EMAS teams have no reserve players. No one sits on the benches. And because God’s gifts—and therefore the roles we carry out—are distributed among His people, (1 Corinthians 12) effectiveness in His work is the result of multidisciplinary teams that also value and utilize the individual’s talents and skills.
Long ago King David established a principle of equity for his army: there was to be no distinction between the soldier in the front line and the rear guard: “The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle” 1 Samuel 30:24
We believe and apply this principle.
All Parts Working Together
From our earliest days EMAS Canada has needed non-medical team members, the pioneering doctors and pharmacist were aided by a retired non-medical missionary. In years to follow, and to date key members of the teams are people like the evangelist who traveled to Siberia in 2005, he discerned that the doctor’s prescription of pain-killers for a knee injury was not enough, so laying hands on the affected joint, prayed for divine healing, God answered before their very eyes. Such demonstrations of God’s power confirm to our healthcare professionals that we need the whole body of Christ in action if we are to proclaim God’s love for a spiritual and eternal impact and that goes beyond the immediate physical ailments and social needs.
When non-medical administrative staff join missions, they return with a greater appreciation of the importance of their support roles: One former administrator, Wendy Doy wrote after her trip to Haiti: “The wonder of the beautiful mosaic of the Body of Christ went from head knowledge to a living experience.” Wendy had spent her time on the team weighing children and praying for the sick at El Shaddai Baptist Church and Feeding Centre,
The ones who “stayed with the supplies” are never idle, they are the rear guard who work for our spiritual victory through prayer. Some teams appoint one member to send daily updates, which are distributed to interested donors, friends and supporting churches who pray every day of the mission. Other teams have local prayer coordinators who gather small groups for prayer in Canada during the mission.
Our supply chain provides funds and equipment without which our missionaries would not travel. Some have spent hours collecting supplies and packing them in advance of a trip. Others have done literally days of translation work to prepare lecture materials from English to Mandarin.
On Home Soil
Not all opportunities for service are in far away lands.
An EMAS sponsored foreign medical doctor came to understand the gospel while in Canada. God used her local Canadian hosts here while on tour to Niagara Falls, the healthcare team that had recruited and worked with her in Asia had started the conversation, others help with the final explanations leading to spiritual conversion. God has worked like this before, 1 Corinthians 3:5-9.
Going Beyond Physical Health Needs
Because the work of God goes beyond healing the physical body, medical personnel at times only create opportunities and others are used by God to communicate truth through words and actions. As a great commission mission organization, we know that the miracle of spiritual birth is a work of God, and as much as we value the usefulness of healthcare as a vehicle for good, the transforming message of the gospel is both for now and for eternity.
Improved healthcare and physical healing are important parts of God’s concern but we submit to the Headship of Jesus in our service, partnering with other parts of His body for His purposes. Today in northern Haiti, Canadian plumbers, electricians, and carpenters are working side by side with local artisans to finish the Gambade clinic. The building stands on land donated by the people, they labor on their project because they own it, and they will repair and maintain it, so we need their engagement at every stage of the construction. The Canadian artisans are sharing their skills with their local Haitian colleagues, who are healthy adults unlikely to need the clinic for a long time, but the Canadians are also building relationships that will give future medical teams access to the community; that is an important long-term outcome. Furthermore, conversations about Christ and our motivation are already creating curiosity about the gospel. The healthcare team needs the goodwill of these local men and women if the clinic is to serve their families once completed.
Next month a Canadian theologian will leave his teaching post in Kenya and join our team in Zimbabwe to serve the national pastors and their spouses at a retreat sponsored in partnership with Harvest Bible Chapel Oakville. But our medical goal is to assist the setting up of a permanent dental service at Karanda Hospital and the dental team will be there serving the people by bringing much needed dentistry.
All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV)
A physician and surgeon in his native Kenya, Peter has a passion for Christ-centred healthcare and has a wealth of experience both hosting and sending short-term mission teams.