Chapter Three


At the present time a number of medical missions programs are being sponsored by the Churches of Christ. Information on these programs, however, is often not easily obtained. Monthly reports, year-end summaries, and similar information are often only distributed to a small group of supporters. The autonomy of individual congregations and the lack of any centralized record keeping also tends to result in a lack of communication. The following is a brief summary of some of these programs. Information was drawn from various sources to provide the reader with an overview of medical evangelism among the Churches of Christ. In addition to the references cited, a bibliography of works written by members of the Churches of Christ who have been involved in medical missions has been included. Anyone desiring more details may refer to these sources.

Chimala Mission and Hospital

The Chimala Mission and Hospital was the first hospital built by members of the Churches of Christ. Evangelistic efforts and a preacher training school had been established in Tanzania in the late 1950s.1 The government later ruled that in order to remain, the Churches of Christ must provide some type of medical or social services. In an effort to maintain the presence of the Church of Christ in Tanzania, Andrew and Claudene Connally founded the Chimala Mission and Hospital in 1962. Opening in 1965, the original facilities included a 50-bed hospital and outpatient clinic. Many of the funds necessary to build the hospital were raised through the efforts of members of the Park Row Church of Christ in Arlington, Texas.2 The hospital has also been sponsored by the Springtown, Church of Christ, Springtown, Texas, and the Seagoville Church of Christ in Seagoville, Texas, and is currently under the oversight of the New York Avenue Church of Christ in Arlington, Texas.

The first physician to work at the hospital was Dr. Jerry Mays. Others who worked in the early days of the hospital included Drs. Ron Huddleston, P. R. Wheeler, and Jim Rackley.3 Numerous other medical and non-medical personnel have also worked at the hospital since it first opened. Dr. Frank Black has the longest tenure of any American doctor at Chimala Mission. He and his wife Lou Ann and a nurse, Janice Bingham, were there from 1992-1997.

Still in operation, the hospital (now with a 100-bed capacity) also includes an outpatient clinic, family shelter, post-natal clinic, morgue, storage and laundry areas, dispensary, isolation ward, children's ward, and housing for nine visiting missionary families.4

Robert Stapleton, current coordinator for the Chimala Mission and Hospital, summarizes the history of this work as follows:

Over all of these years there has been the constant desire to use this work as a shining light for the gospel. Each year we report of hundreds of people who are turned away from the darkness of this present world into the marvelous light of the gospel. A day does not pass that a hundred or more people are treated at Chimala Mission Hospital. Work continues to be done in the name of Jesus. Men who are supported by the mission reach out every day with the power of God unto salvation. Classes are being taught in various locations within the hospital regularly. As the mobile clinic leaves the grounds. . . an evangelist goes along to teach classes and hand out literature. At almost any given time one can find over 600 Correspondence Courses being conducted. Great things are happening. . .5

African Christian Hospitals Foundation/International Health Care Foundation

The beginning of New Testament Christianity in Nigeria actually preceded the arrival of the first missionaries. A man named C. A. O. Essien learned the truth through a Bible correspondence course and was baptized. Soon after his baptism he began preaching and had established several congregations before the first missionaries arrived.6

In the 1950s and early 1960s several families moved to Nigeria to serve as missionaries.7 The people of Nigeria were very receptive to the gospel. In 1965 in a report on the status of missions in the Churches of Christ it was stated:

The most prolific mission field in the past decade has, without doubt, been Nigeria. In only twelve short years the church has grown to a membership of 50,000 Christians and 500 congregations. There are more Christians in Nigeria than in any other nation outside the United States. There are 275 native evangelists, ten Christian elementary schools, and two Bible colleges.8

The history of medical evangelism in Nigeria begins with the work of Bill and Gerry Nicks, Rees and Patti Bryant, and others, who came to Nigeria in the 1950s.9 They, along with other missionaries, soon realized the need for some type of medical facility. While on furlough in the United States, Bill Nicks met Dr. Henry Farrar, who was completing a surgical residency and had expressed an interest in medical missions. Rees Bryant later contacted Dr. Farrar, and he agreed to come to Nigeria.

