Jason Brotherton and Ree’L Street’s journey to the mission field has taken them from the fast-paced, competitive worlds of medicine and business in the United States to serving with Serge at a mission hospital in Chogoria, Kenya. Jason, a physician, works in patient care and teaches and disciples Kenyan doctors in the Kabarak Family Medicine residency program. Ree’L, a former business consultant, is working with the hospital’s marketing and finances and running logistics for the growing team, while homeschooling their son Sylis.
The winding story of how they got to Chogoria is a testament to God’s faithfulness and guiding hand.
Growing up together in Tennessee, Jason and Ree’L started dating in high school and their relationship continued for ten years, right through college and on into their respective graduate schools: she to pursue an MBA at Georgia Tech, he to a biomedical masters degree at Texas Tech and then on to medical school in Memphis, where they finally got married.
It was during their time in Memphis that Jason started feeling God pull him towards international mission work.
“I met all these doctors who were intentionally living and working in inner city Memphis,” said Jason. “That was really the first time that I saw people use the gospel to inform how they work and where they lived.”
Around the same time, Jason took his first ever trip overseas to Sudan.
“I thought it was going to be fun,” Jason said. “It was a little bit edgy, a little bit dangerous, and that was appealing to me. But God used that trip to wreck my view of what I thought my medical career would be like and the type of medicine that I should pursue.”
Impacted by his experience in Sudan, along with the influence and discipleship of the inner-city doctors, Jason began to reshape his own life. After graduating from medical school, Jason began pursuing a combined internal medicine and pediatric residency at the L.A. County Hospital, where he served one of the largest underserved populations in the U.S., specifically so that he could eventually treat both children and adults in a developing world setting.
But as Jason grew more and more confident of their eventual calling to serve in the developing world, Ree’L was embarking on a fast-paced career as a business consultant for Clarkston Consulting.
“I had a good career and didn’t want to get off track,” Ree’L said. “So when he started talking about all this, I was not on board at all. I thought, ‘If I just let it go, he’ll get over it.’ Obviously that did not work out.”
“She was like the man from the Sanhedrin in Acts, Gamaliel,” Jason said. “‘If this is from God then I can’t do anything about it. But if not, then it will go away on its own.’”
It didn’t go away. And slowly God began to turn Ree’L’s heart towards mission work as well.
“L.A. was good, but then I got staffed on a project on the East Coast,” Ree’L said. “So I was travelling three time zones every week. Five days on the East Coast, then two days at home.”
Tired, stressed, and stretched thin, Ree’L requested a six-month sabbatical from work. At the time, they were living in a neighborhood in downtown L.A., just a few blocks from Skid Row. Ree’L walked to the nearby homeless shelter to volunteer, and was tasked to basic computer data entry.
“I’m an IT consultant, so I immediately started seeing problems with their computer system,” said Ree’L. “By the end of the first day I was sitting in the chief development officer’s office talking about their computer issues.”
That led to a two-year season of service with the homeless shelter where Ree’L not only re-designed IT processes for the homeless shelter, but also reshaped her own view of her place in mission work.
“That was the key moment where my ambition was broken,” Ree’L said. “It was probably the first time I felt like: ‘Wow! God can actually use the skills and education that I’ve been provided to do mission work.’”
As the years went on and the medical residency in L.A. drew to a close, Jason and Ree’L continued to think more about the call to international mission work and their next steps.
But one obvious hurdle stood in the way: debt.
“Medical school is not cheap,” Jason said. “We couldn’t leave with all that debt—that was a really big hesitation for moving on.”
Jason took a good job at a hospital in Missouri with the mindset that they would slowly use his salary to pay off their debt, while living off of Ree’L’s income. Eventually, they thought, they would be debt free and able to go overseas. Then, God sped things up a bit.
“We put our house in East L.A. up for sale. The one in the sketchy, gang-infested neighborhood, and we sold it to the first person that came to look at it on the second day it was on the market,” said Jason.
“There were gang signs on our front lawn, and they paid over the asking price for the house,” Ree’L said. “God was outrageously gracious to us in that.”
When the check for the house cleared, they were able to pay off the medical school loans the very next day with less than $100 leftover.
“That debt had been a really big hesitation for transitioning to international work,” Jason said. “And it was gone into the ether in a matter of moments.”
Soon, with more time and without debt hanging over their heads, Jason and Ree’L found themselves at the Global Missions Health Conference, where they met a doctor from the Kabarak Family Medicine Program along with representatives from Serge, and first began discussing the possibility of serving in Chogoria, Kenya.
“That was in November,” said Jason. “It sounded like great opportunity, but we weren’t completely sold on it and were being prayerful.”
Then, one winter morning, a physician with World Gospel Mission Kenya called Jason to talk to him about the opportunity in Chogoria, which Jason first learned of at the conference. Less than an hour after he hung up the phone, Serge’s East Africa mobilization staff person called to talk about the same opportunity. The physician and the Serge staff were from two different organizations, and to this day have never met or talked to one another, yet they called Jason and Ree’L about the exact same opportunity within an hour of one another.
“That was the neon sign that God dropped in our lap saying: ‘This is where you’re going. This is where I want you,’” said Jason. “So we said: ‘OK, God. This is what we needed, and we’re going to pursue this until you close the doors.’”
That was January 2015. By June they were with Serge staff for a week of assessment and orientation. By August they were approved and had started fundraising. Fully funded in less than six months, Jason, Ree’L, and their son Sylis, landed in Kenya in February 2016.
Jason and Ree’L’s path to the field was not straight, or easy, or quick. It was a winding journey that took years. It took the discipleship and example of selfless doctors in the inner city. It took experiencing suffering in neighborhoods and trips to another continent. It took breaking ambition, a recalibration of worldview, and even near-miraculous signposts and removal of roadblocks. But now, at the end of it all, Jason and Ree’L are using their gifts to share the grace and love of Christ to the physically and spiritually broken in rural Kenya.
The journey is only beginning.
>>> Learn more about how you can serve with Serge using your medical or business background. Start a conversation with us today.