The beautiful gown that Gayle is wearing is a handmade ceremonial gown presented to her as she was welcomed into the Maesai Tribe. She was given the name, Naiserian which means “blessed one”. 

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