World Medical Mission – A Ministry of Samaritan's Purse

Spring 2024

A retired surgeon and his wife are looking forward to their 39th mission trip with Samaritan's Purse.

Don't ask Dr. Sam and Liz Williams about their golf handicaps or clever shuffleboard strategies.

“Boring!” protests Liz.

“Actually, we've never done those things,” admits Sam.

Not that there is anything wrong with those pursuits, but for most of their married lives the Williamses have not slowed down long enough to play a round of golf or match wits on a shuffleboard court.

Since 1990, the couple has globe-trotted with World Medical Mission from their home in Virginia to countries like Kenya, Ecuador, Pakistan, Rwanda, and Papua New Guinea. Their favorite destination is Togo, where they have served at Hopital Baptiste Biblique 21 times.

Sam is a retired general surgeon. Liz's wide repertoire of talents includes everything except medical expertise. They have different niches but serve as a team.

“So many professionals are centered on success,” said Sam. “The whole premise of Samaritan's Purse and World Medical Mission is something we believe in, and that is doing something that matters. So, rather than success, we seek significance.”

Adds Liz, “For me, it's as simple as God said go, and you do it. We are supposed to be out there making disciples. It's as simple as that.”

A decade ago they also began spending a few weeks in the summer providing care to our Operation Heal Our Patriots (OHOP) military couples at Samaritan Lodge in Alaska.

When the pandemic prevented the couple from traveling to Togo in 2020, they turned their full attention to Alaska. That summer Samaritan's Purse scaled back the weekly program. Staying in operation required frequent COVID-19 testing of guests and staff.

Happy to volunteer, Sam was the COVID-19 control officer who oversaw testing, while Liz made herself indispensable by assisting him as recordkeeper and lab organizer.

“Even though Sam envisions his role going forward as more of a supportive role, he firmly believes that God still has plenty of work for him and Liz to do.”

COVID-19 continued to be disruptive in 2022, and when the Williamses arrived at Samaritan Lodge that summer, the OHOP director, Mark Lang, was waiting for them.

Lang asked Liz if she could assist in the kitchen, which was short-staffed because of the pandemic.

Always “johnny on the spot,” she was delighted to help. Sam and Liz also made a trip to Togo that year.

However, their circumstances shifted in 2023. They put their travels on hold when Liz needed heart surgery, and Sam realized that the rigors of life and time were catching up with both of them.

Three smiling people pose for a photograph outdoors on a sunny day, with bystanders in the background.
The Williamses pose for a photo with one of the guides during their first assignment with Operation Heal Our Patriots at Samaritan Lodge in Alaska.

Reluctant to retire from missionary service, they sought God's direction and visited the World Medical Mission office in North Carolina to discuss options with the staff. They welcomed the prospects of mentoring young doctors at the mission hospitals and devoting more time to working with patients in the outpatient clinics and the wards.

“An older, retired surgeon like me can offer wisdom and experience and be supportive in the clinic and on rounds and not be in the foreground anymore,” said Sam. “We are happy to do that.”

The Williamses are looking forward to future assignments, both domestically and overseas. As of now, their 39th and 40th assignments will take place this summer in Alaska. They would also like to return to Togo, where they have made many friends and seen God's handiwork in the physical and spiritual lives of patients.

“Reluctant to retire from missionary service, they sought God's direction and visited the World Medical Mission office in North Carolina to discuss options with the staff.”

Sam has performed some 2,700 surgeries during his years of serving abroad as a short- term volunteer with World Medical Mission. One patient case that stands out in his memory was the remarkable metamorphosis of a young woman he operated on in Togo about 10 years ago.

Three individuals on stage holding an award.
In 2015, World Medical Mission honored Sam and Liz for their service.
Three women smiling and posing for the camera.
During her visits to Togo, Liz has made many friends among the staff and patients.
A doctor holding a child with a leg cast.
At Kapsowar Hospital, Sam carries a girl whose right leg was placed in a cast.

“She came into the clinic with a hoodie on. And the hood was covering part of her face,” he recalled. “I saw the reason when she lifted the hood from her face and revealed a huge, deforming tumor that hung down over her eye.”

“When we looked at her and caringly touched her face, she cried, because up to that point she had been shunned in her village. Her husband had abandoned her,” he said.

Sam and a staff surgeon performed the operation, removing the mass which was later determined to be nonmalignant.

He vividly remembers the patient's transformation when she came to the hospital for a follow-up exam. “Her countenance glowed,” he remarked. “She was smiling!”

Such a dramatic difference took the seasoned surgeon by surprise. Even though she had scars that were healing, her outer and inner beauty shone—probably for the first time in years.

“I cried with joy,” Sam said.

The staff shared the Gospel with the woman in her native language. Sam doesn't know what happened after she returned to her village, or how her heart and life may have changed, but patients like her inspire the physician to continue serving the Lord faithfully.

“I don't specifically recall if she accepted Christ, but I believe she did,” he said. “This was a prime opportunity to make a radical transformation in a person's appearance, and to do it in the Name of Christ. And hers is just one example. It happens thousands of times.”

Woman on cell phone standing in front of church.
Patients wait to be seen at the medical clinic at Hopital Baptiste Biblique in Togo.

That's the measure of true success that Sam strives for every day.

Liz tackles her tasks around the hospitals and mission compounds with equal fervor. Sometimes seemingly mundane actions are exactly what is needed to lighten the load for long-term missionary families.

She described a few of her projects over the years—baking cookies, pet sitting, lifeguarding, donating blood, cleaning surgical instruments, making curtains to create privacy in the wards, and gardening.

“In Rwanda, I had brought my barn boots with me, and I worked along with the guys in the garden, which is totally out of character for a white woman to do there,” recalled Liz.

Man and woman smiling in matching colorful shirts.
The Williamses have served 21 times at Hopital Baptiste Biblique.
Young girl in blue wrap.
Shy smiles shine on these beautiful faces despite difficult living conditions.
Three woman smiling;two woman have bowls on their heads.
As Liz interacts with women and children, she encourages them to know that they are greatly valued by God.

“One day, I was spreading manure with my bare hands. And I weeded. They couldn't believe I would do that either.”

Sam interjected, “For the most part, all I did was surgery. Liz did everything else. She did the real dirty work, literally.”

The couple did not have children, which they see as a blessing in disguise since they've had the flexibility to come and go and serve where needed. They especially like to relieve missionary doctors during the holidays so they can spend that precious time with their families.

Even though Sam envisions his role going forward as more of a supportive one, he firmly believes that God still has plenty of work for him and Liz to do.

“We want to be as significant as we're able with whatever years remain for us,” said Sam. “The older we get, the more we want to focus on the things that really matter. We want to finish well, and we want to be a good steward of whatever God has given to us.”

Three surgeons doing surgery on patient.
World Medical Mission

Serve With Us

World Medical Mission is looking for Christian doctors, dentists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to serve on short-term volunteer assignments at our partner mission hospitals and clinics. We also offer two-year placement opportunities through our Post-Residency Program for those who are completing residency and feel called to a career in medical missions. For more details, contact us at or (828) 278-1173.

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