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LMCO: Medical missions leads to church planting

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Dr. Jasmine Smith (back right) and clinic staff visit a stroke victim in her home who is cared for by her daughter. After evaluating the older woman, Smith and her team talk with the daughter about God, who prays to accept Jesus as her Savior. Smith is a volunteer who traveled to Thailand to partner with IMB missionary Doug Derbyshire. IMB Photo

Doug Derbyshire in Thailand

THAILAND — Doug Derbyshire goes to many places in Thailand with no Christians and no churches, and it troubles him deeply. But the lack of a gospel witness in Baan Po troubled him the most. Derbyshire is a medical doctor with the International Mission Board who serves in Thailand with his wife, Cheryl. He’s doing what Jesus did: taking care of the sick and preaching the gospel.

For the past six years, Derbyshire has faithfully and persistently visited Baan Po — trying every method and means for sharing the gospel. He’s brought medical teams from the U.S. to host mobile clinics. He’s tried every evangelism technique he knows. He’s knocked on doors, asking if people are interested in hearing the gospel. The message is either ignored, rejected, or accepted initially and then abandoned.

IMB missionary Doug Derbyshire and a staff member pray for a woman with stomach pains at a mobile medical clinic in Thailand. The woman initially refused to come to the clinic, but her daughter insisted. In addition to medical consultations and medicine, patients also hear the gospel and are prayed for by Thai staff. IMB photo

“Baan Po probably affects me, burdens me, more than the other places, because after all the times I’ve been there, the time I’ve invested in them, there’s still no church there. No one honors God. No one gives Him glory. No one praises Him. There’s no group of believers that gives Him glory,” Derbyshire said, closing his eyes and clasping his hands together in a praying position.

“I can’t let that rest. I just have to see God raise up a church in Baan Po,” Derbyshire said.

Derbyshire decided to host another mobile medical team to take the gospel one more time to Baan Po.

God used that “one more time” to work in mighty ways. In January 2020, Derbyshire, other IMB missionaries, Thai Christians and doctors from the U.S. traveled to Baan Po to host a mobile medical clinic.

Derbyshire says after he and the other doctors meet with their patients, one of the Thai staff will sit down with the patient and say, “This is medicine for your body. Now let’s talk about what you need for your soul.”

He said the transition from taking care of physical needs to meeting spiritual needs is natural — and it’s well-received.

Until this mobile clinic, Thais in Baan Po never achieved or maintained spiritual health.

However, on the first day of the mobile clinic, three people committed their lives to Christ. Others indicated they wanted to hear more. It was a glorious day, Derbyshire says — there are now people praising the Lord in Baan Po.

Derbyshire shares the gospel every day and is usually able to share with seven to eight people a day. He has to talk to 100, sometimes 200, people before finding someone who is interested. When teams come from the U.S., they see between 200 and 300 patients each day. Everyone who comes hears the gospel and people come to faith, one after another, in unprecedented numbers.

“Volunteers, for us, are indispensable to what we do. I can’t do what I do without God’s people coming from America and helping me,” Derbyshire said.

Derbyshire and Thai Christians make return trips to disciple the Christians in Baan Po and follow up with those interested in hearing more.

https://vimeo.com/showcase/7416888/video/431518471

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