On July 29, 1964, Dr. Farrar, along with his wife, Grace, and five children arrived in Nigeria. Along with the Farrars, the medical staff included nurses, Nancy Petty and Iris Hayes. Nigerian Christian Hospital opened in 1965 and operated until the beginning of the Biafran War (1967-69). The hospital was reopened after the war in 1972 and has continued in operation to the present.10

African Christian Hospitals Foundation (ACHF) was formed to help support the work of the Nigerian Christian Hospital, and Rees Bryant, a veteran missionary, served as the first president. H. Glenn Boyd, who holds a doctorate in missions and also a former missionary, moved to Searcy, Arkansas, in 1981 and served as the second president of ACHF. The name was changed in 1998 to International Health Care Foundation (IHCF). In January 2000, Frank Black, M.D., who had served for several years at Chimala Mission Hospital, became the Executive Director of IHCF.

Nigerian Christian Hospital continues to provide medical care for the people of Nigeria. Besides Dr. Farrar, Drs. Robert Mahaffey, Maurice Hood, Jeff Jones, Victor Vadney, and Robert Whittaker have worked at the hospital on a long-term basis. Many other medical and non-medical personnel have also worked at the hospital for varying lengths of time. IHCF coordinates the overall operation, but the missionaries are supported by Churches of Christ in the United States.

In 1995 on the 30th anniversary of the opening of the hospital it was reported that nearly a million patients had been treated at the facility.11 Today, NCH has a 100-bed capacity, a surgical suite, pediatric ward, male, female, and maternity wards, outpatient clinic, emergency room, and an eye clinic. The facilities also include a pharmacy, laboratory, dental clinic, optometry unit, and morgue. It is located on a 119 acre compound which includes six houses for the staff. A total of 165 Nigerians work at NCH as medical personnel and non-medical employees. The hospital was recently chosen by the University of Abia State Medical and Nursing School to serve as a teaching hospital, a first among health care facilities sponsored by the Churches of Christ.12

Another hospital associated with IHCF in Nigeria is the Palmer Memorial Hospital, which after operating as a clinic for 10 years officially opened on June 23, 1996.13 Named in honor of Dr. Lucien and Mrs. Ida Palmer, long time missionaries in Nigeria, the facility is located in Ikot Usen, Akwa Ibom State. A population of more than 100,000 living in 227 villages is served by the hospital.14

The medical and administrative staff of Palmer Hospital are Nigerian Christians. Dr. Robert Whittaker from NCH also assists at the hospital on a regular basis.15

IHCF is involved with a medical facility in Kumasi, Ghana. The Church of Christ Mission Clinic was opened in August 1987 and is open daily for treatment of patients. The clinic is also used to train health care workers to return and serve the members of their community. Mobile clinics, training, educational programs, and evangelism are a vital part of this effort.

A well drilling program in Ghana, formerly sponsored by the Church of Christ in Traverse City, Michigan, merged with IHCF in January 2000.16

Another program, the Church of Christ Mission Clinic, at Yendi in northern Ghana, was begun in June 1996. Besides the base clinic at Yendi, this program is also involved in mobile clinics, training of primary health care workers, and evangelism. This facility is staffed by both American and national personnel.17

Local evangelists work as chaplains in each of the facilities sponsored by IHCF. Teaching, counseling, and ministering to the emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their families is an important aspect of the work.

IHCF has also been associated with medical evangelistic work in Mabaruma, Guyana (South America). A government hospital located there was assisted by IHCF for a short period of time. 18

In 1998 IHCF initiated a program near Cap Haitian, Haiti, where a clinic had been operated in the late 1980s. The new program emphasizes Primary Health Care Training. This is a cooperative work with the Haitian Christian Foundation (based in Abilene, Texas) that sponsors the Center for Biblical Studies in Haiti. Dr. Milton Eckhard, his wife Holly, a nurse, and another nurse, Melissa Jung, worked for a three year period with the Center to train the students in basic health care.19

The primary goals of IHCF (ACHF) have been to promote, support, and coordinate medical evangelism among the Churches of Christ. The programs briefly described above are evidence that these goals have been and continue to be realized. Much good has been done and many have been provided with medical and dental care. Facilities sponsored by IHCF have also continued to serve as centers for evangelism and strengthening of local churches.

