Let’s renew our journey with our friends from AIM and the third video in the 360Vision series. Here our attention takes a bit of a turn toward what is actually a couple of topics of importance. There is a bit of mis-translation in the video. Around :48 seconds in they are interviewing Dr Iris Tejeda about the situation regarding the employment status of newly graduated medical students. They ask why so many are unemployed and she states because there is no money (the government doesn’t have enough funding to pay them) while the subtitles say because there are no openings. Which is obviously not the case. 

How appropriate then is it that short term medical teams come to a location such as the one in this video series and PROVIDE medical services when there is a 50% unemployment rate among recent medical school graduates? Rather than traveling to a country like Honduras and spending $50,000 to do so for a week, wouldn’t it make more sense that any such groups should have long term relationships built up with, first and foremost, the local healthcare system in the towns and villages where they will be serving? And at the same time long term relationships with the in-country professional schools that are educating the future healthcare providers in the host country? Wouldn’t it make sense that we should make every effort to coordinate our short term visits with all such entities? And that would include the ministry of health and any licensing entity that exists. Is this going to be challenging and difficult and probably not just a little frustrating? Yes of course. But is it not the approach that is going to give the kind of depth of knowledge we need to made long term lasting change for the health of the people we seek to serve? What do you all think?

There are other points to be made but I’d love to see some discussion about what I’ve written above. Can we justify bringing in STMM’s and taking away potential work and income from the 50% of local doctors that are out of work? How should it be done if we are thinking of matching our zeal with the knowledge of how to STMM’s with excellence and with a truly long term impact? 

Is it possible to be ignorantly zealous?

I receive a daily bible reading from eBible and along the right side of each posting are often some interesting articles. I found the following one particularly relevant to this blog: 

Source: 843 Acres | The Park Forum

Relevant Text: Isaiah 4:2-5:30

Advocacy | In the world of legal ethics, there is no zeal apart from knowledge. Lawyers are required to represent their clients “zealously” [1] and, therefore, they must have complete knowledge of the facts. If clients withhold relevant information – even bad or damaging facts – their lawyers cannot represent them zealously. Recall A Few Good Men. Downey told his lawyers that he was ordered to give a Code Red by Kendrick, but he failed to tell them that he himself never actually heard Kendrick give the order. When that information came out during cross-examination, his lawyers had to regroup because they knew that his having received the order second-hand was unfavorable to the case. They also knew, however, that they had to address it if they had any hope of winning.

I think we should be making the same argument in the realm of healthcare missions done in the name of Christ. I would say this would especially apply to those doing short term medical missions, where it is very easy to let our zeal get the best of us. No surgeon worthy of his/her calling would enter a surgical suite to perform a complicated procedure without a thorough knowledge of the individual and her/his case. Shouldn’t the same apply to putting ourselves into cross-cultural situations that are often very complex and full of potential pitfalls? We should be as well informed as possible when agreeing to take part in a short term medical mission endeavor. What is the culture like that we are going to serve within and what are the factors that have led to this place being selected and at this time? 

Worship | Similarly, when it comes to worshipping God, there is no zeal apart from knowledge. Yes, zeal for God is essential [2], but our passion for Him is weak and vulnerable when it is not based on knowledge. As Isaiah prophesied, the Israelites worshipped with zeal, but they were exiled because their zeal lacked knowledge: “They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands. Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge” [3]. Our zeal must be based on that same knowledge – the deeds of the Lord and the work of His hands. Today, we find that knowledge in the Word. The Bible is a wellspring for spiritual thirst. Not only is it a living power for the soul, it is also a double-edged sword for cross-examination. Even Jesus himself frequently settled important issues – divorce and remarriage, the Sabbath, worship and praise, the resurrection, eternal life – by referencing the Scriptures [4]. The Bible itself, however, is powerless as mere paper. We must open its pages and read it in order for its meaning and power to be unleashed with zeal in our lives.

Prayer | Lord, Raise our affections in accordance with truth. Cultivate our spiritual appetites daily by laying us in the way of allurement that is found in your Word. Let us long for the education of our minds and never let us think that studying your Word is bland. Instead, quicken our hearts throughout our lifetimes to long to unlock the riches of truth found in the Bible. Amen. [5]

And I would add simply “Lord, let us match our zeal to do good with a knowledge that is equal.”