From the late 1800s to the present day American Lutherans have been engaged in health mission in Madagascar. It was my privilege to accompany Dr. Stan and Kathie Quanbeck on a visit to some of the places where this engagement began and to witness communities of faith that still exist along that path today.
Almost 40 years ago the Malagasy Lutheran Church founded a health department called SALFA under the leadership of Dr. Quanbeck. GHM has partnered with SALFA for over 30 of those years and such partnership was what motivated many to begin GHM.
In anticipation of its 40th anniversary celebration in 2019, SALFA is currently writing its history. The history is shaped by hundreds of European, American and Malagasy doctors, nurses, dentists, administrators, mid-wives, lab technicians, nursing professors and so many more. Capturing this history is daunting, but much work has been accomplished already. If you think you can help fill in names and dates in this timeline, please consider visiting the GHM website (www.ghm.org/salfahistoryproject) to review the timeline and submit your additions! Whatever we gather will be shared with SALFA, in hopes of honoring the footprints of faith and mission over these 40 years.
“Fanjahira Cemetery” near Manasoa Madagascar, where some of the earliest (turn of the 19th century) American missionaries are buried with crosses marking their graves. Dr. Stan and Kathie Quanbeck and a boyhood friend of Stan are pictured paying respect to Stan’s grandfather, missionary Jakob Jerstad.
The solitary stones standing in the foreground of this photo mark the graves of babies born on taboo days. Traditional beliefs have led countless children born on the wrong day to be abandoned or killed. Faith in Christ has made this practice far less frequent today, where over 40% of the nations population is Christian. To God be the glory.