“Open your Mouth Wide and I will fill it”. Psalms 81:10 One can describe the country of . . . Thailand as a beautiful and wondrous kingdom, featuring Buddhist temples, exotic wildlife, and impressive islands. Many know about Thailand’s colorful culture and compelling history, but most are unaware that there are roughly 128,000 refugees living along the Thai border with Myanmar (Burma). Most of these refugees are the ethnic Karen people who were required to flee for their lives due to the violence in Myanmar. Here we find people who possess no homeland (stateless people) and hide from Thai authorities to avoid being captured and put in refugee camps, which are like virtual prisons. Therefore, the refugees in the mountains along the border have no access to medical care or the gospel.
This past December, AMEN teamed up with AFCOE (the Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism) to witness to the Karen refugees in Thailand and provide them with much needed medical and spiritual care. Our team was comprised of missionaries from all over the globe. These volunteers included dentists, an ophthalmologist, medical doctors, nurses, registered dieticians, a natural therapist, counselors, a physician’s assistant, pharmacists, a massage therapist, and many others. We divided our group into two main teams: the first team would serve in the more urban area at a local church in Mae Sot, while the second team would serve in the remote villages of Emerald, which was approximately 2.5 hours away.
Clinics in Mae Sot
Our first day was full of anticipation. Months of preparation and prayer had already gone into this trip, and we were excited to see whom the Lord would have us meet. To our delight, we already had several patients lined up. We were lucky to be working with a local pastor who actively advertised our clinic and was using this opportunity to bring people to Christ. Our days were busy but extremely rewarding. A local ophthalmologist Dr.Supachai Wongpichetchai who was working with us at the clinic, not only treating patients but also preformed cataract surgeries till late hours of the night and then lodged with them at the church to ensure they were doing well. That really left an impression on us as we recall the story of Jesus who restored sight to the people.
Although most of the villagers were Buddhists, we were surprised at how many people wanted us to pray for them. Right after the clinics, we divided into three subgroups and went to three different sites where we held evangelistic series and gave health talks. Here we saw how powerfully the medical mission work harmonized with the gospel as we were able to witness people’s lives changed as they heard and accepted the Word of God for the first time ever. Working in the urban areas had its benefits, as we were able to get the word out much faster to the community and easily transporting villagers to us.
Dr. Supachai Wongpichetchai preforming cataract surgery
Dr. Eugen Schiopu (DDS) and pre-med student Carla Ginlock working on a patient
Dr. Ae (MD) praying with a patient for healing
Dr. Ruth Artamapadung (DDS) and AFCOE student Ostap Dzyndra
Dr. Samuel Tee (DDS) and his mother in law (far right) with Hana Kim (MPH) and patient.
We had volunteers of all ages. Little Cherie Tee counting paracetamol tablets and packing them into the sachets.
Friendships formed for eternity
Team Mae Sot
Dr. John Adams DDS relates his experience:
“I am a general dentist who, with my wife Barbara, had the privilege of serving as part of a medical/dental/evangelistic outreach with AMEN and AFCOE. I was assigned the town of Thasongyang. For five days our team of two dentists, several nurses, allied health professionals, and other volunteers provided dental care, medical evaluations, and health education at SDA schools and churches.
“The consensus of the team was that the most enjoyable and rewarding day was the one on which we traveled to a small community in the back of pickup trucks. We traveled on a rough unpaved road, carrying our equipment and supplies down a hill, across a stream, and up the hill on the other side to an area that had a small stilted SDA church built of native materials. Dr. Richard Nakabayashi, the other dentist, and I set up our portable dental chairs under the trees at a site near the church where AFCOE was conducting nightly outdoor evangelistic meetings. We then spent the day doing extractions. After working for several hours our lunch, prepared by the local SDA members, was served to us as we sat on the floor of their house. It was a priceless experience.
“Some of the images etched in our minds are the sights of village people going about their daily lives, a rice husking machine operating in the shade under a stilted house, children being carried on their mothers’ backs, the chickens and dogs wandering around the community and under the houses, the children playing with the balloons we brought for them, and the betel nut stained teeth we saw frequently in our patients’ mouths.
“I found it amazing that a group of people who were largely unknown to each other traveled great distances, endured long flights, sleeplessness, and jet lag and yet were able to work effectively together for a common cause happily using their hands and voices in service to Jesus.
“For me, a dentist in private practice, taking an extended time off work can cause anxiety. However, I have learned, and this trip was further confirmation, that there is no need to worry. My practice has never suffered because of the mission trips I have participated in.
“Finally, there is the reset of priorities. Some of the things of this world that seemed so important or interesting when we left home have faded in their importance. Like as in the song Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus says, “. . . things of this earth will grow strangely dim . . .”
