Poor people in Southeast Asia can be a bit cynical about outsiders who come to help them.
The poor in an undisclosed town on the Philippines’ Island of Mindanao have seen foreign aid organizations arrive, take their photos, make promises of assistance and never return.
“People here and in some adjoining communities have a wait-and-see attitude about promises hurled their way by so-called aid organizations,” the director of a ministry based in the Philippines said. “They have been taken for a ride before; hence their stance of arms akimbo and, ‘Let’s see if this is true’ thinking has become the common reaction to things that seem too good to be true.”
Natives from one impoverished community were skeptical, then, when native missionaries from neighboring villages showed up offering free medical consultations, treatment and medicines. The missionaries told them they would return in two or three weeks.
He told them medical help was on its way, and soon a convoy of six vehicles arrived.
Villagers waited, having no resources to treat their ills: first-degree burns, pneumonia, acute upper respiratory tract infections, acute bronchitis, dermatitis, dyspepsia, various stages of hypertension, acid peptic disease, tuberculosis, T/C pyelonephritis, urinary tract infection and other sicknesses and diseases.
Within a month, an indigene from an equally remote mountain village showed up.
“He was attired in a traditional manner,” the ministry director said of the native missionary leading the team. “With blackened teeth strengthened by chewing betel nut, he smiled and disclosed that he came all the way from a tribal village together with his wife, children and grandchildren.”
He told them medical help was on its way, and soon a convoy of six vehicles arrived. Villagers watched as team members disembarked with boxes of medicines, weighing scales and other medical equipment, chairs and tables. Village youth rushed to help them arrange the paraphernalia, tables and chairs. In swift order, medical doctors were waiting for patients.
“Gradually, some other patients came in, a trickle at first, passing through areas for weighing and blood pressure checks, then on to the witnessing crew who shared the gospel, and then on to the waiting doctors until they were given prescriptions, then the medicines were given to them at the pharmacy,” the director said.
At 10 a.m. patients crowded the area, with most seen by the time of the afternoon meal. After the last few patients filtered through, the medical team packed up at about 2 p.m. In all, 279 patients were treated, including 61 children.
“For the children and adults who came for the free medical ministry, the activity was most welcome compared to other missions, because they said they were physically and spiritually cared for,” the director said. “Likewise, they disclosed that, for the first time, a medical mission was done in their midst that never ran out of dispensing free medicines.”
The nearest medicines that people in the village otherwise can access is about two hours away, he added.
“Before leaving, the medical mission team, composed of about 40 young people and leaders from various cities, sang praise and worship songs, thanking God for the safe trip, efficient operation of the medical mission and good weather,” he said.
Ministry leaders were thankful for the pro bono services of the doctors who donated their time and expertise. In closing, one leader prayed for more blessings for the community and protection for those who will go back to their respective places.
“He believed that the collaboration was a sweet aroma unto God, and a blessing for the community located in a far-flung locality,” the director said.
Such outreaches are critical in a region where growing populations and increases in adverse health conditions have combined to create a critical situation for Southeast Asian governments, according to Asian Hospital and Health Care Management magazine. Though governments have increased their spending on health care, demand is outstripping the supply of health care alternatives in the region, it reported.
The director of another ministry based in the Philippines noted that people who cannot afford to visit a doctor rely entirely on such medical mission outreaches for their health care. In some outreaches, 500 to 700 people in an economically depressed community will show up, which requires medical clinics to run for at least two days depending on availability of medical personnel, he said.
“Medical outreach is one of the best ways to reach out to the lost sinners so they can know the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “If a medical mission outreach is conducted in a certain place, the people will rejoice. At events like this, there is a great opportunity to bring people to the saving knowledge of the Lord.”
Native missionaries throughout Southeast Asia are conducting such medical missions and other community engagement projects. Please consider a donation today to help them bring Christ’s holistic healing to people who otherwise have no hope for a relief and eternal life.