In the early morning of July 9, 2018, when most people are asleep, residents of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines, began to line up at the city coliseum for the opening of a large medical clinic outreach in the province. The initiative, dubbed “AWR Mega Medical Clinic,” ran for three days.
The clinic, a joint effort by Adventist World Radio (AWR) and LifeSource International Medical Clinics, a humanitarian service associated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, offered residents a wide range of free medical services. Patients gained access to dental care, medical consultation, minor surgeries, optical services, laboratory tests, a pharmacy, and counseling. The mega-clinic is an event leading toward the “Palawan for Christ” evangelistic meetings, which are taking place in the city coliseum July 13-29. At the same time, the “Palawan for Christ” program is part of the greater “Philippines for Christ” movement that will host evangelistic meetings throughout the country in the remaining months of 2018.
The evening before opening day of the clinic, those who lived several kilometers from the provincial capital started traveling to the city coliseum in hopes of being first in line. As soon as the doors opened at 8:00 a.m., an initial count showed that 400 patients stepped in immediately for health checks.
“We see the enormity of this work, and we know the challenges that are ahead of us,” said Palawan Adventist Mission president Danilo Malabad. “When we realize that we are called to do the impossible work unfolding before us, we can’t help but get more excited to see how everything is working according to God’s leading.”
Palawan media outlets shared information about the clinic across the province. Along with airing news and announcements, local TV and radio stations and newspapers sent reporters to a press conference. Also present at the press conference were reporters from the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and several regional and local outlets.
“Media outlets have done an amazing job in sharing this information the quickest way possible,” said LifeSource International Medical Clinics president Lela Lewis. “It would not have been possible if everyone had not been working together.”
Lay organizations also promoted the event for several weeks before the July 9 launch.
A contingent of the local government, led by Puerto Princesa city mayor Lucilo Bayron, visited the mega-clinic and commended the initiative for its service and its gesture of compassion toward the city. Other public servants who stopped by the clinic were city councilors Jimmy Carbonell and Henry Gadiano, who also expressed their gratitude to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
During the city hall’s flag ceremony on the first morning of the event, Bayron said that it is a privilege for Puerto Princesa to be chosen as the venue of this initiative. “We are thankful to the Seventh-day Adventist Church for conducting humanitarian efforts in our city by providing free medical assistance,” he said. “We are thankful that you have chosen our city as a beneficiary of your ongoing commitment to share God’s blessings to the world.”
Pediatrician volunteer Terrell French, who is part of a medical team from the United States, tells her experience as she dealt with the language barrier. “It was truly challenging, but when a 12-year-old Filipino girl approached me and said she would help me to communicate with my patients, I felt at that moment that she was heaven-sent.”
After that, French said, she was able to treat 12 patients in a short time.
Elisa Roda, a U.S.-based nurse who joined the medical mission, saw how much medical assistance is needed in this part of the world. “Living with all the comfort you have back home and seeing how people need compassion and help in this place has been life-changing,” she said. “It is a remarkable experience, knowing that God used you as a channel of healing to others.”
Representatives of various other Adventist organizations also were present. The North Philippine Union Conference and Adventist hospitals, along with other health-care institutions, lent medical assistance to help make the project a success.
The final count from all wards and departments showed that the mega-clinic served 8,742 patients throughout the three days.
“We are a global church with a global mission. It is the reason [the initiative] has been so special to me,” said Lewis after conducting a surgery. “When we work together, no matter where we come from, God will give us success.”