By Jacob Moyer
A trip to Memphis? Or the Beginning of a lifelong Journey?
“Is any among you sick? Then let them call for the leaders of the church…” James 5:14
On October 24, Justin Owens and I began the ten hour drive to Memphis, Tennessee to visit the Church Health Center and attend their replication workshop. Along the way we ran out of gas on a major highway, discussed discipleship with three Christian rappers over an IHOP breakfast, and stayed in a hostel that felt a little bit like a reality TV show.
As unexpected as all of those experiences were, I know that neither of us were prepared for the calling that the Church Health Center would help plant in our hearts. 25 years ago Dr. Scott Morris, an ordained Methodist Minister, partnered with St. John’s Methodist Church in Memphis, Tennessee to open a faith based health clinic. Their mission was to reclaim the Church’s biblical commitment to care for a person’s body and spirit by providing health care to Memphis’ working poor.
Dr. Morris was the first person to speak to us during the workshop, and explained how the development of the modern for-profit hospital systems allowed the Church to take a back seat in caring for the body. Over the course of the next two days however, we would see how the vision of Dr. Morris had become the unified vision of everyone involved at The Church Health Center, from the Director of First Impressions to the Director of the Wellness Center. We would then see how that unified vision had translated practically into hundreds of thousands of working poor receiving everything from a health checkup to surgery at a cost that they could afford.
Witnessing how the Church Health Center helped thousands of people physically was overwhelming on its own. Trying to comprehend the number of people who have begun to look towards a Loving Savior because of the actions of his people is a Joy that cannot be fully expressed on this side of eternity. I have now turned my sights on the New River Valley. Montgomery County is the poorest county in the state of Virginia with 20 percent of its population living below the federal poverty line and the surrounding areas are not much better off. These numbers, the example set by The Church Health Center, and the desire set in my heart by Northstar to “Be the Church” have left me with a vision for providing health care to the less fortunate in this area.
It seems that a weekend trip to Memphis has turned into a journey that could last for a lifetime. Will you join me? Or perhaps the real question is will you follow Him?