My Transformation Story featuring Bill Sasser, DMD
We could give you a list a mile long with statistics about the work we do around the world. But those numbers don’t really show the amazing things God is doing through us as we seek to be "Transformed Doctors, Transforming the World."
By Christian Medical & Dental Associations
We could give you a list a mile long with statistics about the work we do around the world. But those numbers don’t really show the amazing things God is doing through us as we seek to be "Transformed Doctors, Transforming the World." So instead of numbers, we’re sharing these stories—personal stories of CMDA members around the world whose lives are being transformed through the ministries of CMDA and who are following God’s call to go across the street and around the world to transform others.
CMDA: To start, tell us a little bit about your background.
DR. SASSER: My first job in high school was working in a neighborhood drug store. This led me to an interest in healthcare and I graduated from Samford University with a degree in pharmacy a few years later. I served three years as the director of a U.S. Navy hospital pharmacy and then used government benefits to attend dental school at the Medical University of South Carolina. Then, after two years residency in periodontics at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, I entered private practice in Charleston, South Carolina where I still live. After almost 40 years of practice, I now consider myself “re-wired” (not retired), working part-time in a combination of private practice, international missions, teaching and local volunteer service.
CMDA: When did you first get involved with CMDA, and how have you been involved since then?
DR. SASSER: My first experience with CMDA was on a Global Health Outreach (GHO) mission trip in the late 1990s. I also attended my first National Convention shortly afterward. I have been involved with CMDA on a regular basis ever since. I typically participate on at least two GHO teams each year, try to attend the National Convention and I am a past member of the Board of Trustees, a dental specialty advisor and a past member of the GHO advisory group. About 15 years ago, I helped establish a student chapter of CMDA at the College of Dental Medicine at The Medical University of South Carolina. We arrange multiple short-term mission trips each year along with local events such as speakers, socials and Bible studies.
CMDA: Has faith always impacted your life and/or career?
DR. SASSER: I made a shift from cultural Christianity to Bible Christianity many years ago and have strived to grow daily in my knowledge and love of Christ. This impacted how I related to my patients, their treatment and personal needs, as well as financial and time considerations. I heard the concept of “finishing well” some years ago and the challenge of shifting gradually from a success-driven motivation to one based upon significance. That’s been my goal. I have been inspired and supported in this direction by my associations within the CMDA family.
CMDA: As a dentist, how have you incorporated your faith into your practice over the years?
DR. SASSER: Many years ago, we began our office day by sharing a devotional and praying for the day’s work and known patient needs. In addition, I increased my local and international volunteer involvement each year until it became 25 percent of my practice hours each month.
CMDA: How has your life changed since going on your first mission trip with GHO?
DR. SASSER: The first charity dental clinic I was involved with was established in our town about 25 years ago. Around that time, the Lord began working on my heart to not only do volunteer work locally, but also to do more international service as well. I had been overseas a couple of times, but I had not connected with an organization that did a good job of combining ministry and service together. The people I met on that first GHO trip loved and cared for patients, plus they were a great encouragement to me. Many have become good friends and mentors since that first GHO trip.
CMDA: Why is it important to you to work with students through missions?
DR. SASSER: Students are the next generation. I have made many mistakes in my life and fortunately God is forgiving and redeeming. Sharing my story with students and showing them the value of “giving back” as well as what I have learned technically will hopefully bear fruit in their lives long after I have departed this life. My desire is for them to “catch the vision” of missions early in their careers and make giving back a part of their practices from the beginning rather than waiting until mid-career.
CMDA: How have you and your wife worked together through these trips?
DR. SASSER: My wife Susalee is a great helpmate and, in spite of not being in healthcare, she’s very supportive of our mission trips. We both enjoy travel and sharing time together, even though our gifting is different. She’s not medical, but she is a great organizer, whereas I’m better in the technical arena. Her career was with Delta Airlines, so she’s great in getting us from place to place.
CMDA: What would you say is the biggest way CMDA has impacted your life?
DR. SASSER: This is hard to put into words. It’s been a privilege to share my life with the CMDA family. In a secular society such as ours, it’s a privilege to walk alongside men and women who seek to follow the great commandment of Christ, to love God and love our neighbors. One of the greatest joys is being able to serve those in need, especially the handicapped who have such difficult lives. This is not easy for those living in the United States, but it is doubly difficult for those in developing countries. On several trips I have been able to treat patients who were denied care for a variety of reasons by national dentists. While challenging, it’s also heartwarming to be able to help someone who has no access to care. This can be sad, but we know that some day we will live in a new heaven and there will be a new earth where there won’t be sickness, sadness and tears. This keeps me going when I would tend to despair.
CMDA: Our vision is “Transformed Doctors, Transforming the World.” What does that mean to you?
DR. SASSER: When I think about transformation, all I can say for sure is that my life has certainly been changed, first by a commitment to follow Christ, and second by the decision to use a significant portion of my time, talent and money in serving those less fortunate than myself. I don’t think we will ever know this side of heaven how our efforts have impacted others. I trust that when I arrive “home” I will finally learn what a difference my efforts made in making this world a better place by helping people with their dental problems, but more importantly sharing the kingdom.
CMDA: As a dentist, what’s the best advice you can give to others about how to get involved transforming the world for Christ?
DR. SASSER: Scripture calls us to live examined lives before the Lord. Who’s really on the throne of my life? How am I using my time? Dental disease is a great need throughout the world, and I’ve learned how dentistry can be portable up to a point. As such, it’s a great vehicle for loving, serving and sharing the good news of the gospel. The call to serve is ongoing. We just have to respond to the call and say “yes” to participation in a Christian organization like CMDA. Then get ready to mentor young people, donate your time and services at home and follow Christ’s order to support the Great Commission efforts around the world.