Besides these clinics and hospitals, IHCF has also further promoted medical evangelism through a scholarship program, providing sponsorship of Nigerian medical and nursing students by individual Christians and Churches of Christ in the United States. These students are chosen by their local congregations and are supported during their training in Nigeria. The students sign an agreement to return and work for IHCF upon completion of their training.

IHCF also hosts an annual medical evangelism seminar to help further encourage and promote medical evangelism among the Churches of Christ. This yearly seminar brings together a large number of medical professionals, elders, representatives from mission committees, and others interested in medical missions.

Christian Mobile Clinic in Cameroon

Evangelistic efforts in Cameroon were begun by Wendell Broom, who had also worked in Nigeria. Since then numerous other evangelists have served in Cameroon, and several churches have been established. 20

A medical missions program began in Cameroon in October 1968 when Drs. Ken Yearwood and David Willbanks and nurses, Charlie Bridges and Iris Hayes, moved to the city of Kumba. Supported by the White Oaks Church of Christ in Chattanooga, Tennessee, they had originally planned to work at the Nigerian Christian Hospital, but were unable to do so due to the civil war in Nigeria at the time. 21

The work in Cameroon included two permanent facilities, a clinic building at Ekombe Bonji and a building used for storage of supplies for the mobile clinics located in Kumba. Vehicles were maintained and used to travel to surrounding villages to conduct mobile clinics. A typical mobile clinic included a period for a devotional and teaching, some counseling, treatment of patients, and teaching on health and nutrition if time allowed. 22

A large number of physicians and nurses, as well as non-medical personnel, worked in Cameroon for periods ranging from a few months to several years. In the early 1980's the Averill Church of Christ in Flint, Michigan, took over sponsorship of the medical work. Dr. Mike Kelly was the last American physician to serve in the clinic. He and his family left Cameroon in 1982. The clinic continued to operate for some time after this with national personnel but was closed in the late 1980's.

Christian Clinic in Liberia

In April 1970 Dr. Tom Drinnen and a nurse, Sarah Young, opened a medical clinic at Felleh Lar, Liberia, and began mobile clinics to serve the surrounding area.23 Missionaries Bill and Gerry Nicks had moved to Liberia in 1969 to begin evangelistic work in this same area and worked closely with the medical clinic.24

The medical clinic was supported by the Decatur Church of Christ in Decatur, Georgia, and the Arlington Church of Christ in Knoxville, Tennessee. Dr. Drinnen and his family remained in Liberia from 1970-1973. He spent about half of his time in the clinic and the remainder working with Bill Nicks in teaching and preaching. 25

After the Drinnens left, an American nurse remained for about a year. Since then, Liberian Christians have continued to operate the clinic. The facilities included a clinic building and two houses for the missionaries. Vehicles were used for mobile clinics in the surrounding villages. Church buildings or other facilities were used to set up mobile clinics in the villages. 26

The goals of this program were to provide basic health care, preventive medicine, basic nutrition, and to evangelize through teaching and preaching. During the time that the Drinnens and Nicks were in Liberia these goals were accomplished. Several Liberian Christians were trained to serve as clinic workers and evangelists. Nine congregations were established, although some of them no longer meet for various reasons.27

Clinica Cristiana, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

The first missionaries in Guatemala from the Churches of Christ began their efforts in the early 1960s. Some of the early workers included Joe Lee, Robert Waldron, Roger McCown, Pat Hile, Jerry Hill, J. C. Reed, and their families.28

In 1977 Clinica Cristiana was established to minister to the Quiche Indians in western Guatemala. Dr. Richard Rheinbolt was the first director of the clinic. The main clinic was located in Tierra Colorada, a small town near Quetzaltenango. The clinic was established initially under the oversight of the Brentwood Church of Christ in Austin, Texas, but was later overseen by the Church of Christ in Falls Church, Virginia.29

The main clinic included a pharmacy, examination rooms, laboratory, and waiting area. There was also a nutrition center, tree nursery, and house for the Rheinbolt family at the same location. The main clinic was also used as a base for weekly mobile clinics to surrounding villages. Later, permanent clinics were also established in the villages of Santa Cruz del Quiche and Xejuyup.30

