July Highlight: Medical Brigades
Updated: Jul 6, 2019
Our medical brigades have been impacting Ecuador for Christ since 1997. We host between five and ten week-long international medical outreaches throughout the country annually. Since 2002, we have attended over 120,000 medical, dental, and surgical patients!
Translators, evangelists, and other volunteers from our own Arco Cuenca church and the host city church work together with various mission groups from abroad to see patients. For years we have had relationships with groups such as Global Health Outreach (GHO), Dental Community Fellowship (DCF), Xenos Christian Fellowship, Eau Claire Medical
Volunteers, and more recently with Heartfire Missions. We come together
to serve the people of Ecuador.
Each medical brigade lasts one week, is supported by scores of Ecuadorian and visiting volunteers, and sees over 1500 medical, dental, optometry, and physical therapy patients of all ages. We attend each patient in their area of medical need, and they also participate in a one-on-one conversation about Jesus with a volunteer from the local church. The many children seen during a brigade participate in activities designed just for them.
Our desire is to reach the most needy regions of Ecuador, people who have limited resources and sometimes don’t have access to health services. We care not only for their physical needs, but their emotional and spiritual ones as well. Our primary desire is sharing the love of Christ through our words and actions. Health care is a wonderful tool for sharing the gospel because our patients feel comfortable sharing their stories and pain with us. Therefore, we place a great emphasis on evangelism during the brigades, to meet the deepest need of every person: the hope that exists in knowing Christ Jesus as Lord. In this way, medical brigades have been doors to church planting. In fact, five of our Arco churches in Ecuador had their start due to a medical brigade in their town!
We are so thankful that God has blessed so many Ecuadorians through medical brigades. The opportunity to attend to and love on thousands of patients is simply amazing! Marilyn Guido and Tammy Ramirez host and receive the medical teams, coordinating all the logistics for them on this side of the world. Here, they share with us their favorite memories, God’s faithfulness, and the legacy of this ministry.
“Securing government approval for the brigades, and organizing the complex logistics of the teams can be stressful,'' says Tammy, “but it’s all worth it to see lives changed.” And lives are indeed changed! Medical brigades are able to immediately bless people through physical care, a listening ear, and prayer. Tammy reminisces on some of these memories: “Some of my favorite moments are to see the joy in a patient’s face when they put on their new glasses and tears are streaming down their face because they are able to see again. Or when our dental patients no longer feel embarrassed by broken or missing teeth, but start smiling freely after their dental repairs. No more covering their mouths when they smile! The medical care is such a blessing, but even beyond that it’s been amazing to see how many lives have been transformed just by praying with a patient.”
Marilyn and her husband John have been faith missionaries in Ecuador and Peru for over thirty years. If you were to sit and have a coffee with Marilyn, her stories from her years of medical brigades would fill your afternoon with tears of laughter, of joy, and of praise.
One recent patient came to mind. “The simple act of giving her a walker was really life-changing for her. It allows her to be more active, and beyond that it allows her a sense of independence that she had slowly lost as her physical capabilities diminished. What is usually a readily-available tool in the United States (the walker) became a powerful statement of love in this case.” Marilyn also reflects on the broader impact of medical brigades in the last few decades: “We would never have imagined the scope and impact of these brigades on our beloved Ecuador. We can’t thank our partners enough for faithfully bringing teams and serving our fellow Ecuadorians.”
Medical brigades are a tangible way to introduce God’s abundant love. We are thankful that God is moving here, and for your continued support as our partners. To make a donation toward the work going on in Ecuador, click here. You are making a real difference in the lives of many!