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Nursing, pre-med students take medical ministry trip to Haiti

June 13, 2012 | Valorie Coleman

Erica Harris has a sense of urgency for those needing medical care around the globe.

This May, she took a team of seven Evangel University students to Les Cayes, Haiti. Hundreds of people crowded into the initial holding tent, day after day, waiting to be seen by the nine medical professionals and the students who went on the trip.

The Evangel team partnered with HealthCare Ministries, a medical ministry of the Assemblies of God, to provide medical, dental and optical care over the four-day clinic.

It had been advertised to the local Haitian people that a team of Americans would be there to provide services for a nominal fee, equivalent to $1.50.

The advertisements were effective. More than 925 patients were seen.

“The medical missions trips are an annual occurrence for students who are aspiring to careers in the medical field,” says Harris, assistant professor of biology. “This was Evangel’s second year in Haiti, but we have traveled to areas including South Africa, Northern Asia, India and Central America.”

This was the fourth trip for Harris as a faculty advisor. She also helped arrange a trip for Evangel as a student in 1994.

Haiti eye exam

Optometrist Rich Malara is assisted by Evangel University junior Kaylyn Foehring during the medical missions trip to Haiti in May. More than 925 patients were seen for medical and optical care during the four-day clinic.

“The trips are one of my favorite parts of my job. I love seeing how life-impacting it is for the students,” Harris says.

The lives of those in Haiti were changed, too. One man was brought into the clinic late one evening, after everyone had turned in for the night. He had been in a motorcycle accident and was injured.

The team members sprang into action. Even those who did not have a direct part in providing the necessary medical care were there to offer support. They prayed with the patient and left his wounds and his heart in God’s hands.

A few days later, this man came back and prayed the sinner’s prayer with the team.

“He had been in church before,” Harris says, “but being ministered to like that turned his heart to the Lord.”

Medical missions trips not only give students a chance to integrate their medical expertise and ministry, but they often either confirm or dissuade someone in their chosen medical speciality.

“This year, three of our graduating seniors who went on the trip were confirmed in their career choices,” Harris says. “Jaimie McCallister plans to be a doctor, Katie Stansberry wants to be a pediatric dentist, and Taylor Sirois will stay with his plan to be a chiropractor.”

As the week progressed, the medical professionals gave a gentle nudge to the students.

“They began to ask the students what their interest is in medical missions,” Harris says. “When students see it lived out, they realize they could go overseas periodically and make a difference in the lives of people. It plants in the students a desire and a passion to help.” See Photo Blog for more pictures of the trip.

By Valorie Coleman, assistant director of public relations for Evangel University