As part of an overall community plan, Adventists from the Battambang Seventh-day Adventist church in northwest Cambodia offered free medical care to over 1,000 people during five days in partnership with a medical team from Loma Linda, located in the US state of California.
Seven doctors, two nurses, and four medical students, along with local church leaders, members and youth, set up a main clinic in the Battambang church from May 29 - June 2. While they expected a sizable number of patients, they were initially overwhelmed by the first day’s crowd. The response from the community was so great they couldn’t accommodate everyone needing medical care and had to send people away.
Organizers originally wanted to hold clinics in rural outlying areas near Battambang. However, the needed approval had not yet been given from the local government by the first day of operation. So people flocked to the main church clinic. For some, it was their first opportunity for professional medical care.
The Adventist group called a special prayer meeting and prayed that God would enable them to open the rural clinics. The next day they were overjoyed to learn the long-awaited approval had come through. They quickly opened the rural clinics in small Adventist churches and an Adventist English literacy school.
Like the clinic at the main church, the rural clinics were packed and had waiting lines when the team arrived each morning. On the final day, so many people didn’t want to miss their last chance for medical care, the team saw almost double the number of patients.
“It is only by God’s grace that this many patients were able to be treated by the doctors,” states M.C. Shin, a missionary in northwest Cambodia. “On this particular day, it rained heavily and flooded the entrance to the church. This did not hinder the patients nor doctors. With muddy feet and clothes, everyone worked hard to give their very best care to all patients…(and even) left later than their anticipated departure time to provide for the patients,” he added.
In addition to the onsite medical care, the Loma Linda team also provided funding for church leaders and members to offer follow-up care in the form of visits, blood pressure and diabetes check-ups and transportation to the nearest medical facility if needed. The thousands of dollars of medicine distributed at the clinics, with the local Department of Health’s permission, was provided by the team as well.
With such an impact on the community, Shin and other Adventist leaders dream of operating a clinic at the Battambang Urban Center of Influence which is slated to open soon. They hope to offer a mobile clinic but still need a volunteer doctor and/or medical nurse willing to serve in this predominantly Buddhist area.
Although construction of the center is ongoing, music and English language classes have been launched to positive community feedback. Church attendance has increased to the point they are outgrowing their small church. Leaders and members alike pray they can soon offer a reading center, operate an organic farm, health food industry and even a college someday in the future. These dreams all need the help of volunteers who are willing to serve in both short-term and long-term capacities.
While they wait for mission-minded volunteers to join them, church members visit the sick and gather their contact information so they can notify them when the clinic opens. They also refer them to available medical care in the area if necessary. “Our prayer and goal is to be able to provide, not only spiritual healing, but give physical, tangible help to our communities…to share Jesus’ love,” said Shin.
Despite the impressive number of people treated and resources shared, Shin is quick to remind people who the credit for the success should go to. “We praise God for all the precious people we were able to touch. God did not send resources to help the poor and needy, but Jesus came Himself to touch and heal the sick,” he said. “This past week, as we (some of us, vicariously, by helping in other ways) touched the sick and needy, we were drawn to Jesus and saw Jesus in the eyes of the sick and poor. For this, we are forever grateful to our Savior for the gift of love. It was truly humbling to be a part of this work. “
The Battambang Urban Center of Influence is part of the Cambodia Adventist Mission and Southern Asia-Pacific Division’s united strategic plan to serve the people of Cambodia in practical ways.