Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Report On Our Medical Clinic

Amanda Visser treating a patient. This little guy is the son of a
national Baptist pastor.

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "Many hands make light work." Well, it's not always true! Some jobs are so big that even with lots of people helping, it's still heavy. Such was the case two weeks ago when we partnered with Medical Missions Outreach to host a 4-day medical clinic. 

Medical Missions Outreach, led by Bradley Edmondson, is a ministry which recruits medical professionals from the U.S. and takes them on trips to foreign countries to provide medical care for people who need it. They partner with independent Baptist churches like ours, so that when the clinic is over and the doctors and nurses are gone, there is still someone to build upon the relationship that has been established and hopefully win the people to Christ. We thank God for opening this door of opportunity for us to partner with this ministry. God blessed with a great turnout, and we were able to treat and provide free medicine for over 800 patients in the four days of our clinic.

The Participants Of The Clinic

Many hands (and there were many!) definitely didn't make the work light; however, having many hands made the work possible. There were 5 distinct groups of people that were involved in this outreach in some way, shape, or form.

1. The Medical Missions Outreach team

Their team of 10 included an emergency room physician, an EMT, 6 registered nurses, and 2 serving in a support role. All in all, the team was very competent and compassionate, and we appreciate them taking time off work and putting out the necessary expense to come and serve the people of Cambodia. Thank you, Bradley Edmondson, Tom Garra, Steve Henson, Marcos and Carolyn Alvarez, Joanna Barch, Ira Daclan, Amanda Visser, Becky Pope, and Kate Pakenham. You touched many lives with your gracious spirits  and servant's hearts. God bless you!

The Medical Mission Outreach team from the U.S.

2. The team of volunteers from Singapore

Missionaries Chantha and Susan Chhim brought a group of 11 (3 families) and were a huge help for 3 of the clinic days. The Singapore group provided logistical support in areas like the triage area, the lab, the pharmacy, and escorting patients to the proper places around the clinic. Thank you, Chantha, Susan, Caleb, Corbin, and Carter Chhim, Sun Ming Sheat and Sarah Tan, and David, Shannon, Alyssa, and Jacob Panjwani. You folks were awesome!

Missionary Chantha Chhim and family and the 2 other families they brought
with them from Singapore. (not pictured: Mrs. Shannon Panjwani)

3. The people of Good News Baptist Church of Phnom Penh

Our people were so excited about this clinic, and I was so proud of the way that they all banded together to help. The first way that they helped was by distributing appointment cards for the clinic. Due to the small size of our facility (as well as some other reasons) we knew we would have to get creative in order to accommodate a large crowd of people; therefore, we devised an appointment system that frankly, I wasn't 100% sure would work. Our folks really caught onto the basic system, and in the weeks before the clinic they personally handed out nearly 900 appointment cards to their friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. Also, a good number of our people spent some time down at the church in the days preceding the clinic helping to prepare the facility. During the actual clinic, our church people helped by translating for the medical team, greeting guests, guarding motos, registering patients, passing out tracts, witnessing, running errands, setting up chairs and straightening them over and over and over, and coming in an night when the clinic was over to clean up for the next day. I'm blessed to pastor such busy and hard-working people!

One of our church ladies, Ming Rhadee, witnessing
to some women who are waiting to see the doctor.

4. Fellow-missionaries here in Cambodia

One thing about which the group from America kept commenting was how nice it was to see a group of missionaries working together so well. Three missionary friends cleared their calendars and came to help every single day: Adam Wood (who lives 3 hours from Phnom Penh), Kounaro Keo, and Rodney Ruppel (who also brought his children and a couple of his key people to help). Several other missionaries were unable to help the whole time due to conflicting schedules, but helped for a day or two: Walter Poole, Chad and Linda Phillips, and Tim and Alison Stephens. These missionaries were absolutely invaluable and were used in every conceivable way. I am both proud and humbled to call them friends.

Left to right: Bradley Edmondson (director of Medical Missions Outreach),
Chantha Chhim (Singapore), Adam Wood (Cambodia), Kounaro Keo
 (Cambodia),Rodney Ruppel (Cambodia), and Stephen Benefield(Cambodia)
5. My family

Saving the best for last:) The biggest sacrifice they made for "the cause" was having to live with me for the past couple of months. Seriously, I am very grateful to my family for the ways they helped. My wife cooked excellent meals, cleaned, and watched young children for most of the clinic. My older girls helped in countless ways including translating, taking blood pressure, calling patients, holding babies, etc. I'm so thankful for a hard-working family!

Candace Benefield checking a patient's blood pressure.

The Pattern Of The Clinic

In the days immediately following our clinic, as I pondered all of the happenings, the Lord brought to my mind several comparisons between our clinic team and Christ and His disciples.

