Step inside the world of a Jewish Voice Ministries medical outreach as one outreach partner who volunteered with us tells her story of going to Gondar, Ethiopia.
Selam! Greetings from Ethiopia!
I hope this will give you a good understanding of what your support accomplished! We were able to treat an amazing total of 8,321 patients in just five clinic days. 1,382 people told us that they invited Yeshua into their hearts. God is amazing!
The clinic is a week-long “pop-up” clinic that is hosted in a building normally used to board teachers. The existing rooms are converted into various medical “departments,” and then several more rooms and waiting areas are built out over the lawn using tarps and wooden poles as a structure.
The clinic this year was even more comprehensive than last year. We offered the following services: general medical care, pediatrics, gynecology, dermatology, nursing/wound care, minor general surgery, dental cleaning and extractions, optometry, eye surgery, and a full pharmacy. All medical care was offered completely free of charge.
With all of these services, the clinic needs to be very orderly so the maximum number of patients can be seen. Every patient started out waiting in the lines outside. Upon entry into the clinic, they received wristbands according to the type of treatment they were requesting and were then guided to an initial waiting area for triage. The triage team took basic vitals and recorded each patient’s main complaint on a large card that the patient kept throughout their entire clinic visit. Next, patients waited in a post-triage area until they could be treated in their individual department. After treatment, patients visited the pharmacy to fill any prescriptions given by the doctors. On their way out of the clinic, patients were given the opportunity to go into the prayer tent. This was completely optional for all patients. Finally, they exited the clinic by handing in their cards and having their wrist bands cut off at the exit gate.
My job was “Medical Department Coordinator,” but “Ground Traffic Controller” may be a better description! I was stationed right in the middle, at the cross-roads, of the clinic with a team of about 15 Ethiopian workers. We were responsible for the post-triage process: guiding the medical patients from the post-triage area to their individual departments, to the pharmacy, and finally to the prayer tent and exit. We had to make sure that all waiting areas within the clinic were full, but not overly crowded. It sounds simple, but it got pretty crazy at times!
Thankfully, my team of workers was wonderful, especially my translator Mekdes and my right-hand man Yihun. They stood by me all day, every day. My role was very important to maintaining calm and orderliness in the clinic. Though taxing at times, I very much enjoyed it!
I suppose each time you do something like this, something different strikes you. Last year, I was impressed by the sheer amount of medical care that we were providing to the community. For many, the simple treatments they receive literally save their lives. This year, although this was still true, I was caught by something quite the opposite. I was confronted with the fact that the medical care that we were offering was not sufficient and never will be. We were pouring water into a broken bucket. But it is not just Ethiopia that is a broken bucket. It is the world. The world, and all people, are broken. We have problems that can’t be solved, sicknesses that literally can’t be healed, and wrongs that can’t be made right.
I remember one woman in particular who came up to me crying because the clinic doctors had discovered that her son had a heart condition that we could not treat. With no money for a hospital visit, this woman was very upset as she had no idea how she would care for her son. She knew and I knew that her son would probably die.
In interacting with this mother and seeing her grief, I came to a realization. Ultimately, the greatest gift we were giving at the clinic was not the physical medical care – small drops into a broken bucket. The greatest gift we were giving was the spiritual care – the chance to be mended, to be whole, to be forgiven, and to be united with God eternally.
Every morning we had a meeting an hour before the clinic started. Mezmur, one of the congregational leaders in Gondar, spoke one morning about eternal life. Eternal life, he said, is often defined as life after death. He disagreed with this definition. Eternal life, he said, is this: God-purposed life that begins while we are still living when we accept Yeshua (Jesus). We become partakers of God’s character and nature when we accept Him. And since God is eternal, we, therefore, become participants in eternity while we are still on this earth.
In the physical sense, we could not help that boy with the heart condition, but his true heart – his very soul – was offered total healing and freedom in the knowledge and truth of God.
What a relief it was to me to be able to tell that mother that although we could not do anything to make her son better, and perhaps no one could, there is a God who offers eternal life. And that eternal life begins now.
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For You will not leave my soul among the dead . . . . You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever. ⎯Psalm 16:9-11
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. ⎯John 3:16
Blessings in Messiah,