Providing healthcare services may open news doors for Christian missions in hard-to-reach nations, says a mission agency.
"We see closed access nations and also nations where just the physical needs are so overwhelming, that people are more open to the Gospel when you’re reaching out to meet their physical needs," said Ruth Ann Raiche, a spokesperson with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE), as quoted by online missions journal, Mission Network News.
ABWE is one of many ministries that has worked extensively in the so-called "10/40 window" – a term coined in the mid-1990s by missions strategists to describe the area of the world where Christianity has had the least exposure.
One major characteristic that distinguishes the 10/40 window from countries of historical Christian backgrounds is the disparity in socioeconomic conditions, according to experts on this subject. Over 80% of the world’s poor is located in this area of the world, according to the 2005 GIS survey.
In the same survey, over 80 percent of those with the lowest quality of life live in the 10/40 window – often experiencing high rates of infant mortality, low-life expectancy, and illiteracy.
Raiche added that by providing healthcare services to people in these nations, people would better understand the message of "love" behind the gospel.
"You're reaching out to them in a very touchable manner so that they realize that, 'hey, these people love me'," said Raiche.
"It's putting hands on God's love; it is reaching out to them with God's love meeting their physical needs. And in the process of doing so, you're developing a relationship with them so that you're able to share the Gospel,"
ABWE will soon host its annual Medical Missions Interface June 16-18 weekend at it headquarters in Harrisburg, PA, to give strength to existing medical missionaries.
The conference will also introduce potential recruits to the medical missions experience through the eyes of veteran medical missionaries.
Founded in 1927, ABWE has sent missionaries throughout the area of the world which has comprised the 10/40 window. The ministries operations expanded during the post-WWII era. By 2001, the ministry had open over mission fields in nearly 50 nations.
ABWE has had a long experience in medical missions, according to the ministries website. Many of the early ABWE missionaries were themselves doctors.
Raiche said she hopes to see "passion for medical missions spread and people’s appetites whetted for that kind of service," as concluded in the MNN brief.