Although the greatest need is obviously in developing countries, not all medical evangelism takes place there. There are several programs that are currently, or have been in the past, operated by Churches of Christ in the United States that have been designed to reach people through medically related ministries. Several congregations, for example, that are located near major medical facilities are ministering to patients and their families in various ways. These services include chaplains, counselors, and often housing for families during periods of extended treatment.
In some instances health professionals are also providing services to needy individuals at reduced cost or in some cases at no cost. These are generally persons who have been identified through other ministries of the local congregation.
One unique program that seeks to bring together medical care and evangelism is the River City Ministry in North Little Rock, Arkansas. This is a program of inner city ministries under the oversight of the Levy Church of Christ. The River City Ministry provides food, clothing, and other services to those in need. Bible correspondence courses, and other types of Bible study, are also provided, and a congregation has been established that meets in the neighborhood. A medical clinic is also operated for those without adequate health care. Initially, the medical personnel who worked at the clinic were members of the Levy Church of Christ, but since the clinic was established in 1994, the number of individuals volunteering from outside of the congregation has increased.1
A similar inner city clinic has been established in Dallas, Texas. The Downtown Church of Christ in Searcy, Arkansas, has also recently begun sponsoring a free clinic.
Another unique approach to medical evangelism was the establishment in the 1980s of a Health Maintenance Organization by the Decatur Church of Christ (later relocated as the Northlake Church of Christ). This was a group practice made up of Christian physicians and other health care workers in the Atlanta area. One of the goals of the HMO was to promote medical missions by providing a place to facilitate departure and reentry of medical personnel involved in long-term medical missions. The HMO operated for a time but was later sold because they were unable to recruit a sufficient number of Christian physicians.2