A Strategic Plan to Succeed

I had spent more than four years wishing and praying for a CT scanner at Tenwek Hospital, a 300-bed referral center in rural southwest Kenya where I was serving as a missionary surgeon in Africa. For years, every patient who came to us with a closed head injury, an abdominal mass or recurrent abdominal pain had to be referred to a larger hospital in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. But more often than not, patients wouldn’t or couldn’t go to Nairobi, regularly due to the high cost of travel and treatment.

Mike Chupp, MD

I had spent more than four years wishing and praying for a CT scanner at Tenwek Hospital, a 300-bed referral center in rural southwest Kenya where I was serving as a missionary surgeon in Africa. For years, every patient who came to us with a closed head injury, an abdominal mass or recurrent abdominal pain had to be referred to a larger hospital in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. But more often than not, patients wouldn’t or couldn’t go to Nairobi, regularly due to the high cost of travel and treatment.

Then, out of nowhere, it was like my wish came true when a technology corporation offered a used CT scanner to the hospital. We were thrilled!

So began months of work of getting the machine and the equipment shipped to Kenya, finding spare parts and then searching for a company to install it. We successfully crossed every hurdle to get it set up and running. Before we knew it, we were preparing to host a commissioning ceremony with the Kenyan Ministry of Health and scores of local and regional dignitaries in just a few months.

But behind the scenes, a larger, more real, more pressing problem was brewing. All of our plans were coming together perfectly, except for one-we had no formally or informally trained technicians on staff to complete the scans. In fact, CT technicians were nowhere to be found in rural Kenya. All of the qualified technicians were in the capital city, and the salary we were offering certainly wasn’t at the top of the bell curve.

Month after month passed, and the commissioning ceremony loomed large. To say I was worried was an understatement. So when I heard our highly respected staff pastor and chaplaincy school director Rev. David Kilel share how excited he was that God had finally given the hospital a CT scanner, I felt compelled to speak up.

“Rev. Kilel, I agree that this scanner is an amazing gift that God has provided, but I don’t think you understand. We don’t have anyone to run the machine! It’s not an ordinary x-ray machine, and I have no idea where to find such a technician in Kenya who knows how to use it.”

Rev. Kilel simply smiled back at me and stated, almost as a matter of fact, “God gave us this machine, and we are going to use it to bring Him glory. God will make this plan work, if you do your part, Dr. Chupp.” He then asked God to bless our plan to dedicate the CT scanner and, in the process, provide us a technician.

“Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.”

Proverbs 16:3, NLT


These words by Solomon have always seemed a bit presumptuous to me. Yes, his father, King David, gave Solomon and us a stellar example of actions or campaigns committed to Jehovah with startling success. David so faithfully credited his victorious plans to His heavenly Father. Nevertheless, what does the authentic commitment of a serious plan to the Lord by a group of Christ-followers look like?

For the last couple of years, CMDA’s leadership has been focused on that one single factor-authentic commitment to the Lord’s plans for the strategic future of CMDA.

In January 2021, CMDA’s Board of Trustees gathered at the CMDA national headquarters in Bristol, Tennessee, some virtually and some in person, to determine the key strategic objectives CMDA will pursue over the next three years to accomplish our mission of educating, encouraging and equipping Christian healthcare professionals to glorify God.

This two-day retreat was the culmination of nearly 18 months of preparation with analysis of the state of CMDA as a membership association AND as a faith-based ministry in a changing healthcare and cultural landscape. The board was guided in this process by Dr. Dale Lefever, a strategic planning consultant from the University of Michigan’s family medicine department who has led thousands of clients, including healthcare entities, through strategic plan development over the last 40 years. Dr. Lefever’s challenge to the board was to determine the key strategic issues facing CMDA, issues the ministry cannot afford to fail to address definitively over the next three years.

