Serving through medicine, missions and mentoring

Serving through medicine, missions and mentoring

Northwest Nazarene University
Jul 11, 2016

As the university’s vision statement proclaims, “[NNU] seeks a more excellent way, to be a transformative learning community expressing the love of Jesus by forming scholars, nurturing disciples, serving the Church, shaping the culture, redeeming the world.” Dr. Daniel Benedick embodies this vision in his work as a family physician, residency faculty member, and missionary.

Coming to NNU in 1997, Benedick was not new to the community—his parents were alumni, he had gone to many campus events, and he had friends and family attending. Although he explored other universities, he found that NNU was the best fit for him.

“When I was there, it felt like home,” Benedick explained. “Spiritually, I felt the environment would really be conducive to growth. Academically, with medical school as my goal, I was excited to have the opportunity for small classes, great mentors and a strong science program. Financially, NNU worked hard to make NNU work for me.”

“God knew I would need that amazing foundation—the biblical foundation, the foundation of worship, the foundation of prayer—that I received at NNU...”

Benedick capitalized on the opportunities presented at NNU. He conducted research in the science department with Dr. Chris Kapicka, utilized the small classes to be challenged academically, earned the title “Spiritual Captain” while competing on the baseball team, developed mentorships with professors such as Dr. Dan Nogales, and immersed himself in the NNU community. “I liked the community aspect of NNU,” adds Benedick. “People at NNU work hard to make a tight-knit community by supporting each other and having the same goal of serving God.”

After graduating from NNU in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Benedick spent three months in Rwanda doing medical mission work. Although he had been on mission trips to Mexico, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela prior, the poverty, disease and death in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide was staggering.

“I learned to lean on the Lord like I never had before,” said Benedick. “God knew I would need that amazing foundation—the biblical foundation, the foundation of worship, the foundation of prayer—that I received at NNU to be able to get through those hard times. Spiritually, I was in the right place after NNU to be able to weather that storm.”

Returning to the United States in 2002, Benedick married Kristina Roth, whom he had met at NNU, and continued his education at Loma Linda University School of Medicine. Kristina would prove to be just the lifelong partner and encourager that he would need during all their adventures, and she used her NNU degree to support the family as an elementary school teacher during his years at medical school. After graduating with a MD in 2006, Benedick and his family then moved to Idaho to complete a residency with Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, which he finished in 2009.

Later that year, called to the mission field and supported by World Medical Mission and Project MedSent, the Benedicks and their children moved to Ecuador. For two years, Benedick worked in a rural mission hospital serving as a family physician and a mentor for medical students there. “The lack of high-powered technology and specialists fostered a deeper reliance on God,” explained Benedick. “I couldn’t rely on my own strength, so I had to lean on God the entire time. In the process, I saw God work miracles.”

In 2011, Benedick moved to Ridgefield, Washington where he works as a family physician at Family Medicine of Southwest Washington and as a clinical instructor for the University of Washington Department of Family Medicine. As a clinical instructor, Benedick supervises family medicine residents, which gives him the privilege of mentoring upcoming physicians.

“I can only see so many patients,” commented Benedick. “But by teaching and mentoring, I am able to impact many more people through my students. As I mentor the resident physicians, I really enjoy sharing a Christian perspective on difficult topics, such as physician-assisted suicide, abortion, and the importance of serving the poor in love.”

In addition to impacting his patients and his residents, Benedick continues his impact in missions locally and internationally. Locally, Benedick serves on the church board of Ridgefield Church of the Nazarene, hosts Bible studies, teaches Spanish class for their church's Spanish ministries and teaches kindergarten Sunday school with Kristina. He also volunteered with “Operation Heal Our Patriots,” which took place in Alaska.

Internationally, Benedick has traveled to Papua New Guinea as a medical missionary and is co-leading an effort by the Ridgefield church to partner with a Nazarene church in Guatemala. This ongoing partnership has led to improved facilities for a child development center, donated computers for school work, and showing of the Jesus Film.

Even though he is busy at the hospital and elsewhere, Benedick’s most important priority is his family. Benedicks remarked, “Serving the Lord as a family and raising our kids to know the joy of being disciples of Jesus—that is my dream come true.” It is a dream that he hopes will one day lead his children back to Nampa to attend NNU.

Using his work in family medicine, missions and mentoring as a platform for Christ, Dr. Daniel Benedick has embodied the University’s vision. For his commitment to serving God in everything, the university is proud to name Dr. Daniel Benedick as the 2016 Leon Doane Young Alumnus.