We caught up this week with Dr Kyle Sinclair who graduated in 2019 from the University of Cape Town and is presently doing his internship at Greys and Edendale hospitals in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa.
Kyle, great to connect again. Congratulations on your graduation. Did you always want to be a Doctor?
Hey Xav- the pleasure is always mine! Thanks for the congratulations- it certainly was a long but worthwhile journey getting to this point.
In terms of my desire to become a doctor – it really only surfaced when I was in grade 11 and had to decide what I wanted to do with my time once I left school. Up until that point, I hadn’t had the sudden realisation of what career I wanted to pursue, even though I think I was hoping things would pan out like that. So I prayed for clarity, guidance and direction and started thinking about what I enjoyed and was passionate about, and realised that my passion for serving people and my fascination with the human body meant that I might enjoy being a doctor one day.
Looking back now, my expectations of what studying and then working as a doctor would be like compared with what its actually like are entirely different things – and yet I’ve loved every moment of the journey so far, with all of its ups and downs. It really is so assuring to know that God is faithful to answer our prayers when we submit big decisions before Him and ask Him to lead and guide us.
As a doctor working in Provincial hospitals, you are on the front lines of ‘fighting’ the Covid-19 pandemic that has swept the world. Let me say we are all grateful for your courage and care. What are some of the personal challenges you’ve faced these past months?
This question has come up a lot recently, and its been interesting to think about the most honest answer. As a regular citizen – I think I’ve found the whole global lockdown saga quite surreal and have struggled with being physically cut off from socialising and being with my community, as I think millions of people around the world have as well.
As a doctor, with all of the hype and attention that has come from being a ‘frontline worker’ during this pandemic, I’ve found myself having to intentionally avoid just going with the narrative that the media has generated if it’s not true of my situation. I’m aware of how easy it now is to talk about how difficult the work environment is in over-crowded, resource-limited public hospitals when we’re risking our lives on a daily basis for the sake of our patients. While there is authentic truth in that view of a day in the life of a doctor in a state hospital, to insinuate that those realities have come as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic feels untrue of my experience.
If anything – lockdown eased the patient load in our hospitals for the first two weeks, and while we’re seeing that number pick up again now, I think doctors working in the public sector of South Africa are very resilient because before the pandemic the hospitals were over-crowded and resource-limited and the hours were long and we were risking our own health for the sake of our patients. And that’s frankly what we signed up for, and it’s a huge privilege to be able to fill that role in society. I know we haven’t experienced the same volume of patients yet as other countries have, and so my view may change when I’m in the middle of it, but I’m optimistic about our healthcare system – I think we’ll get through this pandemic. In tough situations, we somehow always do.
How has your faith as a Christian helped you to face these recent challenges?
The biggest thing I’ve been aware of is how incredible it is to know that our hope is not based on what we see happening around us or perceive may happen in the future. In the midst of pandemonium, global economic collapse, widespread fatality and the world as we know it changing completely seemingly overnight – God is still God. He is still faithful to meet us where we are and be with us in the midst of the chaos.
I’ve seen how friends and colleagues who put their faith and hope in other places become ravaged by anxiety and unrest as the illusion of the control of their lives becomes revealed for what it really is. Even though I don’t know what this pandemic will mean for my job, my health, my family, South Africa or the global economy and even though I don’t know when it will end or what more will change completely before it does or what “the new normal” may look like – I know that God will still be God through it all and that His grace is and always will be sufficient for me. And that has been a realisation that has been a source of deep peace for me in recent months.
This week we are celebrating Youth Day. What are some of the key issues young South Africans are dealing with today?
Every generation goes through the growing pains of finding their voice at some stage, and I think the same is true for us as the youth of South Africa in 2020. In many ways – we have had generations before us (such as those involved with the 1976 Soweto uprisings) pave the way to a much better South Africa than the one they were born into, and we really have come so far since then. But in many ways, it still feels like we have such a long way to go before we can stop fighting for and working towards a free and equal South Africa for all.
A specific issue that comes to mind is the mammoth task of finding and cultivating a sense of unity and togetherness when there are so many obvious lines of division that we could instead focus on between us. I think that my generation’s ability to navigate this space will have a significant impact on the trajectory of our country – so I’m really praying we lean in together.
What difference do you believe following Jesus can make as young people deal with these issues?
