"I have a heart for both my profession, in medicine, and church planting. How do I choose between these? Or can I do both?"
"Be prepared to serve in a variety of ways and partner with others."
I consider that nothing I do medically will do any lasting good without a church in the community. Therefore, I would like to take (instead of my doctor's bag) a Bible teacher under each arm!
Read everything you can that has been written by Dr. Paul Brand and Dr. John Patrick. Dr. Brand pointed out that "nobody who goes to the mission field ever does what they thought they were going to do."
"You can certainly do both."
I came as a medical missionary and am preaching, helping plant churches and assist in many other areas. You do have to decide which you think will be your priority and put that first in any case. As a medical missionary, I have used my talents in the medical field to open the doors for evangelism, which is at the heart of my being a missionary.
"In many places you can do both."
In many places, you can do both. In highly restricted countries, you will not be able to do outright church planting. However, your witness will be even more important there because there are probably very few groups of believers, let alone registered churches.
Some mission organizations will emphasize one; some the other; some will seek to do both.
Service in Jesus' name in a holistic manner sows the seeds for the church to be planted. If you are part of a team, some may spend more of their time giving health care or meeting other needs, and some doing direct church planting.
"Carve out the time for church-planting."
A profession like healthcare will consume all your time if you allow it to do so, but if you can be part of a medical team, you can carve out time to work with nationals in planting a church. The first church planted in our work in Bangladesh now has a plaque announcing the names of the people who planted that church. Of the five names on the plaque, two are doctors and one is a nurse.
"Yes. Prepare to do both."
You can certainly do both, and I would encourage any medical missionary to seek to be prepared to do both. Medical ministry is an expression of Christ's love and concern for people. As we build relationships with people, we naturally share who we are with them and seek to lead them into a relationship with God. Those who believe, we disciple. If we are actively involved in evangelism and discipleship here in North America, why would we quit when we go overseas? (If we aren't involved in evangelism and discipleship here, why would we think we would start doing it over there?)
Many good schools offer a missions track for medical people to prepare them for cross-cultural ministry.
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