Back to All Stories

Meet Dr. Joy Tica, Filipino Medical Missionary

April 2, 2024 |  By Justin Cober-Lake

A couple of weeks ago Dr. Joy Tica, a Filipino medical missionary in the Philippines, explained some of the rewards and challenges of medical missions. She also shared her own story with us, revealing how the hand of God led her to the work she does today and how she overcame obstacles that should have prevented her from fulfilling her hopes.

Joy’s childhood prepared her for what was to come. She grew up as a pastor’s kid, one of seven, and she was “obligated to do the ministry.” If it was a chore for a child, she grew “to appreciate it, because if not for that, then I would not be here right now.” During that time she learned how to teach children and better communicate with people, skills that would serve her well later in life.

Discovering the call to medical missions

All of Joy’s siblings went to a seminary to receive a “doctrinal foundation,” which was a family expectation. Joy expected to finish her education there, but then an opportunity arose. Her mother, who as a teenager herself had worked at an orphanage for children of leprous parents, discovered a scholarship for a nursing school in Manila. Joy got into the program, but just as she seemed to have set a new course, she hit a roadblock. Bad grades in theology and algebra cost her her scholarship, and the family couldn’t afford for her to go to nursing school without it.

“My mom stepped in and said, ‘You’re going to school,’” Joy explained.

It took work, though, as it always had for a struggling family. This was an era where the family had to sell ice candy or clothes to make ends meet. Sometimes they would simply have rice and sugar or bananas for dinner. Young Joy questioned why they had to live that way, but now she realizes it was “God’s way to prepare me … because I understand the people that we’re serving much better because I was there once in my life.”

Joy was able to finish nursing school, and as a student she volunteered with the International Christian Outreach and Relief Group (INCOR) and saw the region’s need for doctors in places where often only nurses could visit. At that time, she said, “Lord, I want to be a medical doctor. Send me to medical school.” Going to medical school, of course, wasn’t feasible. Another roadblock seemed to be in place.

A path to the mission fiel

While in nursing school, Joy was caring for her ill uncle. INCOR founder Charles Strouss came to visit Joy’s uncle in the Philippines, and Dr. Strouss caught the flu. Joy took care of him for a few days and talked about her dream of becoming a doctor. Dr. Strouss recovered and returned to his home in the US and that was that.

At least it was until a few weeks later when Joy received a letter from Ms. Fernella Strouss, thanking Joy for taking care of her husband. She also said she knew that Joy had wanted to be a doctor. Mrs. Strouss offered to pay for medical school.

From that moment, Joy could go to medical school and always had the money she needed for it. Mrs. Strouss later said that Joy was one of the “jewels in her crown.” It’s a lovely story, but a mystery lingers: why would Mrs. Strouss show this generosity to someone she barely knew?

Mrs. Strouss was a scholar for medical company Bausch & Lomb, and Joy believes she was glad to have the opportunity to help another young woman advance in her medical career.

“And since then,” Joy says, “I encourage my classmates who are waiting [on] medical school because they don’t have money. I tell them my story. I don’t have money, but God sends people just to bless us because He knows the desire of our heart.”

Working hard, trusting God

Now Joy works where God has called and equipped her to serve, traveling to underserved and sometimes dangerous areas in the Philippines. She brings both medical care and the Gospel message to those in need.

“There are times that I get tired, physically, traveling,” she said. “But when I think of people waiting for us to receive the medical care, it just keeps me going.”

She continues to share her faith, knowing that she can’t always see the results, but that she can trust in God and give thanks.

“We have one mission, and that is to share the Gospel and tell [people of] the love of God and that they need to have a relationship with Him,” Joy said.

She keeps doing just that. And all the while she sees God’s provision in the process. When she struggles or hits a financial difficulty, she knows just what to look for.

“You just see God’s hand working,” she said.

Will you pray for missionaries like Joy? Download “7 Days of Prayer for Missionaries” today.