“There are many excuses for not getting involved in mission projects. I hope my description of how this trip impacted my wife and I will encourage you to get involved. Stepping out of your comfort zone in faith will be rewarded. If you have been on a mission trip you know what I mean. Take a chance, sign up for an AMEN trip and be prepared to receive a blessing. Thank you AMEN and AFCOE for the opportunity to serve the One who has given all for us.”
Dr. John Adams (DDS) with Wife Barbara Adams.
Darla Bejan and Sherri Shi sterilizing instruments.
Dr. Nakabayashi (DDS) extracting a tooth.
Dr. Adams (DDS) and Ashley Blankenship (RN) working on a patient.
Betel nut stained tooth extracted.
Darla and Aaron Bejan enjoying a delicious meal.
Dr. Eugen Schiopu, a volunteer dentist from Germany sums up our experience when he states:
“There is a special blessing available to us when we are involved in God’s work, especially in situations where we are not able to see every detail before we accept the challenge. God promises us that he will fulfill every need, regardless of our mathematics. The mission in Thailand proved once again that God is faithful to provide everything we need for a missions trip, starting with medical equipment, talented and motivated volunteers, and patients earnestly desiring health and spiritual ministry.
“To unite and harmonize with people from different cultures, languages, and ages, was proof of God’s presence in this project. We read in the scripture that at the end of his life, Abraham, called the father of faith, was challenged to put his faith in God. Abraham expressed his deep confidence in God’s faithfulness through the words he spoke to his son, “God will provide for himself a lamb”. Some day, the final test will challenge the human race. People who were trained in God’s school will be able to pass the test and to say, based on their past experiences, that “God will provide” regardless of the circumstances facing them.”
We believe that not only was it a blessing to partake in the Lord’s work, but there was a greater object lesson and we see the greater picture of the Lord’s plan of redemption and the promise of His soon coming. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
To watch video go to: https://vimeo.com/154112683
Video credit goes to Samuel Kitevski
The words “medical tourism” evoke images of world-class hospitals and well-off patients, . . . together in a tropical location with five star amenities and sandy white beaches. One would not expect such a plush healthcare sector to be doing much to help the plight of the poor but one such new hospital in the Cayman Islands is turning the economics of destination healthcare on its head and in the process, saving the lives of hundreds of children who could otherwise not afford life saving health care. What’s even more amazing is that such a model may not only be economically feasible, but profitable as well.
In this interview at the 2015 AMEN conference at Hilton Head, SC, Pastor Mark Finley speaks to Gene Thompson, the Adventist developer in Grand Cayman who, together with Narayana Health and Ascension, created the $2 billion dollar Health City Cayman Island. This new hospital, which opened in 2014, is helping the poor while earning income by delivering high quality care to health tourists. Everyday, accounting at the hospital is done in real time with the goal that, once the hospital has posted a profit, the hospital will provide free care to the poor for the rest of the day.
In this interview, Gene Thompson explains the inspiration and motivation for trying this new, innovative health care model, a system that provides quality health care for those that can pay, then provides lifesaving care to those that can’t afford it. Could this work in the United States?
Mark Finley: Gene, what have you done most of your life?
Gene Thompson: I’ve been a lifelong Seventh-day Adventist… in fact, three generations of Seventh-day Adventist. But in our career, we’re developers. We have multiple types of businesses in the Cayman Islands.
MF: Multiples types? Name some types of businesses you’re in.
GT: We’re in the banking business, we’re in the tourism business, development of real estate, and on and on.
MF: Recently you’ve got involved in health care. Why?
GT: You know, it was an opportunity. As the world was in an economic meltdown, the government of the Cayman Islands was looking for something to stimulate the economy, to create another pillar and we reached out and looked at medical tourism or destination health care as that opportunity.
MF: As you began to explore medical tourism that led you on a journey, and that journey changed your life. Tell us about the journey.
GT: A friend of mine and I had a discussion when this idea was created or when this idea came to us. There’s a gentleman that is his friend, whose name is Devi Shetty who runs a large hospital system in India and who was at that time looking at doing a healthcare facility in Mexico and they were having some challenges with some of the issues there. We contacted him and invited him to come to Grand Cayman. That was in July or August of 2009. He came to Grand Cayman in September and the rest is history. We actually are moving forward with and in fact, we have an operating hospital.
MF: Tell us a little bit about Dr. Shetty’s hospitals. How many hospitals does he have?
GT: He has about thirty-two hospitals right now. I think he has about four more under contract to purchase, and he has close to 10,000 beds.
