i am a christian, i am a dentist, i am a mission dentist, my country: the philippines, this is life

Medical Missions Can Save Lives

Someone I didn’t know posted this a few weeks ago…

medical missions useless

Okay then, let’s talk about it now. Let’s talk about how Medical Missions cannot really change the lives of people because as soon as the team packs up, everyone is forced to go back to their hapless lives. How services provided do not even touch the surface of the society’s real problems. And how the desperate individuals are sometimes forced to pay for meager service that is devoid of heart and care. I guess if you look at things this way, Medical Missions can seem quite useless, especially when teams arrive and patients discover that the services and medicines are not completely free. Not all Medical Missions are the same, I guess, and I pity that doctor for seeing no point in them, because that is not what I experience when I go to the field. Of course I realize that there may be a backstory to his statement. I wish I could hear it so that I could understand the depth of his frustration and at the same time, explain to him why I disagree with what he said.

The Heart of Christian Missions

Medical Missions will never be the answer for peace; and it will never be the absolute solution for the improvement of lives. But it is not at all useless. We know that any assistance we can offer is temporary, that’s why apart from Physical Healing, we come with Spiritual Enrichment.

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You see, the main goal of every Team Jesus Mission is not really to bring Medical and Dental Care, but to bring Jesus into the lives of people. We travel with pastors and counselors because the Great Commission calls for us to “go and make disciples of all nations”. And with this, we can never deem Medical Missions useless because we go to far places to fulfill God’s work.

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“As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than yours,

and your thoughts higher than my thoughts.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

and do not return to it

without watering the earth

and making it bud and flourish,

so that it yields seed for the sower

and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

it will not return empty,

but it will accomplish what I desire

and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

(Isaiah 55:9-11)

We travel far, bringing the word of the Lord, and we allow ourselves to be channels of his unfailing love.

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Is it really useless? Do you still feel it useless even when God said “my word will not return empty?” and that all this is meant to achieve the purpose for which he sent it? In a single perspective it may seem as though Medical Missions are just a waste of time; but if you are a Christian Missionary, every chance to tell someone about Jesus is a golden opportunity that you cannot simply take for granted.

It is such a privilege to tell someone about the Lord. It’s not easy to do but when you’re given the opportunity to introduce him to people by serving them, you make USE OF IT.

The Miracle of Healing

Faith is the most important tool we bring to the field. Not the boxes of medicines and supplies. Not my heavy surgical instruments—but FAITH. And believe it or not, I have seen many miracles happen in the field. From medicines magically multiplying, just so we can provide for every single person who has queued for hours—to patients miraculously getting better through prayer or simple medications that aren’t exactly designed to do that.

A few weeks ago, the team was in Bicol and just before we wrapped up the second day, a lady came running to us in panic, needing a BP apparatus. We thought she just needed to take someone’s blood pressure, but an old woman was apparently having a panic attack, so we ran to her. What happened was, the woman received urgent news about her daughter who is currently confined in the hospital. It was such bad news, told so carelessly, that it immediately launched a massive attack. She was crying, running out of breath, and clutching her chest.

Her BP was registered at 180/120 and even after the sublingual she was still tachycardic (rapid heart rate). Our doctor said, “Kailangan nya ng oxygen.” (She needs oxygen). And then she remembered that we arrived with the Medical Corps who brought with them, an AMBULANCE. So I ran and asked if they were equipped and Praise the Lord, they were. Two soldiers immediately carried the woman to the ambulance, and hand-in-hand with her husband she was given immediate relief. If she wasn’t attended to, at that moment, her heart would have continued to fail.

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Talk about being at the right place, at the right time. Minutes later, the old woman was walking home, and feeling much better. Whether her daughter’s state had worsened or improved since she received the news, I lift it to the Lord. That is a different battle—but we will celebrate this one that we had just won.

“Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven”.

James 5:15

“When do we start talking about the overall uselessness of medical missions?”

Medical missions will never be the ultimate solution to poor healthcare, but you cannot just dismiss it and deem it useless. Not for me. Not the way I experience it. Not the way God works through the volunteers, for his people. I have been to many medical missions before, but I’ve never seen true service until I became a dental missionary. And in my heart of hearts, I wish that doctor will find happiness in serving the people. I wish he would experience it the way I do so he, too, will find value in this.

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This little girl and her mother were queued to receive Medical Care, when our nurse noticed the 3-month old baby having difficulty breathing. Our doctor ran to them, examined the girl, and observed that her lungs were congested and her nostrils were flared (alar flaring). They were survivors of the landslide during Typhoon Usman and she’s had on and off cough for months. Sensing the immediate need, they were pulled out of the queue and were attended to, right away.

Tucked away in the mountains, without any access to Medical Care, what are they supposed to do? Of course the care they received is only temporary. But hopefully, the MHO we endorsed them to is going to keep her promise to monitor the child.

Medical Missions are not useless, especially when the heart of the volunteer is sincerely devoted to the service of the people. And we will continue to travel and reach far areas, because there might be another old woman or another young child, needing emergency care that is OUT OF REACH.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for each other”

1 John 3:16



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