1. The Apostles' availability was emulated.

Peter and John went to the temple to pray, and they saw a lame man begging by the temple gate. Peter and John had no silver or gold to give to the man, but they did have something. They had the apostolic power to heal people! Right then and there, they gave the man what they had, and then introduced him to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I shared this story with our people, and challenged them to be like Peter and John. Not to heal people, for that's not a power that we possess...but to be willing to just give what we do have. And that's exactly what happened during the clinic. People who possessed the ability to translate...translated! People who didn't know how to translate, but knew how to pass out tracts, well...they passed out tracts. Every person has different abilities, and God simply asks us to give from that which we have.

Stephen Benefield matchmaking translators with medical providers.

2. Christ's compassion was emulated.

Jesus was always reaching out to those with infirmities, but perhaps nothing demonstrated His great compassion more than when He would reach out and touch...yes, touch...a leper! Cambodia is not known for cleanliness. In fact, it was a bit ironic to me that we had a team from Singapore (where chewing gum is illegal) ministering in Cambodia (where garbage is literally piled high in the streets). I cannot think of a greater contrast in cultures. But when I peeked in the lab (think urine, blood, etc), there were two ladies from Singapore, just working away like they've been doing it all their lives.

It can be a bit shocking to see children defecating on the street. It can be a bit nauseating to see grown men urinating against every wall in town. It can be a bit offsetting when a child has such a bad case of head lice that you can see it from several feet away. But during our clinic I saw people looking beyond these things to the hearts and souls of men. Just like Jesus.

Working in the lab. Left to right: Sarah Tan from Singapore, Soupia from
Good News Baptist, Ira Daclan from the US, and Shannon Panjwani from

3. The Disciples' distribution was emulated.

When Jesus fed the 5,000 he had the disciples set the people in groups of 50's and 100's. Then the disciples distributed the food to every person. Not a person was missed, and that probably had something to do with the way they organized the crowd.

But even the best of plans will not work unless someone gets the burden to "work the plan." I'm thankful for the awesome logistics team that came together for this clinic. Chantha Chhim, Dave and Jacob Panjwani, Blake Ruppel, Chad Phillips, and others had it humming!

Chantha Chhim and Stephen Benefield discussing the plan for merging
walk-in patients with the patients who have appointments.

The Product Of The Clinic

Hundreds of man hours and thousands of dollars went into this clinic, so perhaps you are wondering what the clinic produced for the cause of Christ here in Cambodia. 

1. An increased passion and renewed compassion in the hearts of those who served.

I have long been of the opinion that oftentimes the people who receive the most benefit from an event like this clinic are not the ones being served, but rather the ones doing the serving. Nothing fires a person up for God quite like serving God. Nothing renews our compassion for the lost quite like spending time with lost people. I can't speak for the folks from America and Singapore, because they all left after the clinic, but I can testify that our church folks have had a renewed excitement about serving God and reaching people in these couple of weeks since the clinic. 

God also used the clinic to work in the hearts of my older daughters. As a father, I want my children to have soft hearts towards all people, but especially towards the vulnerable and the needy. I thank God that I saw the hearts of my girls grow more tender as a result of this clinic. One of the most memorable moments of the week for me was when one of my girls witnessed a woman being told by the doctor that her little baby had Down's Syndrome and would not be like other children. The woman cried and cried, and my daughter went home and cried and cried too. I hate to see my child (or any other child for that matter) be hurt or brokenhearted, but what would be even worse is for a person to be so hard-hearted that she can't be broken-hearted. A concentrated time of focusing on others is always a good thing.

Steve Hensen removing a badly ingrown toenail.
2. Several souls saved at the clinic and following the clinic.

Several of our soulwinners had the chance to win people to Christ during the clinic. Here in Cambodia (as in most of Asia) we rarely see a person make a profession of faith in Christ in one sitting. It usually takes at least a couple of sittings, and sometimes many, before a person understands the Gospel sufficiently to make a decision to trust Christ as Savior. But at the clinic, God brought several people in who had previously heard the Gospel and our counsellors were able to lead them to Christ.

One of our church members and her young adult son (both of whom have been in our church for many years) came to help at the clinic. But they brought someone with them...her other son, Seenan. He is 18 years old, and spent 4 of his teen years as a Buddhist monk. I met him for the first time about a week before the clinic.  When I met him, he was fairly standoffish. Then when his brother came down to help at the clinic, Seenan came with him. They spent 4 straight days sitting in front of our gate guarding motos while their owners were inside seeing the doctor. Seeing a bunch of Christians treating the community with so much love really made an impact on him, and by that Sunday Seenan had opened up to me and agreed to hear the Gospel. I praise God that this past  Sunday afternoon I was able to spend about 2 hours with him, and he trusted Christ as Savior! We are hoping and praying to win some of the patients to Christ, but praise the Lord for one of the clinic volunteers getting saved too!

Kounaro Keo witnessing to some patients.
3. Hundreds of Gospel seeds planted and watered.

