For the past 13 years, the International Mission Board (IMB) has hosted the MedAdvance conference as a forum for healthcare professionals, students, church leaders and state and associational leaders to learn how they can partner with IMB healthcare workers.
This year’s MedAdvance conference will be held virtually on Aug. 7-8.
Dr. Rebekah Naylor, IMB’s global healthcare strategist consultant, said healthcare is on everyone’s mind because of COVID-19. MedAdvance will provide a forum for participants to hear about current and ongoing IMB projects that meet medical and spiritual needs.
Naylor said healthcare advances the gospel and provides inroads into communities where it would be difficult or impossible to enter through other means. Volunteers from the U.S. are a key component in the ministry strategies of IMB missionaries and expand their reach, Naylor added.
MedAdvance’s first session will be streamed at 7 p.m. EDT on Aug. 7.
In the first session, IMB President Paul Chitwood and IMB leaders will share about the organization’s ongoing commitment to healthcare missions.
Roughly 10% of IMB missionaries are trained in healthcare. MedAdvance participants will hear testimonies from IMB field personnel.
MedAdvance’s second session will be streamed at 10 a.m. EDT on Aug. 8. Participants will learn how healthcare opens doors for sharing the gospel.
“We really want to focus on our Great Commission task, the missionary task and how healthcare is a part of it,” Naylor said.
Professionals and students have the unique opportunity to integrate meeting physical needs with meeting spiritual needs, Naylor said.Health strategy coaches from each of IMB’s nine regions of service will spotlight how healthcare is advancing the gospel in their regions.
“Everybody needs healthcare, whether they are rich or poor, or where they are or what language they speak,” Naylor said. “The healthcare professional, as he or she cares for people, can get to get to a spiritual conversation very quickly.”
Healthcare workers have the opportunity to share the gospel, disciple and develop church planters.
“Healthcare missions is involved at every level of the missionary task,” Naylor said
MedAdvance’s third session will be streamed at 2 p.m. EDT on Aug. 8. The final session will provide participants with next steps for connecting and partnering with IMB’s healthcare strategies through praying, giving and going.
Naylor said some doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals might wonder how they can ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel’ as full-time medical workers. She shared a story from her years of service as a surgeon.
Naylor served as a surgeon, administrator and teacher with IMB in Bangalore, India, for 35 years. She held discipleship Bible studies with professionals in Bangalore Baptist Hospital.
One of the doctors in the Bible study told Naylor she had a problem with one of the Bible verses.
“‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel,’ do you know that verse?” the doctor asked Naylor.
“Yes, I know that verse.”
“Well, I have a problem with that verse,” the doctor told Naylor. “I’m a doctor.”
“Well, so?” Naylor responded.
“I wondered, if I’m a doctor, how can I go into all of the world and preach the gospel?” the doctor asked.
“It’s kind of ironic that the person sitting there talking to her was a doctor who had gone into all of the world,” Naylor says.
Naylor and the doctor talked about ways she could obey the Great Commission. Soon, the clinic was transformed by the doctor’s faithfulness to share as she treated patients.
The call to share the gospel is the same for American healthcare professionals. Opportunities abound to partner with IMB overseas in healthcare missions.
Naylor said she’s found that people overseas are very receptive to hearing the gospel from healthcare professionals.
“I prayed with every patient before surgery, always with their permission. I never had a patient refuse permission,” Naylor says.
The prayers often led to deeper discussions about faith.
Registration closes Aug. 4.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Caroline Anderson is a writer for the IMB.)