God Is Still Moving: Evangelism Through Medicine in Guatemala

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July 15, 2022 by

At Cedarville, one of the biggest ministries for students to be a part of is Global Outreach. Cedarville’s President, Dr. White, encourages students go on at least one GO trip, saying that it will be life-changing and that it will redefine their faith and the way they see the world. I did not realize how just a one week trip to Guatemala would not only live up to those words but do so much more for me, for the other people on the team, and for the people of Guatemala.  

 

The Goal 

Our team from Global Outreach didn’t know each other from the beginning, but because we all had a common goal in mind, it made for an incredibly effective trip. We accomplished this through partnering with Caring Partners International, which takes teams as well as medical supplies and glasses to different countries to evangelize through medicine. They do this through having each patient go through the “Clinic of the Soul” after being seen by our providers and visiting the eyeglass station. The Clinic of the Soul is run by people in the local church who share the Gospel with them in their own language and pray with them. During four days at the clinic, we saw 695 patients, and 79 accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord! 

The Team 

“God has brought together such an amazing team that are all so eager to help and teach one another. What little we have in common no longer matters, but instead, what matters is our own unique spiritual gifts, different from everyone else. This team is the closest I’ve ever seen to a perfect picture of the body of Christ.” 

Our team from Global Outreach was comprised of two nursing faculty members and one pharmacy faculty member and students from nursing, pre-med, and pharmacy. We started weekly meetings on Zoom in January, which we all agreed later were incredibly awkward! Finally, we had a team meeting in person, and we all bonded immediately. Although we were different ages and from different disciplines, we shared the desire to help the people in Guatemala through the spiritual gift of physically caring for other that God had given to each of us. 

Twelve people from Cedarville came on the trip. Caring Partners has a vision screening station, an eyeglass station, a chiropractic station, a dentist station, and a pharmacy at every clinic, so in total it took about 30 people each day to just run those stations, which doesn’t even count the people that run the Clinic of the Soul, the check-in desk, and the maintenance staff.  

The Place 

“My journey here was longer than just two flights. I knew that God wanted me on this trip, but I wasn’t picked to be a part of the team until December. During the time of waiting, I trusted God, but I also wanted to give up hope. Standing under the famous arch in Antigua, I realize that this is my own personal rainbow above Noah’s Ark, a sign that God keeps His promises.” 

The community building that we used for our clinic was in the village of Santa Elena Barillas, which is considered a rural city compared to the larger cities like Guatemala City. In rural cities, there is approximately one medical professional for every 10,000 people, so there was clearly a great need for Caring Partners to come. 

When we arrived each day, there were already hundreds of people standing in line waiting for us. The people stood outside the building or sat inside for hours, waiting for help. I was amazed at how quickly word spread that we had set up a clinic there. Although there were many shops all around the clinic, and most of the people who came were from outside of downtown Santa Elena. We had good weather most days, but two days of the clinic it poured down rain. Combined with the metal roof over the building we used, it made it very difficult to hear and communicate with the patients. This was just one of many obstacles I never thought of until it happened. 

The People 

The people of Santa Elena were so appreciative of our help and so receptive to health education. This is something that is different than American patients. The Guatemalan people were thankful and were eager to learn about what they should eat or do differently to improve their health. Many of the teammates remarked that this relieved a lot of cynicism that they have picked up from working in the healthcare field. The children were also so thankful and so well behaved and patient with our poking and prodding to diagnose them.  

Although they were all so happy, I found that their faces would circle through my mind all night and into the next day. We saw developmental disorders, starvation, malnutrition, parasitic infections, and chronic pain with no available medications. We diagnosed STDs, conducted ultrasounds for cysts and tumors, did many pregnancy tests, removed cavities, and pulled teeth that needed to be pulled long ago. We educated relentlessly on diabetes, tapeworms, scabies, heart disease, and hydration. All of this was so necessary, but it was hard to see repeatedly. 

The Life Application 

On our final night in Antigua, our team took turns sharing how the trip had personally impacted us and how our next steps in our life would be changed because of it. As I mentioned previously, many said they would return to their jobs in healthcare with less cynicism after seeing that God is still using them to change lives through medicine. Here are some other team members’ takeaways, paraphrased: 

  • “I think God might be showing me that the specialty I choose may be changing from what I’ve always thought it would be.” 
  • “This trip has given me a glimpse of what Heaven will be like, and I can’t wait to see all of the people there that have either helped us carry out our ministry or the people that have been led to the Lord.” 
  • “I can see now that I matter to God and that He is actively using me to carry out His work.” 
  • “I was hesitant to go on this trip because of things going on at home, but it is so amazing to see all that God can do with just one obedient vessel for Him.” 
  • “I have felt incredibly lonely the last few years being away from home, and I could feel my heart hardening. Seeing that I can still be used by God has made me less bitter, and I can go back home knowing that God will use me there too.” 
  • “This trip has shown me that God is all-sustaining. If He can sustain each person in this country at the same time as He is sustaining everyone back in the U.S. or in any other country, I know that I am safe in His hands.” 

The Conclusion 

Finally, we all traveled back home after six days in Guatemala, many of us with new perspectives and new goals. It was very hard to leave the clinic, and it was even harder to leave the country itself. We had all grown so close together in our love for this ministry that many of us want return next year. God worked in so many tangible ways, changing our lives just as much as the people of Santa Elena Barillas’ lives.

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