RED SPRINGS — A medical mission team to the Philippines two years ago saw hundreds of patients. Dr. Kenneth Locklear remembers two vividly.
One girl had a condition that could not be helped and died about five months later. The other had a mass on her forehead the size of a grapefruit.
“She was the one I could do something about,” Locklear said.
He said the mass between her eyes was so large it kept the little girl named Zysa from seeing in front of her.
“She had to look at your from the side,” he said.
Locklear, who practices family medicine in Red Springs, couldn’t help the girl while he was in the Philippines, but what he did when he returned home changed her life.
Locklear, a member of Island Grove Baptist Church in Pembroke, started making calls to various medical facilities and other organizations. Several people told him they could help, but then told him how much they’d charge.
Finally, Locklear talked to a lady from the Philippines who works at Duke University Medical Center. She told him about an organization that sends surgeons to Manila to perform surgeries. The team might be able to help if Locklear could work out several details.
He did, but after the team arrived, the girl was still among more than 150 children in line for about 40 to 50 surgeries.
“The Lord works things out,” he said. “Things fell into place and she ended up getting her surgery done.”
Now Locklear is going back to the Philippines on another medical mission trip in late April or early May.
“I’m looking forward to seeing her,” he said.
Sandra Locklear, an optometrist who has an office in Pembroke and is no relation to Kenneth Locklear, also went on the trip two years ago. She took about 2,000 pairs of glasses and would match the person’s eyes to the prescription in the glasses. She is also a member at Island Grove. One man was essentially blind. When he put on glasses he “went to crying,” Kenneth Locklear said.
A 76-year-old lady walked for six hours to be seen and didn’t grumble, he said, adding that some patients in United States are unhappy if they have to sit in a waiting room for an hour.
“It’s a very humbling experience to see how hard the people work and how thankful they are for the least little thing,” he said.
Some barns in the United States would look like mansions in the Philippines, Locklear said.
“It’s very humbling to see those people who work hard who don’t have a lot,” he said.
Most of those on the mission trip were from Island Grove. “We really had a good time,” Locklear said. “Those people are really on fire for the Lord.”
Christians in the Philippines are starting churches, holding Bible classes and revivals, and baptizing people, Locklear said.
“It’s just a great thing to see,” he said.
Manny Mintac, youth pastor at Island Grove Baptist Church and program coordinator for Burnt Swamp Baptist Association, organized the trip. His main responsibility is to oversee the mission work in the Philippines.
He goes and visits at least once a year and also leads mission teams.
Mintac said the vision for the work started in 1991 when he and his wife went to the Philippines and started a living room Bible study. Mission teams from the association started going a few years later. Now there are 14 churches and a school with 135 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
“God has been really wonderful,” Mintac said. “The momentum is even faster now.”
Mintac is going back to the Philippines in early April. He’ll stay six weeks and help three different mission teams. A team of six from Parkway Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., is going to do a sports camp.
A medical team, including Dr. Locklear, is coming in late April and early May. A team of college students is going later in May to do VBS and youth camp. Most of the students are from UNC-Pembroke. In August a team of young professionals is going to work with college students and children, Mintac said. The work is in the province of Aurora in the northern part of the Philippines. The effort has spread to five of the eight major towns in the province.
“We are now saturating the whole province and going in the major towns in the province,” Mintac said.
Mintac went to elementary and high school in the Philippines. “That’s where I was raised,” he said.
He said he is always looking for partners who want to help to help with the mission effort.
“It seems like it’s just scratching the surface, but it’s growing,” he said. “We’ll take any group that wants to go, because we have many ministries that will accommodate them.”
Dr. Locklear was so moved by the trip he hopes to one day take back members of his family. His daughter, Andrea Simmons, works with him in family practice. His son, Brandon, and daughter-in-law, Merideth, are in obstetrics and gynecology. His daughter, Charlene, is a resident in Florence, S.C.
“That’s our ultimate goal in the future,” he said.