Can medical camps leave a lasting impact?

Sep 2017    

Many doctors and mission trippers have asked me: “How effective is it to have a once-yearly medical camp in a village?” I have reflected on this question and each time I am asked, I seek God’s wisdom. Invariably, the answer from Him is the same: “My child, it’s not about you or how much you do. Rather, it’s about what transformation I will bring through your simple giving of yourself.”

In our Community Development efforts in Nepal, we conduct eight to 10 medical camps annually in three regions of Nepal, through the partnership of Methodist churches in Singapore. It is an essential pre-emptive strategy for Church Planting, as the medical camps have helped the Methodist Church in Nepal (MCN) to establish 10 preaching points. Through these medical camps, we have been able to reach out to 2,500-3,000 people. There are many more Unreached People Groups (UPG)* in Nepal, located mainly in the western region.

For our medical teams to get to some of these remote villages, they would have to endure a two-hour jeep ride, followed by a five-hour trek over rough and mountainous terrain. While we have yet to reach out to these villages, we recognise the need, as this is where the UPGs are located.

In most villages in Nepal, a villager would need to trek about three hours to a main road, followed by a two- to three-hour bus ride to get to a major town where they can receive decent medical services. In all probability, they do not seek medical help until their condition worsens. By then it may be too late, and they may not survive the arduous journey. Culturally, sick villagers may also resort to seeing village shamans, known as Jhakri, who apply spiritual practices and rituals as they associate illness with possession of unclean spirits.

When a medical camp is conducted in such villages, many would come to see our doctors and dentists, with some hailing from villages three to four hours away by foot. Our doctors provide medication for symptomatic treatment, and in complicated cases that require follow-up and pastoral care, they would then recommend the patient for specialised treatment. Our local pastors and the Christian community are also able to show care and concern for the patients and their families.

One such amazing story is that of Bhim Kerung and his family. Bhim’s son was diagnosed by our doctors as having clubfoot and a bone disorder called Blount’s Disease. His legs were bowed significantly with both of his feet bent inwards, resulting in the child having to walk on his ankles. Bhim came to one of our medical camps with his son. Although Bhim was a Buddhist, he was willing to follow through his son’s treatment with the church’s help. The Christian community helped support Bhim and his wife emotionally, and for the medical treatment of their child.

After the treatment and care by the church, Bhim’s son is now able to lead a normal life. His legs have straightened, and he can walk normally and is enjoying soccer with his friends. Bhim and his family have since accepted Christ, and he is now serving as a leader in the church. Last year, he received his Local Preachers’ License that enables him to minister to the community and in sharing God’s Word.

Through our medical camps, we can touch and have touched many in love and action, thereby transforming their lives and their community. As a result, preaching points and churches are established as the Christian community grows. Medical camps serve as a conduit that enables God’s love, mercy, and grace to be exemplified by our teams, being blessed as they seek to bless their brothers and sisters in Christ. As we do our work in obedience, we trust and believe that God will do His part and that His Name will be glorified.

*People groups in Nepal are listed at unreachedresources.info/countries/NP.

Gopal Sebastian –

is a missionary with the Methodist Missions Society (MMS) and MMS Country Director for Nepal. He and his family have been serving in Nepal for the last 11 years. Their home church in Singapore is Sengkang Methodist Church.


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