Clinic opens avenues for Gospel sharing
The one-day clinic, held at a Springfield, Tenn., community center, offered a variety of medical services -- ranging from eye exams to dental needs -- at no cost and also included a counseling area where participants could ask spiritual questions and/or get connected with local churches.
By the time the day was over, 299 people had received medical treatment, and six had made professions of faith.
Robertson County Baptist Association director of missions Robert Tyson said the event was a success on every level.
"Our goal is to build relationships with our community," Tyson said, "and in turn, to find out where they are spiritually, and then see what we can do to help them on that journey."
"They are just fantastic people," Tyson said. "I can't say enough good things about them."
Springfield Baptist Church hosted this year's clinic, provided lunch for the volunteers and was used as "home base" for volunteers during their break times.
David Evans, who was called as pastor of Springfield Baptist in July, said he was amazed by the sacrificial attitude of the volunteers.
"As a participating pastor, I was blown away by the willingness of the churches to do whatever it took to serve the community," Evans said. "Particularly, I was blessed to see the number of Springfield Baptist Church people stepping up to volunteer their time, talents and abilities to serve the community."
Tyson said the idea for hosting the clinic came to him two years ago as he was seeking the Lord's guidance for ways to reach the lost in Robertson County.
"I'd been praying that God would direct me to an event where we could help the churches impact the community," Tyson said. "And He put this on my heart.
"I had heard about health fairs, and I knew that, overseas they went a little beyond (the normal health fair) in terms of medical treatment and eye glasses and things like that," he said. "So, I started looking into ways that we could do something similar here. The goal was to find out who in our community was lost and who was unchurched and needed the Lord."
Residents have responded, with some attendees arriving the night before to get in line for the clinic, which opened at 6 a.m.
Tyson said volunteers began passing out tickets at 4 a.m. and had distributed 175 tickets by 6.
Some attendees received eye exams, and if prescription lenses were needed, they were provided within about 90 minutes of the exam, Tyson said.
"We were able to make the glasses right there on the spot," Tyson said.
Other people received free dental work, including fillings, teeth extraction, and "pretty much anything a dentist can do," Tyson said.
Pharmacists were on hand to assist with prescriptions, and about 30 translators helped with non-English-speaking attendees.
Although the counseling area operated separately from the medical side -- in accordance with certain HIPPA rules and guidelines -- the attendees who were interested in talking about spiritual matters were able to do so. Tyson estimated that about 80 individuals met with counselors during the day.
Evans said the effectiveness of the clinic went beyond eye glasses and dental work.
"The best thing was the concern for the spiritual welfare of the local community," he said. "They were concerned about the physical welfare, yes, but their goal was to see their lives surrendered to Jesus.
"The church wanted people to surrender their life to Jesus, so they were willing to do whatever was necessary to see it happen."