Last Saturday (March 29) was wet and cold, with both intermittent and steady rain showers sweeping through the city streets. On such days staying indoors with a good book and a hot drink is certainly appealing. These were hardly ideal conditions for Medical Campus Outreach (MCO) to hold a door-to-door medical outreach in the neighborhoods south of Washington Street, near Tenth’s church plant, Grace and Peace Community Church. Yet over 35 health care students, health care professionals, and church members showed up that afternoon, ready to work.
What Door-to-Door Outreach Looks Like
Eleven teams, each including members of both Tenth and Grace and Peace, went out into these diverse South Philly neighborhoods, roughly 16 blocks south of Tenth church. These neighborhoods are changing, composed of an eclectic mix of races and nationalities, young urban professionals, long-time residents, immigrant families, and people of many different economic levels. New houses are being built, others are being renovated, and some remain unchanged, decrepit or vacant.
Dressed in scrubs and rain ponchos, the participants knocked on doors and offered blood pressure and blood sugar screens, hypertension and diabetes information and education, and invited the churches’ neighbors to join them for Sunday or Easter services. Many doors went unanswered—either no one was home or screens were not needed. However, the wet umbrellas and wet clothing became insignificant compared to the meaningful encounters that each team had with even a handful of people.
The group informed one man that his blood pressure was significantly high and gave him much-needed referral information. A nurse from Grace and Peace screened a woman who turned out to be a good friend of her next door neighbor. A man renovating his home received screens and members of our group prayed for him. Others checked on elderly people who had not recently seen a doctor. Some of the students met woman on the street and engaged her in a long conversation about God and faith. And we had the opportunity to extend many, many invitations to the church. Several people simply commented about how impressed they were that the teams would be out in the rain, and some people even offered them food!
Practical Service Reaches Hearts
Our door-to-door outreach provides an opportunity serve our neighbors in a practical way. But it is also a way to share the love of Christ with the community around us, offering prayer, spiritual truth, and community to those who are interested. While some just want a quick check on their health, others are surprised but grateful that the participants offer to pray for them. And many are struck that the church members come to them, instead of the other way around.
At the end of the day we knocked on 203 doors, performed 13 blood pressure and 12 glucose screens, and prayed with 22 people. While these numbers are smaller than the typical outreach, we are grateful for the many people who were introduced to the ministries of Tenth and Grace and Peace. Finally, the church members who participated were encouraged and have been given “new eyes” to see these local communities. They are praying with renewed focus and love for our neighbors here.