While formal requests for medical personnel are limited, the International Mission Board (IMB) needs doctors, dentists, nurses and public health practitioners willing to "lay down even their specialty ... to bring Jesus into a place where He's never been known before," Alexander said.
"We find unusual specialists among our people," said Dr. Van Williams, an emeritus missionary physician and IMB medical consultant. "You can use any medical skill if you are willing to use it a little differently than you were trained to use it."
Dr. Doug Page* is one example. Page is a thoracic surgeon serving high in the mountains of a remote Central Asian city. The 60-plus bed facility where Page works is dirty and poorly equipped, but it is the largest of three hospitals in the area and provides the best health care available to the 350,000 residents of the province.
"Doug does very little thoracic surgery and more general surgery," Alexander said. "He doesn't have most of his tools, but he is able to save lives and make a difference spiritually."
For health professionals and medical or dental students who want to make a difference among the unreached, Williams gave the following advice:
-- Contact IMB to determine the types of requests available for medical personnel. While many requests list "church planter" or "evangelist" as primary, some request a person with "health-related skills" who can build relationships.
-- Develop a strong background in primary health or be willing to use specialties, such as dentistry, cardiac care, surgery or orthopedics, to educate and train health care workers in other countries.
-- Serve as a medical volunteer on an international mission team. Help nonmedical Christian workers gain access and credibility among unengaged, unreached people groups.
-- Network with other international Christian health care workers by attending IMB-sponsored medical conferences and events sponsored by partnering organizations, such as the Baptist Medical Dental Fellowship (BMDF) and Baptist Global Response (BGR). BMDF is a professional organization of Christian health care workers offering short-term projects, international partnerships and disaster relief training. BGR, a global Southern Baptist relief and development organization, connects Southern Baptists with poor, suffering and needy people around the world by mobilizing influence, prayer and human and financial resources.
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