The single-engine Piper, its white wings glistening under the tropical sun, swoops low over the British Guiana jungle. A streamer of gauze floats to earth, weighted by a sprig from a sandpaper tree. Tied to the branch is a note advising villagers that the plane, with an American doctor aboard, will land at a nearby airstrip later that day. The word spreads quickly, and soon there is a line of patients awaiting Missionary Aviation Fellowship’s flying clinic, latest product of the age-old liaison between Christianity and the healing arts.

The young doctor on the British Guiana run, Franklin B. Davis, was one of nearly 500 physicians and medical students who spent the last days of 1963 taking collective stock of their witness at the third International Convention on Missionary Medicine in Wheaton, Illinois.

“It’s not where you are, but what you are that makes you a missionary,” a surgeon told ICMM delegates in Wheaton College’s venerable Pierce Chapel.Wheaton President V. Raymond Edman was awarded the first honorary membership in the eighteen-year-old CMS for his “valuable counsel and faithful guidance” and “because of the role played by Wheaton College in the advance of Christian medicine.” But reports of medical staff shortages from Hong Kong, Lahore, and dozens of outposts in underdeveloped countries left many a doctor delegate uneasy about his comfortable stateside practice. Understandably, high-income physicians and their wives seldom jump at the chance to trade a fashionable split-level in the suburbs for a shabby but in a remote jungle compound.

In somewhat of a compromise measure, the 3,500-member, evangelically oriented Christian Medical Society, which sponsors the ...

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