FBC Albertville expands medical ministry’s mission

By Leigh Pritchett
Oct 30, 2008

When First Baptist Church, Albertville, opened Great Physician Clinic, a free medical and dental clinic, six years ago, the mission was to live up to the calling in Luke 9:2 to preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick.

Now the Marshall Baptist Association church is expanding that mission to include optometry. Charles Woods, director of the clinic, said four optometrists held the first eye clinic Sept. 18.

Woods is hoping the eye clinic will achieve the type of success the medical and dental clinic ministries have in providing treatment to countless uninsured patients in the area.

Randall Stoner, director of missions for Marshall Association, said the clinic serves as an important method of spiritual healing as well as the obvious physical healing.

In 2006, the clinic instituted a chaplain program. Woods said there are currently about 20 chaplains who rotate between the medical and dental clinics, communicating in English and Spanish the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

That first year, 20 people asked Jesus to come into their heart and be their Savior, Woods reported.

There is a follow-up program to help the newly saved Christians become involved with a local church.

Though started by First, Albertville, and supported by Marshall Association, the clinic is a community endeavor funded “purely by faith,” Woods said.

Volunteers represent different denominations, and contributions of money and equipment come from a wide variety of sources.

“Everything has been donated except a few pieces (of equipment) we’ve bought,” Woods said, noting fellow Marshall Association church First, Guntersville, purchased a $8,200 panoramic X-ray machine for the clinic.

Originally both the medical and dental clinics were housed together in the education building of First, Albertville, but the medical clinic has since moved to Marshall Family Health Clinic in Albertville’s Crossroads Mall.

The medical clinic is manned by volunteers — seven physicians, four nurses and four assistants — every Thursday evening and typically sees about 20 patients each week.

Woods noted that the hospitals in Marshall County have been accommodating, performing without charge certain services that the clinic’s doctors request for their patients.

The dental clinic meets a need that often goes unmet because people cannot get treatment at an emergency room as they can for medical needs, Woods said. Nonetheless bad teeth can cause many health problems.

About 16 patients are seen by the clinic’s seven dentists each Friday morning, but Woods lamented, “we turn away as many or more people than we can treat each week.”

All of the clinic’s support personnel — the dental assistants and receptionists — are volunteers, with the exception of one paid individual who maintains records and helps with preparations for the clinic.

The dental clinic serves as a ministry on yet another level by helping women who are training to be dental assistants through Christian Women’s Job Corps, a ministry of national Woman’s Missionary Union that equips women in need with life and job skills.

Woods said a number of women have received some training through the clinic.

This article is reprinted from the October 2, 2008, issue of The Alabama Baptist, the newspaper of the Alabama Baptist State Convention.

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