Bill Mowry

Alongsider Briefings: Reflections of a Life Lived with God

Everyday Action Heroes

heroes 2

We need new heroes  — everyday leaders whose examples inspire us. These everyday leaders are like you and me. They don’t have a title, a large personality, or outstanding abilities. They’re everyday people with three simple qualities; qualities that everyday Christians can aspire to.

Everyday leaders take initiative in the local — they’re emotionally invested in where they live, work, play, or worship. They take action to make the local better. These new heroes display Jesus, valuing character over competency. Finally, they give direction — they take people somewhere.

What does an everyday action hero look like? They look like my friends Kevin and Kent.

Three things stand out about Kevin and Kent. They’re twin brothers,  they’re both doctors, and they share a passion to live on mission through their vocations. 

Like many physicians, Kevin and Kent participated in short-term mission trips, using their medical skills in empoverished countries. Away from the inflexible rules and record-keeping of standardized medicine, they could genuinely treat people and freely share their faith. Each time they returned, they were motivated to bring Christ into their medical practices.

“How can we continue this enthusiasm in our local settings,” they asked themselves. “If we freely give to the medical needy overseas, how can we do the same to people in our community?” As they prayed and talked, a solution emerged — they imagined creating a free medical clinic.

What was their first step? They gathered a group of friends to pray and plan for a medical clinic. They included me in the mix because they wanted to train people in some simple evangelism skills and in a prayer ministry. For months, we met in Kevin’s home dreaming and planning for this free clinic.

We decided that the clinic’s location should be outside a church building. Jesus would be central to this ministry but a location in a neutral but inviting setting would better serve our purposes. People in need would not stand out by entering this building. The Lord opened up the local community center but there were some limitations.

Because the building was used during the day, we couldn’t set up a permanent clinic. We needed to set-up and take-down the rooms each week. Creating private patient rooms would be a challenge.

We also needed portable examination tables; we couldn’t treat patients who sat on folding chairs. Since our clientele were people with no health insurance, how could we provide limited prescriptions and out-patient services at minimal or no costs? 

The volunteer doctors were naturally concerned about malpractice insurance. Finally, how could we train people with no healthcare background to sensitively pray with patients and engage in faith conversations? These big concerns needed innovative approaches.

Our little team trusted God and went to work. A pharmacist was recruited to research and track down prescription drug services that served clinics like ours. Someone came up with the idea of using portable massage tables as examination tables. The creation of patient rooms was the most innovative. 

One of our volunteers developed a network of pvc pipes serving as frames for curtains as walls. These pipes were screwed into a coupling anchored in empty propane tanks (you had to see it to believe it!).

We approached the local hospital and bartered for testing services because we believed that in time, we would save the hospital money by treating people who would typically show up in the ER units.

An attorney worked with the state to develop a “good samaritan” clause freeing physicians to treat people on a charitable basis. How about the prayer and evangelism training? I took a small group of people to visit another Christian clinic to learn from their example. We then crafted a ninety-minute training session for our prayer and evangelism ministry.

Within weeks of operation, we discovered that the clinic attracted a large portion of Latino patients. We needed Spanish interpreters! Someone contacted a local private college to find Spanish-major students who would enjoy the practice of speaking and interpreting Spanish.

This free clinic is now over a decade old. Thousands have been freely treated. Many have embraced Jesus. Hundreds have been prayed for. From this small clinic, four additional clinics in the state have been birthed. God has been at work!

It all began when two everyday leaders — Kevin and Kent — recruited a team of everyday leaders who trusted God together “to call into existence that which doesn’t exist” (Romans 4:17).

These everyday leaders identified a local challenge, created a local solution, and developed local innovative approaches and strategies. Neither Kevin nor Kent were the directors — they served as the instigators and as medical professionals. Their humility welcomed many to participate and lead. Many people owned the process, many came up with the ideas, and many made the clinic a reality. All are action heroes.

The Grace Clinic shows what can happen when everyday leaders — our new action heroes — take initiative, display Jesus, and provide direction. Like the composer Johannes Bach, we signed this creation with the words: soli deo gloria — all glory to God.

If you would like some information on how to start a free medical clinic in your area, feel free to contact Bill Mowry through alongsider.com.

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