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How the Gospel is Spreading Through Medical Missions

February 16, 2024 |  By Justin Cober-Lake

Medical aid and the message of Jesus are needed in areas where people struggle with fundamental health care for things we might take for granted — like toothaches or eye strain. Fortunately, those serving on medical missions have the specialized gifts to perform that double duty.

We recently spent time with Dr. Joy Tica, a medical missionary in the Philippines and the founder of Health Education Medical Ministry Inc. (HEMMI), to learn more about medical missions and her journey to this work.

What does “medical missions” mean?

Joy defined medical missions as going to an underprivileged area where people have little or no access to medical care or are typically unable to afford it. In cases where transportation is an issue, medical missionaries can visit a community and provide treatment, often including dental work and reading glasses, alongside sharing the Gospel.

Non-Christians often seek help at these clinics, knowing they are welcome since Joy and her workers care for everyone, regardless of their beliefs. However, the medical team always shares the Good News of Jesus. Patients are given an illustrated tract with the Gospel message, and Joy finds lighthearted ways to encourage them to read and share it. It is vital to her that 100% of her patients hear the Word of God.

Sometimes, Joy will talk to someone more specifically after a medical consultation, learning what they need and leading them in a particular direction, even to a prayer of salvation. The medical team also connects with a local church to provide spiritual follow-up. A pastor may offer evangelism while attempting to maintain communication with the patients.

The challenges of medical missions

It all sounds simple, but it can be both complicated and hazardous. For example, Joy has spent time in Mindanao, a region accustomed to severe political unrest and violence. When leading a team into such a dangerous area, she tells them they have to overcome their fears or stay home.
“If you want to go to these places,” she says, “you must be resolved.”

She recalls a time in 2016 when she and her team were in a mountainous region between two fighting factions. Fortunately, the battles did not reach them, but the military brought them dying and wounded soldiers for treatment. With only vitamins on hand, there was little Joy could do for the dying except pray and point them toward Jesus.

“It’s only prayer that can help,” she said. “It’s the hope that you can give to a dying person. You pray for their salvation.”

A history of mission work

Fortunately, Joy and her colleagues are not the first missionaries to venture into such regions, a fact for which she expresses gratitude. In the 1950s, her grandfather traversed mountains to share the Gospel. Though still challenging today, the difficulties seem slight compared to what he and others must have experienced. Joy has learned to appreciate all the missionaries who went ahead of her to pave the way for the work to continue.

Closer to home, the group is working to build a mission house outside of Manila, where people in need of short-term housing can stay. This local house would be a pleasant respite for a team so often on the road. It is a big, ongoing project, but they trust God to provide for its completion soon. They make it a testimony honoring God’s faithfulness to Joy’s parents and all who have followed in their stead. They desire it to be a safe haven and a blessing.

Joy and the other medical missionaries continue to reach difficult places as the first line of service for spiritual and physical needs. While it can be tiring and risky, the work remains rewarding. Joy emphasizes that the beauty of doing medical missions is the ability and availability to go anywhere as a frontliner for Jesus.

Indeed, they can. And they will.


Pray for Missionaries Like Joy: Download “7 Days of Prayer for Missionaries”