International Ministries

Lay Health Ministry

October 16, 2003 Journal
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Greetings from South Africa!

The children are in their fourth term of school and will finish their school year in early December.All boys are strongly encouraged by the school to play an after-school sport every quarter.Most of the boys play two or more after-school sports each term.The third graders play after school cricket three times a week this quarter.Boys who play cricket have an additional mandatory "Junior World Cup" skill building session at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings.We decided to allow Marc to opt out of cricket this quarter.He has enjoyed participating in after-school swimming, field hockey and soccer.Paul is playing cricket and mini-tennis this quarter.Please continue to pray for our children as they face the challenges and opportunities of being the only Americans in their South African school.

During the past months, we have learned more about the health needs in the communities in which the Indian Baptist people live and how God is calling them to respond.The Indian people in South Africa suffer from high rates of premature heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.Phoenix Baptist Church Pastor Leslie Benjamin believes that God is calling his church to offer screening and prevention services for cardiovascular conditions in his church and community. Few Indian people have cars and most rely on privately operated passenger vans ("combies") or buses.Often the pastor must drive the members of the church to gatherings.At a Sunday service with 200 people in attendance one may see only 10 cars in the parking lot.Transportation has emerged as a major barrier to ministry here.To overcome this problem, we will go out into communities and train small groups of church members to become lay health volunteer workers to provide education and screening for common health conditions in people in their own neighborhoods.When a nurse is available, we will work to develop ways to have the lay health workers work with the nurse who may provide additional nursing services.Our traveling school that will meet in churches and homes will be called the Bethel School.

An introductory course we are offering is an eight session Bible study to help church members understand how God may be calling their church to Christ-like health ministry in their communities.Here are examples of biblically and scientifically based training courses that we may offer to lay church health workers and nurses in the future:Christ-like health care; Home visitation; Smoking cessation counseling; Heart-healthy living; Blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes screening and education; Bible study on sorcery; Communication skills; Ministering to drug and alcohol abusers and their families; AIDS prevention & screening; AIDS home hospice care.

God has called us to train church members in lay health ministry and he is leading us to people with a heartfelt desire to do lay health ministry.Phoenix Baptist Church member Kathy shared with us that she recently told her husband that she did not want to die before she was able to do volunteer health work in which by her caring presence she could express the love of Christ.Kathy was laid off from her work at a local factory last year where she had been trained in first aid.She explained that she was called to respond to situations such as when a worker's finger was severed.She longs to do some type of volunteer health work in her community.Another woman named Jano explained how she felt that her own personal journey with the Lord compelled her to reach out in some way to her neighbors in her housing complex located next door to the Phoenix Baptist Church.She wants to share the healing love of Jesus Christ with her mostly Hindu neighbors.She has been meeting with another member of the church everyday and together they have been praying for their neighbors.Many people in this poverty-stricken complex lack electricity and drug and alcohol abuse are rampant.

We have accepted God's call to come to South Africa.Churches here are responding to God's call to undertake Christ-like health outreach to their communities.God has also called people in the United States to support our work and they are responding.We need your prayers.Keeping us up to date with what is going on in your churches and lives is most appreciated.Please ask God to let you know how he may be leading you to support our family in ministry.If you believe that you are to support our ministry here financially, then please contribute to the American Baptist Churches World Mission Offering (W.M.O.).Consider supporting our work here with a monthly pledge.If you attend an American Baptist Church then you may give through your own church.Or, you may make your check out to "American Baptist Churches – International Ministries" and mail your contribution to the address below.In either case, to direct your money to be used towards our ministry, write on the memo line of the check: "W.M.O. – directed to Rick and Anita Gutierrez."

A.B.C. – International Ministries
P.O. Box 851
Valley Forge, PA19482-0851

Yours in Christ,

Rick and Anita Gutierrez