“Jesus lo ama mucho!” (Translation: “Jesus loves you very much!”)
In the communities of El Salvador where he serves, Dr. Philippe Gendreau, DDS, is known for greeting everyone he encounters with these joyful words, whether at the grocery store, the mall or even in the street.
But for this MedSend dentist, the message goes beyond words. Most mornings at 8:30, he begins providing free dental care for the patients lined up in his dental clinic. Many arise well before dawn and walk for several hours to reach the clinic and the dental care they need so desperately. In a country where a family can eat for two weeks for the price of a $10 tooth extraction, even the most basic dental care is often an unaffordable luxury.
The consequences can be deadly.
“People can die of untreated tooth infections and severe tooth decay,” Dr. Gendreau explains. “In addition, periodontal disease is linked to many other system disease including heart disease, diabetes and others.” Along with providing dental care, Dr. Gendreau teaches his patients how to take care of their teeth and have better oral health.
Dr. Gendreau is also concerned about his patients’ emotional and spiritual health. He asks all his patients if he can pray for them. In addition, the clinic staff includes spiritual counselors who share the good news of Jesus’ love and pray for patients as well.
“People are more open to hearing about Jesus when going through trials,” Dr. Gendreau says. “Having a severe toothache can be a difficult thing to endure and the right opportunity for the Holy Spirit to bring someone into the kingdom.”
Such was the case for a 16-year-old with severe tooth decay in his front teeth.
“If I did not treat him that day, he would have lost all his front teeth within months and he also would have been at risk for infections,” Dr. Gendreau says. He saved the teens’ teeth and taught him oral hygiene. In addition, he shared the good news of Jesus’ love and the young man committed his life to the Lord.
“He was filled with joy that day,” Dr. Gendreau recalls. “He was completely amazed with the fact that he would be keeping his front teeth and that he has been restored with his Heavenly Father.”
Cosmetic dental problems can cause a different type of pain – also agonizing. Jennifer, a single mother of two, was just a little girl when she began praying to see a dentist – but it was always a financial impossibility. Now, after receiving her denture from Dr. Gendreau, she is no longer ashamed to talk, laugh and smile. It’s easy to see why Dr. Gendreau’s motto is “Give smiles…change lives!”
Changing Communities – Thanks to You!
In addition to working in several dental clinics, Dr. Gendreau works with a children’s ministry and does outreach into surrounding communities with visiting medical/dental teams from the U.S. During a typical weeklong outreach, a different town is visited each day. The teams work with local churches to share the gospel message. During the visit pictured below, 415 medical and dental patients were cared for and 140 people gave their lives to Jesus. According to the local pastors, church attendance increases following a team visit.
“By seeing God’s love through this ministry, people are able to receive Jesus into their lives,” Dr. Gendreau says. “The ministry is making an eternal difference and impacting communities all over El Salvador. This would not have been possible without MedSend’s help. Your help with our student loans and wisdom, guidance and prayers, have made this possible. On behalf of the thousands of lives that have been changed here in Central America, we thank you very much!”
Give Smiles…Change Lives: The Video
Meet the Gendreaus and those they serve!