Two things permeate the life of every EMAS Canada team which define us: our Vision and our Mission; and then there are five Core Values that we treasure.
With 70 years to look back on, we see that our vision has become even more unifying, our mission remains constant, and our core values continue to assure success.
In our early days EMAS was made up of three volunteers working as one team from their homes to find, store and ship donated equipment to mission hospitals. Today we have grown to over three hundred and fifty volunteers traveling annually in ten teams.
- Christ-centred healthcare teams proclaiming God’s love to all the world through healing and teaching.
Each EMAS team is a unique expression of our Vision, they are discrete units with their own leaders, goals, projects, and internal management. Our team leaders take responsibility for recruiting, leading their projects and raising funds for their ministry activities.
Diverse as we are, we are united by the driving purpose that the Christ-centeredness of God’s love to all the world be proclaimed to everyone. In the steps of John the baptiser, we are forerunners and announcers of the good news concerning God’s mercy to be shown to all people through Jesus Christ.
- To heal, teach and serve those in need in a Christ-like manner.
Common to all teams and consistent over the past 60 years are the tools of healing and teaching as ways of serving the way Jesus did. As healthcare professionals, these are the two most potent activities we are armed with. Every year EMAS teams bring physical healing through clinical consultations, dental clinics, surgical operations, and physiotherapy to thousands of people where we serve. We also teach both in the classroom and bedside at hospitals.
Not long ago, an EMAS team serving in a predominantly Islamic nation found the church where they were to run a clinic had been burnt down by Islamic youth.
They set up camp by tying awnings to the remnants of the burnt out building. They served everyone without discrimination, and without charge; among their patients was a local Imam. After receiving treatment, the Imam promised to teach the youth to respect places of worship. We don’t know if he did; but Jesus did teach us to love, and we do have the assurance that “Of the greatness of his government and peace will be no end.” The privilege of giving an Imam dental care sent a kingdom message of goodwill to all men, a more potent engagement than an interfaith debate. The commitment to obey Christ, the pursuit of empathy and alignment with God over the needs of others make Jesus’ teachings our lodestar.
These words from a popular Christmas hymn ring true:
“Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace”1
In Zimbabwe, a dental team also provides a week-long retreat for national pastors and their spouses. The retreat is popular with attendance nearly doubling in its second year. This year, Shona Bibles on solar powered radios were given some of the pastors and people we served.
One elderly man on receiving a radio and hearing God’s word in his native language was overwhelmed, he knelt down in gratitude and tearfully worshipped God.
Empowering Local Leaders
Unknown to many, we empower local leaders through scholarship programs for the training of healthcare students who are preparing to serve among their own people. Dr. PK is studying to become an obstetrician/gynecologist in Uganda. We monitor his progress (as we do with all other sponsored students), through annual academic transcripts and personal visits whenever an EMAS team is in Uganda; his latest email reads; “I received the funds. Thank you very much for all the efforts to ensure that I receive the school funds and proceed with studies. May the Almighty God reward you most abundantly. I look forward to completing this course next year and graduation in 2020. You have surely played a big role in facilitating my studies.”
Doctors, nurses and laboratory technicians have been trained in China, and Hong Kong; some have come to Canada for advanced courses; while others are now training in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Going to Underserved Areas
Long before EMAS existed North American Christians have served people in Myanmar, teaching about the kingdom of God and through literacy programs. The partnership between EMAS and H.I.M. to build a medical base at Thanbyuzayat in Mon State is a collaboration with the churches started about 150 years ago among the Karen people. A recent influx of Karen once exiled to Thailand has created an opportunity for a new generation of North Americans to serve: this time alongside a Burmese local church who donated land for the project. In this endeavour EMAS Canada is working closely with Christians from Zion Alliance Church who also serve in Myanmar.
Our teams are led by people who are committed to serving on long-term projects. These volunteers are self-selected through their willingness to serve others both in Canada and on EMAS projects abroad. We see one generation handing over leadership to another with elders staying alongside praying for, giving counsel to, and encouraging their protégés.
That EMAS has grown and continues to serve is a testimony to the deep-rooted commitment of our donors and volunteers many of whom will be starting their fifth decade of involvement in 2019.
1 O Holy Night by Pacide Cappeau
All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV)