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Pam Wise first became connected with TWR Canada when Dr. Carl Seyffert officiated at her wedding to Steve Wise in 1978. A year later Dr. Seyffert left his pastorate to work with TWR Canada (he was later to become the first full-time director for TWR Canada in 1982). Steve and Pam were the first Canadian lay reps. When they retired from teaching and nursing respectively, Steve took a teaching job in Malaysia. TWR needed some HR support in the Singapore office and Pam's experience as a nurse and health administrator was a perfect fit. Pam launched the Community Health Evangelism (CHE) program delivered to villages by TWR teams in Cambodia.
In your time as a missionary, what experience has changed or challenged your faith?
I would say the best thing that I've learned has come when I find myself in situations I couldn't possibly control or attempt to control, that having the opportunity to be totally dependent on God is wonderful. It's exciting to see God orchestrate my life. It's always in your head, a lifetime as a Christian, that God will provide. It's not until you're in the middle of nowhere with two guys and a motorcycle that this truth is pushed farther and farther into your heart and changes who you are. We saw God at work, not necessarily always in good things but in horrible situations too, and knew He was in control.
Learning a new culture and how to effectively communicate with them is challenging. How did this present itself in a health care setting -- such as with PTSD following the Khmer Rouge?
I saw it all the time. PTSD comes up in the CHE lessons, in a lot of moral values lessons. We did a lesson with a group of doctors. There was an older lady who had lived through the Khmer Rouge and at the end of the training she spoke for the first time. She survived the Khmer Rouge because she had a friend and these two women supported each other. One day, the woman found a potato that nobody knew she had. She wanted to share it with her friend so she waited. Her friend turned her in for stealing this potato. She was beaten nearly to death.
"Now I understand what I was feeling and now I can forgive my friend."
This was the most horrendous pain she carried. They don’t have the language to understand the pain. They assume if my gut’s in a knot and my son was murdered last night there’s not necessarily a connection. Just helping them to see the psychosomatic. Listening is key.
There's a lot of humility in your answers. Where/how did you learn that?
It wasn’t an optional path. When I went, I could not have found Cambodia on a map. I knew about Pol Pot and that was it. After a couple of years of work, I got this international team to come. Professors and doctors from Canada, Germany, etc. who were all published authors. They agreed to spend a week but they said, 'You make our time count.' I had every minute mapped out. They were coming in Sunday night. I received an email at 5PM on Friday that my plan was not going to work.
I had to meet these people at the airport with no agenda. We’d be in a meeting and somebody would say you need to go talk to Samaritan’s Purse about this and we found out they were meeting above us. Have you talked to Raji? Raji (from India) was in town and staying in the hotel beside us. That whole week we met with people I’d never even heard about, but those were the people we needed to meet with. That’s where all my skills in organizing were put in perspective.
Steve and Pam Wise have recently relocated to the Cayman Islands. Steve has a teaching job and Pam is exploring possibilities with TWR while finishing her Masters.