Gem in the Jungle

Deep in the jungle of southern Gabon, a Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) mission station was established in 1935 when Don and Dorothy Fairley responded to a call from God to evangelize the pagan pygmy tribes along the banks of the Louetsi river and the powerful Bongolo Falls.

On land gifted by the local tribal chief, what began as a mission station that included a church, school and infirmary, grew into a hospital with the arrival of Dr. David Thompson and two nurses in 1977: David’s wife Becki and Carolyn Thorson.

Soon, realizing the paucity of trained medical personal in the country, Becki and Carolyn started a nursing school in the 1980s.

With further growth of the hospital and the need for more surgical help, in 1996 Dr. Thompson cofounded a 5 year, U.S. credentialed Christian surgical residency at Bongolo Hospital to train and disciple young African physicians to become surgeons and Christian leaders in Gabon and throughout Africa.

The 2000s have seen the addition of an Ophthalmology residency and an Anesthesia training program at the hospital. The current hospital vision includes adding a family practice residency program in the not too distant future.

Today the 158-bed hospital and numerous outpatient clinics serves over 40,000 patients each year.

Each person who receives medical care is told the Gospel message and over the years thousands have come to Christ through this healing ministry.

What began as a small mission outpost is today a thriving hospital serving approximately a third of the population of Gabon.

The surgical training program started at Bongolo Hospital has become the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) that now has surgical residency training in 17 sites throughout Africa with currently 117 graduate surgeons ministering and delivering care in 21 different African countries.

The hospital, and grounds, originally owned by the C&MA USA was turned over to the Gabonese C&MA church in 2016.

The hospital receives some funding for services rendered from a Gabonese government insurance program, but the operating and building expenses cannot be met without significant charitable contributions.

For this reason the 501c3, Bongolo Friends, was established as a foundation in 2020 to raise an endowment to provide ongoing support to this innovative and productive “gem in the jungle” for years and decades to come.

Dr. William (Bill) Wilson