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Serving The Forgotten Among Us



Is it necessary to board an airplane in order to serve forgotten people? Need you learn a new language, acquire a passport or special vaccinations to aid those who are most neglected? Actually no. While you may feel compelled to go to such lengths, this fact remains: there exist untold forgotten people, the least of these, right here among us.


Often, those on the margins in North America are unemployed, under-educated, immigrants, and/or non-English speakers. Consider the plight of people living in Appalachia. Forty percent are in poverty, only ten percent of men graduate from high school, and overall life expectancy of these individuals is startlingly on the decline! North America has also received an influx of some 22,000 refugees from the Himalayan nation of Bhutan. These arrive with virtually no possessions and continue struggling to find housing, employment and healthcare. Hidden in our midst are also a multitude of sex slaves, domestics, garment, and agricultural slaves. The Central Intelligence Agency estimates that 50,000 are trafficked into or transited through the USA each year.


Who is taking action on behalf of the forgotten? Standing tall among many is Rick Donlon, keynote speaker at this year’s Exploring Medical Missions Conference. A family physician, Rick witnessed the crime, disease and poverty of those in inner city Memphis. So moved was Rick that in 1995 he mortgaged his own home to raise the capital necessary to open Christ Community Health Services – a medical care facility that has since grown to five locations, providing over 95,000 patient visits and delivering 800 babies annually among the poor of Memphis. Rick shares about one of these patients:


“Fred is in his 30s and has been HIV positive for 10 years. He suffered serious opportunistic infections and had no appetite. Daily diarrhea reduced him to skin and bones. Fred was dying. Over a series of visits to our health center, we established a degree of trust with Fred and then initiated life-saving anti-HIV medications. By God’s grace, the medications worked quickly and powerfully. Over just a few months, Fred’s appetite returned, his diarrhea left, and he gained back more than 60 pounds. Though it once seemed impossible, Fred has returned to work!”


What would you like to do on behalf of forgotten people? Start by considering those in need who are already in your midst: the truly poor, illiterate, homeless, abandoned, addicted, invalid, or hopeless. Then, connect with potential partners – individuals or organizations who share your vision and passion. Many of such character will be participating in the Exploring Medical Missions Conference and have overcome great obstacles in their service to the forgotten. And though following their footsteps will inevitably require similar struggle, be encouraged by the truly eternal significance of your efforts. Remember the scene described by Jesus in Matthew 25:37-40?


“‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.’”

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