Be Resilient – the struggle is real but the outcome is foretold. 6 principles of resilience.

April 4, 2018

Well, this has been a busy few weeks. Between working a crazy amount of hours, my course work (working toward Advanced PA degree to better serve my patients here and in Togo), teaching PA students, fund raising, and all of the hundreds of things that need to be taken care of before leaving for the mission field, busyness has given birth to a great deal of stress.

I don’t know if you have ever been so busy that you struggle to be productive, but that’s where we are at right now. If not for the amazing stamina and ability of Elizabeth, I’d probably be in a stress-induced coma right now. I’ve been barely able to get out of the bed in the morning, and when I come home, even finding the energy to take a shower seems a chore.

I’ve encountered this kind of busyness and stress a few other times in my life. I think back to when I was a paramedic, working four 12+ hour night shifts every week while managing a full-time load in college, or PA school where we would be in class 9 hours per day and have another 8 hours of studying to do after class while practically living off bread and water for a couple of years.

Just when you think you can’t fit anything else into your schedule, something else gets added.

During my hour or so commute into and home from work, I like to listen to audio books. They are a nice escape from the utter boredom and monotony of the drive. Some of the books I’ve been listening too lately have had a common theme, resilience.

One was about the resilience of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the resilience of soldiers in the second world war, the resilience of Paul in the face of Christian persecution in Rome, and the resilience of missionaries in Africa at the turn of the 20th century. These stories have been humbling, and encouraging. One recent podcast I heard asked the question, “What has happened to the gritty missionaries?” and gave examples like CT Studd, Jim Elliot, Rachel Saint, and Hudson Taylor (if you don’t know who these people are, I strongly suggest looking them up).

And then there was one more book written by a researcher on the psychological strategies of Navy SEALS who are successful with their arduous training. It gave some excellent principles of resiliency that we might all benefit from in the face of difficult times.

Here they are:

#1: You are responsible for absolutely everything

  • Stop Pointing the finger and trying to blame others. Realize that you and you alone are responsible for your own life. If you want to do something, do it. Take extreme ownership.

#2: He who has a why to live can bear almost any how

  • Pursue a mission. When you have a higher purpose – a mission – grit, self-discipline, perseverance, and incredible mental toughness is a natural consequence. So find your “why”.

#3: Create a mental trigger to get through the direst situations

  • Create a mental image – a “trigger” – of the one thing in this world that is most important to you. When you face the direst of situations or are on the brink, pull the trigger and remind yourself of this image.

#4: Systems, processes, and discipline equals freedom

  • Create a daily routine. Create systems and processes in your life so that you can get things done faster and more efficiently

#5: The 4 keys to mental toughness

  1. Set goals. Set bite-sized goals. Focus on what is right in front of you, not on all the pain and suffering yet to come. Create small goals that move you toward a larger goal – your mission, your “higher purpose”.
  2. Mentally prepare. Mentally visualize any tough situations you need to go through in order to train your mind to remain calm, cool, and collected during these stressful situations rather than going into it’s instinctive “fight, flight, or freeze” mode.
  3. Master self-talk. Talk to yourself positively. Create a powerful prayer, memorize a bible verse, or a short, encouraging statement of your own making to repeat to yourself in times of hardship.
  4. Arousal control. When in incredibly demanding and stressful situations, practice the 4×4 deep breathing technique (take a breath in for 4 seconds and out for four seconds). It will help to physiologically override your brain and body’s instinctive stress response and get your mind and body back in the game.

#6: The 3 components of resilience

  1. Have a mission. A higher purpose. The relates directly back to principle #2 – he who has a why can bear almost any how
  2. If applicable to your own life, use the power of teamwork to achieve specific goals.
  3. Reframe difficulty as growth. See failure, hardship, and pain not as something to be avoided but as something to be embraced as a way to develop oneself and grow.

#7: The 40% rule

  • When you feel like you’re done and can’t possibly do any more, realize that you’re still only at 40% mark. You’ve still got 60% left in the tank, so roll up those sleeves, grit those teeth, and push on.


To achieve goal, we must experience mistakes, stumbling, failure, and disappointment. In medicine, ministry, and life these are daily experiences. The resilient people get back to their feet, dust off their pants and, like Captain America, look that obstacle or failure in the eye and say “I can do this all day.”

