This book is a lively description of the life of a missionary doctor — an American surgeon who spent his professional life sharing his skills, his friendship and his faith far from home, in India, Nepal and Cameroun. The story begins in Korea, where Archibald Fletcher (Archie) grew up as the son of a Presbyterian missionary doctor. Life at home and away at boarding school was different, but full of activity and fun. From his parents he caught the vision of faith and service, which followed him through his own career. This commitment deepened through the years of college and medical school and surgical residency in the United States, while his parents pursued their mission in Korea. Again, serious times and humorous episodes are shared with sensitivity. In college at Princeton Archie starred on the soccer team, took a leading part in a group of evangelical Christian students, and won Phi Beta Kappa honors. Medical school at Columbia continued the same pattern of academic achievement, growth in the Christian life and some fun times mixed in. The description of the weird and wonderful world of the hospital intern and the surgical resident is embellished with vivid accounts of some individual cases and adventures in research. Service as a medical officer in the U. S. Army in WWII included a moving assignment caring for the victims of the Mauthausen concentration camp, and finally, after release from the Army, a story-book wedding to his childhood sweetheart. All of this was only preliminary to the real story, which began when Dr. Fletcher, his wife Huldah and their two-year old son Bobbie sailed off to India for what proved to be a twenty-seven-year period of service as a missionary surgeon. The India of those days, as experienced at the sixty-year-old Christian Hospital in Miraj, Maharashtra, is described with color and sensitivity, as are the stories of the patients, some of them tragic and some triumphant. Working with outstanding colleagues, both missionaries and Indian nationals, Dr. Fletcher had a part, over the next quarter-century, in bringing this fine, old hospital into the modern era. This included planning and building new facilities; upgrading the staff, especially by the addition of well-qualified Indian specialists; developing new specialties, such as hemodialysis and kidney transplantation and thoracic and cardiac surgery, including open-heart surgery; and finally the starting of a new medical school, the Miraj Medical College, in collaboration with the government of Maharashtra State, which eventually included the postgraduate training of qualified specialists. None of this came easily. There were periods of doubt and discouragement. But through it all Dr. Fletcher emphasizes his powerful sense of the guiding and enabling hand of God, which made it all possible. With the blessing of God, there was also the satisfaction, in an area where Christians are a small and underprivileged minority, of being able to select qualified Christian students for admission to the medical school, some of whom would pursue further post-graduate training and become professors and heads of departments or even serve as Director of the Medical Center. The strengthening of the Christian life and witness of the hospital and the strengthening of the local Christian church were also vital concerns throughout. But those twenty-seven years in India were only the beginning! After passing on the leadership of the hospital in Miraj to a qualified Indian team, and spending two years as an associate professor of surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle, the Fletchers were off again, this time to the fabulous mountain kingdom of Nepal. In Kathmandu Archie served as a surgeon and medical superintendent of the mission hospital known as “Shanta Bhawan” (Palace of Peace), and they shared in the lively fellowship of missionaries from a half-dozen different countries, and were challenged by the vibrant national church.
Archibald Fletcher, M.D. grew up in pre-WWII Korea, son of missionary parents. After graduation from college at Princeton and medical school at Columbia, he had his residency in surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. Following his father as a missionary surgeon, he spent most of his professional life at the Wanless Hospital in southwestern India. There he helped to develop the hospital and the church, to establish a medical school in cooperation with the government, and to train young Indian physicians to take over leadership of the medical center. He also served in mission hospitals in Nepal and in Cameroun in West Africa.