Past the privates planes and the slots for rental cars, left of the aquarium before the sparkling carafe of lemon water and just across from the fully equipped business center is a simple office. Physically it is squarely rooted in Fort Lauderdale but once you have spent more than a couple minutes with Don Campion, owner of Banyan Air Services, you would be forgiven for thinking outside his office door is the bush of Egbe, Nigeria.
As the story of Egbe unfolds through Don’s words and pictures, the low hum of a foreign tongue seems almost audible as you reflexively wipe your page of a fine brown dust that isn’t there.
Egbe is where Don and his three sisters grew up the children of medical missionaries who traveled to Nigeria in 1951 to establish a hospital. Inch by inch, brick by brick, the hospital compound was built and served the community even after Don and his sisters continued their schooling in the U.S. and Canada and the elder Campions retired to Canada.
After years building Banyan Air in South Florida, it was 2008 when Don and his wife Sueanne traveled back to Egbe for the one hundred year anniversary of when the gospel first came to Egbe. The years had not been kind to the hospital facility and the compound appeared to be on the edge of collapse. Don struggled to determine God’s direction as he knew the demands of Banyan Air but felt the tug of the Spirit to insure that this work in Egbe was not lost.
Don Campion flies onto the mission field
The answer was extraordinary and yet obvious. Don was appointed head of a revitalization project by Serving in Mission (SIM). All his business acumen and knowledge of best practices would be applied to the project that would require more than a few miracles on its way to fruition. Don explains, “I am essentially serving as a missionary but from my offices here in Fort Lauderdale.” Although it had never been done, this arrangement is a success. Hospital supplies, doctors, labor and a list a mile long of needs has been met through Don’s network of CEOs, his connection with ministries such as Samaritan’s Purse, SIM and World Medical Missions, and the supernatural provision of God.
There was the Muslim factory owner that donated trucks full of cement. The cell phone company who just happened to contact Don days after they prayed for a reliable connection to friends and family. Seems the cellphone company needed to place a relay tower in the area and the hospital compound was the perfect location. Prayer answered.
And the miracles came coupled with the same wisdom that had seen Banyan Air grow into a topnotch aviation facility. From the first interview new hires are introduced to the Banyan Way. There are not employees there but teammates. Everything is done with excellence and solutions sought in house before outside experts are called in.
That’s the philosophy that has the Banyan Grounds and Maintenance crew serving an integral role in rebuilding the hospital thousands of miles away. Ask Richard, a building maintenance specialist at Banyan, how he knew how to do any of a hundred specialized tasks necessary to construct the hospital and his answer is simple. Experience for the elements that are the same like electrical and plumbing, and Google and Youtube for the rest.
Richard has been to Egbe several times during the building process as have his co-workers Matt and Aaron. Not only do the trips allow them to accomplish some hands on work but it bridges the distance between Fort Lauderdale and Egbe for when the daily requests for help come in. Whether it is a facetime or an email, everyone understands that they are reporting to work each day in two locations, Fort Lauderdale and Nigeria.
The results of the collaboration are obvious – the hospital revitalization is astonishing but there are new projects to contribute milestones to the row of three-inch white binders in Don’s office. There’s the upgrade to the Eye Care Building, aids for the students in the Family Medicine Residency Program and talk of a nursing school.
Local Dentist to Open Clinic in Egbe, Nigeria
This month, a team of twenty-two will travel to Egbe to celebrate the incredible revitalization accomplished at the hospital. The team will include many of those who hammered out the details of this collaboration. Dr. Yolanda Cintron, a South Florida dentist, will be there to open the latest addition to the medical services- a dental clinic.
“Several years ago at a meeting of medical professionals put on by Samaritan’s Purse, I met a doctor serving in Uganda who described losing four patients after they gave birth due to complications from dental abscesses. Refusing to lose the fifth mother, he removed her lower jaw. He saved her life but she is permanently disfigured. My heart was pierced by all that we have here such as lasers, sedation, the benefits of the latest technology and even the simple things like clean water. I approached Don about a dental clinic at Egbe and this month I will have the joy of being a part of the opening.” Yolanda explained,.“I have been inspired by God’s word in Matthew 25 about how when we do anything for the least of these, we are doing it for him.”
Like so many of the projects, the construction of the dental clinic has been the result of passionate people drawn to the project and committed to its success. People like Edwin Chaparro of Apronto Dental in Fort Lauderdale. “I was selling some dental equipment on Craigslist when Dr. Cintron contacted me and explained about the project in Nigeria. I felt such an interest to help them. As they received donations, I was able to connect them to quality equipment. Don is very passionate and I have a good feeling knowing (my skills) will help the people of Africa. They had no experience so I have been able to give them information on things like running the plumbing and connecting the suction. They are miles from anywhere so I do it from here.”
In the midst of hosting the team, distributing the materials requested in a three-inch pile of emails on his desk and celebrating the dental clinic opening, Don will make time for another event. During the visit, the “Son of the Soil” as his African brothers term him, will be made a chief. Seems the perfect acknowledgment of how the hand of God has brought Don and his family back home to Egbe to continue their parents’ legacy both physical and spiritual.
For more on how you can be a part of the miracle unfolding in Egbe, go to EgbeHospital.org or contact Betsy Campion Smith at 905-718-2380 or Leslie at Banyan Air at 954-492-3551.
Anitra Parmele is a writer for Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. To contact her, email [email protected].