by Cesca Janece Waterfield
Dr. Peprah-Gyamfi is the author of several books including the autobiography, The Call That Changed My Life.
Before the Ghana soccer team met the U.S. last week in the World Cup, their victory seemed unlikely to some. But as they celebrated after the match, triumph looked like tenacity meeting providence.
Born in a tiny village in Ghana, physician, author and inspirational speaker Dr. Robert Peprah-Gyamfi knows about slim chances and perseverance. In spite of a serious illness that occasionally made walking impossible, as a child, he travelled on foot four miles a day to attend school and raised his own money for high school. He eventually earned his degree from Hanover Medical School in Germany. Next week, he’ll be a guest on 700 Club, the Virginia-based Christian TV show. Robert wants to inspire anyone who feels hopeless. He has seen deep despair. But more importantly, he says, he’s witnessed remarkable transformation.
“In the town where I was born, there was no electricity and no water,” Robert remembers. “There was no school also.”
The nearest school was two miles away, in the next village. Older children cared for the younger ones during the long walk. “When we came back from school, we had to help our parents get food,” he says. “It was hot soil. We had to walk on the bare ground. We had no shoes.”
School was the highlight of the boy’s life. “At that time, if you were late, you would get punishment,” he says. “Apart from that, I enjoyed school.”
But when he was about to enter middle school, his left ankle swelled up. “Eventually, it was so painful that I couldn’t go to school,” he remembers. “My parents were very poor. They could not send the money to get me to hospital.”
When his condition hadn’t improved six months later, his parents borrowed money from a neighbor to take him to the hospital. “I thought that was the end of me,” he says. “It took me two years to get better again, before I got back to school. But I was able to resume my education and I did well. I got admission to a [high school] which was about 100 miles from home. I came home for holidays.”
For five years, he attended high school and set attending medical school as his goal. “I knew that God was in existence in my life because [I was overcoming] the problems all around me.” He had faith, but he wasn’t an Evangelist.
A friend’s sister was about to change that.
A Defining Declaration
While visiting her brother, the young woman talked to Robert about her Christian faith. “Her testimony was so powerful that I joined that church,” Robert says. “I didn’t have any idea [where] to go. I was just going to stay in Ghana. But it was very difficult because there were only two universities in Ghana. So I feared I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to medical school.”
While working in Nigeria, he met a German citizen who said he would have more opportunity to attend medical school in Germany. So he moved and quickly found a home church. “God was so good to me,” he says.
But that winter, his ankle ailment returned and he was hospitalized for nearly six months. His dream of medical school seemed more distant than ever.
He eventually recovered and applied to Hanover Medical School, where he graduated in 1992. “It is only by God’s grace that I am what I am,” he says.
Not surprisingly, Dr. Peprah-Gyamfi credits God with meeting his wife Rita. Originally from Ghana, she was on vacation in Hanover when they met. “We were on the same commuter train,” he says. They were married before he finished medical school and today have three children. Three years ago, the family moved to the United Kingdom. Although his mother died in 1994, his father still lives in Ghana and is nearly 90 years old.
“The Lord called me from my little village and led me to medical school in Germany,” Dr. Peprah-Gyamfi says. “As a doctor, I am only amazed at the body. The organs are proof of God.”
His message, he says, is hope: “You don’t have to give up your life,” he says. “A lot of people give up too early.”