By Sharon Mager
WILMINGTON, Del. — Dr. Kim Nalda, a member of Sycamore Hill Church’s (SHC) Hockessin campus in Hockessin, Delaware, regularly sees patients at her office. She does routine examinations, prescribes medicines, and treats a variety of illnesses. On Sept. 14, Nalda not only examined patients, but she also hugged them, encouraged them, and prayed with them. Nalda was one of eight medical professionals who participated in a mobile medical clinic at SHC’s Wilmington campus in Wilmington, Delaware. The clinic utilized the mobile medical unit provided by SEND Relief, the compassion ministry arm of the North American Mission Board.
This clinic was one of five events hosted by Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) churches and sponsored by the BCM/D. The medical awareness events were a first for the convention and were also SEND Relief’s first venture to the northeast with the medical unit.
Nalda said she was especially thrilled to pray with patients and talk openly with them about the Gospel. “I was surprised by how vulnerable people were willing to be in a 15-minute visit with people they didn’t know. They were so willing to ask for help,” she said.
While chatting with Darlene Roberts, a Wilmington resident, and her young niece, Megan, Nalda invited the two to the church.
“Can we go? Please?” asked Megan. Roberts nodded and smiled.
After checking out, Megan smiled as she grabbed a goodie bag before the two left.
The SEND Relief mobile unit parked in a lot across from a Salvation Army site, a few blocks from the SHC Wilmington campus. In preparation for the clinic, church members canvassed the area, talking to folks and sharing about the free clinic.
Duane Davis, the pastor of SHC’s Wilmington campus, said, “I wasn’t sure what to expect, but things went well.” Church members set up three tables — one for intake, another for checkout, and one with crayons and coloring paper for kids. Volunteers chatted with patients, shared about the church, and gave out free Bibles.
“We were ‘wowed’ by the condition of the truck,” Davis said. The interior of the trailer was much larger than it appeared from outside, with two treatment areas, a waiting room, and a restroom, in addition to the driver’s area.
Jason Matthews, an emergency room physician and member of the Hockessin campus, and Tim McLaughlin, a nurse, were in the trailer waiting for the next patient. Matthews related that he too hadn’t been sure what to expect but was impressed. “I hope we’re making a bit of an impact,” he said.
Tammy Vu, a pharmacist and member of the Hockessin campus, helped transfer one patient’s prescriptions to a pharmacy that was within walking distance of her home.
Dietician Cori McLaughlin provided nutritional counseling. She also volunteered to walk through the neighborhood prior to the event and invite neighbors to the clinic. That was valuable, according to Cori. “We met a lot of people and talked with them,” she said.
Neighborhood relationship development was the primary purpose of the clinics. Christian Liberty Church (CLC), in Baltimore, Maryland, capitalized on that opportunity, as they do with all of their community events.
CLC Pastor Wayne Lee said that, for a first-time venture, the church had a surprisingly good turnout. “We had our church service outside, food, a few festivities for the kids, and the medical clinic. We’re excited to do it again,” he said.
A doctor from Southern Maryland volunteered to help at the clinic, in addition to a doctor who volunteers with Imagine Me Ministries, a ministry that Lee’s wife Pascha founded and directs. (Read an earlier BaptistLIFE article about Imagine Me Ministries here.)
The Baltimore City Health Department and Catholic Charities both sent representatives who shared information about mental health resources.
Lee said a doctor advised one patient to go to the hospital immediately. She did, and the church is following up.
David Moore, the pastor of London Village Baptist Chapel in Magnolia, Delaware, said patients were thankful for the clinic. “They appreciated that someone cared enough to offer a little bit of screening,” he said.
A nurse treated 13 people, most from the London Village neighborhood. One patient was a baby and the church was thankful to have a pediatric nurse.
The mother with the baby mentioned to several people that she wanted to come back to the church. At least five people in all said they would return to visit the church, according to Moore.
The church gave all of the visitors medical kits — drawstring bags, printed with the church’s logo, filled with bandages, Kleenex, and a few medicinal items.
Moore said the church would follow up with all who attended. He also noted that the clinic opened the church’s eyes to the need for a substance abuse program. The leadership will be discussing that topic.
Katye Moore, David’s daughter and a nurse, was a tremendous help in planning and organizing the clinic, according to her father. She also volunteered at the clinic.
At First Baptist Church of Capitol Heights in Capitol Heights, Maryland, members prepared lunch for all who attended and provided children’s activities – Bible lessons and playtime.
Pastor Harold Dugger said the kids had fun. “They had so much fun playing that one little girl started crying and didn’t want to leave.”
Even some of the parents had fun playing games, like hopscotch, while waiting to be seen.
In addition to the medical service, the church used the opportunity to reach their community. “We had an opportunity to share the Gospel, which is the nucleus of what the event was about,” Dugger said.
Members of the local police department attended the event and enjoyed lunch, and several officers asked for Bibles.
Dugger said the church, of course, gave the officers Bibles. They also asked, “Are you saved, do you know the Lord Jesus Christ?” “That gave us a chance to share the Gospel while having lunch together,” Dugger reported.
Chris Gudmundsson, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dundalk in Baltimore, Maryland, said the clinic was a good experience. “We found that the spiritual conversations were noticeably more helpful than the health conversations,” he said. Church members prayed with those who attended.
Church members gave out Bibles and church information.
Gudmundsson said it was a pleasure to get to know Michael and Joy Brown, the unit driver and coordinator.
The retired couple, members of First Baptist Church of Elfers, in Florida, enjoyed relaxing and getting to know the volunteers in Maryland/Delaware. Michael drove a semi tractor-trailer for 30 years before retiring and then volunteered with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, supplying DR sites with supplies.
“We call ourselves a blood vessel in the body of Christ. We get to see what’s happening and the way people reach out. We’re all a little bit different, but we all reflect God in a way that’s unique in our churches and as individuals,” Michael said.
Joy, with a huge smile on her face and the couple’s dog, Ladybug, on her lap, said she and Michael are happy. “We’ve only been married 13 years. Our dream for retirement was to go around the country in a camper or RV,” she said. God answered their prayer, allowing them to travel the country and serve Him.