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Dr Jon Eager tells us about the opportunities that healthcare provides for reaching the unreached.
Serve together as a team
I felt called to missions when I was a college student, after a summer spent as a short term volunteer with AIM in Kenya. I was a pre-medical student at the time, and taught Biology and Chemistry in a secondary school. The Lord used that time to open my eyes to what he was doing in Africa. After acceptance into medical school, I continued my training to become a physician with the goal of serving overseas as a missionary doctor.
Is God calling you to medical mission? Want to find out more? Then why not join our MediQuest team?
MediQuest gives you an opportunity to see a broad range of cross-cultural health ministries, reflecting the diversity of options for medical service. Led by an experienced missionary healthcare professional MediQuest is designed to address questions about the interaction of health ministry and our goals of reaching the unreached or catalysing national efforts to do the same.
It’s not a hands on programme, but offers a structured curriculum allowing you to explore the complex moral and spiritual aspects of being involved in mission through healthcare.
Various hospitals in Kenya and Tanzania
June – July 2017
My wife Melissa and I have been missionaries with AIM in Tanzania for the last ten years. Melissa is not medical (she’s the normal one in the family!), and I’m so grateful that we can serve together as a team in the community.
Meeting broken people
I’ve been privileged to help oversee two rural church based health centres among two different unreached people groups in central Tanzania. Being a GP means I treat the whole family, from babies to grandparents. I’ve also had the opportunity to train community health workers who come from the different fledgling churches that have been planted.
When biblical Christ-centred medical care is given with professional excellence, compassion, and integrity, we find the Lord using it to address people’s brokenness and draw them to himself. It is part of loving our neighbours, and part of the demonstration of how Jesus brings healing and wholeness.
Healthcare missionaries often meet people in vulnerable places. In a world that is fallen, with sickness and disease, medical missionaries are part of the body of Christ in action, like the good Samaritan in Luke 10, bringing a healing balm to people’s lives (though you don’t need a fancy degree to show mercy and help!). I often find myself as a missionary doctor intersecting with people during very significant times in their lives, such as during the birth of a child, or at the end of life. We are there in the midst of difficulties, like infertility, or depression, or HIV disease, or domestic violence. Many patients come to me looking for help, looking for answers. What a chance to point them to the ultimate answer, to the Great Physician, Jesus.
Going to difficult places
Healthcare, like other professions, is one avenue that the Lord uses to get his people into difficult places where there may be very few witnesses of his grace, and very many lost souls. Unreached people groups can be very resistant to the gospel, and suspicious of missionaries. But honest, caring medical attention seems to soften hearts and build relationships. We were at a wedding recently, and the father of the bride pointed out the groom and said, “Do you remember him? He was very sick, he had been drinking too much and his stomach hurt, and he had pneumonia. He came to you and you gave him medicine and told him to stop drinking and now he’s much better!” I even had a chance to address the crowd during the reception and share that the gift of marriage comes from the Lord. I don’t think I would have had that chance if I hadn’t treated the groom.
So why bother with healthcare? Well, it’s quite simple. We treat, because Jesus heals. We care, because Jesus cares. We go, because we are compelled by God’s mercy and grace, and by the hope and power of the gospel to save sinners and reconcile all things to himself through Christ, that his glory might be proclaimed among the nations!