Fairhope church starts medical ministry, gives ‘hope’ to communitycomment (0)
June 10, 2010
By Emily Flack
It’s not a normal day at the dentist when you get treated at the Hope Center, a Christ-centered medical ministry in Fairhope. You may be visiting to have a cavity filled, yet you’ll be sure to also receive a heartfelt conversation and hug.
The center, an outgrowth of Church on the Eastern Shore (COTES), Fairhope, that operates as a separate nonprofit, had its grand opening in March and has already provided care to more than 600 people who are uninsured or underinsured.
An army of 60 volunteers including doctors, dentists, licensed counselors and an evangelism team run the center, providing care on three levels: medical, dental and counseling.
“We try to invest in their life, the total package,” said Dana Smith, health center director.
“Our mission at the Hope Center is to expand His Kingdom, to share Jesus Christ with everyone who walks in the door,” she said. “We just use medical, dental and counseling to get there.”
After filling out paperwork, patients meet with the evangelism team before seeing a doctor for everything from tooth extractions and fillings to premarital and substance abuse counseling.
“At their first visit, we share with them the gospel and give them a Bible,” said Jennifer Miles, director of development.
On subsequent visits, the evangelism team finds out where the patient is emotionally and spiritually by asking about family situations and church membership, among other things.
“It’s a community-oriented ministry,” said Mark Price, pastor of the Baldwin Baptist Association church. “Our goal is to meet a felt need and to share Christ as we do that.”
Ever since Price visited another church’s medical clinic in 2003, he and COTES have been praying and working toward that type of umbrella ministry to “preach good news and bring a ministry of healing to the brokenhearted and poor.”
Every year since then, COTES has sent a team to Tanzania to treat 2,500–3,000 patients in a two-week span using mobile medical clinics.
“We’ve seen thousands come to faith through that. We’ve watched for years how it works in Tanzania and so I asked myself, ‘Why on earth would it not work in the states?’” Price said.
Miles said to love one another properly, the church must be the hands and feet of the community, take care of people physically and emotionally.
That’s the focus of the Hope Center, she explained.
The center opened in three stages but is now in full swing with a waiting list of 100 people and phones ringing off the hook. It is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.