MF: What’s his goal for beds, eventually?
GT: His total goal, by 2020, is to have 35,000 beds.
MF: Your hospital has started now and you have how many beds now and how many beds will you ultimately have?
GT: We have 104 beds now. We’ve been open about 18 months and our goal is to have 2,000 beds over the period of 15 years.
MF: How is this hospital different?
GT: That’s a hard question because I’m not an expert in the health care industry but it is a radical, disruptive mission vision and goal, and the goal is: to be extremely high quality at extremely low cost which generally is not the norm in health care.
MF: Dr. Shetty was Mother Theresa’s doctor, and he had an experience that he shared with you that impacted him, and it impacted your life. Would you like to share that experience?
GT: Yes if I may. Dr. Shetty was contacted by the Prime Minister of India, and asked for a special favor. He was asked to be the doctor for Mother Theresa and to oversee her surgery. She had to have a couple of stents put in. Dr. Shetty is a cardiac surgeon and as we know, cardiac surgeons do not do stents. Cardiologists do. Interventional cardiologists. But nevertheless he oversaw her care. He oversaw her care for actually nine years, the last nine years of her life. After her surgery, she was in the hospital with him, and he was actually at the time in the pediatric ward, and she said, “Devi, as you go making your rounds with your kids that you’ve done surgery on, can I follow you?” He said, “I guess so” and thought this lady wants to follow me. He asked her, “Mother Theresa what do you want to do?” She said, “I want to pray for these kids.” As they went through each day Mother Theresa followed Dr. Shetty around and kind of got on his nerves. It was kind of holding him up, took a bit too much time, and so on. One day, Dr. Shetty was doing his rounds and he had a baby in his hands: two pounds, two ounces, tubes, hoses, all the rest of those things sticking out of that baby. Mother Theresa came up to him and Dr. Shetty was holding the baby. He said, “Mother Theresa if your God is such a good God why did he let this happen to this baby?” Without batting an eye, Mother Theresa said, “Devi, today my God made seven hundred thousand of these. He’s a very busy man. He doesn’t have time to always complete the work. So the hands that he gave you are his hands to finish his work.” That’s the day that changed his life. He said that he never slept for three days. He couldn’t eat for three days because he realized that his hands were to do God’s work.
MF: Now Dr. Shetty has a different way of financing hospitals. He does the accounting in real time, why does he do that and what does that mean?
GT: Dr. Shetty operates the world’s largest cancer hospital and the world’s largest heart hospital. He operates in an extremely efficient mode. Obviously for those who have been to India, you know the needs are huge, but the resources are small. Dr. Shetty realized over a period of time that in order to serve people based on his vision that he had to become very efficient. Over a period of time he developed a real time accounting system, which is used in all of his hospitals including ours in Grand Cayman. In India, by 3:30 everyday he has a P&L, a balance sheet, an income statement, and revenue against budget. There’s one specific reason that that’s done, is because whenever he makes his revenue, his budget for the day, and his profit, everything after that he does for free. In India he gets it at 3:30. So from 3:30 pm until 9 pm he serves the poor by giving free care.
MF: Now, you have followed that model, and one of the things that impressed me, Gene, very much is when I was at the hospital with the children holding them in my arms and these little kids that had come through heart surgery at your hospital, when I walked into the door of the hospital, there’s a sign on the door and it says this: “The day we turn away any patient because of their inability to pay is the day we failed God and drifted from our purpose as an institution.” That’s posted at the door. Now, you have taken some of the most difficult cases and you have a special burden for children that need heart help and most of them are coming from Haiti. Tell us about the Haitian Project.
GT: So Dr. Shetty believes this—it’s a simple philosophy. He says the pathway to innovation, health care and wealth is trodden by the feet of the poor. That’s the philosophy that we have. That is not to be in a negative way. It means that we have to embrace them as a part of our hospital system, as part of our health care system. We followed his same model. No one’s socio-economic status should determine the access to health care or the lack thereof. In fact, about a month before we opened our doors, Dr. Shetty made an announcement to the entire Caribbean that we were going to do a hundred free cardiac surgeries for the Caribbean region. We embraced that and we started a foundation, the website of it is: HaveaHeartCayman.com. It’s a chapter of what we’ve done in India. By the way, as a side note, in India so far, Have a Heart has done over 8,000 free cardiac surgeries. Dr. Shetty has, he estimates, that he’s done over 20,000 free surgeries in India. We embrace that and in Grand Cayman we decided to look out to our area. Look, Grand Cayman is not a poor country. We all know that but there are some poor countries only six or seven hundred miles away. We actually embrace Haiti. Working to help the Haiti Cardiac Alliance. I’m pleased to say that as of on Friday we did our 37th free cardiac surgery and when I say free, zero cost to the kids, zero cost to the parents.
