Clark and Val Sleeth are missionaries in Kenya, who serve as medical professionals at the Tenwek Hospital. TBAP first heard of Val and Clark after reviewing the book, Reforesting Faith (read the review here), written by medical doctor, Matthew Sleeth, who is also Clark’s father. After a series of newsletter following the Sleeth clan, TBAP learned of the amazing work done by Clark and Val. Val and Clark took the time to enlighten us a bit about their work and journey at the Tenwek Hospital. Take a look!
Miranda ~ Hello! Delighted to have you visit TBAP today. Please tell us a bit about yourselves. Also, how did you both become Christians?
Clark & Val: Clark is an internal medicine and pediatrician who grew up in New England. Val is an internal medicine physician assistant who grew up in the North West. We have two kids, three-year old Hannah who was born in Kentucky and 8-month old Luke who was born in Kenya. We have been transformed by Christ.
We both grew up in non-Christian households. Val met the Lord in her mid-teens through the faithful ministry of believers after her family moved in across the street from an evangelical church in south-eastern Idaho.
Clark met the Lord after his dad stole a Gideon’s Bible from the Emergency Department at the hospital where he was working. He met the Lord and encouraged Clark to read that Bible. His whole family could see that something big had happened as his dad quit his job as a doctor and moved their family, saying he wanted to study the Bible and learn more about this Truth. Clark, as a 15-year old who had never met another Christian or opened a Bible, struggled to understand the bright orange KJV Bible his dad had “borrowed” from the ED. His dad later encouraged him to read CS Lewis’s Mere Christianity. The Lord used Lewis’s words and the Bible, particularly the Sermon on the Mount, to save Clark.
Miranda ~ When/how did the two of you meet, and when did you realize your calling as missionaries?
Clark & Val: We were drawn from our two corners of the US to Wilmore, Kentucky, where we met at a math event (yes, a math event) while studying at Asbury College. We had both felt a calling to missions before arriving at college.
About a year after Val met the Lord, she was sitting by the Snake River, reading Paul’s letters and praying. She heard the Lord asking her to, like Paul, be willing to leave her home country and commit to serving a community overseas.
Clark also started considering missions shortly after meeting the Lord. He was sitting in his school library one afternoon when his mind started to wander. He had a day-dream where he saw himself walking down a dusty road, tall grass swaying in the breeze on either side, carrying his dad’s doctor’s bag. He had been considering the example of believers in the early church and decided that day to pursue medical training in order to one day work as a missionary overseas.
Miranda ~ There are so many parts of the world that you could have gone to. How did you know your country of choice was the right one?
Clark & Val: We never heard God say, “Go to Kenya.” Or, at least, not in so few words!
We both felt a call to missions long before we felt led toward a specific country.
After we met, we began praying about where we should serve. Over the next several years we met over a dozen people who had lived or worked short-term at a little mission hospital in rural Kenya. We decided to learn more. It turns out this hospital—Tenwek hospital—had a reputation of training up Kenyans—nurses, chaplains, doctors—who wanted to serve their neighbors in Jesus’s name. When Clark was half-way through his residency, we asked the hospital what their needs were. There answer: “Our number one need is for a pediatrician.” It seemed the Lord had prepared us to help meet this need and so we decided to move to Kenya.
Miranda ~ You recently returned to the United States. Are you on furlough or is this permanent? If it is permanent, how did know it was time to leave?
Clark & Val: We returned to the US the end of January and plan to be here for 6 months before we return to Kenya. While here, we’re looking for opportunities to testify to what God is doing in Kenya and hope to encourage our friends, family and church, work at our local university hospital to keep up to speed with our medical knowledge, raise support, and rest!
Miranda ~ In your service as missionaries, what would you say is the most profound lesson you’ve learned, especially in relation to peoples, cultures, and diversity?
Clark & Val: God is God and God is good.
We’ve faced a lot of the “culture shock” challenges that face most who leave their passport country. And Clark daily faces the suffering and deaths of children and their families at the hospital.
My friend and neighbor comes over asking for help. She does not have a single shilling left and has no way to get food for her six kids. When she leaves, our three-year old daughter Hannah asks, “Why was Keturah’s mom asking for food?”
Clark sits down and prepares himself to tell a mother that her child has died. This mom has already lost two babies. This was going to be her first surviving child. It’s the fourth time that day Clark has cried with a mom as he tells her that her child is dead.
In these moments, wondering, “How do we help?” “How do I explain this to our kids?” “How do I tell this mom this news?” and, often, just “Why Lord?” we have been brought to the place where the only thing we can cling to, the only thing we have to offer, is God and the hope of the resurrection.
The Lord has taught us that He is God and He is good. This transcends culture or race or geographic location.
THIS or THAT (The Fun Qs!)
Val and Clark gave the EXACT answers to each question!
Coffee or Tea? Tea (preferably chai with lots of milk and sugar!)
Gym or Outdoor? Outdoor
Running or Walking? Walking
Juice or Smoothie? Juice
Salad or Fruit? Salad
Movies or Books? BOOKS!!
Vanilla or Chocolate? Chocolate
Summer or Spring? Spring
Rain or Snow? Snow
Blazer or Leather Jacket? Leather jacket
About the Sleeths
Clark and Val Sleeth moved to Kenya in 2017 to work with World Gospel Mission and the African Gospel Church at Tenwek Hospital, a 300 bed hospital in rural, western Kenya.
Clark Sleeth grew up in New England and his life was forever changed in high school when his family had a radical encounter with the Lord. He is a physician double boarded in internal medicine and pediatrics. He completed his undergraduate studies in history at Asbury College before completing medical training and working at the University of Kentucky. In 2017 he moved to Kenya with his family. Since then he has been running the pediatric department at Tenwek Hospital where he daily works with a team of Kenyan medical students, interns, residents, and medical officers to provide care for 30-60 patients in the NICU and wards, while overseeing the outpatient clinic. Since moving to Tenwek, he has initiated and overseen a much-needed renovation of Tenwek’s NICU, developed pediatric curriculum for the medical trainees, assisted with various research projects, designed and built locally-sourced, inexpensive infant incubators, and welcomed his second child, Luke. He loves board games and reading sci-fi.
Val Sleeth grew up in the North West and met the Lord in her mid-teens through the faithful ministry of believers in eastern Idaho. She is an internal medicine physician assistant who completed her undergraduate studies in math at Asbury College before completing medical training and working at the University of Kentucky where she taught in the physician assistant studies program and worked as a hospitalist. In 2017 she moved to Kenya with her family. Since then she has been taking care of her daughter Hannah and learning how to run a household in Kenya! She enjoys joining the Kenyan medical interns for weekly Bible studies and getting to know Tenwek’s many visitors over chai and meals. She was thrilled to deliver her son, Luke, at Tenwek in June, 2019. She loves playing the piano and accompanying her daughter, Hannah, on the ukulele (for any song requiring 3 chords or less).
For more information on the Sleeths and their work, find links to their blog and facebook page at: http://www.wgm.org/sleeth