During his undergraduate years at Atlantic Union College, Dr. Nelson spent a mission year in Mexico assisting Maurice K. Butler ’52. There he glimpsed the life of a mission doctor. Upon completing medical school and a rotating internship at Washington Adventist Hospital, he was eager to serve overseas once again.
Dr. Nelson became a Trans-Africa Division appointed relief physician. As such, he was on call to fill in wherever and whenever needed within the division. From 1969 to 1984 he and his family moved nine times within Africa, serving in five different countries. He arrived at hospitals in times of great need and disorder. His position required him to step in and restore a sense of normalcy and functionality until called elsewhere or until a more permanent physician could take his place.
Today, Dr. Nelson strives to help end dangerous cultural traditions that threaten the bodily health of young women in Western Kenya. He recently published a book illuminating the issue, and he plans to return to Africa as soon as the pandemic permits.