During that retreat, CMDA’s administrative leadership team presented white papers on many critical topics to the trustees, combined with a presentation from a stakeholder analysis, including focus group input and a survey of nearly 1,400 Christians in healthcare, members and non-members alike. As a result, the board voted on the following nine strategic objectives to guide and direct the ministry for the next three years, each falling under four Key Result Areas to facilitate the focus of our next strategic objectives:

  • Community
  • Advocacy
  • Service
  • Equipping

Over the next several weeks, CMDA’s leadership developed a variety of goals to address the strategic objectives, and the Board of Trustees approved the new strategic plan at its board meeting in April 2021. Below you will find these strategic objectives presented as questions, followed by a summary of the goals.

With greater challenges on healthcare campuses for graduate students to conform to new sexual mores that conflict with biblical teaching, the strengthening of supportive student, resident and graduate groups is more vital than ever. The acceptance of virtual meetings as the new normal will facilitate the efforts of our field staff in contacting Christian campus advisors/faculty, thereby expanding their access to undergraduate, Christian pre-professional groups. Having CMDA better known by students before they arrive on campus for their healthcare training should strengthen and grow our various communities. CCM is planning a virtual event for undergraduate chapters by 2024, after expanding the network discussed above. Under the leadership of Doug Lindberg, MD, the Center for Advancing Healthcare Missions (CAHM) is also targeting undergraduate groups for healthcare missions awareness and mobilization with a virtual event planned during the next three years.

This is a paradigm shift, but it is not an abandonment of our long-held public policy efforts to promote life from conception to natural death and to advocate for biblically consistent policies dealing with marriage and sexuality, substance abuse, pornography, right of conscience, etc. The CMDA Ethics Committee is already at work to produce white papers for our board that will address biblical principles impacting our healthcare advocacy, especially as demonstrated by Christ in the Gospels. Vice President for Bioethics and Public policy Jeff Barrows, DO, MA (Ethics), will then realign our advocacy staff priorities in their public policy pursuits and energy investment at both the federal and state levels.

Addressing this strategic issue will require a collaborative effort between our advocacy team and our CCM team. Dr. Barrows and his team will be developing a teaching curriculum for all levels of healthcare professional involvement by CMDA on the “how to” of balancing biblical truth and Christ-like compassion in communicating our well-developed position statements. In the second half of the three-year period, Dr. Barrows plans on developing a video training series to accompany the curriculum, possibly in partnership with a respected Christian, non-healthcare advocacy organization to focus on an excellent equipping series for Christians in healthcare, including members in training at all levels.

As an organization that desires to emulate Christ and serve the poor and marginalized wherever our members live and work, CMDA will place a greater emphasis on domestic healthcare ministry in Christ’s name to urban and rural poor communities of our nation. We will pursue strategic partnerships with other Christian organizations that are doing excellent work to support and strengthen their ministries. We will promote short-term and long-term service opportunities among our students and residents through the development of a handbook of domestic mission opportunities, and we will avail scholarship funds to students and residents who desire to do elective rotations in such settings. Emulating the success of the Dental Residency [+] program in Memphis, Tennessee, a second site is being developed in Detroit, Michigan, including a Fellowship [+] training program that reaches cross-culturally to both healthcare and gospel needy urban communities. GHO will promote short-term service opportunities to the Navajo Nation through partnerships with other non-profit organizations and non-governmental organizations.

CAHM will launch new programs called “First Fruits” and “Capstone” to mobilize early and late career members to engage in intermediate and long-term international service. GHO will make our team outreaches even more impactful through expanded patient safety, public health and pastoral training programs. MEI’s leadership team plans to take medical education in Christ’s name and with the gospel to 10 new countries. Dental Ministries intends to grow involvement in missions through scholarship fund development and greater recruitment of dental school faculty and their students to GHO teams.

Advancing our membership numbers in every category is a prime objective in the new strategic plan. We will continue to offer greater value for membership with the growth of free continuing education for members in the CMDA Learning Center. We are launching a dues-sharing program with local ministries that have part-time or full-time staff with a gradual increase in the percentage of annual dues shared to 50 percent between our national ministry and the local ministry. Our digital media team will be leveraging technology and the virtual space to increase member engagement, especially in the first two years of a new member’s experience.

