Medical Missions

Wondering what medical missions are like? Maybe you’re interested in healthcare and haven’t had the opportunity to get to school yet? Or you’re not sure if you want to do medicine yet, but you’re curious to find out?

We interviewed Aimee Phillip, Marine Reach Medical Compassion DTS staff, to get her take on medical missions!

What do medical missions mean to you?

“No matter when you go out, your goal is to reach people and to share the love of Christ. I think the word medical is simply a doorway to do that, but the goal remains the same. The goal is to show people Christ, to share the gospel, and to express the character and nature of God. When you take the word ‘medical’, I think sometimes people get stuck on the word and forget the goal; they forget to share. It’s such a beautiful thing that the Lord has given us different gifts and passions on His children’s hearts. Some people have the gift of worship- of music and making noise, and then there’s people who have a gift with kids – who organise games, and then there’s people who have this passion for healing, to meet someones needs. There’s so many practical things that the Lord has put in our lives that can be utilised as a doorway into missions, and He puts those into our lives for a reason. So I think medical missions are for these people who have this passion for taking care of people, for the ones who have a skill set in care taking areas and can use that space to actually share Jesus.

I personally think that in medical missions the minority should be medical and the majority should always be missions. You use it as an outlet but that the reality is that you’re connecting someone to a source, and that source is Jesus.

I love medical missions! I love the idea of medical missions. I love that we have a God that wants to use our gifts and wants to bring practical things to His children that are hurting. He meets needs. He always wants to meet needs! If He sees one of them hurting, He wants to bring comfort. If He sees one of His kids having anxiety, He wants to bring peace. He doesn’t just sit and do nothing, but He wants to show in action His love and His care. It so cool that we can be used as vessels for that!”

How do you prepare for Medical Mission trips?

“I think you need to know your skill set. The most successful things that we were able to bring when we went out were the things that we were naturally good at. And putting more time and effort into those than whole new skills. New skills are beautiful, but if you have a team that is naturally good with kids and are really good teachers, it is better to focus on bringing health education, songs for them to remember and showing people how to take care of there bodies. If you have a team that loves the ooshy gooshy ewey stuff and are super excited to do wound care, put a lot of time and effort into getting resources to do that. If you have a really energetic team that wants to run exercise classes every morning, get those things organised.

I think knowing who you’re going with, putting together your skills, and asking ‘what is the Lord wanting us to focus on with the skills that He has given us?’ is important. If you’re not surgeons, don’t go in expecting to do a surgery. If you’re not a nurse, do not expect to go having all the skills of a nurse. Instead go in knowing the Lord has equipped you to do a certain thing and He will use you if you’re faithful.

Some of the practical things I had to look at when we were going on medical missions was checking that I could bring specific supplies across the border or if we had to buy them in the nation. A lot of my teams wanted to do health education which meant we had to prepare a lot beforehand. For example, accommodating the language barrier by making very visual pictures to use for explanations.

It was always important to my team to set up clinics when we were in these nations. We wanted to run things like physiotherapy, checking blood pressure and wound care. Not only did we have to teach these things, but we had to practice them and be diligent and confident. That way we weren’t just coming to do a clinic, but actually to benefit the people around us. So preparation is key!”

What has been the most challenging part?

“I would say the most challenging part to medical missions is not getting caught up in your own desires. And I think that’s in so many things in life, but I know for me it’s easy to have my own agenda and to go like ‘okay, I really want to see this today!’ or help a person who got a bush knife cut or whatever it would be. Sometimes when you put medical before missions, you forget what the focus should be on. And because it takes time to prepare missions beforehand, it’s easy to put all your time and effort into the medical side of things that you miss opportunities to share the gospel or just love someone in a non medical way. If your eyes aren’t on Jesus, you might lose those moments being too caught up in your own mindset.

So I guess the word to summarise all that is expectations. In missions in general, when we make our own expectations about what something is going to look like, we can limit what God is wanting to show us.”

What about the most rewarding?

“A lot of my answers revolve around the same thing. But I think the most rewarding aspect of medical missions is when you realise what you’ve brought and prepared has opened doors to love someone in the way that they need to be loved.”

What’s one of your favourite stories?

“One time in Vanuatu, my team needed to get to the other side of this island. The only way we could do this was by getting into this tiny little boat. We all got completely soaked with water, like COMPLETELY! Drenched head to toe, but we got there with all of our medical stuff in a backpack that happened to be the only thing that wasn’t wet. We were tiered but managed to set up a clinic. Man, let me tell you, in those moments that you’re the most tired, be aware that God might want to use you in your weakness, so that He is the most glorified.

So, when we set up this clinic, no one was there. It was a Sunday and everyone was at church and we were like ‘what even are we doing here?’ We decided to do some worship, and our desire was that some of the locals would come sing with us. None of them really did, but they were kind of listening from the outside. Anyways, we were like ‘I guess we’re going to start this clinic’, so we rang this bell to share with people that we were ready for them. After about 15-20 minutes, all of these people just started coming. This one lady came, and we got to pray for her. She had had head aches for years. When we prayed for her, she just started crying. She hadn’t given us much detail when she had asked us to pray, so while she was crying we asked what was happening and she started to share. As we prayed her head ache started to go away for the first time, she felt the Holy Spirit and the Lord’s presence. What was so beautiful was that there were all these people who were being treated for so many different things, and this woman started grabbing people she knew had chronic sickness or knee pain. She made a line at the prayer station that was our biggest line anywhere, and she just kept grabbing these ladies. Not only was she bringing them to us, but she was sharing her testimony of what God did when we prayed. She was declaring that God is good, and that he heals. I don’t think I have ever seen the power of testimony so beautifully shown.

Another guy also turned up for prayer for a medical issue but he actually ended up given his life to the Lord and started confessing his sins to the Lord right in front of us. Things like ‘I’m not doing well in my faith’, ‘I’m not honouring God in these areas’ and ‘I want to change my lifestyle’. Just like that and every person that came to us had such a different thing that the Lord was wanting to do in their life, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Jesus is the ultimate healer. He is the ultimate king. It was so beautiful to see the fact that people wanted and needed Jesus more than they wanted and needed the things we could bring, and to see the open door that God used. So many people still got treated for the things they came for, but the thing that I saw that day was that people were leaving that day knowing Jesus more than they knew us and wanting Jesus more than the things that we brought.

I think that day, for me, was a perfect picture of what missions are supposed to look like; when you are prepared practically, but also come prepared just to let the Lord lead and open doors as He does.”

Marine Reach YWAM NZ DTS New Zealand Missions Training
YWAM Marine Reach NZ YWAM DTS

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