Types of Missionaries – Medical Missionaries

Imagine… people lined up before dawn, waiting for their turn to see a doctor. Some of them standing in line for hours on end. By noon, those able to see the doctor that day have been signed up and the rest are sent away to try again tomorrow. Some have simple problems like a skin disease or ingrown toenail. Some have large hernias or female problems that require surgical correction.

I have participated in several short-term, medical mission trips, and I am always amazed at the amount of people that come for help. I also am amazed by how “simple” some of the “cures” are.

There are millions of people around the world that have medical needs that are not fixable in the area where they live. There may be a lack of doctors in their area or they may not have money or transportation to get to one. Many people suffer pain or disability with no relief in sight. Sometimes this interferes with their ability to make a living and work.

One important type of missionary that requires some training ahead of time is a medical missionary. All different kinds of people can do medical missions.  Some are full-time missionaries and some do short-term mission trips:

  • Doctors (surgeons, pediatricians, family doctors, ob/gyn, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, etc)
  • Physician’s Assistants
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Nurses
  • Medical assistants
  • Pharmacists
  • Physical therapists

Many of these people have spent years in training to learn how to diagnose and treat patients well. Medical missions can also use people without training, though. Many people can be trained to weigh and measure a person and take a blood pressure. This can be vital for checking a patient in.

In my opinion, for a medical mission trip to be the most successful it can be, it needs to have two main components:

  • A team of people, some of whom are not medical. People are needed to manage people in line or waiting to see the doctor, entertain children, fix food for the medical team, clean the operating room, organize supplies, and count medications in the pharmacy.
  • A local missionary or local church as a partner. Healing and fixing medical problems is very rewarding, but unless it is combined with telling the people about how Jesus can be their Savior it is missing the most important part of missions.

There are many medical mission organizations, but not all of them have a goal of telling others about Jesus.  You can go to the following websites to read more about some that do:

Want ideas for how to get your kids involved?

  • Get out the toy medical kit and help them play doctor or nurse with their stuffed animals or dolls. Let them “doctor” you. Pretend you live somewhere where there are no doctors.
  • Read stories (age appropriate) from missionary blogs or websites about doctors and medical professionals overseas.
  • Find some books to read about medical missionaries.  Check out: Ida Scudder, David Livingstone, or On Call (for older kids).  Here are some images to help you as you search.  (This is not an exhaustive list…there are many more books available as well.)
  • On Call (Jaffray Collection of Missionary Portraits) by [Thompson M.D., David C.]    Ida Scudder: Healing Bodies, Touching Hearts (Christian Heroes: Then & Now) by [Benge, Janet, Benge, Geoff]        David Livingstone: Africa's Trailblazer (Christian Heroes: Then & Now) by [Benge, Janet, Benge, Geoff]

 

(This post contains some affiliate links.  If you click on some links and make a purchase, familiesformissions may receive a small compensation.)

 

Family Activity – King Tut and Ancient Egypt

My oldest child is learning about Ancient Egypt and at the same time reading through Genesis and Exodus at school.  This has been a great way for her to learn about the environment and culture during the time of the old Bible stories about Abraham, Joseph, and Moses.

Our whole family has learned a lot during this time, and we have watched several interesting documentaries about Egypt during our family movie nights. Here are some links to some of the videos we have watched:

  • A Film about how Egyptian chariots may have been constructed
  • A Documentary about how the pyramids may have been built
  • And this short video about where the Israelites most likely crossed the Red Sea

NOVA (PBS) also has a neat interactive feature on their website where you can explore many different historical sites in Egypt.

We also read a book about King Tut,

and checked out another book at the library. 

We have mummified a chicken leg and have built a pyramid with sugar cubes, too. 

I recently found another neat project at a local thrift store.  I thought it would be a fun thing to do with my kids, and they loved it.

We spent several days painting the different parts of the kit and putting them together.  They were able to make the mummy and decorate the coffin with all the supplies included.  My kids thought this was great and plan to take King Tut’s coffin to school as “show-and-tell”.

If you want to purchase a similar activity for your kids, you can find one on Amazon here.

We have used this to talk about Ancient Egypt, but also to learn a little about modern-day Egypt.  Currently, Egypt is a country rich in history and with many popular museums and historical sites.  It is an Islamic country where Christians seem to be facing more and more persecution.  We can pray for missionaries there to be brave in sharing the Good News about Jesus.