MF: Now, a number of research institutions are looking at your model. I was looking at an article in the Harvard business review about your economic model. What other universities are studying your models now as far as outcomes are concerned?
GT: We’re a study group for Harvard business school. Duke is doing a study on us, on processes. University of Minnesota is actually doing a study on us, and we’re getting ready to do an efficiency study using technology with Stanford University.
MF: You are basing a model on merit medical tourism where those that can pay, pay, but the purpose of those paying who pay, are enabling you to treat the poor for the free. Is that your model?
GT: It is. It is partially that, I mean obviously our foundation pays for all of our consumable cost and then whatever other costs the hospital bears, but that is the basis of our model. We are doing real time accounting at our hospital. Unfortunately we’re still at a negative cash flow right now, but we’re moving in the right direction and as we continue to build, we’ll treat more. Our goal in 2016 is to do a hundred free surgeries for kids from the Caribbean and Haiti.
MF: Dr. Shetty is a Hindu physician. He’s had a great impact on your life. What can that Hindu physician teach Seventh-day Adventists physicians at Amen?
GT: Well he’s changed my life. I’m a third generation Seventh-day Adventist. We believe we do great things. We believe we do wonderful things, and I’ll tell you the Seventh-Day Adventists, we do nothing. Me, personally, we do nothing compared to what these people do. I’ve never seen anybody that has such a passion for saving lives, for touching lives, and for doing the right thing for people. It has totally changed my life. It has made me as a Seventh-day Adventist, as we say “Christian”, feel so insignificant to see what they do without any fanfare, without expecting any praise. They do it from the kindness of their heart.
MF: There are five children in Port-au-Prince today that will die because they don’t have adequate heart procedures. You want to make a difference in those lives?
GT: Yes. I mean, I’ve been here twenty-four hours. Five kids in Port-au-Prince have died. Five. We all sit in the warm room or this cool room, nice plate of food to eat… why? We need to do more. We as Christians, we talk. When I’m talking to you I’m talking to myself. We see it. Unfortunately, I’m right on the edge where I see it. In Port-au-Prince, Haiti right now there are 2,000 kids, right now, just in Port-au-Prince that are in desperate need of health care that will die within a year if they do not have access to health care. They have nothing. We sit here… we need to do more as Christians. We believe, in our particular position, we believe that we need to go out and do more and that’s what we’re trying to put our money and our actions where our mouth is.
Students are not just our future. They are our present. AMEN includes in its mission . . . sponsoring the attendance of medical and dental students at the AMEN conference. In the following video story, Trina, a 2nd year dental student at Loma Linda University, shares the impact that the AMEN conference had on making her decision to follow Christ all the way. Inspiring and instilling in our medical community Christ’s call for surrender and service is what AMEN is all about.
Two days after and two miles away from the deadly San Bernardino shootings, over 500 . . . students, medical professionals and community volunteers served the greater San Bernardino Community by providing free dental, vision and medical care at Loma Linda Academy. Over 800 community friends caught in a gap of need were treated, prayed with and loved without an agenda.
The response from the community was summed up succuiently by one man who received glasses for the first time. After experiencing the transformation of being able to see clearly, he looked up and said “Who are you people?!”.
Service elicits just that kind of response–Who are you, Why are you helping me? What motivates you to go out of your way for me?
What a perfect opportunity to share about the ONE who went and goes out of His way for us. And those are exactly the kind of opportunities that other-centered, practical service provides.
In San Bernardino, besides vison, dental and medical care, community members could choose from other free services including lifestyle counseling, emotional health counseling and a robust feet ministry (United Feet Ministries) that included a foot soak, foot massages, a goody bag and prayer for those that wanted it. Campus Hill, ReLive, UREACH and Advent Hope provided meals for all the volunteers. Mt. Rubidoux had professionals involved and delivered snacks for our community friends coming to the clinic. Our volunteers came from near and far (Ohio, Utah, Arizona, Texas) and represented many of the Southeastern California churches. Entire Loma Linda University medical and dental school classes participated whole-heartedly and the pharmacy department donated a basic dental pharmacy for dental patients supported in part by Pharmacy residents. An awesome group of La Sierra students spent their weekend serving along with a devoted crew from Loma Linda Academy. The Youth Department of the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventist supported over and beyond the volunteer children’s program. Pacific Health Dental and the local Dental Assistant Program sent volunteers and there are even more local organizations asking to be plugged in for next year. The SACH clinic will be providing any needed follow up care and additional community resources were present to facilitate in the gap of need. Besides initiating and deepening community relationships, more than a handful of our community participants requested personal Bible studies and asked to be directed to a local Seventh-day Adventist church.
