The missionaries and staff of HealthCare Ministries bring the “hope that heals” to cities and remote villages scattered across the globe. By extending a hand of compassion, they are given innumerable opportunities to pray with people of all ages that have come for medical, dental, or optical care. Over the years, thousands of lives have been changed for eternity as they accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Not long ago in Conception, Paraguay, the pastor of the local Assemblies of God church had been in prayer for a family that lived nearby. He had often invited them to church but they were reluctant to come to a service. One day a HealthCare Ministries team held a medical evangelism outreach at the church. The young mother knew that she had to take her little son to the clinic because his arm had been burned from boiling water three days before. She was nervous because she did not know what to expect and was afraid that she would be judged for not getting medical care earlier. She had no money to take him to the hospital because the medical care there has to be paid for before treatment is given.
As frequently happens on HCM teams, a medical provider was available with the specialized training right when it was needed. There was an RN who had worked at the Shriners Burn Institute in Cincinnati and was very skilled in caring for acute burns. She immediately went to work to debride all the dead skin from the wound and cleanse it.
Since the dressing would need to be changed twice a day, she trained the pastor’s wife in how to apply the cream and dressing. This meant that the pastor’s wife would visit the family in their home twice a day for at least 10 days. During these visits she was able to share the Gospel with her new friend and her husband. Through the compassion shown to this child, the parents accepted Jesus as their Savior and became active members in the church.
A year later, the RN returned to the church to teach a Community Health Evangelism course to select members of the community. What a thrill it was for her to reconnect with these parents as they participated in the week-long class. Their lives had been changed through a compassion outreach and now they were ready to touch other people’s lives in their community and share Jesus’ love.
HealthCare Ministries sent a team of health care professionals and support to the Suva region of Fiji in May for a medical evangelism outreach. They worked with Jerry and Karen Jacob, Assemblies of God missionaries and area directors of Pacific Oceania, to minister to two different villages on the eastern side of Fiji. The HCM team treated medical, dental, and optical needs while sharing the love of Jesus.
This outreach provided HCM the opportunity to work with Sustain Hope, one of its sister ministries. Sustain Hope is an AGWM organization that specializes in international community development. Andy and Robin Rogers worked along with the HCM team to teach about sustainable practices while people waited at the clinic site.
Sustain Hope presented many of their methods, such as fuel efficient stoves, solar cooking and dehydrating, solar water disinfection, composting and gardening. They also taught on the nutritional value of the locally-grown moringa tree.
Sally Puleo, an LPN and HCM missionary associate on the team, confirmed that Sustain Hope and HCM worked well together on the outreach.
“Our goal is always to minister to a person’s body, soul and spirit not forsaking one for the other but integrating all three,” Sally said.
Sally also served in the optical area of the outreach as a certified ophthalmic technician and fitted people with glasses. She shared the following reflection from the experience—
“So we fix our eyes… not on what is seen… but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
Our recent trip to Fiji found me working in optical doing vision screenings and prescribing readers. For many people, living in developing countries living without glasses translates to not being able to provide care for their families. Think of how limited your life would be without access to glasses. Could you work? Could you read? In many cases, the answer would be “no”. You would be, in effect, blind.
When you hand people glasses and they read the card in front or far away from them, you are giving them the gift of sight, maybe for the first time. A smile immediately crosses their face when seeing through their new glasses, and that would be a precious gift given to them if physical sight were the only gift you had to give.
Medical missions implores us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We address the physical and spiritual needs of every person we meet. With great compassion, we invite them to look at the invisible, unseen, unmet and blinded condition of their hearts.
It’s a delicate balance mixing the seen with the unseen. Only a work of the Spirit can bring the spirit of a man into focus. Sometimes the transition is easy as patients share their lives, their hopes and the things hidden in darkness, things locked behind closed doors. A pair of glasses can be the key to opening those doors. So with all gentleness and meekness, the key is turned and the light of God’s Word invades the darkness and dispels it. The countenance of a patient changes from sadness to a grateful joy that spreads like a smile when a gift has been given. These are the moments that happen on every trip. The ones that can’t be accurately measured by human calculation. They are the ones of eternal significance. The ones that really count.
In the interior village of Waibasaga, Fiji, we met Taitusi. God caused a quick bond to form between him and Andy, which opened the door for friendship, counseling and prayer.
Andy learned that he was a prison corrections officer in Suva, but was on leave to return to work on his portion of his family’s plantation. Andy was able to visit the farm/plantation, which was near the river’s edge.
His main crops contained cassava, taro, and druca, which he shared with the team to enjoy. He was very grateful for the various trainings that Sustain Hope was offering his village, such as solar water disinfection, solar cooking and dehydration, and the fuel efficient rocket stove.
He said it was the first time that anything like this had ever happened in his village. He was very open to Andy’s counsel and prayers, and before we left the village, Taitusi rededicated his life and family to a new level of serving the Lord.