Is Rural America the new Inner City

Breakout Session
Main Building FH 131
P, AAFP, PA, NP, N, D (1 hour)

"Rural America" conjures up warm, innocent images from Norman Rockwell paintings. Today, however, small town America could not be further from this picture. Broken homes, epidemic drug abuse, staggering unemployment, and paralyzing depression have ravaged these once nostalgic streets. We’re not in Mayberry anymore!

God has called all of us to serve, yet medical missions in rural America have been neglected due to the needs of other parts of the world. When we survey the desperate needs in less populated areas and the lack of access to quality healthcare, it is obvious there is a deficiency. Rural hospitals are closing. Funding is low. Providers are led to other more “obvious” mission fields. In reality, 46.2 million people live in nonmetropolitan counties — that’s nearly 15 percent of U.S. residents spread across 72 percent of the Nation's land area. Who will care for the rural poor?

Dr. Thomas will share about his journey from India to Appalachia. He serves as the Medical Director at Dayspring Family Health Center and co-pastors a local church, answering a call to serve vulnerable and marginalized communities. Despite the many challenges of such a ministry, he is learning to experience the rich rewards of caring for the least of these in rural Tennessee. Listen as he shares his stories of serving God in a way he never asked or imagined.

Participants will be able to describe the medical, social, spiritual disparities of rural communities.

Objectives

1. To encourage participants to understand the desperate needs of rural America and to appreciate it as true mission field.
2. To encourage participants to see how they are uniquely wired by God as they seek to thrive in a mission settings
3. To help participants listen for God's will and not compromise along the way.