Sheila Fowler is 43. She has short brown hair, a soft, girlish voice and three grandchildren. What she does not have is teeth, or a way to pay for dentures. But Fowler is stoic; she jokes that she’s got tough gums, adding that she can even eat pretzels if she sucks on them for a bit.

Fowler has made the hourlong journey from her home in Cleveland, Va., to the small town of Wise to take advantage of a huge annual medical and dental expedition set up by Remote Area Medical, a nonprofit organization that provides basic medical and dental care to people in the world’s most inaccessible regions. This year, more than 1,800 volunteer doctors, dentists, nurses and assistants descended on the small town near the Kentucky border, setting up enormous field-hospital-style tents in which they saw roughly 2,500 patients over the course of two and a half days in late July. The Wise operation is coordinated locally by a team of nurses with the Health Wagon, a tiny health-care outreach program.

By the end of the weekend, the medical team, had extracted 3,857 painfully decayed teeth, administered 156 mammograms, screened hundreds of people for diabetes and heart disease, and given out 1,003 pairs of eyeglasses. About 30 people, chosen by lottery, were fitted for free dentures. Hundreds of people were turned away by volunteers who headed off cars at the main intersection when the clinic reached capacity.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE

I really like this once a year free clinic but I am sure that as disciples of Christ we can do better.  We spend hundreds of dollars and lots of time on mission trips overseas and in South America.  I am not suggesting that we stop these trips but I would like to challenge the church to spend some quality time here at home. Jesus introduced himeself to many of the first century communities through healing someone. What an awesome way to introduce Christ to the marginalized and poor in every state of the Union. In every state there is at least one community where a free clinic is needed. In every state there are at least 50 churches that can collaboratively provide a free clinic. The poorest of the poor, those limited by transportation and cultural isolated populations can experience a benefit. 

We are called to follow the lead of Jesus

18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
      to preach good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
      and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,
    19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Universal healthcare would be nice but with or without universal healthcare the church can do better at meeting the healthcare needs of the poor here in the United States.  As disciples we have a responsibility to find a way to bring healing to all of God’s people.

Advertisements