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Serving the Border Through Medical Mission Trips

April 24 2018
April 24 2018

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Dr. Bernard Hildebrand, a rheumatologist and elder at Redeemer, says before he started going on medical mission trips, he was doubtful that they could have much of an impact. After all, a three-day clinic can't provide long term care for chronic conditions or perform complex procedures.

An opportunity to attend Mission to the World’s Advanced Medical Leadership Training a few years ago changed his mind, he says. Now Hildebrand is serving as the team leader for regular trips Redeemer takes to conduct free medical clinics on the border in Reynosa, Mexico. The next trip is scheduled for June 15th-20th.

“Medical ministry allows for that intimate relationship that enables us to know our neighbors,” he says. “It also allows [patients] to experience love in a physically tangible way. If that leads to an opportunity to share the Gospel, then it’s a wonderful thing, and on these short term teams I have seen that. I have seen physical needs met, situations that could have been devastating if not addressed, and I have also seen lives changed because of the Gospel.”

Over the last year, Redeemer has sent two teams on medical mission trips to Reynosa, Mexico to operate free medical clinics there. The clinics were so well received that Redeemer intends to increase the number of trips and organize groups to travel to Reynosa three or four times per year. A team for the June trip is being formed now.

The idea for the medical trips arose in collaboration with Isaiah 55 Ministries, one of Redeemer's longtime ministry partners. Reynosa is located on the U.S./Mexico Border, just South of McAllen, Texas. Most of the clinic patients are long-term residents of the area, but teams have also treated people fleeing Central America seeking asylum in the United States, or returning after having been turned back at the border.

RPC Associate Pastor Victor Martinez says attendance at the clinics has been high, and has illustrated very clearly that caring about the physical health and wellbeing of people in need is one of the most basic ways the church can serve the border. It also creates openness and opportunities for caring for spiritual needs. Team members from Redeemer pray with patients at the end of each appointment, and Isaiah 55 staff and the pastor of a local church plant are in the clinic as well to meet patients and let them know that the church and Isaiah 55 are there for them. 

“What’s so unique about these medical trips is that you are getting in front of people who are coming to you already in a vulnerable state saying ‘I’m broken, I need this, I’m not doing well,’" Martinez says. "There is instant trust and hope that is given, and it’s beautiful.”

While medical personnel are needed for the trips, Pastor Martinez says non-medical team members are needed as well to help with the logistics of setting up and operating the clinics.

“People sometimes hear ‘Oh, I’m not medical, I’m out,” he says. “You don’t have to be medical. This is for everyone. We need all kinds of people to do triage, help document, all kinds of things we need. More than half the team is not medical.”

If you are interested in being part of the team traveling to Reynosa in June, or in future trips to the border, contact Bernard Hildebrand, or visit the Reyonsa Medical Mission Trip page HERE.


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