We can also pray for ministries like SAT-7 to reach many more people. This is a Christian television ministry that shares about Jesus in Arabic and other languages all over the Middle East.  They even have a SAT-7 KIDS channel that broadcasts children’s programming in Arabic!

 

(This post contains some affiliate links.  If you click on some links and make a purchase, familiesformissions may receive a small compensation.)

How to Bless a Missionary – Pray For Their Kids (Week #13)

You might be thinking, “Didn’t we already have a post on praying for a missionary?”. And yes, we did. If you’d like to read it, you can go here.

But praying for a missionary’s kids can need a little bit of a different focus. So, today we are going to talk about specific prayer needs for missionary kids.

  1. Adjustment to new situations – Missionary kids are exposed to many new situations, both in their host country abroad and when they come back to their passport country. Some adjust very easily, but some struggle with each change. Prayer for easy transitions is important.
  2. Language acquisition – Some languages are easy to pick up and learn, while others are very difficult. Some children learn languages quickly, while others seem to struggle. Younger children tend to pick up languages more easily and also seem to have a better “local” accent. Pray that they learn the language quickly.
  3. Salvation – This should be the most important thing that we pray for…and the most important for the missionary parents.
  4. Health – We need to pray for general medical health. They need protection from illnesses and injuries. Many children also have learning or physical disabilities, and we should pray that God would provide the appropriate medical care, therapies, and help for their them and their parents.
  5. Safety – This kind of ties into the health request, but missionary kids can be exposed to many different safety hazards. They may travel more often than other kids. There may be people around them that are against Americans or jealous of their family and would like to harm them. There may be wild animals like hippos, spiders, etc. that could cause them harm. They may live in a village with difficult terrain that makes them more prone to broken bones and falls.
  6. Schooling – Choosing how to educate their children is one of the biggest decisions that a missionary family will make. They may choose to homeschool, attend a local school, or send their child to a boarding school. Each of these choices will require a different way of praying, but we also should pray that the child is able to learn well in any circumstance.
  7. Friendships – Missionary kids need prayer to make friends, but not just any friends…the right friends. When they are little, they need good friends to play with. As they get older, they need friends that will not influence them wrongly. We should pray that they do not choose to follow pagan or evil local practices. We should pray that their friends would help their faith grow.

Here is a link with a great article (with scriptures) for you to pray for your own children as well as missionary kids that you know.  Click here to read it.

Let your missionary know what you are praying for their kids!

Valentine’s Day Around the World

Just like other holidays, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in different ways around the world.

Growing up in Mexico, we celebrated the “Day of Love and Friendship” on February 14th. On this day, it is common for dating or married couples to go out together to eat or for coffee. Street vendors sell clumps of roses or heart-shaped balloons at many street corners. One of my favorite things about Valentine’s Day is Mexico is the importance of friendship. This is not just a holiday for school kids and couples. Many friends exchange gifts or give flowers to each other, too. It truly is a day for love AND friendship.

In the Philippines, people celebrate much like we do in the US, but there is also a big trend to have huge weddings with many people all getting married at once on February 14th. These weddings take place in public places and can include hundreds of couples. Sometimes these are sponsored by the government as a public service.

(Photo from skitterphoto.com)

In Brazil, many people skip celebrating on February 14th and decide to celebrate on June 12th instead. This is the “Dia dos Namorados” or “Lover’s Day”, and they exchange gifts and eat together. Families and friends also can get together to celebrate as well.

While in most countries it is the women that receive gifts, in Japan and South Korea the women give gifts to the men on Valentine’s Day. The men can then respond in kind on March 14th, when it is their turn to shower the women with gifts. I think this sounds like fun!

In South Africa, women wear the name of the man they are interested in on a heart on their sleeve. This stems from an ancient Roman festival, but this could be a really fun way for a guy to find out which girl has a crush on him!

Do you love chocolate? Maybe you’ll want to visit Ghana on February 14th. It is National Chocolate Day there and you can find many chocolate items and meals prepared with chocolate throughout the country. Since they are a big producer and exporter of cocoa, they should know a thing or two about chocolate. 😉

If you love Valentine’s Day, there are some countries that you would NOT enjoy on this special holiday. Some Muslim areas of Indonesia have banned the celebration, since it is not an Islamic holiday and has “Christian” origins. If you celebrate in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Malaysia you risk punishment.

How does your family celebrate? Do you have specific traditions? Maybe you could invite an international student in your city over to eat and talk about how they celebrate!