‘MacGyver guys’ needed for ‘extreme makeover’
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
May 19, 2011

‘MacGyver guys’ needed for ‘extreme makeover’

‘MacGyver guys’ needed for ‘extreme makeover’
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
May 19, 2011


— Rick Sykes needs a few dozen “MacGyver guys” for a life-changing “extreme

makeover” adventure that will make an eternal difference for thousands of



The project Sykes has in his sights is rehabbing Sanyati

Baptist Hospital

in Zimbabwe, a

60-year-old icon of Southern Baptist overseas work that has fallen into serious

disrepair as that country’s economy has collapsed.

When Sykes, a member of Pleasant Heights Baptist Church in Columbia, Tenn.,

first visited Sanyati in 2009, he was distressed at what he saw: a completely

broken water system, leaking roofs, rotting fascia, termite damage, electrical

malfunctions — and a set of auto headlights hanging from the ceiling of an

operating room.

The hospital’s electrical supply was so unreliable that staff had installed the

headlights and a battery in an operating room to be sure doctors weren’t

plunged into the dark in the middle of surgery.

BGR photo

Two auto headlights provide emergency lighting in Sanyati Baptist Hospital’s operating room because the electrical supply is so unreliable. A Baptist layman has initiated an “extreme makeover” for the 60-year-old facility in Zimbabwe.

The situation was intolerable for Sykes, a retired maintenance project leader

for General Motors.

Sykes was at Sanyati to help with the hospital’s water problem — the compound’s

wells and pumps weren’t working, but he quickly saw a host of other maintenance


“In the two weeks I spent there, the electricity was on maybe 30 percent of the

time,” Sykes said. “When you go in the operating room and they have two car

headlights mounted in the ceiling and a battery over in the corner, you know

there’s a problem.”

A couple of days into Sykes’ two-week stay at Sanyati, a thunderstorm knocked

out power in half the compound.

“My son is an electrician and we are fixers, so we started

digging around and found the problem. Since you couldn’t cut the power off, he

rewired it hot and got the lights on for the whole rest of the compound,” Sykes

said. “After that, we had people from all over coming and saying to us, ‘This

is broken. Can you look at this?’

“When Dr. (Mark) Byler showed us through the hospital, it just started breaking

our hearts — all these people there and the dilapidated condition of the

hospital,” Sykes said. “The hospital is so remote, and it’s the only real

medical care these people can get in a very large radius.

“That was when the wheels started turning. We did some brainstorming and talked

with Mark Hatfield and Dr. Byler,” Sykes said. “Somewhere in the midst of all

that, this concept was birthed of an ‘extreme makeover’ for Sanyati

Baptist Hospital.”

Sanyati Baptist Hospital, under the leadership of Mark Byler, a physician from

Kansas City, Mo., treats an average of 35,000 outpatients and 1,800 inpatients

a year, said Mark Hatfield, who with his wife, Susan, directs work in

Sub-Sahara Africa for Baptist Global Response, the international relief and

development organization coordinating the makeover project. The staff performs

about 1,000 surgeries and delivers more than 2,000 babies each year. Southern

Baptist missionary physician Archie G. Dunaway Jr. was killed at Sanyati in

1978 by guerrillas fighting against the government of what was then Rhodesia.

“The five-year plan for the ‘extreme makeover’ project intends to restore the

hospital facilities to a state where they can be locally maintained,” Hatfield

said. “God has used Sanyati Baptist

Hospital to meet both physical and

spiritual needs for 60 years. Its ministry extends far beyond the 100,000 or so

residents who look to the hospital for medical care. Sanyati is a symbol for

the whole country of Christ’s loving compassion for the sick and hurting and I

don’t think God is finished with Sanyati

Baptist Hospital


BGR photo

Two-year-old Shantalle was brought into Sanyati Baptist Hospital in Zimbabwe weighing less than seven pounds. She was diagnosed with malaria and HIV/AIDS — one of thousands of patients treated each year at a hospital where a Baptist layman is launched an “extreme makeover.”

In 1981, the government assumed control of the facility, but economic issues

have prevented it from being properly maintained.

“Even if the hospital is owned by the government now, the

sign out front says ‘Baptist,’” Sykes said. “What kind of impression is that


A dozen teams a year will be enlisted over the course of the project, Sykes


“There’s something here for everybody to do. It’s way bigger than one church,”

Sykes said. “The biggest challenge and prayer concern is that we really need a

project coordinator on site. I’m heartbroken we don’t have someone there.”

The Sanyati extreme makeover could be “a perfect place for Sunday School

classes, churches, associations or state convention groups like Baptist

Builders and the disaster relief network to become involved in something much

bigger than they could take on alone,” Hatfield said. “But together with other

churches and groups, they can be part of something very significant in Kingdom


“It will take a united effort by groups who don’t even know each other — and

may never see each other face to face — in order to complete the five-year

project,” Hatfield said. “We are trusting God to provide the volunteer teams

and the financial resources needed to complete this project. We have stepped

out in faith that God will call out those who He desires to work on this

project, both those who will come and those who will give.”

The Sanyati project offers men like the “MacGyver” TV character — who could rig

up practically anything with whatever he found at hand — a great opportunity to

get involved in a major overseas project, Sykes said.

“All over the world, we’ve got ‘MacGyver’ guys sitting in pews, who want to

make a difference but don’t know what they can do,” Sykes said. “They’re

saying, ‘Someday, somewhere, I want to get involved,’ but red lights down the road

keep them from volunteering.

“Guys, we need your skill and want you to charge up this mountain with us,”

Sykes said. “This is your ‘somewhere,’ right now. You can’t wait until all the

traffic lights are green before you leave the house.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is an assistant editor and senior writer for Baptist

Press. For more information about the Sanyati Extreme Makeover project, visit www.sanyatimakeover.com.

Individuals or groups interested in participating may e-mail Peter Sierson at [email protected].)

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