Dr. Marc Chetta, Health Professions Faculty
In the summer of 2013, I took 22 BJU pre-med and nursing students to Arequipa, Peru. The local missionary had arranged for us to provide medical, dental and optical care to the Quechua people. They are descendants of the Incans and are considered to be lower class by the Spanish majority. The missionary told us that Quechua have a difficult time getting adequate medical care and when they do, they are given a cold shoulder or are ignored. The students and I decided that when we would see them in the clinics, that we would treat them with kindness and with Christlike love. As the Quechua people entered our clinic area, we would stand and speak to them in their language, acknowledging them with respect. Throughout the week we saw miracles happen. A little 5-year-old girl in great danger of dying from a peritonsillar abscess dissecting down into her neck was bathed with prayer and intramuscular antibiotics. Over the course of four days of treatment, she improved dramatically much to the joy of her mother (and us!).
Around the 3rd day a young lady in her 20’s came to see us (I usually had 2 or 3 students working with me each day). She wouldn’t look me in the eyes in spite of our extreme care and outward show of concern. She wouldn’t even tell us why she was coming to see us. So, I did a quick exam and prescribed some vitamins and other “freebees”. Just before she left, I asked her one more time if there was anything we could do for her. She began to cry and then shared with us that a few months before she had been gang-raped by five men. She was fearful, ashamed and depressed, despairing even of life. The students began to minister to her physically and emotionally. I shared with her that there was Someone who loved her very much and wanted to heal her heart and give her hope. She went on to accept Jesus Christ that day as her Savior and to this day is attending that missionary church. That week, 909 Quechua prayed to receive Christ as their Savior (out of nearly 3000 that came to our clinics).
The 22 students on that trip got to see God in action using us as His tools, His mouthpiece. We imitated the Savior’s M.O. by using the healing arts to break down barriers and show them that we loved them as Christ loved us. We were all changed.
I had the privilege of taking 14 present and former students to Romania this past summer. In a strange twist, we held our medical, dental, and optical clinics in a large concrete auditorium built during the terrible reign of Nikolai Ceausescu. This auditorium had been used to brainwash the local people with atheistic, totalitarian communism. This summer our local missionary and his people preached an evangelistic meeting in the same building. God always has the last say!
When you go on a mission trip to a third world country, it is actually you that gets changed…not just the people to whom you are ministering. One thing going on 28 or so mission trips has done for me is to make me appreciate just how good we have it here in the good ole USA. For example, I took a hot shower this morning. Do you know what an amazing privilege that is? (I’ve had so many cold showers in water that you better only hum in, not sing!) I heard the gospel when I was in college and knew no physical danger when I accepted Him as my Savior. Mission trips have greatly increased the gratitude I feel toward God for where I was born!
So, you see why we go on short term medical mission trips. We minister, see results, and in turn, we are changed forever.
Marc Chetta, M.D.
I was in a friend’s wedding right before my mission trip. On the wedding day, we spent the morning taking pictures. As much as I love my friend, it was quite difficult to bear both the heat and my slightly baggy pants with suspenders (you don’t know what that means until you actually feel your legs and your pants moving separately). We had about two hours to spare before the wedding ceremony, so we ate a quick lunch and waited at the backstage. God was surely teaching me patience! When our pianist began to play a prelude, we knew that it was time to prepare ourselves. The ceremony was about to begin—the groom and the bride were about to become one.
A pastor once said, “This life is a prelude to the real life.” What a wonderful quote: eternity awaits. We are currently listening to a prelude to the Holy Matrimony of Christ and His Church. The “prelude” is not always pleasant, but God uses everything together for good to those who love Him. Our physical death in this world is a mere beginning of the best life that will never end. Christ has lived, died, and risen for us to grant us eternal life with Himself. Suffering and pain are temporary, but joy and peace are unending. Isn’t that amazing?
Why do I talk about this when I am writing about my mission trip? It’s for one reason: I saw so many people to whom this is simply a folklore. I saw many spiritually-dead men walking around as if they are alive. The darkness has blinded their eyes, and this temporary life is all they have. They’ll do whatever it takes to feel secure in this vain life. To them, this life is not a beautiful prelude to eternal life—it’s a dreadful requiem for eternal death.
Ironically, the land of Buddhism does not follow the teachings of Buddha. The general mindset of Southeast Asian people is “do good get good; do bad get bad.” Their goal is to live the best life right now (sounds like a book in the States!). They worship the ancestors and go to Buddhist temples as they hope for material blessings. They’ll try “Christianity” if they can get money out of it. “Why aren’t you coming to church anymore?” a missionary once asked. “Because,” the man replied, “you stopped teaching English. Why would I be a Christian if I don’t get anything out of it?”
For them, religion is a philosophy or a way of living rather than the world’s relationship to a deity—it’s a manual for How to Live a Nice Life 101. A Cambodian student said to me, “I want to study all religions because it seems like every religion teaches to do good. . . We see corruption in the government, and we want to change it. But we can’t. We’re not the government. We’re not the religion.”
As we were looking down at the city of Bangkok from a skyscraper, my friend commented: “I guess… all these people will just populate hell in the future.” More than 8 million people live in the city and 70 million in the entire country of Thailand; about 1% claim to be followers of Christ. It’s a wonderful place to live—food, attractions, shops… you name it. But what’s the point of life without Christ? Is there life?
I remember attending a funeral as a high schooler. People put the body in a coffin and placed it inside a small wooden Buddhist tower. We watched two men as they poured gasoline all over it. When they lit it on fire, we silently stared at the enlarging flame while the widow cried in agony. Ash began to fall from the sky like snow. His physical body burned very quickly, but his soul continues to burn even today. Even though the widow stopped crying, he will cry in agony forever.
The world needs Christ. People need the Savior who will snatch them out from the flames of hell. The “requiem” continues to fade as eternal death approaches them. But how will they hear about Him without anyone telling them? Am I being faithful to the Lord who has given everything to me? Am I being faithful in sharing the Gospel, which is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16)?
This is a small portion of what I’ve learned during my trip in Southeast Asia. God has taught me so much through it. Even though I lived there for 11 years of my life as an MK, I barely scratched the surface of the deep spiritual darkness. After learning so much more about the region during my trip, I have a greater burden for lost people and a greater view of the Gospel. I thank God for the opportunity and for His faithfulness to His people.
You are worthy to be praised. You have every reason to pour Your wrath on us, but instead You sent Your only Son to die for us. We ask You that You will send more laborers to the harvest. Thank You for Your willingness to use sinners like us even though You don’t need any help. We are willing, so please use us to share the message of eternal life for the sake of Your Name. We love You, and we want to love You more.
In Christ’s Name we pray. Amen.
*If RSS feed is not working for you, please add it to your app or software manually by adding this url:
The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.