You’re probably here because you are curious about how our ministry helps people. Maybe you’ve heard that we send medical mission teams around the world and find yourself asking “What is a medical mission team?” and “What do team members actually do?”
Each year thousands of volunteers travel around the world to care for people with little or no access to adequate medical care.
Nonprofit medical missions organizations like Mission Partners for Christ specialize in organizing teams to provide free care, often in remote locations where they have limited (or no) access to medical care. For the people who live in these areas, our free clinics are their only opportunity to receive health screenings, preventative care, and medical treatments without travelling great distances. Our volunteers also teach clinic visitors about hygiene, nutrition, and offer dental and vision screenings. When we leave the states our bags are packed with over the counter medications, treatment supplies, and vitamins to distribute to local families who need them.
As a Christian medical missions organization, we know that we bring more than medical care to our free clinics.
We bring hope and eternal healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ. We partner with local faith based agencies to help community members connect with local Christians who will mentor them as they learn more about the Gospel.
Mission Partners for Christ relies heavily on physicians, nurses, techs, and other healthcare providers to volunteer their expertise in our temporary clinics. None of our providers receive payment for their services, everyone volunteers their time and pays for their own travel. Unlike other organizations, Mission Partners for Christ does not add administration or supply fees to the travel expenses. These are covered by individual and corporate donations from across the country.
It may surprise you to know a large number of volunteers are not medical providers, they’re people who play key support roles that allow providers to focus on what they do best.
Our medical missions teams provide basic health education, weigh and measure our patients, and distribute free supplies. There are plenty of jobs to do and we welcome people from all professions to serve on our teams. Now that we’ve answered your question “What is a medical mission team?” we hope you’ll join us for an upcoming trip!
Still have more questions about what our medical mission teams do?
Send us a quick message here so our team can answer your questions about medical missions and how you can be a part of it! If you are ready to serve, we can carve out the perfect place on our team where you can have the greatest impact!
See you in the mission field!
Sheri Postma, RN
Founder & CEO
Mission Partners for Christ
Thinking about joining one of our medical mission teams? GREAT!
Medical missions trips are transformational experiences for all involved. Serving others changes the hearts of the servants and those being served but being prepared is ESSENTIAL to making a difference. We’ve compiled this list of things you need to know before going on a medical missions trip to help you make a lasting impact.
Here are 10 things you need to know before going on a medical mission trip:
- Communicating will take more time.
Depending on where you are headed globally, you will most likely be embedded in communities that speak languages that you are not fluent in. This does not mean you have to learn another language before you can join a medical mission trip, but it does mean you need to have is to be aware and to have translators readily available. Patience is also needed because communicating through a translator takes more time than two people fluent in the same language. You will not be able to serve the community well if you cannot communicate effectively with one another. Clear communication is essential to helping people with their health needs
- Be flexible and willing to adapt to unfamiliar conditions.
You are traveling outside of the United States to places that are in need of proper healthcare. Sometimes, other amenities that you are used to will not be available either. In other communities they’re available, but look radically different than what you are used to. You won’t be able to spend every night in a 5 star air conditioned room, familiar food, a hot shower, etc. but that’s part of why these trips are so transformational. Access to clean drinking water may be limited. For example, 60% of Tanzania’s households have water from a protected source as of 2012, so you will most likely have access, but when we travel to remote areas access may be limited.
- Expect limited supplies and access to equipment.
The number of physicians is not the only thing lacking in the under served communities we travel to. Supplies and access to medical equipment can also be quite scarce. We bring as many supplies and medications as possible to supplement what is available locally. As a team member you can find out what equipment and supplies will be available, and count on bringing most of what you need! Specialized dressings, medications, and sutures are often the first supplies gathered. (Remember, if you plan to bring medical equipment, it will require a heavy-duty electrical converter to work outside of the US).
- Loosen your grip on the plan and relax the schedule.
In the United States, medical clinics and hospitals often have rigid schedules, and it’s expected for people to abide by a plan. Other countries are much more go-with-the-flow. Out teams have an agenda and loose schedule, but we are also committed to being flexible and serving people whenever they show up. Things can also be highly unpredictable due to the environment not always being stable or reliable, so one must be flexible with any plans that are made. Leave your rigid, timely mindset in the states and choose to be adaptable.
- Be ready to try new foods!
The type of food you are used to eating will not be accessible on a medical missions trip. It’s important to be grateful and humble when trying new foods. You will like some foods you try and others you won’t. Before going on a medical mission’s trip, branch out and try different foods that are common in the communities you will be visiting. Be prepared to say “yes” to what is offered to you. If you have special dietary needs be sure to talk with your team leader early in the process so that adaptations can be discussed. Staying hydrated and well nourished is going to be crucial to your ability to show up and care for people well. Your patients deserve good care from someone who is reliable and alert.
Are you loving this list of 10 things you need to know before going on a medical missions trip?
If so, please consider sharing with a friend! Sharing helps us reach more people so that we can have a greater impact in the world!
