By Jennifer Taylor
4545 Southeastern Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Rick Wolford, Executive Director
“You don’t send ice skates to Honduras.” Rick Wolford, executive director of FAME, smiles as he explains the ministry’s insistence on sending only good quality, usable medical equipment to the field. But the illustration is fitting; FAME understands its role as a leader in medical evangelism and targets its efforts on accomplishing this mission with excellence.
“That’s been one of our biggest challenges in responding to the Haitian earthquake,” Wolford says. “We received requests to help with construction projects and other initiatives and we did help some partners repair their buildings. But our donors are giving to medical missions, and we needed to focus our response on providing medical help.”
In addition to sending large teams to Haiti, FAME coordinates short-term trips to Africa and South America. And while the teams include many doctors, nurses, and other health-care professionals, FAME also welcomes people with no medical training.
“We need people who can pray with patients, care for the children of adults being treated, register new arrivals, or even count pills in a pharmacy,” Wolford says. “One person told me, ‘I’m a good hugger.’ I said, ‘Great! Hugs are needed.’ These are meaningful contributions to the team.”
FAME also works with missionaries to buy or build medical facilities and to ship medicine and other supplies. Depending on the location and the need, FAME may release funds to build a small hospital, a clinic, or even a mobile medical unit.
“Often nationals have the ability to run a facility but don’t have the resources to build the initial structure,” he says. “Our application process functions almost like a foundation giving out grants; the missions must demonstrate their financial needs and their ability to perform certain tasks. We also want them to share what the needs are. Then we will work with them to determine the best option.”
This focus on development instead of relief is part of a larger commitment to Community Health Evangelism, a philosophy integrating spiritual and physical ministry and helping local citizens take ownership of long-term solutions.
FAME also provides scholarships to young men and women pursuing medical careers in their native countries. Missions refer the candidates and provide oversight of the program; FAME disburses the money to the missions.
“The key is that after graduation the student makes a two-year commitment to work for that mission,” says Wolford. “We’re looking for young people who will see their medical skills as a path to ministry, not just a job.”
In every program, FAME remains focused on its mission.
“Spiritual and physical healing are connected,” Wolford says. “We open doors for the gospel by treating medical needs with compassion and love.”
Jennifer Taylor, one of CHRISTIAN STANDARD’s contributing editors, lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Read her blog at www.seejenwrite.com.