IMB’s Medical Receptor program a win-win

By December 30, 2008

Ghana (MNN) — Hundreds of villagers with venomous snake bites, typhoid, hernias and tumors visit the Baptist Medical Centre in northern Ghana each day, which only has two missionary doctors on staff. Most doctors are usually located in more developed areas of Ghana. Developed by the International Mission Board fifty years ago, the center regularly recruits medical help, but a persistent need for more volunteers remains.

"They really help us manage the load," says George Faile III, one of the missionary doctors on staff. "Even though a lot of them are students or residents, they are able to help us see patients in clinics and take calls at night. They also do rounds and some of the minor procedures."

The IMB offers a Medical Receptor program for medical residents and fourth-year medical students who want to offer their services overseas. Those who are active in a Southern Baptist church and agree to serve eight to 12 weeks have nearly all costs covered by the program.

"I thought that if I am planning on pursuing a career in medical missions, this was a great way to get my feet wet and to reconfirm my passion," said Heidi Haun, a member of Seminole First Baptist Church in Florida. "I remember walking back to my house from the hospital one night and thinking, ‘I could feel at home here.'"

Haun came to Ghana for 12 weeks with her husband and child. She treated deadly snake bites and cleaned abdomens pierced by advanced typhoid during her term at the medical facility. When diagnosing patients with terminal cancer, Haun shared the eternal hope that Christ offers.

"We're unlimited in how we can approach patients spiritually," explained Earl Hewitt, the other doctor on staff at the hospital. "In the States, you might not be able to present the Gospel. That might be considered infringing on patients' rights. Here, we are free to [talk about Jesus], and we do it as often as we can."

Dr. William Prine, who has practiced medicine in Tennessee for 34 years, had a unique opportunity to share Christ during the two weeks he spent volunteering. Noticing his blood type matched a man at the center who needed blood, Prine took the opportunity to donate his blood and share Jesus with the man.

"I began talking to the man by acknowledging that I had given him blood to prolong his physical life," said Prine. "I then told him I wanted to tell him about the blood Jesus had shed for him."

The man received Jesus as Lord and Savior and asked Prine for a Bible the next day.

"I have never felt so in the presence of God as during my time in Nalerigu," Prine said. "I want to see more volunteers there. They need two other doctors there 52 weeks of the year. "

The United States has about one doctor for every 400 people, according to the World Health Organization. Ghana has one for every 6,600 and they are generally located in more developed areas of the country.

To learn more about the Medical Receptor program, click here.

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