Doctor of the Poor

Kenneth Elliot, an Australian doctor kidnapped in Burkina Faso and held captive by al-Qaeda for more than seven years, has finally returned home to his family in Perth. Dr Elliot, who is 88 years old, is safe and well. The family said, “We wish to express our thanks to God and to all who have continued to pray for us. We express our relief that Dr Elliott is free and continue to pray for those still held and wish them freedom and safe return to their loved ones.”

On 15 January 2016, Dr Elliot and his wife, Jocelyn, were taken from their home in Burkina Faso, by the Mali-based terror organization al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Jocelyn was soon released in February 2016. Dr Elliot and his wife had been running a hospital in Djibo close to the Mali and Niger borders. After the kidnappings the hospital, which could hold 140 patients, was closed due Dr Elliot’s absence. He was the only surgeon in the area and made his services available free of charge to the population of roughly 2 million. He was called the “Doctor of the Poor” and “Saviour of the Sahel” for the work he was doing.

In 1967 Dr Elliot re-opened a closed hospital in Benin and worked there for 4 years before he and his wife went to Djibo in 1972. They had dedicated their lives to helping injured and sick people in Burkina Faso. In his 50th anniversary graduation booklet, Dr Elliott described Burkina Faso as one of the poorest countries in the world. He said many of the patients at Djibo medical centre had not slept on a mattress before. He wrote, “I regularly operate five to six hours a day for six days of the week. The needs are unimaginable, and we tackle some horrific cases, but the results are mostly pleasing.”

The inspiration for Dr Elliot and his wife’s love is Jesus. When they were young, they received him as their Saviour and Lord and dedicated their whole lives to serving poor people living in remote places. When he was on earth Jesus healed many people and gave them new hope. The hospital in Djibo has been a haven of hope for those who received treatment from Dr Elliot and his team. People experienced God’s love in Jesus in Djibo hospital and many came to know him as their Saviour. No doubt during the 7 long years of his captivity Dr Elliot also showed loving care to his captors and he and his wife, Jocelyn, experienced the comforting presence of their living Saviour who promised to be with them always.

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