AMEN Free Clinics: Planting Seeds and Bringing in the Harvest
Published on 03/01/2019 |
With a vision to spread the gospel to the world, Hartland College in Northern Virginia held its first AMEN free clinic, on Sept. 30, 2018. It was a life-changing experience to meet people’s needs and to see hearts touched by this outreach.
“I had not had my teeth cleaned for 20 years and they did a marvelous job,” says Arthur Peyton, a dental patient. “My gratitude to all the volunteers I met here. I’ve never been so comfortable in my life around total strangers.”
Through partnership with Germanna Community College, the University of Virginia (UVA) Ophthalmology Department, local Seventh-day Adventist church members, and AMEN, 200 volunteers ministered to the community.
“We are here today because there is a tremendous unmet need for vision, medical, and dental services in the community,” said Dr. Rebecca Sieburth from UVA. “We see people for their eye health, but often people have many other things going on in their lives. They have bills to pay, children to feed, and they may put their own vision health behind. So today, we can provide these things to those people.”
Through our combined efforts, 340 patients received clinical services worth $65,000. In all, 187 people got free dental care, ranging from cleanings, to fillings, to extractions. In the vision department, over 100 people had free eye exams and received glasses. Patients at the clinic were also offered a private medical consultation with physicians. Unfortunately, the lines were so long that, later in the afternoon, people had to be turned away, but those that received care were very grateful.
This AMEN Free Clinic was particularly successful due to collaborative work and intense preparation. It was the integrated involvement of Hartland College, local Seventh-day Adventist churches, willing volunteers, and the Adventist Medical Evangelism Network team that made the difference.
One volunteer, Oliver Filutowski, a medical student from UVA, said, “It’s a step in the right direction. This service gives people who may not have access to healthcare a chance to have problems identified now before it becomes something major later on. This free clinic made me want to see more of this from different communities.”
This AMEN clinic was different from other agencies that just do ‘humanitarian work’. The goal from the onset was to make the AMEN Clinic an outreach opportunity connecting community members with local Seventh-day Adventist churches and provide more than just physical healing. The primary objective was to share Christ and build relationships. To make that a reality, clinic leaders arranged for training before the clinic in how to do follow up after the clinic.
As part of the training, Pastor Jim Howard, Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Associate director of the General Conference, gave a seminar called “The Evangelism Cycle” that helped members understand the processes involved in evangelism and why follow up can be so important.
Pastor Mark Finley, and his wife, Teenie, provided health ministry training for the sponsoring churches at their Living Hope School of Evangelism. Pastor Finley helped the churches do logistic work on demographics, exploring the type of communities, church capacity, etc.
Teenie Finley explained, in a practical way, how to do cooking schools and health community programs. Mrs. Finley shared her personal experience about getting started in health evangelism outreach more than 40 years ago – and yes she was scared and intimidated just like many of the volunteers. However, God blessed her first humble breadmaking class which resulted in baptisms.
Church members from Calvary SDA church were especially inspired by Finley’s training. The next day, three church members approached the clinic director and said that they had been hesitant to do follow-up work. They had simply planned to support the AMEN clinic as volunteers. However, after hearing Mrs. Finley’s testimony, they were inspired to do a four-week follow-up program, teaching people how to make bread and present lectures on the eight natural remedies.
Training the local church members for Total Member Involvement was a vital element to the success of the first AMEN clinic at Hartland College.
Norbert Restrepo, President of Hartland College, reports, “This was an opportunity to share with others why we are here.” Besides the medical, dental, and vision services, approximately 300 books were distributed: Steps to Christ, Christ’s Object Lessons, Ministry of Healing, Desire of Ages, and Great Controversy. Restrepo excitedly continues, “We offered Bible studies and 13 people signed up right then and there!” Twenty-one people also signed up for follow-up events at local Seventh-day Adventist churches.
The free clinic also served as an inspiration to students thinking of a career in the medical field; it fueled their passion for serving people. We praise God and greatly appreciate every effort directed towards making this clinic possible. Seeing the great needs of the community, and the greater impact of this free clinic in meeting those needs, has made Hartland committed to continuing this ministry.
The AMEN clinic confirmed what we at Hartland already believed – medical evangelism really works! Here’s one simple example. A young woman came to the AMEN clinic for dental services. As she was waiting, a Bible worker witnessed to her and before sending the patient to her dental services, the Bible worker invited her to attend follow-up health seminars at the local SDA church. The very next Sunday, after the clinic, the young woman attended the follow-up program at Orange SDA church. Following the presentation, the Bible worker found the young woman and they continued their spiritual conversation. The patient was moved by the experience and asked, “Why do you guys do this for us? Why are you different from other churches?” Then, without even waiting for answers, in her excitement, the patient continued, “I am reading one of the books that I received at the clinic, it’s by Ellen White – that author is amazing! Is Ellen White an Adventist as you are?”
To date, the young woman is still coming to the follow-up programs and keeps in touch with the Bible worker. God alone knows where it will lead but what a privilege to be part of the process that could end with her in the Kingdom!
No question – medical missionary work plants seeds. Christ will bring the harvest as we continue to minister to these patients through follow-up programs and building relationships with them.
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