Medical Missionaries Help Villagers See Again

Australian doctors volunteer their skills in Asia

Tez Brooks

Martin and Deborah Chan climb into a crowded vehicle for another long journey into the jungle. The couple from Sydney, Australia, have been married ten years, and this is their third medical mission trip.

They are volunteers with Global Aid Network (GAiN), a ministry of Cru.  They are visiting a country in southeast Asia, and the dirt roads are treacherous, rocking them back and forth as they hold on to the seats in front of them.

As an optometrist, Deborah will conduct eye exams and fit villagers with second-hand eyeglasses. Martin is handling the logistics of the trip, which includes almost 50 doctors, dentists, nurses and laypeople from the United States, Australia, Cambodia, China, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore.

They have come together for one cause—to serve the poor and needy who have not yet heard about Jesus. Everyone on the trip is a volunteer, paying his or her own way.

The convoy of five buses passes by rice fields and homes built on stilts. Many homes are constructed this way due to flooding during the wet season and also to provide livestock with shade during the heat of the day.

Deborah (pictured in yellow) looks out the window and starts giggling. “Last year I was under a home doing eye exams when a toddler in the house [above] urinated on me,” she says. “Piglets were running around my feet, but we still managed to help hundreds.”

Deborah recalls an elderly man almost blind with cataracts. She provided him with prescription glasses, and his face lit up. “He just kept smiling and saying, ‘I can see. I can see!’ I wondered if this was what Jesus experienced when He healed the blind man.”

After three hours on the bus, the Chans arrive at the village. Sick and afflicted villagers have started gathering. Martin organizes a chain of people to unload the supplies for the mobile clinic, carefully stepping around putrid puddles and heaps of trash.

He pays careful attention to each team member, making sure each receives all he or she needs for a good night’s sleep and nutritious meals. “We work long, hard days,” he says. “I want to make sure everyone is well fed and rested so they keep up their stamina.

“Even with the obstacles and difficulties, the desperation of the crowds drives us to keep coming back,” says Martin. “There are so many kinds of ministries on the globe than what our little social circles might be into. God is doing more than what you think you already know. He’s invited each of us to go see what He’s doing around the world—to see the bigger picture.”

Throughout the mission trip, Deborah helped over 550 people in several villages gain better eyesight and a more productive life. “I used to feel like I was not qualified to do a mission trip,” Deborah confesses. “I was waiting for some special training or something. After I returned, I met key people who helped me with growth and training.

If I had waited, I may never have experienced that. People should just do it. Just go! They will find open doors and opportunities by just stepping out in faith.”

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