I wanted to go on medical mission trips for as long as I can remember. In college, I slaved away for hours studying microbiology, chemistry, pharmacology, pathophysiology… all for the single purpose of becoming a medical missionary and going on medical mission trips.
I am now a registered nurse. More specifically, I specialize in pediatric nursing. I had a vision of swooping into a poor village and alleviating the suffering there — of bandaging wounds and teaching the village a better way of life. To be honest, I still dream of becoming a part of a poor village and seeing the suffering there alleviated. But now, this dream encompasses something much greater and bigger than what I can do out of my own knowledge and strength.
The challenges of medical mission trips
When walking into a poverty-stricken area, we can see, smell and feel the consequences of poverty. We want to change that without taking on any other part of their world view or belief system. But Jesus came to bring healing and ministry into every area of our lives. As medical missionaries, we must do the same!
We see that from his mission statement in Luke 4 when he talks about bringing the Good News to the poor. Setting the captives free. Bringing sight to the blind. Setting the oppressed free. And proclaiming the Year of the Lord’s Favor. All these statements have spiritual, political, social and physical components to them.
From the standpoint of a nurse who wants to be a missionary and go on medical mission trips, I began to go through a paradigm shift. Although I had all this great training and experience in nursing, I still did not really know how to bring the gospel to the nations in a lasting way. Yes, I could sew up a stitch, but would that really change a village? A nation? Would that change the future of my friend’s children’s children? The Great Commission is all-inclusive and holistic — and I still had so much to learn about evangelism!
Anyone who says we should only give the gospel and nothing more will have a hard time explaining the Book of James. But, if we who are in the medical field think we can stand on our medical training alone to “be Jesus’ hands and feet,” we may need a bit of a wake-up call. Will that be enough to cause a movement of people to come to Christ?
Medical Mission Trips: A Multi-faceted Approach
I decided to come to a year of evangelism and missionary training here at Equip. This year I have been learning methodologies that are as practical as were my nursing clinicals. Each week we learn new tools and practice using them in ministry. These include Bible study methods, discipleship strategies and sharing our testimonies. At the end of this year, I will have a whole other facet to my knowledge base. Hopefully, that will help me be more effective as a medical missionary.
When going on medical mission trips, we will learn that care for the poor will be both a hindrance and a help to the gospel. If we say we will not help with physical needs, we will not ultimately be effective in sharing the gospel. At the same time, helping too much can be a hindrance to the gospel. The balance must be constantly examined and evaluated. Training in both areas helps medical professionals determine that balance on the mission field. That is why I am so thankful God led me to Equip this year.