A growing number of individual Churches of Christ are organizing and sponsoring their own medical missions teams for short-term trips. Some of these may involve the assistance of an organization such as Partners in Progress. Other congregations are accomplishing this entirely on their own, utilizing many of their own members.
The Mayfair Church of Christ in Huntsville, Alabama, is an example of a congregation that has been involved in medical missions since the first team went to Jamaica in 1985. Dr. Eugene L. Tate, who, along with his wife, Kathleen, directs this program has reported:
It was and continues to be our wish to serve some of our very poor and medically deprived people, and upon our investigation, we felt the Mayan Indian Villages in the Southern portion of Belize was such a place. Hence, our Medical Team has made yearly missions to that area.This Medical Mission started rather small insofar as medical supplies, and medicines were concerned; however for the last several years it has become much larger. Last year, we shipped over 70,000 pounds of goodsincluding examination tables, dental chairs, hospital supplies, health aids, medicinesto Belize. . . Our Team is yearly composed of approximately 36-40 members. We usually have 4 or 5 medical doctors, 9-15 registered nurses, 2 to 4 dentists, 2 pharmacists, 1 laboratory technician and the remainder of the team will be support personnel. We have actually equipped a small operating room in a little run-down hospital and last year we did some 44 surgical procedures using general anesthesia. Yearly, we do a number of needed smaller procedures that can be done under local anesthesia in the field setting. . . We usually work 7 days and we see from 3,500 to 4,000 patients on each of these visits.1
The White's Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, Louisiana, is another congregation that has been involved in medical missions for some time. One of the elders of this congregation has described this program as follows:
For the past seven or eight years, we have sent teams of 15 to 20 people to Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, twice a year, to work with some Indians in that area. The team works with dental specialists, medical doctors and a group of Mexican evangelists from Texas, Tennessee and other places. They pull teeth, dispense donated eye glasses (under the supervision of optometrists), give out over-the-counter medications, treat the children for lice and work with them as their parents are cared for and taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. They provide service and care for hundreds of people each trip. The workers who go pay their own expenses. It has been and will continue to be a joyous experience for all those who have participated.2
The West-Ark Church of Christ in Fort Smith, Arkansas, is also very active in medical missions. In 1990 a short-term team was sent by this congregation to Nigerian Christian Hospital. From 1991-1998 the congregation has sponsored an annual short-term trip to Guyana with Partners in Progress. The number of members of the congregation making the trips to Guyana has ranged fro 13 to 65. The West-Ark Church of Christ has also sent short-term medical mission teams to Christmas Island (1992 and 1993) and Eton Village, Vanuatu (1995) in the South Pacific.3
Another example is the Southeastern Church of Christ in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is the congregation that sponsored Dr. and Mrs. Frank Black at the Chimala Mission from 1992-1997. In 1998 the congregation organized a short-term medical mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya. A group of 21 people from the congregation spent 18 days in Kenya conducting clinics and a Health Care Education program that was presented at schools and churches.4
Other congregations that regularly sponsor short-term medical mission groups include among others: Downtown Church of Christ in Searcy, Arkansas (Mexico), Sylvan Hills Church of Christ in Sherwood, Arkansas (Central America), Central Church of Christ in Johnson City, Tennessee (Haiti), and South Fork Church of Christ in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (various locations). Many congregations also support medical mission financially through regular support of existing programs, one-time donations for special needs, travel support for those involved in short-term trips, and other ways.
These congregations, along with numerous others, have expanded the role of medical missions in the overall evangelistic efforts of the Churches of Christ. Much good is being accomplished, many individuals in developing countries are receiving much needed medical care, and the borders of the Kingdom are being extended through the efforts of these congregations.