Without question the clinic-mission model is one whose impact is just beginning in San Bernardino and is in complete synergy with our church mission, our educational mission through Loma Linda University and La Sierra University and the local academies, and is enhancing of our personal spiritual refreshment and revival. As one volunteer put it, “I need this, when can I be a part of a clinic-mission again”.
Every clinic is made possible by other-centered volunteers. And sometimes you have a whole . . . tribe of them that show up early, stay long and stay late tearing down. Impact Your Health Eugene had just such an amazing crew! Seven Churches, Lightbearers/ARISE and Caring Hands International were integral to reaching their community with love without an agenda.
Rainbow Optics, the Casey Eye Van and Volunteers in Medicine along with the local Hygiene school were invested partners in reach nearly 1,000 patients!
Southern hearts and hands collaborated for AMEN’s Impact Your . . . Health Chattanooga on October 3rd and 4th 2015.
The local coordinators from the East Ridge Seventh-day Adventist Church, worked with the office of mayor Andy Berke as well as local businesses to secure a venue for this event. Through Divine intervention, God opened Exhibit Hall A of the Chattanooga Convention Center at NO CHARGE (an unprecedented occurrence for Chattanooga).
Our partners were outstanding!
Erlanger Hospital donated surgical suites and staff along with pharmacy and tech, other services included primary care, podiatry, gastroenterology, massage, physical therapy, spiritual and medical counseling. For the first time at an AMEN clinic, partial dentures and flippers were an added service. The response from patients in need of this service was especially heartfelt!
Both dental and optometry could not have been accomplished without the experienced help of RAM (Remote Area Medical) which donated the use of equipment and recruited volunteers to boot.
Students from Southern Adventist University, Wildwood, SALT School of Evangelism, and many dental and medical and non-medical volunteers collaborated to impact Chattanooga.
Adding an AMEN dental clinic as an outreach to the Yuba-Sutter community was a . . . natural fit for the Yuba City Church. Pastor Steve Allred and his wife, Cheri Leng, a physician and one of the health ministry leaders for the church, saw this as a unique opportunity to share the love of God in a practical way with the community, and to help people understand that Adventists are people who care. Pastor Steve contacted Dr. Mark Brown, a dentist friend who practices in Auburn and Lincoln, California, and Dr. Eric Oakley, a local periodontist who is a member of the Yuba City Church. With their help, volunteer dentists, hygienists, assistants, nurses and lay volunteers were recruited who generously donated nearly a day of their time to provide free dental care to Yuba City area residents. In the end, nearly 40 patients were treated with over 50 procedures!
As a result of the clinic, several patients indicated an interest in Bible studies or in attending future health or Bible seminars at the church! This congregation is excited to see how God will continue to reach people with His everlasting gospel in these last days.
In August of 2014, the Lakeport Seventh-day Adventist Church partnered with GYC (the . . . Generation of Youth for Christ), AMEN, and other volunteers to host a free, two-day dental and medical clinic. Lakeport sits on the western edge of Clear Lake in Lake County, Northern California. Once a booming tourist destination, Lakeport saw years of beauty and popularity. However, in recent years, tourism has declined and drug use has greatly increased. Today, Lake County is one of the most impoverished in the state of California. According to the 2014 census, 25% of the population is impoverished and 20% are still living without health insurance. The area’s increasing drug use has damaged the physical, mental, and emotional health of many.
GYC decided to bring their yearly INTERmission trip to this area for two weeks. They were involved in many projects including hosting a VBS, two NEWSTART programs, assisting with a health fair, and canvassing to distribute health and Bible literature in the community. At the same time, they worked on raising funds to help support the local Adventist school.
GYC volunteers came from as far away as Germany, Martinique, Canada and the East Coast of the United States, went out inviting the community to the various health programs, including the AMEN free clinic. A church team from the Yorba Linda SDA Church adopted the Lakeport free clinic their mission trip for the year and helped by bringing their youth along with dentists, other health professionals, and several helpers. Local health professionals and lay volunteers also joined resulting in a robust team able to provide care for the community.
One of our volunteer dentists, Eugene, shared that it was a blessing to see how physical and spiritual needs were being met together and remarked on the great opportunity we have to do dental ministry here in the United States. “It was impressive to see non-dental health professionals, pastors, and lay volunteers there helping with the whole process of cleaning, organizing, sterilizing instruments, giving massages, giving health talks and counseling, sharing music, and ministering to patients one-on-one… In the end, several of the patients requested Bible studies and every patient received health and Bible materials to take home with them. To each was offered not only physical healing, but also spiritual healing.”
