Healing Lives

Welcome to Medical Ambassadors International's Healing Lives Magazine. We are excited for you to read Our summer 2016 edition, titled "Visible Impact"

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From the Editor

Denise Locker
When chunks of space rock come hurtling through the earth’s atmosphere, a fireball smashes into the ground at a velocity between seven and twelve miles per second. These solid pieces of destructive space debris are called meteorites.
A meteorite does not have to be large to make a great impact – the Barringer Crater in Arizona, has a diameter of almost a mile and was made by a chunk of space rock about 35 to 52 yards wide.
As with meteorites, so is the impact Medical Ambassadors is making to transform communities and heal lives...
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Jesus Passed
through the Village

Victor Chen, Global CHE Coordinator

One of the great joys of our work is witnessing community stories of transformation. The interaction of individuals and families is a complex dynamic, but something amazing takes place when a community begins to experience the grace and power of Jesus collectively. As an organization that values effective monitoring and evaluation of our work, it is exciting when we have the opportunity for a rigorous third-party evaluation to study what is happening through Community Health Evangelism (CHE). I’d like to share about a prominent study in MAI history that shows what can happen when Jesus enters a community. This is a story about the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In the early 1990’s, MAI began CHE work in the central part of Congo, then known as Zaire. By the mid-90’s many expatriate Christian workers had left the country because of increasing political tensions. In a 50-mile radius where CHE began, there were already two churches. By 1997, local MAI staff helped catalyze an encouraging growth of CHE work in 56 villages and the planting of some 40 churches.

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A Burden to Bear

Madelle Payne, MAI’s Vice President of Ministries & Interim WCL International Coordinator

What happens when one of your most effective ideas doesn’t work in the present situation? At Medical Ambassadors we see the genius of teaching people to find solutions to their own problems, thus empowering them to deal with their own needs.

But sometimes teaching people to help themselves simply doesn’t apply; the situation is too dire. What are we to do then? When is it appropriate to reach out and meet a need FOR someone, and when is that inappropriate?

A mentor of ours, Gil Odendaal, pointed to a scriptural passage to answer that question. In Galatians 6 Paul seems to give contradicting directives. In verse 5 he says, “Each will have to carry his own load.” But prior to that in verse 2, he states, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Which is right?

The Greek word for “load” in verse 5 refers to the military pack Roman foot soldiers had to carry—very heavy but manageable for a strong man. Verse 2 has a different Greek noun for the word “burden.” This time it means a crushing weight that is impossible for anyone to carry.

It seems Paul is telling us to approach people in different ways, depending on the weight of their present circumstances.

Take the situation in which a friend of ours found himself. We knew this young man from our church in Nairobi, Kenya. He was married, had twin baby daughters, and had a decent job. One evening he showed up at our house in deep distress. We sat down over cups of hot tea to hear his story.

One little girl had been hospitalized, but had recovered and was ready to be discharged. However, her dad’s good job did not include insurance. He earned enough to pay the rent and feed his family, but not enough to pay for insurance or have anything much in a bank account. They lived month to month.

Our friend told us the hospital required that he pay what was (for him) an enormous sum before they would send his daughter home. And every day that passed kept adding to that bill!

This dear guy had gone to the pastor and had also talked to his small group. They had prayed with him…and contributed what they could. A start.

He went to his parents. Much of their farming income was drained by his mother’s chronic illness, but they were able to help him a little. He thought about asking his uncles, but they had long been estranged from his dad, and he didn’t have the stomach for the rebuff he knew would come from them, despite their wealth.

As he poured out this story to us, he told us he and his wife weren’t eating well and couldn’t sleep because of the stress of the situation. He asked if we could help at all.

My husband and I left our friend drinking his tea in our living room and went into the back yard to ask God what we should do to help his desperate situation. God’s answer was clear, and we were able to help get his little girl out of the hospital. God had used a supportive community of his people to bring resolution to an impossible situation that was crushing this family.

