By Don Thompson, MD, MPH&TM
A handicapped man venturing outside and enjoying the sunshine for the first time in nearly four years. A hospital receiving handicapped man venturing outside and enjoying the sunshine for the first time in nearly four years. A hospital receiving desperately needed medical supplies out of nowhere without asking. A burned out and weary physician rediscovering his passion and joy for healthcare. A young girl being rescued from the pits of prostitution and human trafficking. A grandfather receiving his first pair of reading glasses after years of blurriness. A teenager smiling again after getting a new pair of front teeth.
It paints quite a picture, doesn’t it?
Each year, countless lives just like these are being changed through the mission outreaches of Christian Medical & Dental Associations. I could go on and on sharing story after story, but you’ll only get a small glimpse of the mighty work the Holy Spirit is doing around the world through healthcare missions. That’s why we are inviting you to join us in this amazing work, so you can see firsthand how God can work through you.
We are dedicated to carrying out the Great Commission by using the healthcare skills the Lord has entrusted to us. To accomplish this, we provide numerous opportunities for healthcare professionals to meet the physical needs of the world while also sharing the gospel. (For a full list of CMDA’s mission outreaches, visit www.cmda.org/missions.)
We are working to fulfill our vision of “Transformed Doctors, Transforming the World.”
To do this, our mission outreaches offer you the opportunity to serve on a short-term basis in three particular areas: clinical, academic and surgical training.
Global Health Outreach (GHO) sends 50 clinical teams each year to 25 countries for one- to two-week healthcare missions trips. There is a great need for almost all types of healthcare personnel on these trips, and many non-medical personnel can participate as well.
Students and residents of all backgrounds are welcome, including medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy and physician assistant, as well as undergraduate students. Plus, many teams are suitable for families. Because we offer so many trips throughout the year, you are sure to find one to fit within your busy schedule. To find a trip, visit www.ghotrips.org.
It’s important to note that we don’t only focus on healthcare during these trips, as our main goals are also to disciple participants, grow the national churches and share the gospel. In the clinics, we see people who have no hope—they work hard just to survive from day to day and are oppressed from all sides. When they see the unconditional love demonstrated by our teams and hear of the freedom that comes only through Jesus Christ, many quickly respond and turn to follow Him. That’s why we work closely with national partners in each of the countries we serve in order to make sure that local pastors are following up with these people, allowing our trips to have a far-reaching impact long after we return home.
If you’re looking to serve on a team in an academic setting, then Medical Education International (MEI) is the right place for you. Through this mission outreach, we send small teams of healthcare professionals to universities and hospitals to countries around the world to teach and train local national physicians.
Many countries which are normally closed to missionaries openly welcome healthcare professionals who are willing to pass their skills to others. Through these educational opportunities, we also are given the chance to form personal relationships with our international colleagues while also sharing the hope we have in Christ. In fact, we encourage our participants to return to the same areas in subsequent trips to deepen these relationships.
Short-term Surgical Training
For those with surgical skills, we encourage you to get involved with the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS). PAACS is dedicated to bringing Christians together from all over the world to train and disciple African surgeons to help meet the overwhelming shortage of surgeons in Africa. To do this, they operate surgical residency programs at nine sites in seven countries in Africa, providing high-quality training in general surgery, general pediatric surgery and orthopedic surgery. These teaching commitments are a minimum of two weeks long and range in length.
Through this program, residents are schooled in modern surgical thought adapted to resource-poor environments and given a vision to serve and proclaim Christ among the poor. Training residents at hospitals in Africa also motivates them to remain in their country to serve their own people. Visit www.paacs.net for more information.
Time and time again, we hear from our participants that they ultimately receive far more during the trip than what they actually give to others. Living in our comfortable environments, we often lose touch with what it means to depend on God, but working in a different culture forces you to depend on God in new and tangible ways.
So what are you waiting for? Are you ready to see what God has in store for you through healthcare missions? Are you ready to make a difference in the lives of people all across the world? Are you ready to be transformed? Join a trip today, and I promise you will never be the same.
Don Thompson, MD, MPH&TM, is the Director of Global Health Outreach, a ministry of CMDA.