James Appel, MD was born in Ohio. Son of an Adventist pastor, he received his BA in Theology from Southern Adventist University in Tennessee and then a Doctor of Medicine from Loma Linda University in California.
After completing his Residency, James moved to the Republic of Chad where he was the only doctor at the Béré Adventist Hospital for seven years. It was there that he met his wife, Sarah, a volunteer nurse from Denmark. They have two surviving children, Miriam and Noah. Miriam's twin brother, Adam, died of complications of malaria at the age of six months. James and Sarah currently work at the Moundou Adventist Surgery Center in Chad's second largest city. He is also the Chad country director for the NGO Adventist Health International which runs over 20 hospitals in Africa and the rest of the developing world.