International (MNN) — Last year, Ebola rocked headlines–for a few days, maybe weeks. Refugee crises continue growing around the world, to the point where people don’t want to hear about it anymore. Meanwhile, the violence from Muslim extremists is hitting every continent on a more regular basis.
Whether you’ve stopped paying attention or not, there continue to be victims from every single scenario mentioned, and more. And the needs of these victims are reshaping the skills called upon in medical missions.
Anne Lucas, director of e3 Medical, a branch of e3 Partners, says their focus is not changing, however.
She says, “Our mission is to model the healing, teaching, and preaching ministry of Jesus. And our intent is not just to go and do medical clinics in the countries and the places that we serve. But the intention is to be a catalyst to share the Gospel and to start churches.”
Through medical missions, e3 is able to reach out into communities that are difficult to connect with.
Lucas says they are currently serving in 35 countries. Over the past year, the need for medical missions has grown overall, even while in some areas disease numbers are decreasing. And not only is the need growing, but it’s changing too.
“One of the areas that we’re seeing an increase in need is in the countries in the Middle East, especially with the refugees and the health conditions that they live in in the refugee camps, not to mention the physical abuse that they’ve been through,” Lucas explains. Her point is that instead of an emphasis on treating people with physical ailments, there is a movement toward healing emotional and mental trauma.
She says, “We’ve seen some changes in the skill sets we need. We need more people who are experienced in dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress.”
The ministry usually connects with volunteers through churches and word-of-mouth from past participants. Lucas says there’s an average of 2,700 people going on mission trips with e3 each year. That’s a pretty big pool to draw from, but in addition, they also partner with colleges that have nursing and pharmacy programs.
In the upcoming year, e3 has 160 trips booked with 30-34 of those being medically-focused. During medical trips, e3 volunteers also teach the communities health practices, educating them on sanitation and various muscle strengthening exercises to treat back pain and the like.
Why medical mission works
Think about the last time you went to the doctor. Did you feel like you could tell your physician anything about your physical, emotional, and mental health and trust him or her to use that knowledge for your good? If so, you’ve gone to a good doctor. Now, take that trust principle overseas with these medical mission teams.
“What we’ve found with medical clinics is: it removes the barrier,” Lucas says.
It starts with meeting a need. People will come from miles around to take advantage of free or low-cost medical care that will help improve their everyday life.
Lucas says, “They would not go to a church; they would not allow you to come into their home. But they would go into a place like [a medical clinic], and there’s immediate credibility and trust. So it opens a lot of doors for us.”
The next thing that happens is that the patients are affected by the love they receive at these clinics. Being shown basic human dignity and respect goes a long way to soften hardened hearts. Many times the people open up and share a little bit about their story.
This is how e3 is able to minister to their very deepest need: their need for Jesus.
Lucas shares a story from a recent trip: “We were in an area that’s highly persecuted and having a medical clinic in a [Muslim] community.”
An unexpected encounter
Lucas was working as crowd control outside the clinic where a group of women in burkas were waiting to receive medical attention.
Lucas patted the back of an older lady as she passed. The woman grabbed her arm and pointed to a spot on her hand. She was concerned that something was wrong. Lucas called a translator and explained to the woman it was a “wisdom” spot.
However, the woman’s hands were very dry, so Lucas got some lotion and showed the woman what she was going to do.
“And I started putting the lotion on her right hand, and she started weeping,” she says. Lucas immediately thought she had crossed a cultural boundary line and called over a translator to find out what was wrong.
The woman explained that she had never been shown love and kindness like this ever before. Lucas was able to tell her that she loved her, that she had come to her country to tell her about Jesus and His love for her.
She had never had someone show her that love and kindness before. The lady gave Lucas a hug and asked for more lotion.
Lucas says “It was nothing medical, it was nothing planned. it was one of those God-moments where it’s two women interacting and sharing God’s love.”
Want to make stories like this possible?
For more information on how to get involved, you can contact Anne Lucas here.