There is big news from Medical Ambassadors I want to share with you at the end of this letter. However to show you why it is such important news, I want to tell you a story.
What would you do if the children in your church were suffering from malnutrition?
Photo Credit: CHeitz at Flicker.com
This is the situation that one of our Community Health Evangelism (CHE) teams in the central part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The malnutrition they faced was more severe than most of us will ever see in our communities.
But it was deceptive. Parents were feeding their kids but then watching in alarmed helplessness as the children grew listless and ill despite the food. Some of them died. It was an odd situation because the children looked “fat.” Protein deficiency in their diet had given them round, swollen abdomens, swollen arms and legs, and fragile, yellow-tinged skin. It was a disease called kwashiorkor and the only cure was to begin providing protein to the children.
Some groups might have responded to this emergency with a feeding program. That would have been the African equivalent of “giving a hungry man a fish, and feeding him for a day.” The CHE team could have gathered the community leaders and given them the necessary knowledge of the causes and solutions to kwashiorkor. This would be like “teaching a man to fish, so the he could feed himself for a lifetime.” This would be better.
However, the CHE team tried for a goal that was even better. When they had taught the villagers about food groups and ways to produce foods with protein, they asked the leaders to make a plan of action and implement it.
Instead of keeping control of the changes in food supply and diet, they encouraged the community to put their leaders in charge. This allowed to community to “own” its own program. This preserved the self-respect of the local people, and encouraged them to continue their efforts even when the CHE teams could not be with them every week.
The result is that malnutrition in this community has been eliminated. Children play vigorously in obvious good health. Parents are profoundly relieved. And this change will continue because the people own it. That is called “sustainable change.”
This would be excellent news, but the news is still better. All the nutrition training was combined with stories about the love of Jesus and his offer of adoption into his family. This discipleship led to planting a church of excited believers. At first the church had only mud walls with tin sheets for a roof. Then the group saved the equivalent of $2,000 from their offerings for building materials.
Church members with building skills volunteered their time. They built trusses to support the tin sheets of the roof, and laid smooth concrete on the floor. All this excitement has dramatically increased attendance. The biblical teaching they have received has stimulated strong individual spiritual growth. Now there is hardly anyone in that village who has not been impacted both physically and spiritually.
This village is now reaching out to the villages around it in ways that connect to the needs of people’s bodies and souls. The CHE teams have “taught people to teach others to fish” and in the process to share the good news about Jesus.
Those who hear the Gospel in this way feel the call of the Holy Spirit in a powerful way, and few refuse it.
Do you want to do better things than merely “teaching men to fish?” Do you want to teach them how to teach each other about life-saving physical changes and about the love of Jesus at the same time? If so, please ask God if supporting Medical Ambassadors on an ongoing basis is an opportunity for joy that he does not want you to miss. The attached response card can make taking action easier for you. If you do it right away, you can avoid distractions.
Now for the extra good news from Medical Ambassadors… One of the most respected people in the area of Christian community development, Dr. Ravi Jayakaran, has agreed to be Medical Ambassadors’ next President. Lord willing, he will start on June 1, 2017. I believe his vision will allow MAI to replicate stories like the one above beyond my wildest imagination.
Dr. Jayakaran has well over three decades of experience leading International poverty reduction and strategic development programs. He is the Global Director of Community Transformations for e3 Partners /I am Second, as well as the Catalyst for Integral Missions for the Lausanne Movement. Dr. Jayakaran has worked in senior management in several well-known international ministries as well as the corporate sector. He has lived and worked long-term in India, Cambodia, China and the US and provided technical support in more than 23 countries on issues of transformational development, integral mission, relief & development, participatory poverty alleviation and development, public health, & prevention of trafficking. Their older son Amit David Jayakaran lives with his wife Allison in San Francisco CA and their younger son Rohit Jonathan Jayakaran and his wife Christine live in Dubai, UAE.
Ravi also serves as a member of the board of directors on several boards including the Accord network & the Chalmers center. In January 2014, Ravi was listed by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the top 100 leaders guiding Atlanta's health-care industry.
More information on Ravi’s work and his publications can be found on his web site at www.ravijayakaran.com.
What is more important to me, is that I have experienced the love and kindness of Jesus radiating from Dr. Ravi toward me, when I was unknown, and he was an international celebrity. This was long before he had any idea God might one day call him to work with MAI.
So what does this mean for my wife, Madelle, and me? From the first day we came to MAI, we have been full time volunteers. Dr. Jayakaran would like to have us continue relating to those of you who have become warm friends in the twelve years we have been with MAI. So that is what we hope to do, until the day that God releases us.
From God’s wonderful embrace,
John Payne MD
We appreciate your prayer and financial support. Without you as a member of the team, this ministry would not be possible.