Here are some Bible verses that have been helpful for me, and knowing the context of each as a source of inspiration is also helpful:

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Micah 7:8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Hebrews 10:36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.


I’m preaching to myself right now, but in a world that seems increasingly hostile to those who stand firm in their faith, remember that we are not at war with mankind, but with principalities, and our strength comes from the Lord.

Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.


QOTW #15: What kind of animals are in Togo?

March 25, 2018

Time for a fun question! What kinds of animals will we encounter?

I need to talk to some of the folks already at the hospital to find out what they encounter regularly, but I’ve done a little research and have discovered some pleasant surprises (and a few not-so-pleasant ones).

This is not an exhaustive list. I’m just picking some of the highlites with the guidance of my daughter.

Mammals of Togo… these just make me happy!

The Western Tree Hyrax

The African Bush Elephant

The potto

Bush babies (oh my gosh, I’m dying…)


Patas monkey

Tantalus monkeys

Mona Monkeys

Diana Monkey

Olive baboon

King Colobus

Common chimpanzee

Africa brush-tailed porcupine

Forest Giant squirrel

Four-toed hedgehog

Rufous mouse-eared bat

Yellow-winged bat

Giant pangolin

Long-tailed pangolin

Tree pangolin

Northwest African Cheetah (Maeve’s favorite animal in “the whole wide world!”)



West Africa Lion

African leopard

Rusty-spotted genet

We just finished reading Riki-Tiki-Tavi together so these mongoose species are also among her favorites

Slender mongoose

Egyptian mongoose

Spotted hyena


Striped polecat

Pumba! (warthog)

Red river hog



Red-footed gazelle


Maxwell’s duiker


Bohor reedbuck

Now for the reptiles

Bell’s hinge-back tortoise

Common agama

spotted house gecko

Fat tail gecko

Fire skink

Savannah monitor

African rock python

Ball python

Centipede eater

Striped house-snake

Rhinoceros viper

Western green mamba

Black-necked spitting cobra

Slende-nosed crocodile


ghost mantis

there is a seemingly infinite number of species of butterflies in Togo as well

QOTW #14: Why Medical Missions?

March 6, 2018

Vincent van Gogh’s painting ‘The Good Samaritan’

There are innumerable resources available, especially in recent years, on missions. Missiological studies, missionary profiles, research on unreached people groups, the impact (both good and bad) of missions on the populations they have gone to serve and disciple.

But, you would be hard pressed to find much written on medical missions. Traditionally, medical work has been seen as a recent add-on to mission.

In fact, Medical Missions, as we know them have only been around since the 19th century. But, I believe that medical mission has always been part of the ministry of the church.

First, the Bible is clear that sickness is not a purely naturalistic matter. Jesus interlinked preaching and healing throughout his ministry. Some examples are found in Matthew 8:16, 9:35, 12:10, 12:15, 14:14, 14:36, 15:30, 19:2, 21:14, Luke 4:40, 5:15, 5:17, 6:18, 9:11.

The story that stands out most to me is the parable of the Good Samaritan, who, when religious leaders passed by a man who had been beaten and robbed, a lowly Samaritan loaded the man on his donkey, took the man to an inn and payed for him to remain there until he was healed.

There are many examples of how interlinked ministry and healing are throughout the new and old testament. So if ministry and healing were so interlinked in Jesus’ ministry, then there must be an element of healing that is important for the purposes of reaching people with the gospel.

Often you will hear of medical mission as being the “tip of the spear” in world missions. I believe that this is for two reasons, first, medical care is a global need. There are doors that a medical professional can enter that a pastor may not be able to, this allows Jesus-following medical professionals to sometimes be the pioneer missionaries to a region. The second reason I think the analogy of the spear works is that seeing to the physical needs of a person pierces to the heart of their need. Physical maladies aside, the real true healing we need can only come from the promises of the gospel.

Medicine may provide the life-saving so that the person with receptive to the soul-saving.

QOTW #13: What Does Togo Look Like?

February 27, 2018


Google map of Hopital Baptiste Biblique

I am asked frequently if I’ve ever been to Togo (or even Africa). When I tell most people no, the look I get, for a split second usually appears to be saying, “Are you kidding me?!”

