VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 3/12/12)—For the past 100 years, American Baptists have partnered with the Baptist Community of Western Congo (CBCO) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa, through American Baptist International Ministries (IM) missionaries. Thanks in part to this ongoing alliance, the people of the Congo have been receiving compassionate health care in a loving Christian environment through the Vanga health service. Still, there is an immediate need for doctors, nurses and other health professionals for long-term missionary service in the Congo.
The health service includes a 400 bed teaching hospital, well-established school of nursing, a network of 50 rural health centers, a family medicine residency training program, and a community health program. It is the largest comprehensive health service in Central Africa empowering communities to improve their living conditions. Medical schools in the US are considering making Vanga a site for short periods of training for students and residents in order to expose them to this comprehensive approach to health care.
“The vision of the leaders of the Vanga health service is to expand and strengthen the Kingdom of God and improve the health of the Congolese people,” commented one of the primary proponents of the expansion effort, Daniel Fountain, MD, former IM missionary in Congo (1961-1996) and father of Katherine Niles, current IM missionary in Congo.
IM wants to support this vision by sending a new generation of doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing instructors to minister in the name of Christ at Vanga. IM is seeking individuals and couples whom God may be calling to make a long-term commitment to incarnational, holistic health ministry.
“There is a particular need for specialists to train Congolese doctors in gynecology and surgery,” noted Jim Bell, IM’s Director of Recruitment. “Serving at Vanga offers medical specialists a unique opportunity to shape the future by mentoring future colleagues and training Congolese practitioners.” In addition to medical personnel, a person with administrative gifts is sought to assist with Vanga’s receiving of short-term professors, specialists, and student groups from the United States.
In addition to the Vanga health service, CBCO maintains ten other smaller health services in the Congo staffed largely by doctors trained at Vanga. The Vanga model has had a strong influence in the development of the national health plan for the Congo as well as serving as a model for the World Health Organization’s emphasis on primary health care. This model has been replicated in the health services of many other churches and missions in the Congo to the extent that church health services provide more than half of the health care to the people of the Congo.
Fountain is the founder and former director of several health programs in Africa, including a health care training institute and a rural health care network and a recognized authority on the treatment of persons with AIDS. In 1984, he and Rev. Felicity Matala established an integrated medical-pastoral care ministry in the Vanga Hospital for the healing of the whole person which he directed until his return to the US.
Fountain expanded on his passion for his health ministry, “Sickness is a time for reflection on the meaning, purpose, and destiny of life. Compassionate health care in the name of Christ can provide emotional, spiritual, and physical resources to help people find the life God wants them to have.”
“Many common illnesses come because our life style and behavior do not conform to the standards of living God has established in his word (Exodus 15:26),” he continued. “Health education that is based on both science and God’s Word can show people how to improve their own health and that of their communities and at the same time discover God’s plan for all of life.”
American Baptist International Ministries (IM) was organized in 1814 as the first Baptist international mission agency in America. It began its pioneer mission work in Burma and today works in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas serving more than 1,800 long-term and short-term missionaries. Its central mission is to help people come to Christ, grow in their relationship with God, and change their worlds through the power of the Spirit. It works with respected partners in over 70 countries in ministries that meet human need.
Individuals interested in learning more about this opportunity to serve should contact IM Director of Recruitment Jim Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Baptist International Ministries (IM) was organized in 1814 as the first Baptist international mission agency in America. It began its pioneer mission work in Burma and today works in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas serving more than 1,800 long-term and short-term missionaries. Its central mission is to invite people to come to faith in Jesus, grow in their relationship with God, and change their worlds through the power of the Spirit. It works with respected partners in over 70 countries in ministries that meet human need.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with 5,500 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.