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Spring 2014
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Feature Story
Medicine Avenue
Sometimes, the best laid plans are less fulfilling than the surprises.
In 2006, Michael Tso ’90 MD’94 and his wife, Emily Chin Tso ’91, were enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Michael was a partner in a successful family medicine practice. Emily, trained as a teacher, was home raising their four children. They had worked hard to weave their lives into a richly textured community: they had lots of friends, attended church a few blocks from their home, and volunteered—all six of them—in one of Portland’s few homeless shelters for families.

Then, in November of that year, Tso heard Stan Farmer preach.

Farmer is a co-founder of His Mansion Ministries, a long-term residential treatment center on a working farm in southwestern New Hampshire. He conceived His Mansion in the ’70s as a welcoming place of worship and rehab for drugged-out hippies. Today it is a Christ-centered healing community for “broken and hurting” young people who are struggling with an array of problems, from eating disorders to heroin addiction.

At the time of Farmer’s sermon, Michael and Emily, both devout Christians, had been looking for a new service project they could embark on as a family, preferably outdoors and beyond the familiar comforts of Portland. When Tso learned His Mansion offered shortterm service opportunities, from gardening to facilities maintenance, the idea was too appealing to pass up. On vacation back East the following August, the family added the Granite State to their itinerary. Emily and the kids spent five days thinning carrots and picking broccoli, while Michael taught staff members about bipolar disorder and ADHD and did consults.

 Tso loved His Mansion at once. “I felt like I saw Jesus walking around,” he recalls now. “I saw young men and women who had really hit the bottom of the barrel of life. Yes, they have their bad days … [but] they had faith in a God who really loves them and wants to give them a chance for a fruitful life. There was a redemptive piece that unfortunately I don’t always see in the church.”

Back home, Tso (pronounced “cho”) couldn’t get the place out of his mind. Unbeknownst to him, neither could Emily. Michael went to a nearby Catholic retreat center to sit quietly, journal, and pray. According to him, “God said ‘Call His Mansion.’ I asked Emily, and she said ‘Go for it.’” Tso called Stan.

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