I know, it seems crazy to move somewhere as a family for a year without ever having set foot on the continent. I totally get it. You wouldn’t move your family to Nashville for a job without first checking the town out, touring some schools, visiting a few churches and checking out some homes. I wouldn’t either.

But this is different, kind of. At first, I was adamantly against moving my family somewhere I had never been and fully intended to spend a few weeks there first. And there are days still where I want to take a week off from work to travel to the hospital for a shrot fact-finding mission. And, who knows, I still might.

But the really cool thing is that we have the internet, and we know people there. We have contacts who have raised three generations of their own families there. We have talked to people who have lived there for anywhere from 6 mos to the last 20 years. We know ABWE, our mission organization, has been in the region for 100 years, and missionary family have been living on the mission hospital campus and in the surrounding town for 30 years.

Check it out for yourself… please. I’d love to hear and see what you’ve discovered about Togo, the towns of Tsiko,  and Adeta and the surrounding region.

The link above will take you to the hospital’s coordinates in Google maps, and there is also a 360-degree panoramic shot of the hospital campus (I literally just discovered this, and it is gorgeous!).

QOTW#12: How do donations work?

February 6, 2018

First, allow me justify the sense of urgency in our updates an letters. We need to get to the mission ASAP. With a patient load of about 20,000 patients per year in the clinics and more in the hospital, there are currently only two doctors working there. One is a family practice physician and one is a pediatrician. There is also a surgeon there, the only surgeon, who cannot possibly keep up with the need for surgery, and he is also the hospital’s administrator, which leaves much less time for anything but emergency surgeries. Recently, the hospital just lost a physician after their daughter became ill. This hopital desperately needs a full compliment of healthcare providers like doctors and PAs of at least 5 or 6. Samaritan’s Purse has recently taken notice of the need as well and is sending out emergency requests for physicians, PAs and NPs to come to the hospital immediately.

This is an emergency need, and one that you can help with.

There has been a deal of confusion on how our funding works, so let me explain how this works for missionaries.

We have a target amount that we have to reach to be fully funded in order to leave in July of this year. BUT July is not our deadline to raise these funds. Our deadline is more like the end of March. 

Here’s why: to move overseas requires a lot of preparation. The majority of that preparation, and estimated $10,000-$20,000, most of which is coming from our own savings, goes toward getting there, it’s called passage. That includes plane tickets, shipping costs, visas, needed equipment and other living expenses. Most of that comes directly from our pocket. So this comes a significant personal expense (and one that we don’t consider to be a sacrifice considering that we are investing in God’s work, obviously). But, these expenses, for the most part, these are not refundable expenses. In fact, we cannot even leave until we are FULLY FUNDED!

So, in order to GO, we must be SENT. If we are not fully funded by the end of March we are probably not going. That doesn’t mean that the monthly payments start coming in immediately, it means that we have about $5000 of monthly promised income from supporters. Currently, we have about $175 in currently monthly support. We are expecting some lump sums, about $15,000 from The River, $2,500 from another church in Oakdale, and we have a meeting with one more church today.

We will apply for visas (which may take up to 3 months to get) once we are 50% funded. Currently, we are currently about 29% funded. We have a LONG way to go.

One time donations are expected and very welcomed! We need them. But we also need monthly support, and we need it soon.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.


Warmest regards,


Zach and Elizabeth Greenlee


The three things we won’t do when raising funds.

January 15, 2018

I was just recently asked an interesting question about how we are raising funds for this mission. Maybe the question wasn’t quite so interesting as was the way it was asked. The person who asked was a surgeon I work with and it was a reaction to shock at my methodology. He asked: “So you just ask people for money and they GIVE it to you?!”

I had to think for a second about my answer, but essentially, the answer is “yes, that’s exactly how this works,” but that’s also not JUST how this works. I’m straight forward though. I don’t think I’m asking for anything that I wouldn’t joyfully give myself. In fact, Elizabeth and I have been supporting missions in different ways for several years. Unfortunatley, only a few times have we had the opportunity to give directly to someone going themselves.

There are three things that I never do when asking for money though.

  1. We won’t beat around the bush.

There is just no reason to. People usually know within the first few seconds of talking to you whether or not they see the value in the endeavor enough to give any substantial amount. Besides, everyone knows that funds are an important part of sending. We all know that it is needed, and that it is necessary. Those of us who are inclined to give financially do it for the joy of giving. And there is a lot of joy that comes from giving, as I’m sure you already know.

