Twelve years ago, I finished my dissertation at Asia Baptist Graduate Theological Seminary. It was on medical missions in the Northern Philippines. Although I would have written some of it different now than I did back then; still, the findings were solid. I hope that the findings are helpful to people, but all too often dissertations (even more so ones published in Asia) go up on shelves and are not looked at again (except perhaps by a few doctoral students trying to pad out their bibliography).
So I was glad to see some of my dissertation utilized in a recent book on Medical Missions. The book is called, SHALOM: GOD’S PURPOSE FOR THE WORLD: MODERN MEDICAL MISSIONS IN THE ISLAMIC CONTEXT (by Dae-Young Lee, Wipf & Stock, 2021). Technically, the book used an article I developed from the dissertation, and a book that summarized the dissertation. Lee is a medical doctor who served for years as a medical missionary in an Islamic region. As such, he is well positioned to see the best and worse of medical missions— as well as its potential.
I have only just recently started reading the book, but so far it has been excellent. Actually, the first two paragraphs of the Preface (by Jerry M. Ireland) summarizes a lot of the concerns with Christian Medical Missions I found in my research, as well as my personal experience. (since I spent around 8 doing monthly medical missions in the Philippines). Here are the two paragraphs:
In the world of Christian compassionate missions, and, more precisely, the world of Christian medical missions to the Arab world, pitfalls abound. There exists the ever-present danger of doing medical missions merely as a “platform,” and thereby disingenuously. Or, more palatably to the non-Christian world, one might engage in medical work in a foreign land that has no genuine Christian content because there exists no explicit link to the gospel. Additionally, medical mission efforts have too often subverted, ignored, or dismissed local medical professionals, guidelines, and government regulations, putting the missionaries at odds with civil authorities in ways incompatible with the gospel and with truth. Paternalistic tendencies, especially among western mission workers have at times resulted in the sending of so-called “medical teams” that lacked even basic medical and missionary training.
These far-too-common shortcomings in medical mission work have minimally left dark stain on the church but also raised (further) questions as to the legitimacy of the entire mission enterprise. If Christians cannot show compassion to the most needy and vulnerable, especially the sick, in ways that are Christ-honoring, culturally considerate, and carried out with honesty and integrity, then is there any hope at all for Christian cross-cultural efforts?— Jerry M. Ireland, Preface to “Shalom: God’s Purpose for the World,” by Dae-Young Lee
Lee’s book can be found by CLICKING HERE
My book on medical missions is found by CLICKING HERE
My article on medical missions quoted in the book is found by CLICKING HERE
Jerry M. Ireland has an interesting blog worth reading. One article I really enjoyed is on “Verbal Assault Evangelism (And Why It Doesn’t Work)“.