In 1975, as South Vietnam was falling, a man named Dr. Raymond Benson was on the last airlift from the roof of the American Embassy.
Dr. Benson’s vision was for Christian medical professionals to establish clinics around the world. His hope was to heal people physically and spiritually introduce them to Jesus Christ. Out of that desire, Medical Ambassadors was created.
While Dr. Benson was correct in his assessment of the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world, he did not anticipate that the same people would keep coming back to the clinic with the same preventable illnesses, often leaving no time to address spiritual needs. It became clear that this clinic-based model was not sustainable. In fact, MAI was creating a culture of dependency within the communities we were trying to help.
Considering this, Dr. Paul Calhoun, current president of Medical Ambassadors, transitioned to a new model. Instead of going into a community and giving free care, MAI entered bringing only questions. Instead of giving the communities what we thought they needed, local leaders were asked, “What do you need to be happy and healthy?”
Their answers guided our focus and lesson plans were developed on various topics. In time, the available lessons included far more than only health topics. Depending on what the local leaders determined their communities needed, there were teachings on how to work together and solve problems, teachings on agriculture, literacy, family relationships, micro-enterprise, coping with disability, and more.