Dental Clinic Opens!
By Chantée Fisher
New sights and sounds have arrived at Congo Frontline Missions (CFM) in the past few months. If you listen closely, you might hear the high pitched hum of the ultrasonic scalar, operating in the newly established dental clinic. If you happen to walk past, you might see a porch and waiting room filled with patients awaiting care.
When Luke Fisher joined the team as Clinic Administrator earlier this year, he brought a vision to provide low cost dental care to the underserved communities in the area. Using his training in Atraumatic Restorative Therapy (repairing cavities with hand tools and filling materials), he planned to train local staff to clean and repair teeth as an avenue of medical ministry.
Plans grew a little more elaborate as CFM was donated a portable drill and suction unit, complete with two foldable dental chairs. We also requested and were donated the ultrasonic scalar from the manufacturer. These items have proven to be a great blessing!
After a few months of hard work, the campus clinic is up and running. Some local nurses have been trained and are rapidly increasing their skill in dealing with cleanings, repairs and extractions.
Out in the villages, the need for access to dental care is acute. Most dentists are in the city, and primarily extract teeth. Cleaning and repairs are not available. The cost of a simple extraction is equivalent to about two weeks of unskilled labor, and a month or more for more complex cases. This puts it well beyond the reach of most villagers, who operate on a very low cash income.
As a case in point: A few months ago Luke and I were riding to church on our motorbike when we passed a lady with an immensely swollen face. We stopped and in our limited French/Swahili vocabulary asked her if we could help her. She replied that she had no money, but we told her to come to our campus clinic anyway. Hers was a true case of suffering. Upon examining her, we discovered she had osteomyelitis in her jaw—the result of an abscessed tooth that had never been removed. Though the case was beyond our scope of experience, we did our best to help her. Luke was able to remove the offending tooth and also a piece of infected jaw bone that had broken loose and was working its way out of her gums. We also started her on antibiotic therapy.
The next time we met, she smiled and said, “The day you took the piece of bone out, my pain went away. I have been sleeping at night for the first time in many months!” How we praised God for the opportunity to help one of His dear children!
Crowd gathers to welcome the dentist in the village
We have started a mobile dental circuit, which takes the clinic into rural areas the first week of every month. We work with the established government clinics in villages where we also have a church plant to provide low cost care to the surrounding area for a few days. So far we have treated 94 patients in the first two trips, and formed good relationships with the rural clinic administrators where we have worked.
Our church planters help with the organization of these trips, and are available to connect with villagers and offer prayer before procedures as we work. On our last trip the team conducted morning worships and evening evangelistic meetings, with the aid of the church planter. It is our goal for the medical work to aid in the spread of the gospel, especially in areas that have been difficult to reach.
In the meanwhile, back at home we have found ourselves reaching out to an unexpected demographic: the wealthier citizens of nearby Kisangani. As news of the “cleaning machine” and reasonable extraction prices has spread, we have found ourselves receiving a steady stream of patients including a number of doctors and nurses from the city hospitals. As we minister to these people, our hope is to share the love of Christ with them while using our earnings to subsidize inexpensive care in the rural areas.
From the editor: We are thrilled to see Luke and Chantee touching & healing people day by day for Jesus. They need funds to purchase extraction tools instead of borrowing them. They need tools for root canals and making false teeth that would help them expand their ministry. With another motorcycle and training materials, they could open a second route for dental missionary work. Please consider helping with funds to expand this exciting healing and soul winning work.
Unto the Least of These
Report on Congo Frontline Missions Dental Outreach
By Luke Fisher
You may know Congo Frontline Missions as a training school in Bible work and evangelism, but this is not the extent of our commission. We are not only a school of how to preach the Gospel but are also a school in how to live the Gospel through practical service.
When we arrived in Congo, we could see that there was a need for medical ministry. People were suffering not only from a lack of care, but more critically a from a lack of health knowledge. We are striving to help meet this need and to empower the church for ministry by training local Adventist laymen and healthcare workers in a deeper understanding of physiology, effective approaches to disease treatment and the natural laws of health.
One of the acute needs in our region is access to dental care. For the last three years, we have been able to offer training not only in dental extractions but also in effective, low- cost, methods of preventative and restorative care.
Since our pilot dental training program started in 2013, we have trained 11 dental therapists, have held many dozens of low-cost and free outreach clinics, and have treated near to 2000 patients, and have seen physical lives saved from infection as well as hearts given to God. We have found that this ministry is not only an effective way to connect with the people of a community but also with community leaders. The director of the very first public health center that hosted our mobile dental team was baptized last year, and we have now received invitations to work communities that have thus far been closed to traditional evangelism and church planting work.
As we move forward, we are seeking to expand this ministry in a sustainable and dynamic way. We plan to to assist graduates in starting self-sufficient dental outreach clinics. These will be self-funded for worker salaries, supplies, and other operating expenses. Congo Frontline Missions will loan durable tools and other permanent equipment to these clinics on a long-term basis provided that the clinics coordinate with district pastors and area church planters in supporting regional evangelistic efforts. This they will do by providing one week per month of low-cost outreach clinics to targeted communities in addition to assisting with teaching and preaching.
These plans are not just a dream for the future. These two projects were made possible by the generous support of the 2015 ASI offering.
But what about the future? This is where you, faithful reader, come in. We have urgent need for outreach clinics in each of our outlying church planting hub communities. These communities have no dental care access whatsoever and are in desperate need. Our next critical target area is the down-river region of Basoko. We have two medical missionary dental therapists that are ready to go with their families, but we need funds to send them, to buy the needed equipment, pay a rent deposit on the clinic building, and obtain the proper registration with the Ministry of Health. In total we calculate that it costs approximately $5,000 to setup each new tent-maker outreach clinic team.
As this year draws to a close, please consider supporting your medical missionary brothers and sisters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is an investment in the Kingdom that will keep on giving.
Eight trained Dental Assistants with Luke Fisher
These workers will be placed in remote villages serving those who need dental care as well as spiritual nourishment
Luke and trained assistants holding a dental clinic in a remote village
Here they have set up the clinic in a One-Day Church