  1. We won’t use guilt or try to persuade you.

Again, this is a worthwhile thing that we are doing, one that a financial supporter has a stake in. We all, as followers of Christ, have a vested interest in seeing the sick made well, the injured helped and the lost saved. Supporting such a worthy, Christ-honoring cause as supporting medical missionaries to West Africa should be and is a great joy, not because we feel good about relieving guilt for having so much and the people we are serving having so little, but because we derive joy from sharing what we are blessed with because that’s how we are wired as God’s children.

I totally ripped this photo off from the ABWE website. It was originally titled, “Children Who Showed Up During The Mobile Clinic.” What I loved about it is that this isn’t one of those sad-faced adds like the SPCA that uses emotions to trick you into giving. These are happy kids. They are just like our kids. They play, laugh, and misbehave sometimes. They aren’t starving, they haven’t seen warfare. They are just real kids without many resources, who we are meant to love as if they were our own.

  1. We won’t apologize.

We are all in this together. This is not just Elizabeth’s calling, my calling, my kids’ calling, but it is the calling of all believers to go or send. There is nothing to apologize for when asking for financial support. This is a good thing to have something so personal, so good, so Christ-honoring to dedicate our resources to.

I’m going to be honest with you, we need financial support, and we need a lot of it, but we need to have a Christ-honoring view of what that means. Our mandate, as followers of Christ to care for the sick and see to the needs of the poor goes hand-in-hand with the Great Commission, and is a key to experiencing the joy of obedience, and in being part of God’s work in a tangible way that will unfold before all of our eyes.

The reason Elizabeth and I give and have given

to missions is because we love to be part of something that blesses others and honors God. Why would we beat around the bush, give guilt trips, or apologize for being partners with you in this endeavor?

We want everyone who gives financially to share with us in the joy that comes from being part of this work. So if you think you might be interested, please give me a call, write me an email, or send me a message. I want to tell you about this opportunity, give you all of the details, tell you exactly how the funds will be used and bring you into our inner circle of trusted friends and family who are all equally part of this amazing mission.

My phone number 1 (209) 918-4044

My email: [email protected]

My Facebook messenger user name:


Supporter Presentation – We need your partnership.

January 9, 2018

Below, I’ve linked our PowerPoint presentation that we present to potential supporters. Would you consider helping us get fully funded? Ideas, referrals and financial donations are appreciated! Thank you for partnering with us and continue to pray for us as we are looking for churches and individuals to reach out to.

I’m not much of a public speaker, sooooo… you get it. 🙂

supporter presentation



Here we go!

November 6, 2017

Thanks for stopping by our mission blog!

For years we’ve been talking about it. The time has finally come!

We are in the fund raising stage of the process. We have a clear picture of how much financial support needs to be raised in order to go, about $6,000 per month. It sounds daunting, and it is. We need your help. We need your prayers and we need you to invest with us in this important vision as we humbly pursue this calling that God has placed on our hearts to not only provide medical care to those in the Tsiko, Togo region, but also to build Christ-honoring relationships with the diverse people groups in the region of the hospital.

We will be departing for Togo on July 18th, 2018. But there is still so much to do, it’s almost overwhelming.

This will be your place to learn about what we will be doing, our progress in getting there, get updates while we are in Togo, and a regular taste for our vision to reach the medically under-served with life-saving medical care and the life-changing gospel message.

We will be spending most of our year at the Hôpital Baptiste Biblique in Tsiko, Togo.

One of the first questions we get asked is “are you taking your kids?” Yes we are all going.

The other first question we are frequently asked is “Where is Togo?” So here are a couple maps:

It’s that little green country in West Africa. And that’s their flag in the corner.

And that’s Tsiko, where the hospital is. It’s about 3 hours East by land from Lome, Togo, the capital.

I will do my best to compile as many of our frequently asked questions into a large FAQ file to help you gain your bearings about our mission, vision, and living situation while we are there.

I have a question for the readers to please answer in the comments section too.

Have you ever been to Africa? What do you know about the region we will be visiting?

And one quick trivia question about the country, hopefully you can find the answer with a little research. What is the primary Language spoken in Togo? Why?