The Rural Amazonian Health Initiative
The Rural Amazonian Health Initiative
Team Members // Founders & Medical Team Leaders //

Founders & Medical Team Leaders

The medical team leaders directly involved in The Rural Amazonian Health Initiative are essential in the planning and development of medical mission trips. They have a collective desire to reach those in the rural Amazon region of Peru and aim to meet the medical and spiritual needs of the region's populous. They all have felt called to Peru in one way or another, utilizing their specific gifts and talents, and hope to further develop their initiative into a full-time stand alone non-profit organization with a long-term staffed clinic. When thinking about the future, sustainability of healthcare and continued support of the developing churches in the region are of primary concern. We not only enjoy serving in Peru, but we enjoy sharing the experience with others and seek to provide a spark that sets ablaze a fire in their hearts for the people of Peru.

We hold Romans 10:13-15 dear to our hearts: "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Medicine is an essential need and it serves as a starting point where we can develop relationships, promote trust, and spread the Word of the Lord.

Dr. Jonathan Stofer, MD, MPH

Dr. Stofer is the founder/director of The Rural Amazonian Health Initiative under Joel Ferguson's leadership. He studied Pre-Medicine, Biology, Psychology & Chemistry at Indiana Wesleyan University (2011). Graduated with his Master’s Degree in Public Health with a concentration in Global Health from Wright State University (2013) in Dayton Ohio. Graduated Medical School from Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine (2018).  After residency at Soin Family Practice he started practice as a Family Medicine doctor and adjunct residency faculty. After his first medical mission trip, he fell in love with the people, the culture, and the experience, and has been leading trips ever since. He feels called to medical missions with a goal to make a real change in Global Health and Medicine.

Dr. Lauren Saunders, DO

Dr. Saunders was a Pre-Medicine student at Indiana Wesleyan University at the same time Joel, Rachel, and Jon were there.  She accepted the challenge to serve on her first trip into the Amazon jungle in 2009 alongside Rachel and Jon, and agreed to help Joel co-lead the third trip with Joel and Rachel in 2011.  Since then she has become an integral part of the leadership team.  After IWU, Lauren went on to the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine. Lauren has now completed her residency program in Colorado, is working in Internal Medicine, and plans to continue to serve in the future.  She is currently living in Colorado with her husband Kyle.

Mr. Joel Ferguson, BSN, FNP-C

Joel Ferguson grew up as a missionary kid in Peru, South America. While in high school he had the opportunity to go along as an interpreter for a medical mission trip into the Amazon jungle. It was on this trip that God called Joel into healthcare, after which he went on to college to become a nurse. It was in college where God called Joel to lead a medical mission trip of his own, and the trips have continued to this day. Today, Joel works as a nurse practitioner and also teaches as a nursing professor at Indiana Wesleyan University. He lives in Indiana with his wife, Rachel, and his daughter, Naomi.

Mrs. Rachel Ferguson

Rachel Ferguson is from Chicago, but ended up at Indiana Wesleyan University in the nursing program. This is where she met Joel and after her first trip, she got the "jungle bug" and has been a co-leader on the teams ever since. She and Joel attend a Hispanic Wesleyan Church in Carmel, IN and are involved in the ministry there. She works as an adjunct professor at Anderson University teaching nursing. She also works as an emergency room nurse and takes care of their daughter Naomi. 

Ms. Ariel Burke, BSN

Ariel Burke is from Chicago, and attended Olivet Nazarene University's nursing program. Her sister (Rachel Ferguson) and brother-in-law (Joel Ferguson) invited her on her first trip in 2013 and she has been serving ever since! She currently works in family medicine, but has a background in cardiac critical care and ER nursing as well. She lives in Indiana, and enjoys spending time with family and friends and serving Jesus in day-to-day interactions and in Peru.

Mrs. Meghan Caudill

Meghan Caudill also grew up in Peru alongside her brother, Joel Ferguson. Growing up, she always loved helping host the mission teams that would come to work with her parents. It was at the age of 16 that she knew she was called to do missions and always knew she was interested in the medical field. Since high school, Meghan has been on several mission trips. Her first trip was to Argentina with a team from Indiana Wesleyan University (where she got her degree in biology). Straight after college she volunteered at a hospital in Zambia for five months where she found her love for surgery. Since then she has moved to Atlanta, Georgia where she met her husband Brad, and now works as a surgical tech. Her first trip with this group was in 2014 and then again in 2015 and she hopes to continue serving with them for a long time to come.