- Take time before you leave to preparre your mind, body, and soul.
Medical missions trips take a lot of preparation. You will need to take the time to raise money for the supplies you need and then gather those supplies as well. You will want to do research on the types of health concerns you will likely face as some you may be seeing for the first time. All overseas missions trips also require certain vaccinations before entering the country (go to https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel to find out what vaccinations are required for each country and tips for staying healthy abroad). Traveling overseas also requires getting your passport and other important travel documents which can take several months. Make sure you prepare in advance so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute.
- Pack everything.
Packing “light” or “minimally” is not the best idea because you may not be able to buy the supplies you need in most places. If you are not sure what to pack for every scenario, check with your team leader. They are experienced travelers who can advise you what to pack and what to leave behind. We wrote an entire post about what to bring. You can read it here!
- Fundraising is essential.
Unless you have been saving up for the trip’s cost, you may need to raise funds ASAP. Cash is good but donations of medical supplies can also make a huge impact. Reaching out to pharmaceutical companies, clinics, hospitals, and local medical related businesses to gather the necessary donations for your trip. This is a great way for family and friends to support you if they’re unable to join you for the trip. You can invite them to securely donate online here. This is one of those rare exceptions where more is more. It’s our goal to take enough supplies that we can leave resources behind for local physicians and clinics. It’s much easier for us to bring the supplies with us than it will ever be to ship things into the country after we leave. Check with your team leader to find out what the specific needs are for your trip!
- Recognize and honor cultural differences without judging.
When heading into uncharted territory, you may find yourself surprised at the differences that surround you. Remember, we are intentionally traveling to under served areas so you will likely see hospitals and clinics in poor condition. Physicians are usually well trained in conditions they see most often but they can be limited by inadequate access to technology, medication, and cutting edge training. Also, health care, dental care, health education, and nutrition education are highly needed, and medical specialists should know that the lack of knowledge in these areas makes it difficult to approach patients in the same way. Read our list of book recommendations here to help you prepare for diverse cultural experience you’re about to have!
- Education is critical to long term health maintenance.
Because of the limited access to medical care, educating our patients is key to helping them stay healthy long term! There will be limited opportunities for costly, time consuming follow-up appointments, so be prepared to educate patients for preventative care and after-care. Allowing time to ask questions and really listening to their concerns will greatly improve their long term prognosis. Your team leader will help you know what is encouraged and what behaviors to avoid.
I hope this list of 10 things you need to know before going on a medical mission trip has inspired you to say “YES” to this opportunity.
I’ve been doing this for over a decade and it’s not always easy, but it’s always rewarding.
There are lots of things to learn before, during, and after you serve on a medical mission trip, but don’t let that scare you! It’s still one of the best ways to create major change in the lives of people with little to no access to medical care.
See you in the mission field!
Sheri Postma, RN
Founder & CEO
Mission Partners for Christ
If you’ve ever looked into going on a medical mission trip, you’ve probably wondered if the cost participants pay is worth it. The costs may be higher than other types of mission trips, but so are the benefits.
When you join a medical missions team, it’s normal for participants to pay for flights, accommodations, and food during the trip. Most organizations (but not us!) also ask participants to pay extra to cover the supplies needed to conduct medical exams or to leave with the patients.
But despite those expenses, the potential impact of medical mission trips is huge.
Here are three key reasons why medical missions trips are worth the cost:
- Medical mission trips provide additional training for students outside of the regular classroom.
There are so many things that cannot be taught within the walls of a classroom. Some of the first people to sign-up for medical missions opportunities are students because they can finally use their knowledge in a situation that isn’t hypothetical. Students can not only see the global healthcare needs up close but also serve through hands-on experiences that make a difference! Now, this isn’t to say that volunteers should use a medical missions trip to experiment or put patients at risk by doing more than they’re trained to do. It’s simply an opportunity to experience more and serve those in need.
- Medical mission trips can create long term transformations in the communities we serve.
The key to long term impact from short-term medical missions trips is to develop lasting relationships with the communities we want to serve. Long term relationships can be challenging to develop during a 1-2 week trip so It’s essential to partner with a local organization that’s already embedded in the community and will stay connected long after our medical missions team returns to the US.
Of course, we also know that sharing the message of Jesus can immediately transform lives, and it’s always our goal to change lives spiritually and physically.
- Healthcare professionals can further develop their skills.
Certain diseases and conditions that we encounter on our trips are less common in the US. For example, thousands of people in Tanzania test positive for malaria each year but it’s rare for patients in the US to present with malaria in most clinics or hospital settings. Treating people with these conditions expands the providers experience and helps lower the negative impact these conditions have on both the individual and the community.
Setting up temporary health clinics in rural underserved areas presents unique challenges for the team. Working through translators in unfamiliar cultures will also stretch our team members while building new skills and self-confidence.
So yes, joining a medical missions trip is not cheap, but the potential impact to both the medical team and the people we serve makes it more than worth the financial investment.
And when it comes down to it, what price would you put on offering life-saving preventions and interventions to people in need? Medical missions trips are always worth the cost.