Over the two-day clinic, 371 patients were treated. Feedback from patients reminds us of the blessing of serving. Here are a few examples:
“Work & service was amazing! I appreciated it a whole lot! Thank you!”
“Excellent services. Thankful for this much needed community service. Seemed to run well.”
“Continue to serve the community. Beautiful work! No complaints.”
“Awesome! Just to have it done. I can’t afford to go to a dentist & just to have it makes me feel better & I thank everybody from the bottom of my heart.”
“I had several teeth extracted. I was very stressed but the Doctor & the assistants were very reassuring and all went well.”
“I am so grateful for your kind & gentle help. I have been suffering for a long time with Dental. Thank you. Also the people were so kind, caring. Thank you from my heart.”
“Great people, God bless each and every one of them. I had 2 teeth pulled & feel better already. I thank God that everyone was here to help people in need. Thank you. God Bless!”
“It was a great experience. Wonderful people. This is very helpful to the community for the low income that do not qualify for MediCal. Thank you.”
“Very helpful, had not seen a dentist in 3 years. Please come back.”
“Thanks so much for all the work I haven’t been able to afford! It’s been a blessing that I’ve needed.”
“It was really nice that all these people, dentists, helpers, etc. were willing to work for free. My personal experience in life, I don’t find this too often….”
We are especially grateful to our volunteer dentist, Heidi Sun-Haley, who practices in Lakeport, for following up with multiple patients who we could not treat on site.
It is volunteers, in all areas, and donors who make these clinics possible. We are thankful for each and every one of them, and especially for how God led and blessed us all together in His service.
For more details, you can also, check out GYC’s video on the entire INTERmission trip: https://vimeo.com/118878655
In a land known for the breathtaking Himalayas, extreme mountain trekking and Buddhist . . . prayer flags, the true faith of Christ is largely unknown to the Nepali people. Surrounded by China and India, this once closed country is now open for a potentially short period of time where the Gospel can be shared, received and spread.
Buddhist Monastery at the foot of the Himalayas
This past December, AMEN partnered with graduates from the Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism (AFCOE) to share the gospel with healing in this largely Hindu and Buddhist country. Each day the medical team went out to a remote village where graduates were sharing gospel presentations. We saw powerful results from combining the medical work with evangelism: meeting sizes increased, resistant villagers became receptive and appreciative of the work, hearts were softened and lives were forever impacted. Stanton Rolle, an AFCOE graduate, hadn’t realized the great physical needs in his village until the medical team arrived. Utilizing the right arm of the gospel helped him to gain the trust of the people. “I believe it helped them to understand that we care about their physical, spiritual and emotional well being. Later that evening I would go on to speak against one of their closely held beliefs and the Lord truly blessed…they didn’t feel attacked but rather saw that we only had their best interests at heart. I believe the faithful work of the health team really enabled God to reach them with His truth for this time. At the end of the meetings 11 persons made a decision for baptism.”
Stan with some of his new friends
Dental clinic with Dr. Carlos and Janelle, and Dr. Eugen and Alina
It was wonderful to serve with local volunteers
One beautiful, sunny day, the team headed up mountain roads to that day’s clinic location. We had nearly reached our destination when we rounded the mountain corner only to discover that ahead of us lay a perfect example of an infamous Nepali road. The sharply descending, narrow, dirt road full of ruts with its sharp drop-off was a solemn reminder that the sharing of the Gospel knows no limits. The Adventist church in this village had previously been divided. Half of the members had returned to the Pentecostal belief, but after the clinic and prophecy meetings these members have decided to re-join the Seventh-day Adventist Church. God is working in powerful ways!
Medical and dental team headed out to clinic. L to R: (back row) Dr. Lidia Herz, Alina Modoran (RDA), Bridgette Yanez (LVN), Desiree McSherry, Dr. Eugen Schiopu (front row) Melissa Miranda, Dr. Carlos Moretta, Miles Schaffrick, and the best driver a team could ask for!
Down in the village of Koshidekha
Bridgette triaging patients
In the entire village of Melamchi, there was only one Adventist. However, some of his Adventist relatives from a couple hours away had been studying with the pastor of the town’s Non-denominational Church. Their request to hold the prophecy meetings at his church had been granted. Wyatt Allen, the AFCOE graduate stationed in that village, shared, “The pastor told me that because of the medical work, the village of Melamchi has changed their whole attitude toward Christians”. The church, along with three others that they oversee, have expressed an interest in joining the Seventh-day Adventist Church and have been connected with the local Adventist conference.