There seems to be a lesson here for those of us who seek to help people in need. Most of the time, teaching them to heft their own load—to manage their own problems—is a commendable plan of action. Occasionally we do need to ask the questions: “Do these circumstances call for relief or development?” Or “Is this situation an overwhelming, crushing burden or a manageable load?”

How good of God to clarify the difference for us!

 


LOVE
One Another

Dr. Steve Belton, MAI Board Vice-Chair

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God.”

This wonderful verse came to mind as I flew home from Africa recently. It was a devotional text used during a prior mission trip to Ethiopia in 2007. There I fell in love with Community Health Evangelism (CHE) as a method of reaching communities with both physical and spiritual health. Now, returning from Eastern and Southern Africa, I found myself once again thanking God for raising up good and faithful servants who loved their countrymen and one another because they knew that God first loved them.

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Measuring Results
of Community Health Evangelism

John Payne, President, Medical Ambassadors International

For me to talk about measuring the results of Community Health Evangelism (CHE) is perhaps unfair. Missions measure what they do for two reasons:

  1. So they can do it better.
  2. To show potential donors they are worthy of support. (read: “More worthy than others asking for support.”)

I fully support reason #1, but #2 is problematic.

First, I am biased in my opinion that Medical Ambassadors is unusually worthy of support. (I am, after all, the president of the organization!) However, MAI did release two of our key staff to form the Global CHE network (see page 17). Now people representing over 650 other missions and organizations have asked to be trained in CHE. They have seen how CHE can cut infant mortality and malnutrition in half while having a spiritual impact that is unusually powerful. Consequently, there are many missions implementing this exceptionally effective strategy, and thus worthy of support.

Second, MAI directly pays approximately 200 nationals worldwide. Many people decide which mission is worthy of support based on productivity: how much work is accomplished per dollar spent. Our 200 paid workers supervise/train/inspire 60,000 volunteers all over the world who implement the work in their own communities. So of course, MAI’s output is tremendous. Therefore, comparing missions that pay all their workers with MAI, which is based on volunteerism, is like comparing apples with oranges.

Third, MAI’s productivity is much higher in places open to the Gospel, just like other missions. A good result in a creative access country is much different from that in a receptive country. Results of CHE depend on where you measure them. Interestingly, many of the missions who have asked for CHE training work in places where results come slowly.

Finally, God measures MAI’s success by our obedience, not by our productivity. Ultimately, we all concede that God is the best evaluator of our obedience.
So, let me focus on #1- Measuring results so MAI can do even better.

In order for volunteers to continue their work, they have to be convinced they are making a significant difference. Therefore, instead of my telling local people what to measure, I have to ask them.

 

Let me replay a recent conversation one of MAI’s staff had with a volunteer.

MAI staff: “How do you think CHE is making life better in your community?”
Volunteer: “Our children used to be sick all the time, and we had no money for school fees. All that is different now. My wife used to complain about me all the time. Now she is helping me, and praising me to our neighbors.”
MAI staff: “As you look at good changes in your village, are more of them spiritual or physical?”
Volunteer: “Certainly both! We used to be afraid of evil spirits. Now we know Jesus is much stronger than demons. I used to have no hope, and I ignored the needs of my neighbor. Now Jesus gives me so much hope I am willing to help my neighbor, who has come to love Jesus, too. We are praying and studying the Bible together and inviting others to join us.”
MAI staff: “What do you think would happen if CHE only focused on making things better physically?”
Volunteer: “I think I would just focus on myself, and not care about my neighbor at all.”
MAI staff: “You have certainly convinced me. Let’s talk to your CHE committee to see how they want to keep track of the new things that are important to you.”

How can we measure results? The bottom line is that lives are changed, and neighbors are sharing these changes with those around them, thus changing their whole communities for the better.

Stay tuned

For the next edition of Healing Lives, coming Winter 2016.

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