In one version of the Great Commission, Jesus told His followers to go into all the world (Mark 16:15). In another, He said to take His love from the home base of Jerusalem to the farthest reaches of the world (Acts 1:8). In every case, He challenged His people to make a difference around the world.
One valuable way medical professionals fulfill that call is through global health mission trips. Whether long-term or short-term, the impact of a global health mission trip can resonate within communities around the world for years to come.
If you haven’t taken part in a mission trip focused on global health, as God leads, this may be the time.
Before we can dig into global health mission trips, we need to understand what global health really means. As the name suggests, global health relates to any health problem that affects the world. This differs from public health in terms of scope. While public health deals more with local or community problems, global health speaks to situations that involve nations or groups of nations.
In general, global health issues fall into two broad categories. First, global health advocates address physical or emotional wellness issues. This primarily relates to the treatment and prevention of various diseases. For example, risks related to illnesses like HIV/AIDS and diabetes are among the top concerns for global health workers because they affect so many people in so many places. Likewise, disease education and prevention fall under the category of physical global health issues.
The second category could be called cultural or policy concerns. These issues deal with the negative impact social expectations or government actions can have on global health. For instance, the availability of clean water and access to proper hygiene are problems in many regions. Also, poverty, refugee crises, and natural disasters present global health concerns.
From a Christian perspective, many medical missionaries and missions organizations view all global health issues through the lens of the Great Commission. For these groups, such as the Global Health Missions Conference, working toward solutions is an important way of serving as the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. And mission trips focused on global health are part of the equation.
Meeting the needs of suffering people in underserved areas is not just a good idea. It’s a divine mandate rooted in Jesus’s command to serve the “least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46). That’s why so many organizations are working to answer God’s call through global health mission trips.
The list below includes five organizations that offer mission trips related to global health issues. Their influence reaches around the world through both short-term and long-term opportunities. Above all, they seek to make a difference for people, for nations, and for the kingdom of God.
Global Health Outreach is the missions arm of Christian Medical and Dental Associates (CMDA). As part of its work, GHO provides long-term and short-term global health mission trips in a variety of nations. These trips involve basic health care, education for disease prevention, support for local medical professionals, surgical care, and dental care. Since medical professionals have access to areas that forbid traditional missionaries, GHO places special emphasis on unreached groups in difficult settings.
Some disasters are the result of nature. Some are man-made. All of them are the focus of Medical Teams International. The global health mission trips from Medical Teams International cover everything from hurricane relief to helping ease suffering during a refugee crisis. Serving primarily in Africa and South America, Medical Teams International also works to improve maternal and childhood health in underserved regions.
One key to solving a medical crisis is teaching people how to avoid it in the first place. Such education and disease prevention programs are part of the global health initiatives supported by Heart to Heart International. In addition to education, Heart to Heart also works to provide greater access to medicines. In addition, the agency recognizes the impact of some global health issues on the United States, so it offers medicine, equipment, and community support closer to home.
The major focus on Global Health Reach is providing global health mission trips that will produce long-term results. The agency believes that partnerships are key to resolving global health issues As a result, Global Health Reach sponsors both long-term and short-term global health trips, but every opportunity plugs into a support system for local professionals. By providing follow-up with regular trips, Global Health Reach can have an impact on an area’s global health concerns for decades.
Another agency rooted in partnership is Christian Connections for International Health. Through their network of individuals and organizations. CCIH advocates for effective solutions to global health crises. In addition to health issues, CCIH global health mission trips attempt to connect best practices with faith in a way that produces wholeness for individuals and communities.
Some things haven’t changed much since Jesus issued the Great Commission more than 2,000 years ago. Many around the world are still hurting and still need the power of the gospel in their lives. And one proven way to earn a hearing for the gospel is to meet people where they are and to provide relief for their suffering.
That’s what makes global health mission trips so important. As a medical professional or student, you have the chance to use your skills and abilities to make a difference in the world. You can apply your passions on a mission trip focused on global health concerns.
All it takes for you to become part of the solution is a divine call and a willing heart. As God leads, you can be the one God uses to transform the life of someone struggling with a global health crisis today.
Medical Missions serves to connect your professional skills and biblical calling to the largest database of healthcare mission organizations, professionals, and thought leadership. Join us at the Global Missions Health Conference to find your Medical Missions calling. Or, browse our full list of partner organizations to find the right mission for you.