Wyatt and his translator, Janak Thapa, sharing in Melamchi
The country of Nepal, although deeply religious, is currently a secular country; albeit, the Christians of Nepal still face great persecution. In one village, the meetings had to be postponed because of the stabbing of a Christian man by a Hindu. In that same village the meetings were threatened near their close if held outside as planned. In still another distant village, new members were baptized in the chilly river early one Sabbath morning to avoid creating unnecessary tension in their village – the village where the Adventist church had been blown up just 6 years before (thankfully with no one hurt). For now, the doors to Nepal are open, however, there is a push to return it to being a Hindu country which could close the doors forever and create a persecution against Christians greater than Nepal has ever seen.
Timothy Pickle with translator, Reshu, sharing the gospel in an Adventist church that had been bombed six years earlier
The experience of our time in Nepal is well summed up by Dr. Eugen Schiopu, a volunteer dentist from Germany: “The planter lives by faith, knowing that the seed is not scattered in vain. The reaper has to stay humble knowing that someone before him scattered the seed and that God developed its growing. But both of them have something in common: they are happy that they were called to co-labor with God, the time spent becomes precious and that is a unique experience for them.”
Some of the AFCOE and AMEN team
There are many things we take for granted. The houses we live in. The food we eat. The . . . teeth we chew it with. Let’s be honest, when was the last time you praised the Lord for healthy teeth?
But for 100 million Americans, lack of dental insurance prevents proper care. One of these people is Leticia Brown, a 34-year old mother of four from downtown San Francisco. Leticia was one of 160 patients AMEN served at a recent free clinic at the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center, April 22-23.
For weeks, Leticia had experienced intense molar pain when chewing. But she left the clinic with a pain-free mouth and a happy heart.
This was AMEN’s third free stateside clinic. The first clinic kicked off last summer on a Navajo reservation near Page, Arizona. Since then, the concept has grown. We’ve prayed, purchased medical and dental equipment, recruited volunteers, and watched God work miracles.
Last September, we set up clinic in Chinatown, San Francisco, providing medical, dental, and spiritual care to over 200 patients. Services included cleanings, extractions, fillings, root canals, blood sugar checks, lifestyle counseling, massage, literature distribution, and spiritual support.
During our most recent clinic, we served 160 patients (including Leticia) at a community center in the heart of downtown San Francisco.
What have we learned from free clinics? We don’t have to go overseas to go on a mission trip. The mission field is in our own backyard!
Would you like to help with an upcoming clinic? Visit amensda.org/missions to get involved.
AMEN was blessed to partner with Guam Adventist Clinic to provide medical relief to . . . typhoon victims from November 22-December 2. Our team was humbled and amazed as we saw God providentially lead and bless this mission.
We arrived in the Philippines with a team of 12, several bags of medical supplies, and countless questions. Which city should we set up clinic in? What supplies do we need? Where will we stay? How can we best minister to these people?
We sensed God’s leading from the start. The way He built our team was clearly providential. ER doctors, dentists, wound care specialists, nurses. In just twelve short days of recruiting, God had placed this burden on hearts, cleared schedules, and provided resources to come.
The rubble of Tacloban
We flew from Cebu to the city of Tacloban, in the province of Leyte. This region was hit hardest by the storm. We were greeted by total devastation—miles and miles of rubble, body bags in the road, homes and lives destroyed.
We were eager to help, but didn’t know where to start. We needed wisdom to follow God’s plan for our mission. Our team earnestly prayed for guidance and direction, asking the Lord to make it clear where He wanted us to serve.
Praying for wisdom
After meeting with (and praying with!) the governor and health director of the province, we were asked to go to Dulag, a coastal town of 50,000 that was devastated by the typhoon. A government clinic was available for our use. We were the first outside medical team to arrive there after the storm. We found just one local doctor who had worked himself to exhaustion.
By God’s grace, we treated over 2,000 patients in just one week. Medical services included wound care, surgeries, deliveries, respiratory treatment, dental care, tetanus vaccinations, and a variety of primary care services. We were very blessed to partner with the team of 12 from Guam Adventist Clinic and also to have Filipino nurses and translators.
Half of our team stayed at a church member’s home in Tacloban, commuting to the clinic each day. The other half camped in a refugee camp right next to the clinic. As the week progressed, we continued to pray that God would open up opportunities for us to reach the patients spiritually. One evening, the team staying at the clinic gathered for worship and singing. They decided to invite some of their refugee neighbors. Within 15 minutes, the clinic was full of beaming children, learning new songs and joining the team in worship.