The staff included, besides Dr. Rheinbolt, his wife Karen (a nutritionist) and nurses, Tanya Howard and Billie McCown. They were assisted by other non-medical missionaries and a staff of Guatemalan Christians as well.31

In 1985 Dr. Mike Kelly became the director of Clinica Cristiana. He and his wife, Julie, remained in Guatemala until 1995. Dr. Jim Rackley and his wife, Mary, also worked at the main clinic at Quetzaltenango.32

On July 1, 1994, Health Talents International assumed the sponsorship of Clinica Cristiana.33 A clinic is currently maintained in the village of Xejuyup, and Dr. Segio Castillo, a Guatemala Christian, sees patients on a regular basis.

The goals of Clinica Cristiana, however, have gone beyond the treatment of physical illness to include the whole person. The work has been described as follows: “The focus of Clinica Cristiana has always been holistic. In addition to the spiritual aspect, the staff has provided medical care, trained Christian health promoters, and actively promoted disease prevention practices, such as the use of latrines.”34 Patients have been treated, children immunized, latrines and more efficient masonry stoves built, numerous people baptized, congregations established, and the local church strengthened through the efforts of those who have been a part of this ministry.

Health Talents International

Health Talents International (HTI) is a foundation made up of members of the Churches of Christ which was organized to promote and support medical missions. Established in 1973 in Birmingham, Alabama, HTI has been involved in medical evangelism in Guatemala, Belize, and more recently, Nicaragua. The purpose of HTI has been threefold:

  1. To support and promote medical evangelism sponsored by the Churches of Christ,
  2. To provide opportunities for medical professionals in the United States to use their expertise in Third World countries, and
  3. To train and support health promoters in their own communities.35

In the early 1970s survey trips were made to Guatemala. In 1978 nurses supported by individual congregations of the Churches of Christ moved to the community of Las Cruces in the Peten region of northern Guatemala. A clinic building, completed in 1980, became the center for medical missions and other evangelistic activities in this area. The staff grew to 25 American workers and included two medical doctors, several nurses, non-medical personnel, and evangelists.36, 37

The work at Las Cruces continued from May 1980 until November 1981. During this time mobile clinics to surrounding villages and other evangelistic work was carried out. Guerrilla activity in the area, however, resulted in the closing of the clinic and return of the workers to the United States in 1981.38 A mobile medical team returned in October 1983, but the area was still unsafe, and plans for continued medical evangelism in Guatemala were postponed.39

From 1984-1989 HTI workers were located in Belize. A team of several medical and non-medical personnel worked on a number of projects during this time. Besides the medical work itself, these included: writing of a health care manual, training of 125 community health promoters, establishing three new congregations, and baptism of several native persons. A program was also developed to involve congregations in the United States in working with Vacation Bible Schools in Belize.40

In 1988 two of these workers, Steve Sherman and his wife, Magda, a Guatemalan, visited Guatemala to assess the situation. This led eventually in 1989 to the opening of Clinica Promesa, a cooperative effort between HTI and the Zone 11 Church of Christ in Guatemala City. Clinica Promesa provides health care for individuals in Guatemala City and also serves as a base for sending mobile clinics into outlying villages.41

HTI began in November 1990 to organize mobile medical and dental teams from the United States for short-term trips to Guatemala. Each year since then several teams have traveled to Guatemala to provide basic health care in remote villages and poor areas around Guatemala City. Since November 1994, HTI has also taken one mobile medical team each year to Nicaragua.42

In November 1993, HTI began to utilize a deserted building complex in the village of Chocola. Later in December of that year this became the first surgical facility sponsored by the Churches of Christ in the western hemisphere.43 Since the first operation performed in 1993, numerous eye and general surgical teams have traveled to Guatemala to minister to those in need. In 2000 construction began on a new permanent medical facility in Montellano. This will include a 40-bed hospital, three operating rooms, exam rooms, pharmacy, x-ray room, and a dormitory for visiting medical teams.44

HTI also sponsors the ABC Program, which is an abbreviation for Ayuda Bienestar de Cristianos (Spanish for “Foundation for the Well-Being of Christian Families”). This program provides food, clothing, and other support for the children of Christian families, allowing the children to remain in school and complete their education. The goal of the ABC Program is to help break the cycle of poverty among the local Christian families.45

One other program sponsored by HTI is Medical Evangelism Training (MET). This is a specialized training program for college students interested in medical missions. Through the MET program many young people have experienced first hand the tremendous physical and spiritual needs of the Third World. Several of them have later gone on to work in medical evangelism in different parts of the world.