Every person who came to the clinic got a couple of different Gospel tracts from one of our soulwinners. Every person who came to the clinic got a 35-page, full-color booklet that presents the plan of salvation. Nearly every person who came to the clinic left us a phone number by which we might contact them. Some of the people who came to the clinic were witnessed to in a one-on-one setting (depending on their interest level) and many of them specifically agreed for us to come to their house and teach them further. It reminded me a lot of Acts 17, when Paul went to Athens to preach the Gospel, and many of the people said to him, "We will hear thee again of this matter." We are now in the process of dividing up all of the prospects, giving certain areas of Phnom Penh and other provinces to the appropriate missionary for follow-up, and calling and visiting those who expressed some interest in knowing more about Christ. We have already begun several salvation studies as a direct result of contacts made at the clinic, and we expect to start more in the coming days.

One thing that has caught me a bit by surprise is how differently our immediate community seems to be viewing us after this clinic. People who live in our neighborhood, people I have known for years and they have never had any interest in church, many of them came to the clinic, and now they are literally "lighting up" each time I cross their paths. It seems so basic, but sometimes we forget that: "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." It appears that God is using this gesture of Christian love to soften hearts towards the Gospel.

Walter Poole witnessing to patients.

The clinic was a ton of hard work, but it was a wonderful time! I think it went really well. I am so grateful for each and every person who had a part. I was very happy with how well the teams from America and Singapore integrated with our team from Cambodia. Different languages, different cultures, different life experiences, different talents and abilities...but all serving the same Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Cambodia has some of the cutest children in the world!

Keep scrolling down to enjoy some additional pictures of the clinic.

Adam Wood handing out and explaining prescriptions.

Alison Stephens working the registration table.

Joanna Barch holding a sweet little baby with Down's Syndrome.

Becky Pope filling prescriptions.

Tom Garra and Stephen Benefield holding up the clinic sign on Sunday
morning while explaining some procedures to the church family.

Stephen Benefield translating for Bradley Edmondson during the Sunday
morning service.

Steve Hensen having a good time with little Baramey, whose mother
was reached by our church as a teenager nearly 10 years ago.

Emma Benefield sitting in a tuk-tuk with Joanna Barch.

Amanda Visser treating patients with Srey Mom (white shirt) as a
translator. Srey Mom and her mom and siblings have been in our church
for about 7 years.

Steve Hensen examining a patient.

A patient receiving a nebulizer treatment.

Marcos Alvarez with two patients.

Seth Benefield smiling and making other people smile (his specialty).

A row of patients, as seen from Google maps. (Just kidding) This picture
was taken from the side porch of our house.

Stephen Benefield getting to know the patients.

Patients waiting to see the doctor and reading Gospel literature.

Deborah and Seth Benefield with a baby who has been brought to the clinic.

The U.S. team arriving at the Benefield's house for dinner.

Another cute patient!

A group of members and regular attenders of Good News Baptist Church,
taken on Sunday, the day before the clinic began. All but one of them
were reached through our church. Four of the ladies pictured helped in
the clinic.

A group of patients waiting...some for registration, some to see the doctor,
and some to receive their prescriptions. 

Ira Daclan treating a patient.

Kounaro Keo witnessing to some patients.

Rodney Ruppel registering patients.

Sun Ming Sheat checking blood pressure and temperature.

Tom Garra checking blood pressure.

Kuonaro Keo witnessing to a patient.

Wang, Rodney Ruppel's current pastoral trainee, witnessing
to patients.

Ming Rhadee handing out tract to every patient as they arrive.

Stephen Benefield and Blake Ruppel keeping the crowd organized.

Kuonaro Keo to some patients:)

Linda Phillips registering patients.

A sweet group of grandma's waiting for their medicine.

Kate Pakenham treating a patient.

Another patient waiting to be seen.

Waiting and reading...

Marcos Alvarez treating a patient, with Hawn (a member
of our church) serving as translator. Hawn got saved
4 years ago, and is a 4th year student in a local university.

Ming Rhadee witnessing to two girls.

The pharmacy team. Left to right: Stephen and Emma Benefield, Carolyn
Alvarez, Joanna Barch, and Susan Chhim.

Rodney Ruppel witnessing to a patient.

Strategizing at Lucky Burger. Left to right: Rodney Ruppel, Chantha Chhim,
Stephen Benefield, and Bradley Edmondson

Stephen Benefield explaining the proper dosage of cough syrup to a patient.

Our top-notch triage team. Left to right: Sun Ming Sheat from Singapore,
 Tom Garra from the US, and Alyssa Panjwani from Singapore.
Thankful for the shade!


  1. One of my favorites articles ever! What a blessing!

  2. Amen and again I say Amen!!!!!! God Bless this mighty work! Continued Prayers always. From The Williams Family @ Willamette Valley Baptist in Aumsville, Oregon!

  3. I remember this kind of activities while im with the family international and I missed it.

    Thanks and God Bless!