Devon Darson cried when she called the Jumpstart Free Health Clinic number. “The guy answered the phone and said, ‘We’re here to serve you.’ And I cried,” she says. “That’s the word that God used. He said, ‘I’ve come to serve you and not to be served.’ Darson is one of 2,000 patients whose lives were touched by the almost 700 volunteers who converged on the Texas, July 13-15, to follow Jesus’ example of serving others.
An Idea Is Born
Approximately one year ago, during the 2015 national ASI (Adventist-Laymen's Services and Industries) Convention held in Spokane, Washington, the idea for Jumpstart Free Health Clinic was born. Dawn Lewis, who had volunteered earlier that year for the Your Best Pathway to Health mega clinic held in San Antonio, Texas, was moved by her experience, and was inspired to bring such an event to her hometown of Killeen. She pitched the idea to the ASI Southwest Chapter board. With great enthusiasm the board members accepted the challenge.
Soon after the ASI convention, several entities, including the Southwestern Union, Metroplex Adventist Hospital, along with several churches and leaders from the Texas Conference and the Southwest Region Conference, became engaged in a collaborative effort to bring hope and healing to Killeen area residents. Support from the hospital, local businesses, community leaders, and church organizations began to pour in, confirming that indeed, God wanted this event to happen.
At a meeting of the Killeen City Council in November 2015, a council member who listened to Floyd Courtney’s (director of Jumpstart Killeen) presentation about what Jumpstart could do for their city exclaimed that a good friend had been part of Pathway to Health in San Antonio. The friend had shared with her what a life-changing experience it was. The city council members expressed their support, and the mayor pledged to provide the Killeen Civic and Conference Center free of charge for the free health clinic in July. As the word spread about the upcoming clinic, other generous donors, wanting to do their part to make a difference, began to offer their support through donated medical services and equipment, financial contributions, and volunteer assistance.
The Doors Open
After a year of planning, preparation, prayer, and recruiting of volunteers, the civic center doors opened at 7 a.m. on July 14, and the long lines of tired people who had camped out overnight began to pour into the center, eager to receive much-needed dental, vision, and medical care.
Over a day and a half, nearly 2,000 people were served with free health care — and more. In addition to dental, vision, and medical services, patients were offered free haircuts, massages, lifestyle and nutrition counseling, mental health counseling, and pastoral care.
Regardless of the encounter, or service being offered, the goal was to treat each patient with compassion and loving care. “When I got here and seen [sic] the Port-a-Potties, that was another tear shed, because the compassion to think about people like that is nothing but the love of God,” says Darson. “It was just like Jesus came down Himself and said, ‘I’m taking care of you!” she says through sobs of joy.
“I know God sent me here,” says Terri Young, who had endured extreme pain and swelling from a broken tooth for more than a month prior to attending Jumpstart. “I am just so grateful, especially for the people who have shown so much compassion toward me,” Terri adds. “I just don’t know what I would do without this program!” she exclaims.
Joel Evans was one of the first people to arrive in the early evening hours on the day prior to the clinic’s opening. He learned of the event through Facebook and came seeking minor surgery for a painful lipoma (benign tumor) on his back that had been causing him discomfort for the past six years. “I’m so blessed,” he says. “I’ve been waiting six years to have this lipoma removed and I didn’t have the $4,000 to $6,000 it would have cost for the surgery. We [he and his fiancé] couldn’t believe this was free!”
Wonderful Way to Serve
But Jumpstart may have made a bigger impact on the nearly 700 people who served as volunteers. “I truly appreciate the opportunity to be of service for God. This was my first time with Jumpstart (my heart is still racing!), and I look forward to the next one,” said Rosie Taylor, who volunteered in the lifestyle department.
Andrea Becca, who served in the area of massage and hydrotherapy, was thankful to have had a part to play in the clinic, as well. “When I got the information about this volunteer opportunity,” she says, “just knowing there’s a need, I thought, what a wonderful way to serve! That’s the way Christ served, and I want to follow His example.”
“Words cannot express the profound gratitude that we have for the support that was given by the many volunteers, sponsors, and partners,” says Dawn Lewis, assistant director for Jumpstart Killeen and ASI Southwest Chapter president. “Much prayer, planning, and effort went into this medical outreach to the community, and we give God the glory for making it a success. Indeed, many lives were impacted in a positive way.”
Floyd Courtney, director of Jumpstart Killeen, concurs. “What a privilege to be able to serve the community with the love and compassion of Jesus,” he says. “As we serve and bless others, we too, are blessed.”
We are told in Ellen G. White’s The Ministry of Healing that “It was His [Christ’s] mission to bring to men complete restoration; He came to give them health and peace and perfection of character” (p. 17). Nearly 700 people had the privilege of taking an active part in fulfilling Christ’s mission during Jumpstart Free Health Clinic in Killeen, Texas. They came to serve. Will you also come to serve?
— This article originally appeared in the Aug. 2016 Southwestern Union Record; to learn more, please visit the Jumpstart website, or view a video of of the event on the Jumpstart Killeen Facebook page.