This was the beginning of our impromptu, spirit-led Vacation Bible School. We continued the worships each night, sharing Bible stories, singing songs, and building friendships with these adorable and resilient kids. We had a special dinner and celebration on Thanksgiving evening and invited everyone to come to church on Sabbath.
Kids from VBS on the beach
In the meantime, God opened the door for us to connect with Joseph, a Filipino Bible worker looking for an area to serve. After visiting our team in Dulag, Joseph felt a special burden to work there. Before we knew it, a member of the Guam team volunteered to sponsor Joseph and one other Bible Worker for the next six months! The goal is to minister to the spiritual needs of this community, and to eventually plant a church.
Sabbath morning the refugee camp was full of curious kids and their parents. We shared short health lectures on the eight natural remedies. For the last remedy, “Trust in God,” Joseph shared a short sermon. It was a message of hope and restoration for those who had lost everything. The scripture couldn’t have been more timely: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” —Psalm 147:3
Sabbath morning at the refugee camp
After the service, we distributed relief food packs, 800 pounds of nails (the people desperately want nails to rebuild their homes), 200 copies of The Great Hope, 300 pairs of children’s sandals (many people lost their shoes during the storm surge), and 400 coloring books with crayons. We left our generator with the clinic, and our leftover medical supplies with another Adventist ministry in the Philippines.
Distributing nails for rebuilding
We left Dulag with empty hands but full hearts. We were humbled and awed as we recounted the series of miracles just witnessed. Not only did God open the doors for us to minister to the physical needs of the people of Dulag, He also set in motion a series of events to reach their hearts. We knew that our best planning and strategizing could never have accomplished what God had done.
We are so grateful for the many generous donations and prayers offered to make this trip possible. We ask for your continued prayers for our friends in Dulag, for our Bible workers, and for our continued efforts to minister to this community.
The AMEN team with Guam SDA Clinic
We are planning a follow-up trip in late March or early April to provide more specialized medical care, spiritual and emotional support, construction, children’s programs, and evangelism. If you are interested in supporting this trip with your skills or resources, we invite you to contact:email@example.com or donate to the Philippines Continued Relief Effort.
Last spring we attended the regional ASI in Sacramento, California. A wonderful blessing . . . resulted from our having the opportunity to network! We met Danny Kwon, the Executive Director for both AMEN and Life and Health Network. While speaking with Danny and sharing the needs on the reservation, we all got very excited about the possibility of these three ministries collaborating to meet the needs on the reservation. As we watched God work it all out, it culminated in a team of five dentists from California, New Mexico & Arizona, along with supporting staff members who made sure everything was streamlined.
They saw well over 95 people over the course of 2 days! AMEN offered the clinic and Life and Health handled the media production; they made a beautiful video which was shown at the AMEN luncheon at ASI in Orlando and interviewed some of the very grateful recipients. We here at Diné outreach are incredibly grateful to the Lord who orchestrated these events. The whole clinic went so well, despite a few minor glitches, that simply led us to pray more. After each individual was seen, they left with a health gift bag filled with dental items, literature and other goodies, plus a number to call if they were interested in having a Health Coach visit them. This outreach has left such a positive feeling of love and goodwill in the community that we expect many positive residual effects from it.
Here’s why this was such a powerful outreach: The people of the Navajo reservation do not all receive free health care, as many assume. The option to receive the general health insurance that is free, and open to any low-income person, of any race, from the state of Arizona is called “Ahcccs” and is only available to those who qualify. But countless numbers of Navajos sadly do not qualify, and they “fall through the cracks” in the system. And then there is the IHS (Indian Health Service), which is not an entitlement program like Medicare or Medicaid; it is also not an insurance program, nor is it an established “benefits” package. The IHS is funded yearly through appropriations by the U.S. Congress, thus the IHS cannot always guarantee that funds will be available and only an estimated 60% of the health care needs of a Native individual are likely to be met if they can qualify at all. So that is why this outreach has met such a large need, and was such a blessing. We are always looking for a continuous flow of missionary aid, reaching people for the kingdom!
Thank you to all the dentists: Matt Chung, DDS; Jeff Westbrook, DDS; Dean Funada, DDS; Scott Lee, DDS; and Anita Lee, DDS as well as to the four students from LLU dental school: Hangin Cho, Jaewon Lee, Jinhyun Cho, and Jinkyu Lee. We are also grateful for the Life and Health employees who volunteered (no pay) to work this weekend event: Sung Hoon Kang, Creative Director; Jon Ewald, Editor/Producer; Desiree McSherry, Nutritionist/Administrative Assistant; Adam Oliver, media intern; Crystal Um, intern (and her mom Jewel Um); and Danny Kwon, Executive Director.