back to top

A New Mission For Parsons – Serving In Africa

A family brings their dehydrated baby for treatment at a health outpost in rural Ethiopia. It's customary in Ethiopia to withhold giving a child a name until he or she reaches the age of 5, as the infant mortality rate is so high.

Elizabeth Parsons may be known better in these parts as an editor and writer for several local publications, but recently she has embarked on a new journey that will soon take her to Ethiopia.  Parsons is the first employee at Kissito Healthcare International, a sister company to Kissito Healthcare, located near Valley View Mall.  The non-profit Kissito manages nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities in Virginia, Texas and Arizona.  The closest facility is in Fincastle.

Parsons will be heading to Ethiopia in Northern Africa just after Labor Day, where Kissito Healthcare International is building a 40,000 square foot hospital that she said will “touch literally thousands of lives and deliver care to one of this country’s most remote regions.” A lack of health care contributes to an average life expectancy of just 47 years in Ethiopia, according to Parsons, who majored in cultural anthropology at Mary Washington University.

Mission work that Kissito employees had been doing for years led to the formation of the international branch. “They wanted to make it into a separate company,” said Parsons, who has the title of programs director. Local labor will be used in Ethiopia and Parsons speaks to the area director there every day. Materials that have been stored at CEO Tom Clark’s farm in Buchanan will be shipped from here by boat.  (Donations for the project are still being accepted at

Elizabeth Parsons

Parsons estimates that it will cost less than one million dollars to erect the facility. Well known televangelist Morris Cerullo has been the principal donor and the hospital will bear his name. “He’s pretty committed,” said Parsons, noting that Kissito International itself is a secular organization.

A teaching hospital and university is part of the project’s Phase Two and over a period of ten years the Ethiopians will assume complete control from Kissito’s oversight.  “The first [group] of staff will be Kissito folks,” said Parsons, who has also done mission work in Ecuador and project management elsewhere.

Earlier this year she was in Haiti after the major earthquake.  Kissito has a micro project in the works there, focusing on geriatric medicine and training local health care providers. “It’s a civilization in ruins,” she said of the Caribbean nation.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” noted Parsons, who speaks Spanish and calls herself “widely traveled.” Her mother grew up in Japan; a brother lives in Spain and her stepbrother resides in Kenya, so having a wide worldview is not new. “It’s sort of been ingrained in my psyche.”

A relationship that Cerullo had with a late Denver businessman who built churches in Ethiopia led to the concept of a hospital.  “We want to deliver healthcare… and alleviate suffering,” said Parsons, who called it a pilot project that could lead to similar facilities in Uganda and elsewhere.

Parsons encourages people to follow the project on Kissito’s Twitter and Facebook pages, where she will put her journalistic skills to good use. The company website also has a news page that she will update. Parsons will be in Africa from September 8-22. A 14-hour car ride from the airport in Ethiopia (after a 14 hour flight) will finally bring her to the hospital site. “This is my very first time in Africa … it’s a dream come true.”

By Gene Marrano
[email protected]

Latest Articles


  1. Wow, good for Elizabeth! She’s a wonderful writer and a wonderful person, so I’m sure a lot of people (including me) wish her the best. Is there any way we folks “back home” can give her our support as she undertakes this amazing project?

  2. We just wanted to note that the “late Denver businessman” was Dr. Charles Blair of the Blair Foundation. Dr. Blair served as Senior Pastor of Calvary Temple, Denver, CO for over 50 years.

    Dr. Blair was first invited to Ethiopia in 1990, following the fall of Communism, to help evangelical Christians as they transitioned out of their previous persecuted underground activity. From 1990 until shortly before his death in 2009, Dr. Blair traveled twice annually to Ethiopia, holding training sessions for church leaders and congregations, and to sponsor wide-scale humanitarian efforts. In addition, Dr. Blair raised funds to sponsor native evangelical Ethiopian missionaries who planted over 2000 churches in villages throughout the country. Those churches today have over 60,000 adult congregants attending weekly.

    Dr. Blair’s final vision was to find sponsors to build a full-service hospital that would provide both preventive and acute care for the people in the Benishangul-Gumuz region he had grown to love so much. His years of friendship and co-ministry with Dr. Morris Cerullo, and a newfound friendship with Tom Clarke are leading to the fulfillment of this final dream.

    On behalf of the Blair Foundation and family, we want to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Dr. Cerullo, Tom Clarke, and the many people at Kissito Heathcare who are helping to facilitate the ongoing ministry of the Blair Foundation in Ethiopia.

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Related Articles