Dr. John Clements (’02): Medical missionary to Africa
January 26, 2012
Restoring sight to the blind. For one Evangel University graduate, it started with a vision that eventually took him all the way to Africa.
John Clements, M.D., was just 18 years old and on a service trip to Calcutta, India, when he first felt a tug on his heart. Somehow, he knew he was going to serve internationally.
The next year he enrolled at Evangel University as a pre-med major. While there, he traveled on a 2-week service trip with the Science Department to La Paz, Bolivia. The trip was coordinated by Healthcare Ministries of the Assemblies of God.
“One day in clinic I was fitting an elderly woman with a simple pair of reading glasses; something I can buy for a dollar in the USA,” Clements says. “The woman had never had glasses and as a result was unable to read.
“After I put the glasses on her, she opened her Bible and read it aloud. She cried, praised God and gave me a great big hug.”
And that was when he felt “the call.”
“I knew from that time on that I wanted to help restore the physical and spiritual sight of those who could not see,” he says.
The road from Evangel to Harvard to Africa
Clements graduated from Evangel in 2002, with a degree in biology and went on to attend the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he graduated with honors in 2006.
“I was able to get into the medical school of my choice, and once enrolled, I found my pre-med classes at Evangel gave me excellent preparation for my medical school classes,” John says. “I soon earned a Regents full-ride scholarship based on my high test scores. I owe a debt of gratitude to my professors at Evangel for preparing me so well.”
Clements specialized in ophthalmology at Loyola University in Chicago in 2010, and then completed a fellowship in cornea transplantation and refractive surgery at The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary at the Harvard School of Medicine in 2011.
Last September, John and his wife, Lori (Dollar ’02), packed up their three young sons and moved to Benguela, Angola, where he now serves as a medical missionary performing cataract surgeries.
Angola is a country in south-central Africa that has been devastated by decades of war and lacks basic health services for much of its population. “Of the 20 million people here, more than 60 percent live below the poverty line,” Clements says.
As for his family, “Lori is a full-time mother with our three boys, and she is involved in a ministry to the blind,” he says. “The ministry feeds 83 permanently blind persons on a daily basis and is looking for ways to increase that number.”
Summarizing his time at Evangel
“The faith-based classes I had also helped me to critically think about my faith and deeply personalize it. My faith in Christ became my own, and no longer that of my parents, while I was at Evangel,” he says.
“At Evangel, I was surrounded by other believers studying the sciences, which helped keep me focused on the Creator and not simply the creation.”
Clements recently performed the first corneal transplantation ever done in his Angolan medical center.
“My education at Evangel prepared me to follow God’s leading in my life,” says the man who is fulfilling his vision of helping others find theirs.