It’s the personal adventure that drew Dr. Dennis Zaide to Swaziland, but passion kept him here for 19 months. The best-laid plans of man are tempered, enhanced, and changed by his Creator -- that’s what Dennis discovered.
A primary-care doctor in Wisconsin for eight years, Dennis intended, once his school loans were paid, “to take a year to do humanitarian work. Oddly enough, I was turned down by Doctors without Borders, though I thought I’d be a shoo-in.”
Dennis was a medical school classmate of TLC’s executive director Harry VanderWal. Why not investigate, Dennis reasoned. First, he came to Swaziland for three months and then returned on a 16-month contract. In November 2016, Dennis left for further education in New York and to be closer to his aging parents. However, he will tell you that part of his heart remains with The Luke Commission.
Dennis grasps The Luke Commission’s longevity. “The VanderWals had the initial desire when they came here, saw the HIV devastation, and realized the country could become extinct. God has provided everything TLC needs to fight HIV and other health issues,” Dennis said, as he swept his hand around the Miracle Campus.
“Supporters can know their donations are being put to good use. In the States, people have a healthy skepticism about missionaries asking for money, whether in person or on TV. I know by firsthand experience that 100% of the donations to The Luke Commission are being spent to help needy people.”
Doctoring rural patients, often 500-plus in a day, was the rigorous pace Dennis kept at TLC outreaches. He also implemented the staff wellness program on the Miracle Campus for 150 Swazis and for four family members each.
Being in Swaziland has “opened my eyes. I know there is suffering in the US. Suffering here is on a whole new level, but Swazis are gracious, resilient people."
Coming from American medicine, “I don’t understand the fatalistic attitude many Swazis have toward their medical care, but it does give more opportunity for God to work. And He does! In US medicine, if one thing doesn’t work, we try another in our own strength and under our own control.”
Dennis says, “Here I’ve learned to be close to God and to rely on Him. I will miss the staff and patients. It’s always people I miss, not the place. I tell myself not to get too attached. Invariably I do.”
“Before I came to TLC, I prayed to God the Father, but I did not look closely at Jesus. I knew about Jesus but did not practice going to Him. Now I’m a Christian in the true sense of the word,” he says.