International (MNN) — Over 43 million people around the world have
fled their homes and are living as refugees this Christmas season. Many have been separated from family members,
and most have lost everything they have to the ravages of violence and war.
According to Bas Vanderzalm of Medical Teams
International, refugees have much in common with Jesus Christ, who was forced
to run from violence almost as soon as He was born.
"Jesus was a refugee," says Vanderzalm. "When He
was born in Bethlehem and Herod learned about it, He had to flee Bethlehem in
order to save His life. They went out, like most refugees do, with the clothes
on their back, and no food and no shelter, and probably a lot of uncertainty
about where to go."
Medical Teams International volunteers run medical clinics for refugees
in war-torn Central Africa. About 60,000
people have taken refuge in southwest Uganda from the fighting in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, and Medical Teams International works in cooperation
with Ugandan medical workers to provide healthcare for them.
Thousands more refugees live in temporary shelters in southern and
eastern Sudan. Medical Teams International
sends medical volunteers there to help prevent the spread of diseases.
It only costs $5 to provide medicine for one person and potentially
save a life. "Since our volunteers contribute and donate their time, the cost
of providing this care is very small, as well," Vanderzalm explains. "So a gift of $50 or $100 to
our work will be stretched a long way and make a huge difference for a number
Medical Teams International volunteers care for more than just the
physical health of the refugees. They also
work with local churches to care for refugees' spiritual needs.
"We work very closely with churches on the ground in the places where
we're working," says Vanderzalm. "In
many cases, the people who are refugees are themselves believers. I've met many pastors who are refugees who've had
to leave their homes. So we're reaching
out not only to those who don't know Christ and who need to experience His
love, but in many cases, these are our own brothers and sisters for whom we are
Do you have a background in medical care? You can help Medical Teams International be
the hands and feet of Jesus to hurting people.