International (MNN) – Around the world, there are billions of people who lack access to basic health care. Mission organizations like Orphan’s Heart address medical needs as part of holistic care mission trips. But to move forward in this effort, they’ve added a new component to their ministry: medical missions.
We spoke with Andrew Tattrie, the assistant vice president of operations at Orphan’s Heart, and Jason Holmes—a volunteer medical director and big fan of Orphan’s Heart. These two explained the heart behind this new venture.
“With the other ministries that Orphan’s heart does on the mission field with nutrition or shelter or feeding programs and such, it seemed like the next logical step was to add health care into that mix,” Holmes explains.
Tattrie helps take care of the nuts and bolts of medical mission trips, ensuring participants can spend their time ministering to people and not worrying about the details.
Holmes has been working with Orphan’s Heart for over six years. He has a background in medical emergency and is excited about helping Orphan’s Heart provide stable and ongoing health care to those in need.
Currently, Orphan’s Heart is focusing on Guatemala, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Uganda for medical missions.
The need for medical missions
Tattrie says, “Many of the people, children, families that we serve live in rural communities. They just don’t have the access to get to a clinic or to a hospital to receive adequate health care needs that they have.”
He explains that for many, it’s the first time they have seen a doctor for years.
Holmes says in Uganda they have a formal clinic worked by local Ugandan staff. It is open on weekdays year-round.
In the other countries, they operate through mobile clinics. In communities where getting medical help is difficult, someone can have health issues and not even realize it.
Twelve-year-old Sam, Holmes tells us, had a hernia since birth. He dealt with the physical and emotional discomfort on a daily basis because his family didn’t know what the problem was, nor did they know how to get it fixed.
Through Orphan’s Heart, he was able to get diagnosed and receive the proper care.
Zahara, at five years old, was so malnourished that she developed anemia and her immune system took a hit. Luckily, she was able to receive iron treatment and nutritious food.
Holmes says, “Now she’s much healthier. She’s much more vibrant; she’s in school now.”
Orphan’s Heart is looking for medical teams led by a medical professional—a physician, physician’s assistant, nurse, etc.
But, Tattrie says, “Our medical mission teams aren’t just restricted to medical professionals. We also want others to join in on these teams.”
A big component of these teams is being able to pray with families coming through the clinic, and if they’re open to it, sharing the Gospel.
“The Gospel is definitely something that we want to be a part of our medical missions teams, and it’s actually a great avenue to share the Gospel,” Tattrie explains.
Teams will also partner with local churches during their trip.
Holmes says, “One of the questions I will get routinely is, ‘Why did you come here, why did you come from America and take your time to come and help us, help the people here?’ And that is the perfect segue into, we’re called by God to serve those he loves and that God loves them.”
A positive track record
Tattrie says Orphan’s Heart sends out over 90 mission teams a year with over 1,200 participants. Altogether, these teams are working in 15 different countries.
The ministry works hard to make sure every detail possible is planned ahead of time so that team members won’t get caught up with the logistics—like trying to find transportation or a translator, for instance.
“So the team just comes and focuses on ministry, which is awesome, and we get a lot of feedback from our trip participants, from team members saying that they just love the setup that Orphan’s Heart has,” Tattrie says.
Holmes agrees that for the teams, mission trips are time well spent and truly carry an impact. And, he says, Orphan’s Heart is able to follow through on their desire to help people in need.
“The thing I love about Orphan’s heart is that when you go on a trip…you can concentrate your time and efforts on the people you’re there to serve,” he says.
If you’re interested in medical missions with Orphan’s Heart, you can find more information, including the application process, here.