Predisan Project, Catacamas, Olancho, Honduras

Dr. Robert Clark and his family had lived in Guatemala and worked with the Health Talents International team at Las Cruces. Forced to leave with the others due to guerrilla activity, they had returned to the United States. In 1986 Dr. Clark along with his wife, Doris, and two children moved to Honduras to begin the Predisan Project.46 Their goal was to add a health care component to the Honduran Bible School, a two-year school for training ministers that had been founded by previous missionaries. The training was based on the village health care manual Where There is No Doctor.47 The intent was for the graduates to return to their villages with training in Bible and basic health care and to minister to both body and soul.

The project has continued under the oversight of the Northlake Church of Christ in Tucker, Georgia, (originally known as the Decatur Church of Christ in Decatur, Georgia, and renamed after a 1996 relocation). In 1987 a Honduran physician, Dr. Amanda Madrid, joined the team. Other personnel have also served in different capacities for various lengths of time. In 1994 Dr. Clark died of Chagas' disease, a parasitic disease that can attack the heart. His wife, Doris, continues to serve as the project director.48

The name, Predisan, comes from two Spanish words which mean “to preach” (predicar) and “to heal” (sanar). The term is very descriptive of the accomplishments of this program. In 1995 the staff consisted of 42 persons, many of which were Hondurans. This included physicians, nurses, support staff, evangelists, and other personnel.49 The Predisan Project includes a variety of programs, some of which are as follows:

  1. The main medical clinic at Catacamas.
  2. Five rural clinics located in isolated villages.
  3. A center for alcohol rehabilitation (Center for the Rehabilitation of Alcoholic Patients).
  4. A training program for health care workers and midwives.
  5. A wellness program which includes building of latrines, vaccination of children, prenatal care, education programs, and other services.
  6. An agricultural program to teach improved farming techniques.50

The Predisan Project continues to minister in many ways to the needs of the people of Honduras. Director Doris Clark has described the program in this way: “Predisan's goal is to assist the individual to find solutions for healthier living and in this participatory process discover the greatest need and resource, the Savior Jesus Christ.”51

Central American Missions/Latin American Missions

Since March 1958 the Forrest Park Church of Christ in Valdosta, Georgia, has sponsored mission activities in Central America. Originally called Central American Missions, the name was changed to Latin American Missions in 1997. Presently, the activities sponsored by this congregation are located in Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua.52

Through the Latin American Missions project, the Forrest Park Church of Christ sponsors a wide variety of programs, including the following:

  1. Mobile medical mission trips.
  2. Preaching campaigns.
  3. The Pan American Bible School. (A two-year preacher training school.)
  4. National preacher support.
  5. A printing program for teaching materials.
  6. Slab teams. (For pouring concrete slabs for construction of church buildings.)
  7. Benevolence shipments.53
Latin American Missions has been very active in medical missions and has organized several medical teams each year since the mid-1960s. In 1997, for example, Latin American Missions organized 10 different medical teams made up of 331 individuals from the United States, including both medical and non-medical personnel. A total of 18,063 medical patients were treated and 70,000 prescriptions filled. In addition to these patients, 1900 dental patients were treated, 3139 extractions performed and over 4000 people treated for lice. In all, 13 villages in four different countries were visited by the teams. Evangelistic efforts, including teaching during the day and each evening, were conducted by both American and native brethren. This resulted in 200 baptisms and two new congregations established.54

The Forrest Park Church of Christ is assisted in the project by the East Ridge Church of Christ in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The East Ridge congregation directs the work in Nicaragua. Since 1993 several mobile medical teams have been organized by the East Ridge Church of Christ, and the congregation has plans for future trips as well. 55 The Central Church of Christ in Fairborn, Ohio, has also been active in supporting this work. This congregation has also organized mobile medical mission teams.

