Missionary Rose Hinton traveled to Honduras with a Health Care Ministries’ medical team in February 2015. The team focused on a Teen Challenge center and an orphanage. During their visit, 248 people were ministered to with the gospel.
Health clinics were held at Centro Evangelistica in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, and in Villa San Francisco. A total of 1,399 patients were seen. Of those, 280 people received some form of health education and 14 individuals made decisions to follow Christ.
Rose stated, “One of my greatest joys in serving with a medical team is to watch what God does in the lives of the people who are helping us.” The young girl who translated for Rose had the opportunity to lead a man to Christ during his medical assessment. The sparkle in her eyes, smile on her face, and excitement in her voices brought Rose to tears as her translator shared that the man was the first person she had ever led to Christ.
Recent clinics in the Dominican Republic and Honduras provided impoverished communities with one-on-one health screenings and consultations. Not only that, but both outreaches saw a large number of miracles and divine healings as team members prayed with patients. Many individuals expressed surprise and astonishment as their pain instantly disappeared during prayer.
Even more exciting than watching God touch bodies was seeing Him heal hearts as patients chose to put their faith in Him. One such patient, Isaac, was a widower in the Tegucigalpa area of Honduras who had no living children. At 20/200, Isaac’s vision was almost nonexistent, a problem that team members corrected with a pair of eyeglasses.
But Isaac didn’t just need a physical touch. At 89 years old, he had heard that Jesus died on the cross, but no one had ever told him why. As an HCM team member shared the gospel with him and told him about the kindness of Christ, Isaac was delighted and incredulous. He was eager to surrender his life to a God who loved him that much.
HealthCare Ministries (HCM) seeks to relieve the suffering in the name of Jesus. HCM teams vary widely in makeup, since each is based on the host missionaries’ outreach goals. Some teams meet physical needs through health care clinics. Others focus on health development and community transformation. Still others educate people groups on health concerns common in their areas. But no matter what an outreach looks like, demonstrating God’s love and sharing His salvation stand at the heart of each one.
One of the objectives of HealthCare Ministries (HCM) is to come alongside and help AG missionaries accomplish their dreams and calling. HCM recently responded to the request of one AGWM missionary couple working in Moquegua, Peru. Chris and Deb Bowser worked hard for six months to plant a church but were growing discouraged. Despite all the hours they invested, only one adult had been saved and they were ministering only to the children in the area.
The Bowsers asked HCM to join their efforts to plant the new church. God assembled a great team to help the Bowsers. Along with the 20-member HCM medical evangelism team, missionary Lena Shrader, missionary associate Matt Cullipher, and local Peruvian AG church members gathered in support. God was ready to show what He could do in one week’s time!
On the first day of the clinic, one team member led a mother and her 21-year-old daughter to the Lord. They both cried tears of repentance as they were reconciled to God. When introduced to the Bowsers, they hugged Deb, who cried with them because they had attended the Thursday night Bible classes previously for several weeks without giving their hearts and lives to Christ.
That day more than a dozen new converts were brought into the Kingdom. By the end of the week, Chris and Deb were encouraged to see what God had done to help boost the new church through the HCM team and those who worked with them. They counted over 200 new converts, and the church has new acceptance in the community.
The Bowsers also have new respect in the area, beginning with the mayor and his wife, who both attended the closing banquet. They were so impressed with the love and compassion shown to them and their city and saw teamwork at its best. All of the community saw what God can do. Best of all, the Bowsers have a follow-up team to visit new converts and the new church has the boost it needs to move ahead!
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.