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Christian Medical and Dental Association Sponsors Worldwide Mission Trips

Health care providers of all types eligible for membership

What single healthcare organization provided medical, dental, surgical or optical care to 62,388 men, women and children in 20 countries in a recent year?

Answer: the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA).

The CMDA has more than 16,000 members in the United States. Most are physicians with MD or DO degrees, but dentists, dental hygienists, physician’s assistants, RNs or nurse practitioners, pharmacists and physical therapists are also eligible for membership. The CMDA leads teams of workers on about 50 mission trips a year all over the world. The trips last anywhere from one to two weeks. The people served by the CMDA teams often have no other access to healthcare.

Dr. David L. Stevens, MD, MA, chief executive officer of the CMDA, said in a message on the organization’s Web site that in the developing nations where the CMDA works, “political and religious intolerance make medical missions one of the few avenues of the Gospel.”

Most mission trip teams include at least one layperson, a pastor. While the medical and dental people see and treat patients, the pastor explains to anyone who will listen that the team has come not only to address health problems but to tell them that God loves them and wants each individual to find new spiritual life through faith in Jesus Christ. In a recent year, this caring witness resulted in more than 4,000 people coming to faith in Jesus Christ.

This ministry aspect is what the CMDA is all about. The medical team expresses the transforming love of Christ by their healing work in surgery, orthopedic procedures, dental work and a myriad of other applications of the healing arts. All members of the CMDA are ready to present the Christian gospel as well as practice medicine or dentistry.

Dr. W. David Hager, MD, Lexington gynecologist and editor of this magazine, is a member of the CMDA. He has made several mission trips.

“The Christian Medical and Dental Association is the nation’s largest organization for Christian physicians and dentists,” he said. “The CMDA encourages members in their faith by providing professional and spiritual seminars and materials for members. The CMDA is a proponent of moral and ethical standards for its members and for the profession. They are a vocal advocate for rights of conscience for healthcare providers.”

Healthcare providers can find a niche for their talents at the CMDA.

“The CMDA has a program in just about anything you want to do,” said Margie Shealy, vice president for communications with the organization.

Members lead and mentor more than 350 student and graduate groups on medical and dental campuses in 194 cities across the United States. The CMDA’s Global Health Relief is an alliance with the Salvation Army that uses the Army’s global network to get fully equipped medical personnel on the ground immediately after a disaster. Freedom2Care is an “action-oriented, 50-group consortium dedicated to protecting the right of conscience for healthcare professionals everywhere,” according to the CDMA Web site.

“We have lots of ministries that are specific outreaches,” said Shealy. “We have a ministry to women married to doctors and also ministries to female doctors and female dentists.”

The CMDA also assists medical professionals who may be involved in a malpractice suit or an ethics issue. Its Center for Medical Missions recruits long-term medical missionaries – healthcare professionals who wish to make foreign missions a lifetime calling. The CMDA’s Global Health Outreach teams sometimes pair with pastors’ conferences where hundreds of largely untrained men and women attempting to pastor Christian churches receive training to better serve their congregations.

Membership dues pay just 14 percent of the organization’s annual budget of more than $7.5 million. The rest comes from charitable donations in the form of cash, services and supplies. To donate, make checks payable to CMDA and mail to P.O. Box 7500, Bristol, TN 37621. Or you can donate online at the CMDA’s website, http://www.cmda.org

For more information, call 1-888-230-2637 or visit the CMDA’s Website.

By Martha Evans Sparks, Staff Writer

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