By Katie Eubanks Ginn
Growing up in a single-parent household in Columbus, Mississippi, the future Dr. Farrah Newman spent a good amount of time alone. Her mother worked full-time while attending classes at night.
Getting on and off the school bus each day, Farrah saw a church at the corner of her neighborhood. “I just felt drawn to go,” she recalls. “I didn’t know a single soul there.”
At 13, Farrah walked through the doors by herself on a Sunday morning — and instead of being peppered with questions, she was met with love. She couldn’t tell you the name of that church today, but she knows she heard the gospel for the first time there. She remembers giving her heart to Jesus.
“I remember being in a little circle holding hands (in Sunday school) and being so overwhelmed that I wasn’t fatherless,” she recalls. “I knew I had the best Father ever.”
In that moment, she whispered to God, “I am Yours.”
As a teen, Farrah was active in the youth group at another church, Wesley United Methodist in Columbus, and several adults poured into her, including her grandfather, who escorted her on homecoming court.
But besides Jesus and her grandfather, she never had a close relationship with a man who was faithful.
She wouldn’t meet the next faithful man until med school.
Kenya, party of 6
At The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson, Farrah knew she wanted two things: a flexible schedule if she was able to be a mom, and continuity of care.
“I wanted to get to know my patients and treat them for a lifetime,” she says. Ophthalmology fit the bill.
While on an ophthalmology rotation at the VA Medical Center in Jackson, she met a fellow medical student from New Orleans. A mutual friend introduced Farrah to Troy Newman, and a year and a half later they were married.
After having three sons — followed by years of devastating “almost” adoptions and a miscarriage, during which they had to trust God like never before — Farrah became pregnant with their daughter. Then God called the couple to an even bigger leap of faith.
While trying to adopt, Troy and Farrah had gone on short-term mission trips and desired more and more to share Christ overseas. So when Troy told Farrah he felt God calling them to serve somewhere long term, she said, “I couldn’t imagine us doing anything different.”
They gave up 17 acres of land for which they had a contract; Troy gave up the ophthalmology practice where he’d become a partner; and they took all four children to Bomet, Kenya, where they served in ophthalmology at Tenwek Hospital for two years.
“When we left (for Kenya) in 2016, our boys were 10, 8 and 4, and our little girl was 6 months old,” Farrah says.
“I really feel like we would’ve thrown in the towel in the first three months if we hadn’t had precious, precious Kenyans who loved us so well and would come into our home and teach us how to live.”
But the lifestyle change wasn’t the hardest part, Farrah says. They collected water in a rain tank, bought eggs from a neighbor, grew produce in the yard. Tough, but doable.
“(The hardest part) was watching the people you love suffer. Because these were our friends, our neighbors. These were the ladies in my women’s Bible study.”
While the Newmans could perform a cataract surgery that would free up a patient to make a living — and this was certainly considered miraculous — the Newmans weren’t Jesus, and they couldn’t fix every problem.
However, “the believers we went to church with (in Kenya) suffered so well,” Farrah says. “(Their mindset was) God is going to provide today … And if it doesn’t look like abundance, or if it’s nothing for today, that doesn’t mean God’s not real.
“I went over there as a missionary, to share my faith, and then I am inundated and overwhelmed by the faith of the people I went to serve.”
‘It’s a different hard’
Five years after returning to America in 2018, the Newmans have all the bottled water and grocery stores they could ask for. Now Farrah is dealing with more familiar, first-world stressors.
“It was hard to live in Kenya,” she says. “It’s a different hard (here).”
The Newman kids range from second to 12th grade. They participate in everything from gymnastics and ballet to baseball and swim meets.
“We have times when we miss (church), but (we have) a lot of intentionality in fighting for (being at church),” Farrah says. “We need community with other believers. (We want our kids) to have mentors outside of mom and dad.”
Farrah and Troy are still on the journey and figuring it all out, “seeing where we’ve made some decisions that weren’t the best for our family,” she says. But at the end of the day, she wants to make sure her kids hear truth from fellow believers.
“Another thing (that) I hold onto a lot more tightly now is praying for my kids. It doesn’t hit you till they get closer to that senior year — your period of influence ends. You hope they’ll come to you for advice, but it’s different,” she says.
“One of the greatest things I can do for my children that I believe the Lord will be faithful over is to be in prayer for them.”
As a working mom, Farrah doesn’t have gobs of time to spend with a prayer journal and a mug of coffee every morning.
“What I’ve had to adapt to is (praying) wherever I am. If I made it to where it had to look a certain way, I wouldn’t have any time with the Lord,” she says. “And listening to (Christian) podcasts, or listening to the Bible on audio, I can do that as I’m driving to carpool.”
In other words, moms: Give yourself some grace.
“I tell my children this and I have to tell myself this, that God loves us anyway. If we could ever be good enough on our own, then we wouldn’t need Jesus.”