Considering Medical Missions in all its Different Forms: A Viewpoint from the Asia-Pacific Region
Whereas some medical missionaries may already have moved away from “traditional” models of medical mission, in the experience of the authors from the Asia-Pacific region, many potential medical missionaries in the region still imagine a stereotypical generalist medical missionary who runs a mission hospital.
The authors argue that with the economic and socio-political development of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in recent decades, the landscape for medical missions has changed. Hence, contemporary medical missionaries should be well-advised to have specialist qualifications and be more likely to teach, mentor, and do research rather than only doing hands-on clinical work. Professionalism and quality, rather than “make-do,” should be the norm. There are more opportunities to partner with and strengthen existing local institutions rather than setting up a Christian health service. Furthermore, mission opportunities may be available in academia, government, or secular organisations, including places where Christianity has a hostile reception. Multi-disciplinary expertise and collaboration within health services are increasingly important and provide another opportunity for missions. Medical missionaries may also come from other LMICs, or from within the same country. Job-sharing, self-funding, or fly-in-fly-out, may be a viable and legitimate means of sending more medical missionaries.
These non-traditional models of medical mission that incorporate a diversity of approaches, but without sacrificing the “traditional” missional values and practices, should allow even more people to serve in medical missions. The purpose of this paper is to survey this topic in hope of stimulating discussions on non-traditional medical mission opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
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