More than medicine. That’s what Sharon Thomas says she shares each time she takes part in an LCMS World Relief and Human Care Mercy Medical Team (MMT).
When people in some of the world’s poorest overseas communities ask the registered nurse and member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Belvidere, Ill., why she uses her time and resources to travel to their country to care for the sick, she talks about Christ’s love.
“We are Christians as well as medical professionals, and God leads us to reach out and do what we can to help ease suffering,” said Thomas, who has served on eight MMTs – in Indonesia, Madagascar, Haiti and Kenya – as part of the short-term service program coordinated by LCMS World Relief and Human Care (WR-HC). In November, she plans to serve again in Kenya on her ninth MMT in the past three years.
Medical volunteers who share Thomas’ interest in Christian service are needed for upcoming MMTs:
- Aug. 6-14 to Haiti,
- Oct. 6-16 to Madagascar, and
- Nov. 8-20 to Kenya.
Teams are now organizing, and spots are still open for physicians, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, registered nurses, emergency medical personnel and pharmacists. Also needed are pastors to serve as MMT chaplains.
While the most urgent need is for medical professionals, WR-HC’s Maggie Karner, director of Life and Health Ministries, stresses that “hard-working adult laity” also may apply. Professional medical experience is not necessary for MMT participation, she adds, but team members must be at least age 18.
Each team typically serves about 10 days. WR-HC provides an experienced leader and coordinates medical sites and medications. The mercy ministry assists MMT volunteers with visa and immunization issues and provides evacuation insurance. WR-HC coordinates travel, meals and accommodations, but team members pay team fees that include travel costs, flights, meals, lodging and a contribution to the team’s pharmaceutical formulary.
WR-HC also provides fundraising tips for volunteers who seek financial support for their MMT service.
“Those are very helpful,” said Thomas, who typically covers at least 50 percent of her MMT expenses through contributions from her congregation and individual donors.
Since the program began in 2007, MMTs have cared for nearly 15,000 patients in struggling communities where professional health care is rare. The teams serve in collaboration with local Lutheran partners, including LCMS partner churches and Lutheran medical facilities.
While helping people in need, Karner says MMTs also strive to make a lasting and sustainable impact on health-care efforts in international communities and on relief projects supported by WR-HC.
Posted June 14, 2011