Two Porter Adventist Hospital doctors, Daniel Smith and Mark Sheehan, felt something was missing from their lives. Both had practiced in the states for their whole careers; both needed a change. Then, 14 years ago they went on an exploratory mission to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a once-modern city decimated by decades of civil war.

Their plan was to tour the medical facilities, provide as much care as possible in the time they had, and, they hoped, share the message of Christ.
They didn’t know the impact the Cambodian people would have on their lives, and they certainly didn’t know they’d be returning dozens of times and founding an organization called Jeremiah’s Hope.

But then, so often it’s the things we didn’t expect that inspire the greatest change.

The Killing Fields

After the Indochina War, and backed in part by the Vietnamese, the Communist Party of Kampuchea, or Khmer Rouge, wrested control of the government and began to brutally murder millions of Cambodians in what is known as the Killing Fields.

The country struggled to find its footing as its population was reduced by 21 percent in the genocide. It wasn’t until 1993 that, with the help of the UN, the country was able to hold its first democratic elections.

While Phnom Penh has grown significantly during the 2000s, medical care lags behind. “The government spends roughly $2 per person, per year,” explains Smith.

A Country in Recovery

The two doctors were simultaneously struck upon seeing the conditions—poor sanitation, little to no medical supplies, and severe lack of knowledgeable physicians. “Immediately after the Killing Fields, the whole country only had 19 doctors,” says Sheehan.

Sheehan and Smith have been steadily growing Jeremiah’s Hope, a nonprofit organization devoted to Cambodian medical care. With the help of volunteers, Porter Adventist Hospital and Jeremiah’s Hope, medical teams are sent every other month to Cambodia to perform surgeries, train doctors and improve conditions in hospitals.

“Without foreign aid, the less fortunate in Cambodia would receive no healthcare whatsoever,” says Smith. Doctors donate their time, Porter Adventist Hospital donates equipment, and others donate funds to help pay for airfares.

The effect is nothing shy of remarkable—yielding hundreds of surgeries, hours of training of young promising students, and what’s never forgotten: spreading the message of Christ’s love.

Borders, the doctors believe, are not limits. So when PNam leng Bun came to a Phnom Penh hospital with an aortic aneurism, they wanted to help. “He was a rice farmer with nine children, and if he didn’t get help, he would die,” says Smith.

But the procedure couldn’t be done in Cambodia. So phone calls and pleas were made, and thanks to the generosity of many, the patient was flown to America.
Since the man couldn’t speak English, a translator explained the operational procedures to him. He recovered in the house of a pastor from Cambodia before being flown back to his home.

This is the fourth time they’ve brought someone to the states for care because it wasn’t available in Cambodia. Yet work still remains to be done. Jeremiah’s Hope is always endeavoring to expand medical care in Cambodia, and there can never be too much help.

The urgency of Drs. Smith and Sheehan to make a difference is contagious. “My restlessness was cured when I found this calling, and I hope to continue going as long as I’ve got my health,” says Sheehan.

Judging from the outpouring of support for the mission, he isn’t the only committed one.

For more information about Jeremiah’s Hope, visit their website at


This article was submitted by Stephen King, senior vice president for mission and ministry for the Rocky Mountain Adventist Health System/Centura Health, where he serves the five Adventist hospital campuses in Colorado. It was written by CMBell Company.