Ever since he was 7 years old, Joey has wanted to be a missionary doctor to the Congo. God used the exciting tales of wild animals, saving lives, and other adventures in the jungle as told by veteran missionaries Gene & Sandy Thomas to capture this young boys heart.
Joe went on to take Biology at Houghton College, then entered medical school at Tulane University in New Orleans where he completed an M.D., Masters in Public Health & Tropical Medicine joint-degree program in 1992, and finished Family Practice Residency at Saint Vincent Health Center in Erie, Pennsylvania, in June, 1995.
Becky also gave her life to Jesus Christ as a child and grew up in a Christian home. She was receptive to missions, but didnt sense a specific call...until she met Joe at Houghton. She graduated with a degree in English & Psychology, married Joe in June of 1989, and then completed an R.N. degree at L.S.U. in New Orleans. Olivia, Claire, Isabelle and Noah have taken much of her attention since then!
The Harveys were serving in the capital city, Brazzaville, while learning the French language. In the Spring of 1997, they were forced to leave the country due to civil war. They returned to the US for the remainder of that year. It was during this time when God confirmed in Joes heart the vision of returning to Congo to start that countrys first-ever Christian Hospital.
In January 1998, the Harveys moved to Vanga, Democratic Republic of Congo for two months, where Joe worked at the Evangelical Hospital of Vanga. After returning to the US and working in an Emergency Room there for much of 1998, Joe and the family went to Gabon in November, working for 8 months in a Christian Hospital in Bongolo. In August 1999, God opened the door for them to return once again to the Republic of Congo, in the city of Impfondo.
The Harveys worked in Impfondo with nurse Sarah Speer re-open a health clinic that had been closed for over 5 years. They celebrated the grand opening of the clinic in January of 2000. In two years time, the clinic saw 10,000 patients!
While working at the clinic in Impfondo and continually seeking God about starting a Christian hospital, Joe went one day to a wedding reception that some frends held at an abandoned communist youth camp. The camp had been built about ten years earlier by communists to indoctrinate the areas youth in communist and marxist philosophies. But the 1990s brought wars and changes in the Congos government, so the camp never got used once it had been built. Joe looked around the site, saw how structurally sound its 29 buildings were, and immediately envisioned what the camp would look like if God were to open the way for His people to transform it into a Christian hospital. Joe began regularly visiting this site, about 3 miles from his home, and walking around its fence, praying specifically (according to Matthew 16:18) against the spiritual gates that Satan had established around it, that God would open the way for the missionaries to build a hospital there.
One day, as Joe went to pray outside the camp, he found that the large, steel gates in the wall of the camp had been removed! Apparently some fishermen had taken them off and used their long rods with sharp spear-like tops as new fishing spears. Encouraged by this rather tangible answer to prayer, Joe approached the governer about using the camp. The governor said the camp was national property, so Joe would have to ask the president about using the camp. A few months later, when the president and his wife came for a visit to Impfondo, Joe was able to have a meeting with the presidents wife. As it turned out, Mrs. Sassou-Nguesso had personally overseen the construction of that camp ten years earlier! She had since become a follower of Jesus Christ, and was delighted at the idea of the camp becoming a Christian hospital!
With Mrs. Sassou-Nguessos help, Joe was able to meet with her husband in Brazzaville a short time later. President Sassou-Nguesso gladly told Joe he could have the camp, and told his cabinet that they were to do everything they could to help Dr. Harvey get that hospital started. God indeed answers prayer!
The Harveys came back to the USA for a 1 year furlough from 2001 to 2002. They went to dozens of churches, sharing the news of what God had been doing in Congo, and asking people to pray, donate money and equipment, and especially to come join them in Congo. Joe collected 13 tons of donated equipment and in August, 2002 sent it by boat from New York in a 40-foot shipping container. The Harveys returned to Congo in late August and two months later received the equipment in Impfondo.
The hospital construction phase is now underway. One 6-man work team came to Congo in October, 2002 and more are expected to come soon. One long-term missionary, Andrea Schneider, has joined them in Impfondo and more are due to arrive in the coming months. God is pulling together the team, the equipment, the local Christians, the finances, the relationships with the government, and most importantly the prayer to make the vision become a reality over the next few years.
That vision is to bring the hope and healing of Jesus Christ to the people of Congo, as each person who visits the hospital for healing is provided with excellent medical care and more--much more: the Gospel invitation of eternal healing, eternal hope and eternal life with Jesus Christ.
Last updated: November 2002
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