Where the Lord Leads

Thankful for blessings, the Dearings strive to serve and bless others.

By Dianna Troyer

Photos courtesy of Paul and Roopa Dearing

Paul Dearing takes a photo with a patient in Cambodia.

Dr. Paul and Roopa “Ruth” Dearing have a heart for using their skills to touch the world while working throughout the West and volunteering with international medical teams.

Paul, 67, a general surgeon, began practicing in Burley in 1990. Roopa, 64, is a registered nurse by training, although she has not worked as a nurse for many years.

Members of Grace Community Church in Rupert, they say a Bible verse has motivated and guided them while serving those in need during their 41-year marriage.

“Look at a world map,” Paul says. “Throw a dart. Anywhere it lands, there is need. Psalms 12:5 has been a great motivation for us to partner with the Lord in this.”

The verse refers to God providing safety for the poor and the needy who groan from suffering.

Through their volunteer experiences, the Dearings encourage others to help the poor and needy.

“Take the risk and volunteer in some capacity that takes you outside your comfort zone—near or far—and experience the challenges and joys that brings,” Paul says. “It will make you thankful for what you have—as little else can.”

Recalling medical trips overseas, Roopa says, “We never tire of seeing the creativity of the Lord as we interface with people in other nations. We appreciate and enjoy visiting and serving other cultures; yet, it is always wonderful to come home.” She lists daily conveniences that are often taken for granted.

“We have so much to be thankful for here: three meals a day, access to basic medical care, our faith, health, potable, running water. It is all a huge blessing. We are a blessed people.”

The Dearings visit children at an orphanage.

The Dearings began volunteering internationally in 1999, during the years of Paul’s private practice in Burley. In 2005, he accepted an opportunity to practice in Wyoming. Wanting to work as a fill-in physician, in 2008 he began working part time, initially in Wyoming at the same hospital and later at smaller hospitals in South Dakota, Colorado, North Dakota and Idaho, predominantly in Burley.

“With our love of Idaho’s mountains, great weather and friends, we returned in 2017 and settled in Heyburn,” Roopa says.

Although they have not traveled abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dearings have vivid, fond memories of participating on medical teams in Gambia, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.

In India, the country of Roopa’s heritage, a large part of their volunteering has been delivering large quantities of donated medical supplies.

People often tell her they feel inadequate to volunteer, Roopa says.

“They tell me they lack the necessary skills—meaning medical skills, usually—to go with a medical team,” she says. “My return question is, ‘Can you walk and lead a group of people from one place to another?’ My point is that it takes a great deal of love expressed in all ways for a team to work together to serve others well.”

Paul and Roopa Dearing say they are compelled to help the poor, so they donate to orphanages in India and have volunteered with international medical teams.

On some medical team trips, a few patients occasionally need more advanced treatment than the team can provide in a remote setting. In such cases, Roopa says, they raise money from team members and make arrangements for a local, trusted person to take the patient to a hospital.

Large medical team trips are not the only venue through which the Dearings have touched lives. A friend introduced them to a Boise-based charity, Fiftytwo.4, which hosts an annual autumn fundraiser to benefit orphanages in India.

The nonprofit’s name refers to 52.4 miles—the combined distance of 4 half-marathons. Every fall, participants run or walk 4 half-marathons in 4 weekends, receiving donations for their efforts.

The Dearings donated money before they began participating in 2019.

“Paul supports me in every way possible—training with me, carrying resuscitative fluids and financially,” says Roopa, who walks and raises money. “Depending on his work schedule, he also walks the events with me. Together, we gladly walk the 52.4 miles of love, grateful we are able to do so for our children in India.”

Roopa cares for a patient in Cambodia.

Since its inception in 2007, the volunteer organization has raised more than $1.3 million to support orphanages in India that care for children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. Every penny raised goes to India.

“In India, especially in the rural areas, there is a huge stigma surrounding HIV/ AIDS,” Roopa says. “Some children have lost one or both parents to the disease, and/or are infected themselves and are often treated as outcasts.”

Having visited 2 of several orphanages in India that benefit from the donations raised by Fiftytwo.4, the Dearings say the children are in a loving environment. Funds are used to provide for medical and educational needs, nutritious food, transportation and to build new medical facilities to address HIV/AIDS.

Although the Dearings have no immediate plans for an overseas trip, Roopa says they will go “where the Lord leads.”

“Psalms 12:5 is always in our hearts,” she says.