Last year Jerry and Cecilia Kuiper traveled from the beach
to the mountains, from rural areas to cities, helping make sure the North
Carolina Baptist Men medical/dental bus got where it needed to go. In 2010,
about 4,100 people in 180 different locations across the state received dental
treatment on one of the two medical/dental buses.
Jerry first got his commercial driver’s license (CDL) so he
could drive the church bus. When he saw an ad in the church bulletin about
needing drivers for the medical/dental ministry, he decided to help.
Cecilia travels with Jerry and helps keep the dental
instruments sterile, develops the X-rays and makes sure the bus is stocked and
cleaned. She sits with patients while they wait and often prays with them.
“They are so appreciative because they’ve hurt for so long,”
she said. Cecilia told about an 89-year-old woman who came three different
days, all in the same week, to have teeth pulled.
“She never complained. She was so thankful,” Cecilia said.
Care received on the dental bus primarily includes fillings
and extractions. Many people who receive care have never seen a dentist before
and are not able financially to do so.
Prior to volunteering with this ministry the Kuipers,
members of New Hope Baptist Church in Raleigh, said they were “just like
regular people who go to the dentist.”
They came with no experience in dental ministry, but quickly
learned ways to help the dentists and other dental professionals.
Jerry said the dentists and the faith they demonstrate in
Jesus Christ always encourages him. They are dedicated to the Lord and they
“want to share that with their patients,” he said.
Fifty-two patients prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their
personal Lord and Savior last year.
Joanne Honeycutt has served as medical/dental bus ministry
coordinator for six years. Her responsibilities include assisting churches in
planning a free dental clinic, coordinating the schedule for the dental buses,
stocking and cleaning the buses, ordering supplies, and when necessary, traveling
with the dental buses and working alongside the dental professionals.
This ministry is made possible because of volunteers willing
to drive the buses and serve as hosts for each clinic. The host works with all
the dental professionals and other volunteers for that clinic to make sure
things run smoothly.
“It takes a lot of lay people to make this happen,”
Honeycutt said. Each church or organization that sponsors a dental clinic must
not only enlist the dental professionals to work on the bus, but volunteers to
help with planning, registration, childcare, evangelism and language
“I have seen Christians throughout North Carolina who care
enough to give their time and talents to better someone else’s life,” Honeycutt
said. “These volunteers put in long, hard days and nights. I am so grateful to
God for everyone who is and has been a part of the medical/dental bus
Often sponsoring churches offer not just the free dental
clinic, but also free medical screenings, blood pressure checks, eye exams, and
counselors and pastors to meet and pray with patients.
The dental ministry began in 1989 with one bus and one
driver. Now, the dental buses are in such great demand that churches or other
organizations wanting to host a dental clinic should contact Honeycutt a year
in advance to secure a date for a clinic.
All dental services offered at the clinics are free to the
patients. This is possible because each sponsoring organization pays $7 per
patient, 65 cents roundtrip mileage for the bus from Cary to the clinic site,
and reimbursement for the bus driver’s overnight accommodations and meals (if
Still, the amount N.C. Baptist Men requires each sponsoring
organization to contribute is not enough to cover all the costs of the clinic.
The rest of funding for the clinic comes from the annual North Carolina
In 2010, Guilford Baptist Church in Greensboro sponsored a
clinic for the third year in a row. “Once we hosted a clinic the first time we
knew we wanted to continue doing it,” said Rosemary Steed, clinic coordinator.
“This ministry has become a passion of mine.”
The clinics remind Steed how great the need is for this type
On the morning of last year’s clinic, before the doors even
opened, about 150 people were already lined up — many more than could possibly
be seen that day. Sometimes the dental hygienists show patients how to care for
their teeth because they have never been taught how to do so. Dentists often
offer free follow-up care to patients.
Steed started planning and recruiting dentists and other
volunteers in January for the November event. Two local dentists have
volunteered to serve for the past three years. About 60 church members
volunteered to serve and many gave financially to help make the free clinic
Jack Floyd, member of Lifepoint Community Church in Willow
Springs, began volunteering as a bus driver in October 2009 and also helps with
the hosting of the clinic. Floyd works full time and is a father to teenage children,
but still finds time to drive the bus at least once a month. “I enjoy meeting
people and learning about them,” he said.
During a clinic in Murphy, Floyd shared the gospel with one
of the patients.
Later, the man contacted the Truett Baptist Association and
wanted to talk with someone. He prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his personal
Lord and Savior.
“There’s always opportunity to share about Jesus Christ,”
Floyd said. “We try to love as Christ did and explain why we do what we do.”
For more information about the dental ministry visit
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