The medical mission team from First Baptist Church of Roswell, Georgia, which traveled to Kenya in January 2017. (Photo provided by First Baptist, Roswell)
Noah is a young man living in Nakuru, Kenya.
His health was steadily declining for several years, and he didn't have the financial resources to pay for medical treatment.
But in January 2017, Noah made his way to an annual one-week clinic to receive free treatment from American and Kenyan doctors.
These medical missionaries diagnosed his problem as an acute abdomen and realized that Noah would not live much longer without an operation.
The American doctors worked with the local medical professionals in Nakuru and were able to get Noah admitted to the Mercy Mission Hospital for emergency surgery. His perforated ulcer was treated, and Noah's life was saved.
Noah's experience is just one story of the many people receiving medical treatment from short-term mission teams.
For the past decade, several members of our church, First Baptist of Roswell, have left the chilly January weather of Georgia to travel to the much warmer climate of Nakuru, Kenya, as part of an annual medical mission trip.
This dedicated group of healthcare professionals serves the people of Nakuru by offering free medical and dental care. January 2017 marked the ninth year we have partnered with ROCKbridge Ministries to provide free medical treatment for the Nakuru community.
Most members of the mission team are medical professionals. This year, the group consisted of four physicians, a dentist and two dental assistants, two registered nurses, an audiologist and a physical therapist.
Other nonmedical members of this year's team included a minister, a childcare specialist and seven lay individuals (including three teenagers) who help with organization, patient flow through the clinic and childcare services.
These nonmedical personnel also spend time each day teaching Bible stories, playing with children and building relationships.
These short-term missionaries give their time, expertise and money to participate in this annual trip. The team treats more than 500 people each day, for a total of 3,000 to 4,000 patients during the entire mission trip.
Each American medical team member has the assistance of a Kenyan nursing student, who conducts triage, directs the patients to the appropriate medical professionals and serves as a translator because the native language in Kenya is Swahili.
First Baptist of Roswell also hires six Kenyan medical providers to help the American medical team.
In addition to general medical and dental services, this year's team was able to offer hearing tests, physical therapy, eye exams, diabetes screenings, nutrition counseling and HIV screenings.
The team also takes with them about 800 pounds of medical and dental supplies, which are provided at no cost by a nonprofit organization in Atlanta called MedShare. Team members purchase prescription pharmaceuticals in Kenya to support the local economy.
The treatment offered during this annual clinic blesses the people of Nakuru as well as the people of Roswell.
Our church gets to hear stories of people like Peter, a young man who had a very large hernia, the size of a grapefruit. It was so large, in fact, that it prevented him from being able to work.
Our medical team arranged for his hernia to be repaired at the local hospital; Peter is now able to work and provide for his family. What a blessing his story and many others are to the people of First Baptist of Roswell.
Because our team returns to the same community each year, they see many of the same patients and are able to monitor their progress.
Faith, a young girl, was brought to the clinic five years ago with heart problems, and our church decided to provide the money for Faith to have much needed surgery. Today, she is thriving and doing well in school.
We also provided funds two years ago for Mercy, a 16-year-old, to have an operation that enabled her to walk. Today, Mercy continues receiving physical therapy and is making excellent progress.
First Baptist of Roswell feels a strong connection to the people of Nakuru.
We show videos and pictures during our morning worship service of people whose lives have been improved tremendously by the work of our medical missionaries.
Many of our church members who cannot go to Kenya work or play in our annual golf tournament, which raises more than $40,000 to support this medical mission effort. Others pray for and encourage our team before and during the trip.
Though 15 to 20 members go to Kenya each year, this medical trip is truly an annual churchwide mission experience and a decade-long blessing for First Baptist of Roswell.
Kevin Head is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Roswell, Georgia.
Editor's note: This article is part of a series on missions and local churches / denominational organizations.
Previous articles in the series are:
Sharing the Gospel, Saving Lives in West African Nation
CBF of Georgia Connects Youth to Mission Projects
How Your Church Can Break the Fortress Mentality
Sustaining Ministries Through Indigenous Missionary Support
Cooks on a Mission Shares Love of Christ Through Food
Missouri Baptist Church Meets Medical Needs in Guatemala
Teaching Missions to Kids in Our Self-Centered Culture
Health Professionals Serve Through Short-Term Missions
4 Principals to Ensure Short-Term Missions Succeed
How Christian Hospitals Must See Past the Bottom Line