From the Stack

Why medical missions are so effective

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I have never participated in a formal church mission. I have been invited to several, but I never could understand the reason for doing so.

After all, why should I spend thousands of dollars to fly overseas to help build a wall or dig a trench for five days when I could give the money directly to a missionary who could use the gift to hire three months of local labor — or more.

I get offers from Compassion International several times a year to take “mission trips” to better understand how the two girls I sponsor each month are growing up. Yet, in this case, my $4,500 investment guarantees me one hour of visiting a girl and five days of what I call Christotourism — viewing the suffering of others in the name of Christ without doing anything to alleviate it.

So, I have been skeptical of getting engaged in any type of overseas church missions. But, this might change my mind.

Pastor Tim Challies relayed a compelling story by Charles Woodrow, who shared the genuine value of medical missions in remote parts of the world where healthcare is infrequent and often lacking in quality or capability.

Woodrow outlines seven reasons why medical missions are so beneficial to people who receive services. Here are a few:

  1. Patients strive diligently to come to you. You do not have to go to them, apologizing for invading their privacy or encroaching on their time.
  2. You are able to proclaim the gospel at a time in life when your listeners are keenly aware that there are serious problems they cannot remedy in their own strength, and there are worrisome risks they must accept. They know they need God’s help, and they want it.
  3. Medical work gives credibility to the evangelist. If the physical problem can be remedied, then what the physician has to say about the spiritual problem should be worth listening to as well.

An associate of mine from the RV industry, Jeff Crider, is a writer and photographer who has been supporting 15 medical missions around the world over the past 13 years. He said there is a lot of support work that goes in to preparing people for life-saving and life-altering surgeries.

He said that he works with some “amazing” people who love to serve others and they do it in a way that relieves pain, restores hope, and spreads joy one grateful patient at a time.

I’m making a commitment to join a medical mission sometime in the next year.

“The opportunity to speak of Christ to people who would never darken the door of a church, but will come to a hospital pleading for help is nothing to despise. We look forward to soon capitalizing on that opportunity once more,” Woodrow wrote.

Me, too.

If you have ever questioned the validity or purpose of short-term Christian mission work, please read this article at TimChallies.com.

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Greg Gerber

A native of Wisconsin who moved to Arizona in 2009, Greg Gerber is a DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three grown daughters. He worked as a journalist for many years before pursuing a career as a faith-based writer, author, coach and speaker. Greg is the author of Pornocide: How Lust is Killing Your Faith, Stealing Your Joy and Destroying Your Life.

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