Would you like to go pray with the patient?

Series: Summer Medical Institute 2011

by Alan Chiu July 15, 2011

Today, I was assigned to be part of the first pair that went to shadow at Esperanza Health Center. Considering our partnership with this clinic and the influence that this clinic community has on everything that we are doing, I was super excited to finally see what this clinic did on a day-to-day basis. As we scurried into the building (already 10 minutes later than we had hoped!), we joined the healthcare staff as they were entering into a time of prayer and worship. Needless to say, the sight of over 30 healthcare professionalsdressed in scrubs and professional attire and gathered in prayerwas such a breath of fresh air from the normal environments I normally found during my first year of medical school. I knew I was in for an awesome day.

As a physician-in-training, I seem to have been subtly taught that when handling a complicated patient, it is best to make whatever medical progress within reason for a single visit, politely talk to them about how important certain major lifestyle changes are, and then send them off back into their daily liveshoping that they will listen to at least something you said. I had found myself resigned to the belief that only so much can be done to bring healing to such difficult patients and that that was the extent of our responsibilities. Even more, I think I subconsciously believed thatas a Christianwhere and who I was serving was more important to God than HOW I serve the patient. But God gave me a nice little wake-up call.

As we wrapped up the exam of one particularly difficult patient, I found myself satisfied with the amount of treatment that the patient had received and ready to wipe my hands clean of all struggles that this individual will face once they leave the office and ready to see the next patient. But as I expected the physician to leave, he instead sat down, gently placed his hand on her shoulder, and asked her if he could pray for her. In that moment, that was one of the last things I was expecting. In theory, of course I would have wanted to pray with the patient, but something in the way that I have been trained to practice medicine did not even consider the possibility! God clearly reminded me how it is our calling as Christian physicians to not just treat our patients medically, but to more important make sure to love our patients in the name of Christ. That same physician later reminded us that any length of time that our knowledge and skills as healthcare providers can prolong any individuals life means very little without the hope of eternal life that comes from a living relationship with Christ Jesus. With all of that, how could I ever not want to pray for and with a patient? And praise God, He gave me the opportunity to pray over one of our patients with the Spirit moving so powerfully that she was brought to tears. God is sooo good.

Of the many, many, many things that I have already learned in our short time here so far, the most jarring was the realization of how diametrically different the Christ-centered models of healthcare are from the current healthcare industry. It was a sobering reality, but it only serves as further encouragement to really imprint every nugget of wisdom, every prayer, every interaction, every conviction, and every biblical principle we learn during these 3 weeks onto our hearts because it will be a fight to hold onto these things when back in the mainstream healthcare setting.

The point of all of this is not to bring attention to myself, but to emphasize how much God has been molding and teaching all of us through these experiences at SMI so far. There is no doubt that God has been using us to bring healing and hope into these communities through our medical outreaches. But as we continue to focus on serving the Hunting Park and Esperanza communities in the short time we have here, God is also doing a major work in the hearts of all of us SMI-ers that will forever alter how we live out the rest of our lives in the healthcare field. In the words of one of our lovely faculty: SMI will ruin your life. And I cant wait to see how God wants to ruin each of our livesworking for our goodall for His glory.

Please continue to pray for our neighborhoods. We are so grateful for the prayers, we know God is listening to them, and we are firsthand seeing God moving powerfully here. Also pray for us. The concept of spiritual warfare is one that is very real, and our team has faced some serious challenges even in our short time. But please pray that James 1:2-3 (Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness) may be the response of our hearts as we press forward doing the work that the Lord has placed before us. He has already been strengthening us as a group day-by-day, but we pray with humble dependence that He continue to do so.

God is good. All the time. All the time? God is good. Yep yep.

– Alan

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