Thousands of missionaries, doctors, nurses, dentists and healthcare professionals will gather for the Global Missions Health Conference at Southeast Christian Church’s Blankenbaker Campus Nov. 7-9. They come to learn, network and be encouraged. About 800 students pursuing degrees in healthcare will be in that crowd.
The GMHC is more than the largest medical missions conference in the world. It is a community of people who believe medical missions can change the world.
“It is easy for medical professionals to take for granted the gift of healing they have received,” said Charlie Vittitow, who leads Southeast’s Missions Ministry. “The GMHC has helped medical professionals for more than two decades to leverage this God-given gift of healing for God’s fame and glory.”
Cambron Rich leads high school students from Southeast on mission trips around the world. Many plan to attend GMHC.
“GMHC is such a unique event because it helps us see what God is up to all over the world,” Rich said. “It’s easy to limit our vision to what He’s doing in our community. He’s changing lives all over the planet, working through all kinds of people in all kinds of places.”
This year, the theme of the GMHC hits close to home for every family, healthcare professional and mission with an emphasis on opioid addiction.
The crisis is real and pervasive.
One in 20 adults, or about 250 million people worldwide, use illicit drugs, according to the 2016 World Drug Report.
According to the latest statistics, half of the population knows someone dealing with chemical addiction. Addicts are sons and daughters, friends and kids raised in church. Drugs are pervasive in countries around the world: Afghanistan, the world’s top producer of heroin, Iran, Russia, Maldives, Ukraine, Pakistan and the list goes on.
“We’re trying to create a better understanding of what’s happening in global opiate addiction, where it came from and how we reached this place,” said Will Rogers, executive director of the GMHC.
Plenary sessions are free and open to the public. Continuing education credits for healthcare professionals are available.
The conference will include an opioid walkthrough that shows the historical impact of opioids, how drugs affect the brain, lungs and digestive system, how opioids wreck lives and how the crisis impacts healthcare professionals.
In addition to focus on opioid addiction, speakers also will cover critical topics such as equipping indigenous people, HIV/AIDS, orphan and vulnerable children, refugee crisis, meeting the spiritual needs of patients, innovations in medical missions, disaster relief, human trafficking, unreached people groups, wound care, the theology of suffering and communicating with Muslims.
Speakers are leaders in missions around the world who speak from experience. They lead mission organizations in Ghana, India, Nigeria, Burundi, Kenya and many countries closed to the Gospel.
Cory Bledsoe, executive director of Re:Center Ministries, an outreach to homeless people in downtown Louisville, will speak at the conference.
“Addiction is globalizing along with the world,” he said. “It’s in sex trafficking, commerce and the drug trade. What we see in Louisville is similar to what addiction looks like in European countries, Asia, Africa and South America. We see it in refugees, who have been traumatized by war, devastation and poverty, who use drugs to escape life.”
The mission at Re:Center is to reconcile hurting people to God and community through partnership with the local church. It’s the same goal as many mission ministries around the world.
“Jesus came for the sick,” Bledsoe said. “The Gospel is for those not in their right mind, those who are marginalized and broken. Jesus came for everyone. God’s grace is sufficient whether they’re sniffing glue, using heroin or fentanyl with years in addiction and a trail of broken relationships. Reconciliation to God is possible.”
Host homes are needed for registrants from around the world. Many who are traveling long distances across international borders are waiting for visa clearance.
For info or to register for the conference, visit www.medicalmissions.com.