Every part of your life depends on you having good health. When most people think of health, they consider only their physical condition, but as a doctor, I repeatedly see that our spiritual condition is also a huge factor. Hope Health Center was started so that, like Jesus’ examples in the Gospels, we could address both the physical and spiritual needs of those who come to us. Our mission is to share the hope found in Jesus Christ while providing excellent whole-person healthcare to a very medically underserved community. That’s why we placed our medical clinic in the heart of our city in order to make excellent health care as accessible as possible since many of our patients don’t even have reliable transportation.
Hope Health Center came into existence a few years after our family returned from the Ivory Coast in West Africa. My wife Connie and I, with our three kids were medical missionaries there for 10 years. In that area, the medical needs were tremendous but the resources to meet those needs were almost non-existent for the poor. When God called us back to the United States after finishing our mission work, my heart’s desire was to do the same thing in the U.S. that we had done in Africa. I wanted to be a medical missionary in the States.
So in 2003, we opened the doors of Hope Health Center. For eight years, I was the only doctor. Another doctor joined us in 2011. We also have a counselor since so many people we see are struggling with depression and anxiety. Then in 2015, we brought on an optometrist because many of our patients have diabetes which requires frequent eye care. We are now a full-service medical clinic surrounded by a tremendous staff and group of loving volunteers. It is truly the body of Christ reaching out to this impoverished area.
About 85% of our patients are receiving government aid or are uninsured, with many being elderly or disabled. We have to rely on donations to pay off about half our monthly expenses. Opening up a medical clinic like Hope Health Center in a poverty-stricken area is not the way for a doctor to earn a big salary. However, I honestly feel like one of the most blessed people in all of the world. It’s a privilege and an honor to serve my patients. They and God are teaching me so much. I’m investing my life in something that has eternal value: leading people to Christ and encouraging those who already have a personal relationship with Him to draw closer.
This has really been my life’s calling. During the last year of my medical residency training, I reached a breaking point. I was completely burned out after my 11-year pursuit of becoming a doctor. I had a wonderful Christian wife and I was less than one year away from finally reaching my dream, but I was absolutely miserable and thinking of quitting medicine. I realized I had always wanted control of my life because I believed I knew best what would make me fulfilled. But in my brokenness, God lovingly showed me that only He is the source of true fulfillment. I now wanted Him to control everything in my life. So, I got down on my knees and told Him to take it all. I turned my life completely over to Him. I wanted to seek His will and do what He wanted me to do, not what my dreams may have been. Looking ahead, I strongly felt Him leading me to be a medical missionary. I was thrilled and couldn’t think of anything I would rather be.
When I read the Bible, I love the personal encounters people had with Jesus and how He would heal them. Often, they would be brought to Him and laid at His feet. He would bend down, touch them, and talk with them eye to eye. He made them feel seen, heard, and valued. And that’s what we try to do in our clinic. We’re not a big medical practice where patients are shuffled in and out according to a set amount of time. We want to take time to listen and to counsel. As a result, patients often pour out their heart to us. We pray with every single patient every time they come in. Jesus is the healer, not us.
We want our patients to know they are created in the image of God and so precious to Him that He came as our Savior Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross. By His perfect and total sacrifice, He offers each of us the forgiveness of our sins and by this free gift, we can enter into an intimate, transforming, eternal relationship with Him. This relationship begins the moment you accept Him and continues throughout all eternity. It is a never-ending love story with Jesus who gave everything so that you could be His forever. Our desire is that through our patients’ experience at Hope Health Center, this wonderful truth will become more of a reality in their lives and in ours.
Gay DahlSeptember 22, 2022 at 1:24 pm
Such a beautiful journey! Thank you for listening to our Lord’s promptings and letting our Lord lead you! Your heart is as big as all the hearts you and the Lord love and heal. Beautiful!