Missionary Doctors Seek New Role.” This was the title of a report on the fifth International Convention on Missionary Medicine in the January 17, 1969, issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY. What the report seems to be saying is that we have arrived at an era of medical progress in which there is no longer any need for the traditional inefficient “White Father” institutions whose adventures filled the pages of Sunday-school magazines for a hundred years. There might, however, still be work for a few specialists as teachers or short-termers for a week or two. We are told that “every doctor should be telling others the way to salvation,” and that “missionary doctors should not spend their time on difficult or hostile people, but should concentrate their efforts where chances are best for a payoff in church growth.”

Perhaps this brief news report does not fully reflect the sentiments of this august congress. Still, there are enough pronouncements of this type among our American brethren that some sort of reply seems in order. To the critics I address the following three questions:

  1. What is the nature of medical care in the world today?
  2. Are mission hospitals really backward and inefficient?
  3. Why are Christians doing medical work?

My own answers to these questions are based on eleven years’ experience at L’Hôpital le Bon Samaritain in Limbé, in the Republic of Haiti.

The Nature Of Medical Care Today

Medical progress world-wide is limited to certain geographic and economic groups; great hordes of people today are as desperately in need of even poor medical care as their forefathers. This can be seen even in the United States.

The first obvious fact is the concentration of doctors ...

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