This is the last section on Medical Mission Events. This is based on my dissertation. The focus of the dissertation was the use of medical mission events in the Philippines for long-term impact in a community by a local church. As such, the traditional medical mission is inadequate. Traditional medical missions typically have little long-term impact. Here are some
1. Medical Missions needs a committed local presence. That commitment is to wholistic concern for the community. A church that simply “wants to grow” is not enough since the desire of itself can be simply selfish. A church that is concerned for the community and the people in the community needs to focus on reaching out to the community rather than trying to lure people in.
2. Medical Missions events should do more than simply short-term medical care. There are a number of ways to do this:
-Provide health and hygiene training as part of the medical care.
-Use the mission as a catalyst for bringing together concerned entities within a community for long-term programs
-Provide training programs integrated into the medical mission or operating in parallel.
3. Intentionally plan for long-term ministry. This plan should gradually transition the outside team from providing the majority of services to being technical support. This requires training for local leaders, and material transfer.
4. Work with local authorities, not just religious groups. Utilize and partner with local health and social services.
5. Recognize transformation and evangelism in terms of gradual change, not quick fixes. God may have taken only 6 days to make the world, but after all of this time He is still not done transforming it. Consider a dictum from Engineering. Engineers like to say (when asked to design something) “The design can be Quick, Cheap, or High Quality. You can choose any two of the three.” If it is quick and cheap, it will be low quality. If it is cheap and high quality, it will not be quick. If it is quick and high quality, it will not be cheap. Same with ministry. High quality ministry takes time. I, frankly, am not sure that throwing more money at it will allow one to reduce the time.
6. Medical missions should be done “right”. A major purpose for medical missions is to express love and goodwill in a community in a form that can be recognized and appreciated. Therefore doing things poorly, sabotages that purpose. Here are a few things I have seen (shockingly enough) done in medical missions… that obviously should not be done:
-Bringing too little medicine (or medical samples or random medical donations).
-Bringing expired medicines.
-Hard-sell evangelism. Filipinos will typically say what people want them to say (especially if given something). Missions is not about getting people to “say stuff.” It is about changing lives.
-Bait-and-switch tactics. Don’t offer more of what people want and then switch and more of what you want.
-Having inadequate medical personnel. Inadequate can be in number, training, and licensing.
-Failing to limit the number of patients.
<The last one seems strange to some people. Consider an evangelistic concert. If 50 people come, that is okay. If 500 come that is great. If 5000 come that is excellent.> But not so in medical missions. If you have medical personnel and medicines for 500 people, if 1000 people come, a large number of people will be unhappy… at you and who you represent. It is better to have a smaller group that is treated well, than a large number treated poorly.>
I am sorry if these 5 posts are a bit disjointed. The dissertation is much much longer with much much more information. Instead of boring people with that, I just wanted to hit a few points on medical missions. Summing things up:
- Doing a good job is more important than doing a big job
- Preparing for long-term ministry is more important than an impressive short-term event
- Demonstrating goodwill and God’s love in a tangible way is more important than “wowwing” the crowd
These three points are true with nearly all ministries.
Relevant Book: Healthy Christian Medical Missions
- Medical Mission Events in the Philippines, Part III (missionmusings.wordpress.com)