The Burden of my Heart Pt 3
A Message from Rick Allen, MedSend President and CEO
MedSend launches The Longevity Project in spring 2023
My previous messages in this series ( Pt 1 and Pt 2) detailed the events leading up to the creation of this new program when two separate incidents occurred over 10 years ago. The first was the response to Dr. Dan Fountains pre-field classes for new healthcare missionaries.
It was clear from the responses of the attendees that Dan was sharing a perspective of what it meant to be a healthcare missionary that most participants had not considered. I would characterize it as “whole person care”. It was a rich and deep vision for the care of each individual. He pointed out that we all have a world view which impacts our behaviors and beliefs. Our world view has a direct impact on our health and wellbeing.
The physical-spiritual connection
Throughout much of the world an individual is likely to have a world view that the condition of their physical health is a direct result of their spiritual condition. They might think, ‘If I am sick, the shaman or local healer cast a spell on me, my dead uncle is angry with my family, the gods are angry with me.’
This perspective allows a healthcare professional to easily enter into a spiritual conversation related to the Great Healer, Jesus. Dan would talk about individuals who by western medical standards were healthy, yet they wither away and die because they believed a spell had been cast on them. I began to ask in what other ways might we better inform out-going healthcare missionaries to prepare them for service.
Earlier, Dr. Daryl Erickson, a long-term healthcare missionary, MedSend board member, and the leader of MedSend for a time, expressed his belief that MedSend was the right organization to champion for improved support of healthcare missionaries. At the time we were not prepared to move in that direction. But I never forgot his passion and desire for MedSend to be the catalyst for improving the lives of healthcare missionaries.
MedSend prepares to respond
Over the next few years MedSend attempted to identify, through our partners, ways to reach our two goals of improving the experience of healthcare missionaries as they served our Lord and extending their time of service so they could have even greater impact. Several actions were taken:
- We leveraged pre-field classes through the CMDA (Christian Medical & Dental Associations®).
- We created a Coach/Mentor program for those leaving for first time service.
- We included a stress indicator survey as a part of our annual report. The survey was confidential and went directly to an organization prepared to respond with counseling help for those in need.
- We gathered a group of partners to create a retreat focused on the professional, spiritual, and relational lives of our grant recipients.
The first of these retreats was held in 2019, pre-pandemic. The retreats were placed on hold until 2022 when we reinstated them and successfully held two within the last year.
The response to these efforts has been outstanding! See remarks from several participants below. We’ve also included a video with first person testimonies so you can hear directly from the missionaries.
After several years of learning what services were working for the healthcare missionary, we have put together a bundle of services and created a model for healthcare missionaries to access those services. This will be the MedSend Longevity Project.
Comments from participants in our MedRefresh Retreats
“Wow. Amazing. We are so, so thankful this was lavishly given to us. We have been blessed beyond measure. I think this helped save our marriage and gave us a huge step forward into healing spiritual burnout and (gave) me some tools for the future and boundaries to implement.”
“Everything about this conference design was exactly what we needed.”
“My utmost gratitude for the people and the sacrificial time, love, and money poured over us.”
“Hands down best conference I have ever been to (and I’ve attended my fair share!) THANK YOU!”
“Made connections, received guidance and advice for the future and heard what others have done in our circumstances .”
“My initial hopes and desires were exceeded this week.”
“It was a great time of processing and thinking through the past couple of years of service.”
“I felt seen, heard, and understood. He spoke truths that I needed to hear on topics I hadn’t even disclosed yet. It was so deeply encouraging and confirmation for things God has been speaking to my heart that I didn’t even know I needed. Hands down a highlight I won’t forget for many years.”
“I just felt encouraged and loved.”
A comment regarding our Stress Survey
“MedSend has cared for much more than our loans. This year we benefited from their care for our souls as we were asked to speak with a counselor after last year’s mental health assessment. We are also making tremendous progress toward loan forgiveness which is a process we entered with much guidance and advice from MedSend. All in all, I would say that we see MedSend as much, much more than a financial help to our lives and ministry though we could not do what we do without the financial help as well.”
Healthcare remains the only form of access as a Christian witness in many countries.
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