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Health » Calvary group provides medical missions in Belize
Sep 11, 2004

Jonathan Willis
FCT Staff Writer

Most Americans dread the thought of sitting in a hospital waiting room and filling out the necessary paper work required before receiving medical attention.

But thankfully, those hassles are just minor hold-ups that do not affect the care that is provided once inside. That is not the case in many places throughout the world and a group of local residents can now attest to that firsthand.

Members of a medical missions team from Calvary Baptist Church in Russellville returned Monday from a 10-day trip to Belize in which they worked in remote areas to provide care, both physically and spiritually, to the natives of the country.

“When we went, we said that we were there to meet the medical, physical and spiritual needs of the people,? said Dr. Joseph Johnson, who spearheaded much of the trip’s planning.

Johnson and 17 other members comprised of five area churches spent 10 days in the Central American nation, which is located between Mexico and Guatemala and borders the Caribbean Sea.

“It was very hot and humid,? Johnson said. “We got caught in a bad squall one day, but for the rest of the trip the weather was perfect.?

The group took over $100,000 worth of medical supplies to use in meeting the needs of the people.

“We left more medicine with them when we left than they had in their pharmacy before we got there. The hospitals there are atrocious. America’s worst hospital is better than the best in Belize,? Johnson said.

“We were completely prepared when we got there. We had IVs, surgical supplies and medication. You name it, we had it.?

The group broke into five different teams so they could work in specific areas to meet the needs of the people. The different teams consisted of medical, respiratory, surgical and pharmaceutical groups as well as a children’s ministry team.

Johnson said that approximately 300 people came to seek help each day, including five who needed minor surgery performed.

“We had it set up so that everyone could go through a line and get the help they needed. It would have been possible for someone to go through all five if they needed to do so,? he said.

“We made sure that everyone went through our evangelism line.?

According to Johnson, there were two public professions of faith made by people touched by the group’s efforts to minister.

“There were two definite professions of faith, but they are such quiet people that it is hard to know how many seeds we planted,? he said. “Hopefully, many of them will grow from the message that we left them.?

The mission team worked closely with several organizations to make the trip possible.

“Everywhere we went we had a relationship with the U.S. Peace Corps,? Johnson said. “We worked through a missions organization called Light of the World Ministries because the Southern Baptist Association doesn’t have a full-time missionary in the country of Belize right now.?

With the help of local residents, Johnson said they were able to overcome the language barrier that existed.

“The official language of the country is English, but most people spoke Spanish or Garifuna which is a native language. Garifuna came from the remnants of the African slave trade when the slaves were just dropped off in the Caribbean nations,? Johnson said.

“But, everywhere we went there was someone there who translated for us and helped us relate to the people.?

A unique aspect of the trip was that each member could only carry 12 t-shirts on the trip and return home with two.



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