As members, you are keenly aware of the opposition Christians are facing in the public square, especially in healthcare. We have hired a full-time Director of Leadership and Church Relations who will also oversee the Center for Well-being, including the coaching ministry. We will be promoting the new Faith Prescriptions video training series across all levels of training and practice and hope to reach 300 or more small groups with this training in the next three years. We will increase training and support of our students and resident groups who are facing greater pressure from school and hospital administrations to disavow CMDA’s position statements dealing with marriage and sexuality.

Though extensive, this is not a comprehensive list of our strategic goals over the next three years, but it should give you insight into our future priorities for serving our members, the church and other constituents over the next three years. As I look ahead to CMDA’s future, I am encouraged by Solomon’s matter-of-fact perspective on strategic planning in Proverbs 19:21, “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail” (NLT).

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail….”

It’s the same verse that Rev. Kilel reminded me of back at Tenwek when we were installing the new CT scanner. There I was, worried that we didn’t have a technician to run the scanner, despite all the plans we had made, while Rev. Kilel was confident that God would provide.

And that’s exactly what happened. Unbeknownst to me, the hospital’s chief radiography technician had reached out to the dean of the Kenya Medical Training College in Nairobi, School of Radiography, and she had arranged for me to have a conference call with him. During the call, the dean kindly invited me to come and talk with the graduating class of technicians. So I paid my first visit to the school in my 15-year career in Kenya, where I made a presentation to a class of 30 to 40 graduating x-ray technicians. Few students in the class had ever even heard of Tenwek Hospital, but after the presentation, four students asked to apply. Just two weeks before the long-awaited commissioning of our scanner, two installation technicians worked around the clock to install the scanner. And joining them were not just one, not just two, but THREE fully trained Kenyan CT technicians. Nearly 24 hours before the commissioning, the power was switched on and the first scans were produced, all within God’s timing and His plans.

Rev. Kilel was fully committed to this “Big Holy Audacious Goal” at Tenwek, and he had complete confidence and trust in the Lord. I will admit that I had doubts along the way, but in the end, I had a front row seat as God blessed the plans we had made, all for the glory of God.

Today, I have a front row seat yet again to watch God work in and through CMDA’s new strategic plan. I invite you to join me! We believe these “Big Holy Audacious Goals” will move CMDA toward our vision of bringing the hope and healing of Christ to the world through healthcare professionals. And just like that CT scanner continues to do for patients in Kenya, we believe this plan will make a difference for years to come, all for the glory of God!


Mike Chupp, MD, FACS, is the Chief Executive Officer of CMDA, the nation’s largest faith-based organization of healthcare professionals. He grew up in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Indiana, graduated with a pre-medical degree in chemistry from Taylor University in 1984 and then graduated with his medical degree from Indiana University in 1988. He completed a five-year general surgery residency at Methodist Hospital in 1993. From 1993 to 2016, Mike fit in nearly seven years of private general surgery practice as a missionary member of the Surgical Department of Southwestern Medical Clinic (a large Christian multi-specialty group) and Lakeland Regional Health System in St. Joseph, Michigan. Prior to his service with CMDA, he was a career missionary with World Gospel Mission, serving at Tenwek Mission Hospital in Kenya. Mike and his wife Pam have four children: Steven, Melody, Kayla and Ashley.


The CMDA Board of Trustees and administration capped an engaged three-year season with the approval of a new strategic plan at the April 2021 meeting. This season began with the selection of our new CEO and continued through the development of a new strategic plan. We believe both these actions will set CMDA’s direction for years to come. I would like to thank both the trustees and CMDA administration for the diligent sacrifices of time and prayer to prepare for these exciting opportunities. As the trustees have walked through this time, we have seen time and again God’s provision of wisdom. Especially with the need for clarity and consensus during the strategic planning process, virtual meetings can create significant impediments. As you read Dr. Chupp’s overview of the outcomes of these deliberations, I think we can all be excited about CMDA’s ability to bring the hope and healing of Christ to the world through healthcare professionals.