Partners in Progress

Partners in Progress is a program directed by Bill McDonough and sponsored by the Sixth and Izard Church of Christ in Little Rock, Arkansas. Since 1980, Partners in Progress has been organizing medical teams for short-term medical mission trips. Teams organized by Partners in Progress have traveled to more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe.56

The majority of these teams have been organized in cooperation with Churches of Christ in the United States. Each year several such teams travel to foreign countries to provide medical assistance and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. In 1995, for example, Partners in Progress sent 15 teams to Nigeria, Cuba, Guyana, Laos, Romania, and Vietnam. Partners in Progress has also helped to organize the first European-American medical mission teams with volunteers from countries such as France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and the United States.57

In a brochure describing Partners in Progress the following goals are listed:

  1. To carry the gospel to those who have never heard.
  2. To utilize skills of trained professionals.
  3. To assist congregations in organizing and conducting their own foreign outreach programs using the talents within the congregation.58
Since the early 1980s Partners in Progress has continued to realize these goals. The work of Partners in Progress has been summarized as follows: Our thrust has been medical evangelism projects and relief efforts. Whether we were taking food to feed the Christians in Poland (1981-1983) or feeding orphans and establishing churches in Romania (1990-1993) or treating the sick and evangelizing in Laos, Vietnam or South America, our teams have shared Christ. They have converted thousands, established numerous congregations and medically treated and fed hundreds of thousands in the name of our Lord.59

Akwabia Hospital, Obong Ntak, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria

The Mt. Morris Church in Mt. Morris, Michigan, began sponsoring Moses Akpanudo, a Nigerian national, in his mission work in Obong Ntak in 1983. This included an elementary level school which was expanded to include Obong Christian High School in 1983. In 1995 the school was further enlarged to include the African College of Management with future plans for a 4-year Christian university. 60

The Nigerian government requires a health care facility on the site, and it was also determined that such a facility could also be of service to the surrounding community. In 1996 a small hospital was built with funds from the Creve Hall Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee. At the present time the hospital has a 13-bed capacity. Additional space for a children's ward, laboratory, and maternity ward are planned.61

The schools and hospital are sponsored by the Mt. Morris Church of Christ with additional support from several other congregations in the U.S. Both the schools and hospital are operated entirely by Nigerian brethren.62

There is a well on the site which supplies water for many in the nearby village as well as the schools and hospital. The hospital provides medical treatment for students and staff of the schools and others in the community. It has also been approved as a site of immunization projects through the World Health Organization. The hospital also serves as a site for nutritional education and a base for “bush clinics” in the surrounding area. Daily preaching and teaching is conducted at the hospital by the chaplain.63

Although the hospital has operated only a short time, already its influence is visible in the community. Moses Akpanudo described it in this way:

Results are apparent—people became healthier. They now realize that germs and not witchcraft or the spirits of their ancestors cause all sorts of disease. The need for spiritual healing becomes better realized in the community. Ten souls have been won as a direct result of this medical out-reach.64

Border Health Project

Several Churches of Christ in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas are involved in medical evangelism among those living along the U.S.-Mexican border. Regular medical and dental clinics are held in the buildings of the McAllen, Las Milpas, and Alton Churches of Christ. Frequent mobile medical trips are also made across the border into Mexico. Those working with the project include Dr. Brian Smith, director, Dr. Felix Koo, Pattie Koo, P.A., and nurses Ruth Smith, Jean Enochs, and Oscar Garza.65

These workers are also assisted at times by other medical and non-medical personnel from various Churches of Christ. Groups from other congregations have also assisted the work in other ways, such as construction or repairs of church buildings and repairing houses of those in need. Reports from this program continue to emphasize that individuals in the community are being served and that several have been brought to Christ as a result, either directly or indirectly, of medical evangelistic efforts.

Mision Para Cristo, Jinotega, Nicaragua

In August 1995 a congregation was established when an evangelist, Mario Roque, and his wife, Dr. Karla, a physician, moved to Jinotega, Nicaragua. At first they were supported entirely by Dr. Karla's work in the local government health clinic. In 1996 the church in Morrilton, Arkansas, began to support the evangelistic work of Mario. The Bono Church of Christ in Bono, Arkansas, and the South Thornton Church of Christ in Piggott, Arkansas, sponsored the work for a period of time. Sponsorship of Mision Para Cristo moved to the Church of Christ in Minden, Louisiana, in 2001.

