RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- Medical missions is dead. IMB no longer appoints medical personnel. Transitions of IMB-funded hospitals to local leadership are a failure.
These are just some of the myths circulating about Southern Baptist medical missions, according to Dr. Charles Fielding,* a physician with more than 15 years of experience with IMB.
"We have more medical workers on the field now than ever before," Fielding said. Today, more than 300 health-qualified personnel serve overseas.
The myths originated nearly 30 years ago when the Foreign Mission Board (now IMB) began transitioning away from medical institutions, explained Dr. Rebekah Naylor, an emeritus missionary surgeon who served for 35 years at Bangalore (India) Baptist Hospital.
"The reasons for the transition were both financial and philosophical," Naylor said. "Financially, institutions are expensive to maintain. Philosophically, the leadership of the [IMB] believed that institutions were not the best and strongest way to accomplish evangelism and church planting."
MAKING A CHANGE
Consequently, in the mid-1980s, IMB began handing over control of its more than 30 hospitals and medical and dental clinics to local partners. A 1997 IMB report -- the last publication identifying international institutions with Baptist ties -- lists 17 hospitals, 10 medical clinics, six dental clinics and one school in places such as Brazil, Indonesia, Japan and Yemen. Today, IMB maintains only one -- the Baptist Medical Centre in Nalerigu, Ghana. Read More