Fanning the Flames of a CMDA Leadership Legacy
I attended my first CMDA National Convention in April 2012 and heard devotional speaker Luis Palau make this statement: “Big doors open on small hinges.” He explained how seemingly small events in our lives may serve to open big doors that God intends for us to walk through in order to enjoy incredible blessings that follow. A small hinge in my life was a letter Dr. David Stevens wrote to me after I had served at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya in early 1988 for two months during my fourth year of medical school.
Mike Chupp, MD
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:6-7, ESV).
I attended my first CMDA National Convention in April 2012 and heard devotional speaker Luis Palau make this statement: “Big doors open on small hinges.” He explained how seemingly small events in our lives may serve to open big doors that God intends for us to walk through in order to enjoy incredible blessings that follow. A small hinge in my life was a letter Dr. David Stevens wrote to me after I had served at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya in early 1988 for two months during my fourth year of medical school. That letter of exhortation to prayerfully consider returning to Tenwek after surgical training hit a bulls’-eye in my heart. As part of my gratitude for Dave’s life-changing letter, I followed his example and wrote several students and residents when I was the Medical Superintendent at Tenwek years later. The Holy Spirit often uses those kinds of exhortations to hit a bulls’-eye in hearts of sold-out followers of Jesus!
When Dave invited me to CMDA’s national headquarters in Bristol, Tennessee after the National Convention in spring 2015, he was not fully aware of my past history or experiences with CMDA. Dave knew of my work and ministry at Tenwek Hospital as a leader for close to two decades. He also was aware that I was a surgeon partner with Southwestern Medical Clinic, an established Christian multi-specialty group in Berrien County, Michigan. What he and Dr. Gene Rudd didn’t know was the crucial role the ministry played during my student years at Indiana University (IU) and my resident years at Methodist Hospital. I was actively involved in the first and second year student meetings and Bible studies, and then I continued to meet with a few other residents during general surgery training in the home of Dr. Charlie Kelley, our IU campus advisor. My wife Pam and I attended a CMDA Marriage Enrichment Weekend in Grand Rapids, Michigan, led by Midwest Regional Director Allan Harmer, during my first year in surgical practice. As God orchestrated it, future Marriage Commission leaders Dr. Rod and Jeannette Mirich were also attending with us for the first time. Pam and I took so much away from that weekend to protect and strengthen our marriage. God also moved in the Mirich marriage in a big way that weekend, as they felt led to take over this CMDA ministry for many years to follow.
Dr. Bob Schindler, past president of CMDA and the International Christian Medical and Dental Association (ICMDA), was my mentor and senior surgeon partner at Southwestern Medical Clinic. He loved the ministry, started the Commission on International Medical Education Abroad (COIMEA, which later became Medical Education International) and talked about COIMEA regularly. When he returned from Dallas after being short-listed for interviews for Hal Habecker’s successor in 1994, he told me, “Mike, the committee wanted a younger leader, so they picked an old friend of yours. Do you remember Dr. David Stevens?” I was thrilled the board chose Dave—it was a great choice that has enabled CMDA to accomplish so much for God’s kingdom through Dave’s anointed vision and courage. It has been an amazing servant leadership legacy that David Stevens and Gene Rudd leave us in 2019.
I have had the incredible privilege of working alongside Dave and Gene since September 2016 in the national office as the Executive Vice President. During that time, I have watched them handle many very sensitive and important leadership challenges with great humility and wisdom, while leaning heavily on each other. A long line of CMDA leaders and volunteers have told me their own stories of the impact these servants of Christ have had on them and I BELIEVE EVERY WORD! This legacy is a sacred trust that God has given to me as new CEO through the Board of Trustees who will be helping and holding my administration accountable for the future direction and growth of this great organization. Please pray for a successful leadership transition, to the One who said, “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” Isaiah 48:17
About Dr. Mike Chupp
Dr. Mike Chupp is the firstborn of six children, lovingly raised by Dr. Ray and Mary Chupp. He committed his life to Jesus Christ at the age of seven during a kids’ summer camp near Indianapolis, Indiana. He was influenced to pursue medicine and missions by his pastor’s son, Dr. Roy Ringenberg. Roy and his wife Marabeth modeled for Mike in his teens lives committed to long-term medical missions. Mike got his first taste of medical missions in 1983 during a six-week experience in Sierra Leone, West Africa, while a junior at Taylor University. It was the quiet and compassionate example of a lone missionary nurse in an African bush clinic that led to Mike’s bedside prayer, on his knees one night, asking God for the privilege of serving in Africa, just like that faithful nurse.
Mike graduated Summa Cum Laude with a pre-med degree from Taylor in 1984 and then graduated with an MD degree as an AOA scholar from Indiana University in 1988. During his fourth year of medical school, he volunteered for two months at Tenwek Hospital where he met CEO Dr. Ernie Steury and Medical Director Dr. David Stevens. During his third year of surgical residency, God brought Mike’s high school sweetheart, Pam, back into his life and they married in August 1991. A few months later, they traveled to Kenya and Tenwek Hospital in 1992 for two months where both enjoyed sweet fellowship and joyful ministry with the Tenwek community.
He completed a general surgery residency at Methodist Hospital in 1993 and then joined Southwestern Medical Clinic, a group in southwest Michigan, dedicated to global healthcare missions. Former CMDA and ICMDA President Dr. Bob Schindler and his wife Marian mentored Mike and Pam until their departure for Tenwek in 1996. Mike was board certified in general surgery in 1995 while working with Southwestern.
Dr. Chupp was drawn to the orthopedic surgery service as Tenwek had no long-term bone surgeon. He was also named Medical Director in mid-1997. Tenwek grew remarkably during Mike’s tenure as surgeon and medical director to a clinical staff of more than 80 physicians and clinical officers, as well as more than 700 total staff. Training programs for interns, family medicine, general surgery and orthopedics were also developed and launched during those years.
Mike and Pam left for Kenya in August 1995 with two small children, and they added two more while at Tenwek Hospital. Son Steven is now 25, and three daughters are Melody (23), Kayla (19) and Ashley (17).
In 2015, Dr. David Stevens invited Mike to consider returning to the United States to assume the role of CMDA’s Executive Vice President. After seven months of prayer and seeking counsel from mission leaders, mentors and close friends, Pam and Mike decided to leave their Kenya home and mission life of 20 years and moved to Bristol, Tennessee in July 2016. Mike has counted it an amazing privilege to serve alongside Dr. David Stevens, Dr. Gene Rudd and all the national CMDA staff over the last two and a half years. Mike’s life verses are from 2 Timothy 1:6-7: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control” (ESV). To God by the glory, great things He has done!