A free medical clinic was opened in October 1997, with Dr. Karla as the medical director. Medical supplies have been provided by the Bono church, the South Thornton church, and also the West-Ark Church of Christ in Fort Smith, Arkansas. In its brief history, hundreds of patients have been treated in the clinic. During the summer of 1998 a medical missions campaign organized by the Bono and Russelville, Arkansas Churches of Christ traveled to Nicaragua and assisted with medical and dental clinics. Currently, plans are being made for future trips, as well as for construction of a church building, clinic, and increased evangelism through a prison ministry and other efforts.

The clinic has opened many doors for further evangelism. Also, during 1998 an intern from the Baxter Institute in Honduras assisted Mario and allowed expansion of the evangelistic work.

A program called “Children to School” also was initiated to assist needy families, allowing the children to attend and remain in school. 66

Zambia Medical Mission

The Zambia Mission Fund located in Abilene, Texas, sponsors the work of the Zambia Mission. This includes several schools, a Christian college for training teachers, a vocational center, and three medical clinics. Permanent clinics operated by Zambian personnel are located at Kabanga (one of the original mission sites of Dow Merritt and his family), Sinde, and Namwianga, where a hospital is being built. The mission also operates mobile clinics at Zyangale, Simalundu, and Simpweze. The Zambian Mission also organizes a short-term medical team each year from the United States.67

The Churches of Christ have been active in Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia) since the early 1900s. The many works sponsored by the Zambia Mission have helped to strengthen the congregations there through operation of the schools and clinics.

Mandaue City, Philippines

A medical clinic sponsored by the Northside Church of Christ in Spokane, Washington, has operated since about 1992 in Mandaue City (near Cebu City) in conjunction with the Mandaue Church of Christ. It is located in a three-story building adjacent to the church building. The staff of 20 people includes three physicians (one full-time and two part-time), four nurses, a medical technologist, and other support personnel.

The clinic serves primarily the poor who live in the surrounding area. Most patients pay only a small fee to cover medical services and medication. Most of the medicines are given free of charge, due to the extreme poverty of those who visit the clinic, however.68

Nhowe Mission Hospital

The Nhowe Mission was established in the 1930s by a group of missionaries from Abilene, Texas, who had traveled to Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) to set up a mission and school. At times during its history a small clinic was also operated at the mission. In 1998 the East Point Church of Christ in Wichita, Kansas, began the oversight of a program to build and operate a new hospital at the Nhowe Mission.

The hospital consists of 12 buildings, including a 50-bed hospital with an outpatient clinic, maternity and pediatric wards, x-ray facilities, laboratory, pharmacy, kitchen, laundry, and other facilities. Housing for the medical personnel is also planned.

The facility was dedicated in June 2000 as the Brian Lemmons Memorial Hospital. It was named in honor of Brian Lemmons, the son of Dr. and Mrs. Steve Lemmons, who had died in a car accident. Dr. Lemmons is a member of the East Point congregation and has been instrumental in the building of the hospital.69

Two Christian physicians, Drs. Gwini, a husband and wife from Zimbabwe, work full-time at the hospital with several national nurses. Short-term rotations of American personnel is also desired for the hospital.70

Medical Clinic in Dominican Republic

The Airline Church of Christ in Bossier City, Louisiana, sponsored Dr. Harold Paden, Jr., and his family in a medical mission work in Dominican Republic. The Padens worked there for ten years, returning to the U.S. in 1996. At one point three medical clinics were operated in the capital city. They were also involved in other types of evangelism and medical campaigns.71

Medical Evangelism Ministry in Mexico

The Bridge Avenue Church of Christ in Weslaco, Texas, has for several years coordinated medical mission trips to Mexico with church groups from the United States, and has also maintained a full-time medical work in Mexico. Churches that sponsor these trips provide funds for the medicine and other expenses and also provide both medical and nonmedical personnel to work in the clinics.