Being a follower of Jesus allows us to have a firm foundation from which to build towards the goal of unity and togetherness. Fundamentally, we know that each and every human being has been fearfully and wonderfully made by God and therefore bears an aspect of His image and has intrinsic worth and value. So we have a reason to love one another and to act in love towards one another that trumps any reason to act in a way that is contrary to the way of love.
I think in the current climate, it is also tempting to get sucked into the humanistic idea that views human beings as the epitome of knowledge and complexity in the universe and places the responsibility and pressure of firstly fully understanding the many complex problems that are around us ingrained in our society and secondly solving them effectively. When we try and fail at taking on this God-sized task, we can very easily spiral into disillusionment and apathy as we realise that the problems around us are too big, too deep and too complex for us to understand and solve in our own strength and ability.
But to remind ourselves that God is bigger than the brokenness around us and that His nature is to fashion order out of chaos as He establishes His Kingdom in us and through us, is to centre ourselves on hope that is independent of the circumstances around us. And when we accept the invitation of partnering with God to establish His Kingdom in and through us in the world around us, we accept the attached assurance of the significance and success of what we set our hands to in achieving its ultimate goal and bringing glory to God.
So as young people who follow Jesus, we have access to love that trumps all hate, to hope that trumps all fear and to peace that surpasses understanding, and that makes the world of difference as we deal with the issues we face.
Kyle, we got to know each other through Scripture Union’s ministry to the Independent Schools. What impact did SU have on your journey as a Christian and in what ways did it equip you to live out your faith in Jesus?
Ah man, where do I even start on this one- I could spend hours answering this question and still only scratch the surface!
I began my journey of faith on the SU summer camp at Emseni in December of 2013 and from then onwards, I always left camp a different person to how I arrived. I think the combination of amazing teaching, intentional discipleship, rich fellowship and beautiful nature was an incredible environment in which God was always so present and at work. To this day, I’m not sure if I’ve been in an environment where I’ve experienced myself and those around me undergo so much growth and development in such a fast-tracked way over a mere week or so. They were always incredible.
The friends that I made on those camps are still some of the closest and most treasured friendships I have – brothers and sisters who have walked the undulating journey of life with me and have celebrated with me in my victories and carried me through my lowest points. A conversation we have frequently when we’re together is how grateful we are that God revealed Himself so significantly to us in high school and how blessed we were to have had an organisation around us such as SU which is so intentional and effective at facilitating spaces for teenagers to have meaningful and impactful encounters with the person and presence of Jesus.
Over and above the camps were the ‘SCA Unity’ corporate gathering evenings and conferences, which were amazing moments of teaching and encouragement but also of fellowship with Christians from other schools in the area. God used SU to shape me and my group of friends from various different schools in a way that allowed us to navigate the difficult space that high school can be and to come out sure of our identities in Christ and excited to continue walking with Him into whatever the next season was for us.
As Christians we’re encouraged to grow in our relationship with Jesus. What regular practice has helped your spiritual formation?
The practice of silence and solitude has become one of the most fruitful parts of my daily rhythm over the last few years. Entering into the stillness of a moment in whatever place or season I may find myself in and allowing myself to stop and align myself with the awareness of God’s presence all around me has become a daily anchor. I think especially in today’s day and age – there is so much around us that can distract us from God’s presence in our daily routine – pausing to be still and know that He is God and allowing Him to meet me in that stillness has been a practice that has led to a lot of growth for me, and has been the entry point to many other spiritual practices that have paved my journey of becoming formed in the image of Christ.
In closing, share with us your hope for the future of South Africa.
Again – this is a topic I have spent years thinking and praying about. Today I’ll share some recent developments in the way I’m thinking about this and what I find myself praying for in light of the pandemic.
I think that trials and tribulation have an incredible way of bringing people together, and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the huge economic and social disruption and destruction that it has caused and will continue to cause to South Africa, my hope is that there will be a new sense of unity that is cultivated within our society. We have a long road ahead of us and I fear that the worst may still be coming in terms of the effect that the virus will have on us. But there are countless examples in history of societies that have banded together in the face of extreme adversity and tribulation and have come out on the other side more united, resilient and empowered than ever before. I’m praying that God would use this moment to bring us as a nation together to fight the battles that lie on the horizon together.
Kyle, thanks for taking the time out from your demanding schedule. We continue to uplift you and all our health practitioners in prayer.
Thanks, Xav! Grace and peace to you.