Texas Couple ‘Loses Their Lives’ for the Lost in Africa

Larry Pepper (center) was a NASA flight surgeon before God put him on a different trajectory — working with the International Mission Board at hospitals in Africa. He’s now spent more than two decades offering hope at the bedside of the hurting there. IMB photo

Larry Pepper thought he had been open to God’s leading. He had been praying through the missions book Operation World. And he had been thinking more and more about his impact on eternity as he sat in church every Sunday. But one day the words came clear as a bell right where he sat in Houston, Texas — “You’ve committed everything to Me except your job.”

Larry knew the thought had come from God. He took a deep breath, and he told God to put him and his family wherever He wanted them to be.

“I was beginning to see the world through God’s eyes in terms of lostness,” he said. “For me, that meant seeing if I could use my medical skills in a way that had more kingdom impact.”

Larry’s current work was his dream job. He was a flight surgeon for NASA, providing medical care for pilots and crewmembers. But it soon became evident that God was drawing him to walk away and move his family to serve with the International Mission Board in Africa. To step out in obedience, he had to stomach some major sacrifices — for one, he was selected as a finalist candidate for astronaut duty in space. That was hard to leave.

His wife Sally had some reservations too.

“For me, the hardest part was just wrestling with the fears that kept creeping back in — mostly the fear of homeschooling my kids in Africa,” she said. “But in a moment, God changed those fears, and I had a complete peace that Africa was where we were supposed to be.”

That peace followed her as she, Larry, and their three children moved to Uganda for 12 years, then Lesotho for two, and then Tanzania for eight more.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press, International Mission Board