The Bridge Avenue congregation makes the travel arrangements and also contacts and works with local churches in Mexico to coordinate the work. The medical mission teams work in conjunction with local Christians, thus ministering to the needs of the poor and opening doors for future evangelism.72

Christian Relief Fund

The Christian Relief Fund of Amarillo, Texas has been primarily involved in humanitarian aid and relief efforts throughout the world. Christian Relief Fund also operates two medical facilities: the Good Samaritan Clinic in Ravalpally, India, and another clinic in Kosgi, India. Both of these clinics provide basic medical care for a large population of needy people in the surrounding area.73

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Since about 1998 the Westover Hills Church of Christ in Austin, Texas, has sponsored a medical clinic in conjunction with the Baxter Institute, a preacher training facility in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. This is a permanent medical and dental facility with periodic assistance from short-term teams from the United States. The clinic serves as a part of the overall evangelistic efforts and involves students at Baxter Institute in ministering to patients and also as a part of mobile clinics.74

Suryapet, India

Beginning in 1999 the Church of Christ in Hobart, Oklahoma, has been involved in the building and operation of a clinic in Suryapet, India. The clinic operates in conjunction with a preacher training school that has been in existence for some time.75

Mission del Caribe

Mission del Caribe has been involved in humanitarian aid and relief efforts in Honduras, primarily since Hurricane Mitch in 1998. This has included building and repair of houses, schools, sanitary facilities, and other structures, and other types of relief work. Some medical work has been accomplished through temporary clinics. Plans are underway to expand the medical services through construction of a permanent clinic.76

One Mile Clinic, Papua New Guinea

The first Churches of Christ were established in Papua New Guinea in the early 1970s by Joe and Rosa Belle Cannon, who had moved from a work in Japan to the city of Lae. Rosa Belle Cannon provided first aid and basic medicines from their home, eventually constructing a small building behind their house for this purpose. In 1979 the Walnut Street Church of Christ in Texarkana, Texas, built a clinic building and house that are still in use today, Janet Cope spent eleven years working in this clinic.

The clinic was closed in 1991 but was reopened in 1993. It is operated by Velma Forman, a nurse from Canada, and two national workers. Support for the clinic comes primarily from churches in Canada. The clinic provides primary health care at the clinic site and several mobile clinics are conducted each year. In 1998 more than 6700 patients were treated through the clinic.77

Malawi, East Africa

Individuals from several churches have formed the Malawi Project to provide medical assistance in this poor African country. Medical supplies have been sent, and several short-term teams have visited the country. Plans are currently underway to build a hospital to provide medical services and serve as a distribution point for medical supplies and medical teams involved in mobile clinics.78

Organizations That Support Medical Missions Programs

There are several organizations associated with the Churches of Christ that support medical missions programs through supplying materials. The first of these is Healing Hands International. This is a nonprofit organization located in Nashville, Tennessee, and Abilene, Texas, that works through congregations of the Churches of Christ to provide medical and related products to countries outside of the United States. Healing Hands International has shipped medical supplies, medicines, and medical equipment all over the world to support various medical missions programs. >From 1994-1998 Healing Hands collected and transported 110 shipments to 27 different countries.79

Another such organization is Rapha International. This is an independent, nonprofit organization located in the Dallas/Fort Worth (Texas) metroplex area. Organized in August 1998, Rapha International consists of several board members from local congregations of the Church of Christ.

Rapha International collects reusable and surplus medical supplies that can be used in clinics and hospitals in developing countries. Shipments from Rapha International have been sent to Europe, Zambia, North Korea, and Nicaragua.80

The White's Ferry Road Church of Christ Relief Ministeries in West Monroe, Louisiana, has been involved in various relief efforts. Some of these have included shipments of medical supplies and sponsoring of short-term medical teams.

Christian Missions Services is a volunteer organization in Portage, Michigan that also collects and ships humanitarian aid and relief supplies to mission efforts. These include among other non-medical items such as food and clothing, medical supplies and nonprescription medications. Since 1994 Christian Missions Services has sent shipments to missionaries in various locations including Honduras, Guatemala, and Africa.81

Another program, C.U.R.E., is located in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and operated by members of the WestArk Church of Christ. Medical supplies and equipment are collected by this group and shipped to wherever they are needed.

Preface | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Endnotes | Bibliography | Information and Opportunities

Copyright © 1999, 2001 by Phillip Eichman
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