Thinking about joining a trip but not sure how to pay for it? There are lots of creative ways to raise money such as crowdfunding and fundraising opportunities. Click here to learn about a few of our favorite ways to raise funds for your medical missions trip or click here to get more information about upcoming trips!
Imagine you are a parent who has walked a long way from home on a deeply rutted road of hot red clay. The sun shines brightly overhead and all around you. Motorcycles, bicycles, and other vehicles occasionally pass you. You look down each time at the child in your arms, but she does not wake up. She has been ill for about a week and is worn out from walking part of the way. She stirs only when you sit to give her water and food to eat. About a mile ahead of you is a medical outreach event. Your hope is great. There are canopies with chairs to sit in and open buildings. Friendly faces look up in your direction and wave. You are welcome here. Not only are you welcome here, but you are prepared for, hoped for, and expected. You are prayed for and rejoiced over.
Imagine Finding Out That God Loves You
Now imagine you find out that it is not only the medical clinic volunteers but also Jesus–the Son of God–who is happy you are welcome here and that you have arrived. You may have heard that there is someone called Jesus who is supposed to be the Son of God, but you did not know about Him.
Or you may have heard good things about Him, but did not think He still does those things. You did not know He personally cares for you, your child, your neighbor, and so much more. Hearing from the Bible for the first time ever has brought so much joy to your heart that you want to give your life to Christ. You want your child’s life to be dedicated too, and you pray with the volunteers that she recovers so she can hear the good news too. You want her to know she is welcome to know Jesus.
When We Welcome the Unreached
This is just one scenario that could take place in thousands of different ways each day. When we welcome unreached peoples, we not only extend care and kindness to them, but we share the good news of Jesus. They get to see it expressed through us as well. For many–especially those who have endured war, famine, or other serious issues, this might be first certain good news they have heard in a while. It encourages them and bolsters their faith. They believe God is with them as they learn about health concepts in a way they had not heard before. They believe it is possible to make new habits. It seems true that things will get better. Some may have heard naysaying about their situations. Now they can listen to someone who speaks with the voice of reason and feel courageous faith burgeoning from within.
When someone is welcomed not only with help they may have hoped for, but with the Source of all hope, something changes. It’s not just another day they hoped for anymore. It’s the beginning of a brand new life. Some troubles may be the same, but now they know God. Their perspective is filling up with faith even if they do not see the precise result they expected just yet. They welcome God and tell other people all about Him.
Would You Like to Welcome the Unreached Too?
There are people all over the world who have yet to hear the truth about Jesus. Many of them also have other unmet needs. One way we are able to help them is by providing medical care they may lack access to. If you believe you would like to be a part of supporting our endeavor by volunteering to join a medical missions trip, check out the Volunteer page on our website. Donors are appreciated too, if you believe you’re called to give and would like to. You also are welcome to learn more about us by reaching out to us here or on our Facebook page, Mission Partners for Christ. We want you to know that we are thankful for you and you are welcome here.
In the United States, if our mouth hurts when we sip our morning cup of coffee, many of us might set up a dental appointment. When we chip a tooth, we call the dentist. Within an hour’s notice, our tooth can be repaired. Antibiotics or pain medication prepare us to be healthier or safer for the dentist to work on. We go to see the dentist multiple times per year for regular dental care. It’s such a blessing and benefits us to be able to eat and drink in healthy ways that support our immune systems, muscles, minds, and whole health. We don’t always think of it, but it really can be a tremendous thing for our lives.
This privilege of dental care access is not the case for many around the world. There are countries where there are no toothbrushes in the majority of households. Those in extreme pain or medical need may use a stick or rock to prod or remove the affected tooth. This can cause infection, injuries, or other serious health problems. Something as simple as the shape of one’s jaw or the bones in one’s face can also make eating or drinking painful or difficult. According to the WHO Africa website, as many as one in five children in Africa has suffered from a form of oro-dental/facial trauma. That is just in one region of the world.
It’s easy to see there is a serious medical need for all kinds of dental work worldwide. In many countries, though, dental schools are not only an issue of affordability but of availability. For some, there simply might not be a nearby school to study and practice. A student in the United States could choose to go to a fairly close university or dental school to train.
Fortunately, there are volunteers here and overseas who work alongside trained medical professionals to help people receive good dental care and antibiotics or medications they might need. Global medical outreaches can help bring good dental care to people who may never have seen a dentist before or who don’t have access to one. Mission Partners for Christ has worked with others in some of these outreaches. We are thankful for the dental volunteers who join us on missions trips.
Good Dental Care Matters
Good dental care help us have a healthy smile when we greet one another. It helps prevent serious illnesses from medical issues like infection or malnutrition. We bring hope in numerous ways when we address this medical need. It’s a blessing that there are groups and volunteers who come together to support this important type of health care. If you are a dentist or dental hygienist and are interested in joining us on a future trip or supporting us in another way, please go to our Mission Partners for Christ website and find out how you can join us today.