Change is not something that comes easily. Have you found that to be true?
In any group of people, it takes some kind of impetus to bring a desire for change. Across all cultures, one effective motivation is the love of parents for their kids and the hope that their children be happy and well.
We at Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) have learned that offering to screen a group of children for health issues often leads parents to new enthusiasm to improve their lives…for the sake of their kids. It is a great way to enter new communities.
One of my mentors in doing school health screenings as a part of Community Health Evangelism (CHE) was a famous physician in Tanzania. Dr. Eben Mwasha had been the personal physician for the President of Tanzania, but he was also a great teacher of CHE.
Dr. Mwasha described what happens in the parents’ meeting after a Medical Ambassadors local team had screened their children for health problems. Dr. Mwasha would list the common health problems he had seen in their children, and pause…. It would only take a moment for one of the parents to ask, “So, Doctor, what are you going to do about our kids’ problems?” Dr. Mwasha would immediately turn the question around and say, “I cannot do much, but each of you parents can do a lot, if you choose to act.”
The parents would show puzzled looks, and ask, “What can we do?”
At that point Dr. Mwasha would have the people exactly where he wanted them. With a twinkle in his eye he would say, “Oh, there is a lot you can do, but you would have to choose to take action together. First, you would need to choose leaders from your group to be in charge. They will choose local people for us to train. These people will be able to show you what you can do to prevent these problems from happening in the future.
Then Dr. Mwasha would say, “However, preventing disease is not enough. If you do not develop a relationship with Jesus at the same time that you are making these physical improvements, bad things will happen. Physical development does not prevent selfishness. Knowing Jesus is the best way to learn to love your neighbor. Without caring for each other, physical improvements cannot spread.”
Dr. Mwasha died about ten years ago, but his ideas are continuing to bless the world. School screening is now one of the major attractions that cause communities worldwide to invite Medical Ambassadors to come and teach them.
Parents want the best for their children – parents who have watched one of their children die from a preventable health problem never want to see it happen again. Jesus is using Medical Ambassadors to give them hope.
Stories about Jesus show that he welcomed and healed children. These stories are often just as exciting to young families as simple ideas to prevent diarrhea or malaria.
The hope that Jesus brings is not a private thing. Community Health Evangelism shows everyone that Jesus wants them to share his hope with all their friends and neighbors. As this hope spreads, soon mothers and fathers hugging healthy babies are crowding local churches. (Dr. James Engel once called Community Health Evangelism “the most effective strategy for developing mature Christians that I have seen in thirty years of studying missions worldwide.”)
School screening is just one of many good options MAI trainers can choose as they enter communities. We have learned to listen to communities and focus on their interests. So we need to have many ways to respond.
My guess is that by now you may be thinking, “How could I help MAI enter more new communities?”
Please take a moment to pause and ask God how he wants you to be involved with the needs of the world. Is Medical Ambassadors doing the kinds of things that God is prompting you to support? If so, please follow through – for your sake more than mine. Saying “yes” to Jesus brings more joy than anything else I have found in life.
I am including a response card that gives you specific questions to lay before God.
- Is God asking you to help Medical Ambassadors enter new communities?
- Is God asking you to pray fervently and faithfully?
- Is God asking you to give a generous gift to support MAI as we engage new communities and offer the follow-up training that can bring sustainable change—in terms of both physical and spiritual health?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” following through with your time and resources will bring you great eternal value. Don’t miss this chance.
God bless you,
John Payne M.D.
P.S. Remember, when God calls you to act, responding is a great privilege. Even if it feels a little scary, go for it!
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