BHSU Medical Mission Trips to Peru Deliver Care to Thousands
Baptist Health Sciences University students, faculty, staff and alumni traveled to Pucallpa, Peru, in April for two medical mission trips. They joined with local pastors and missionaries to help improve the quality of life of indigenous people living in the jungle. To reach the patients, BHSU volunteers travelled hours by boat or car on muddy roads, sometimes getting stuck, but the end results were incredible!
The first group of volunteers completed their medical mission trip from April 14 through April 23, and the second group from April 23 until May 1. During the two weeks, approximately 50 BHSU volunteers set up nine clinics, delivered life-changing care to 2,455 patients and provided reading glasses to 674 patients. Local pastors met with the patients, introduced them to the church and signed them into the clinics.
BHSU Assistant Professor Allyson Smith said, “As an instructor, it was amazing to witness past, present and future students being the hands and feet of Jesus to the people of Pucallpa. These students overcame fear, anxiety and self-consciousness by discovering that they are equipped to do life-improving work.”
The BHSU volunteers offered more than medical care. They also provided spiritual and emotional support, praying with the patients and helping them to realize their relevance in a world where they are often isolated.
“We looked in their eyes, and we let them know that they’re important people, that they are made in the image of God and that they are created by God,” said Director of Faith and Service at BHSU, Chaplain Karen Smith.
BHSU volunteers met with Tom Hough, a South American missionary who has worked in the jungles of Peru for many years. He founded a theological school called The Indian Center, which trains pastors and their families, enabling them to start their own churches. Of the nine clinics held during the two weeks, eight of them were set up and managed by pastors who had graduated from The Indian Center.
“We were a small part of a huge ministry that will continue. Working with the local churches for our clinics gave them more viability. The community leaders’ hearts changed as they watched the teams from Baptist care for their people with the compassion of Jesus Christ,” noted Chaplain Smith.
She said that after the clinics, community leaders who had not been supporters of the churches visited the local pastors and said they would like to invest in the church. They granted permission to the pastors and secured some financial support to improve/build churches in their villages.
“Because of the care the teams had given to the people in the village, they realized the importance of the church within their village,” said Chaplain Smith.
The Liquid Legacy ministry sponsored the medical mission trips, along with the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation other generous donors. Crosslink Memphis provided medicine and supplies. Peruvian doctors, translators and drivers also helped make the mission trips a success.
BHSU Chair and Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences Lilian Nyindodo said, “The medical mission trip was a life-changing and humbling experience. Serving communities with little to no access to health care was very rewarding. We had long and challenging days but were warmed by the smiles and appreciation we received from the people in Pucallpa, Peru.”