By Laura McKillip Wood
Dr. Dennis Pruett was born in West Virginia, the son of a coal miner. During World War II, he served as a naval aviator and received a Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross. When he returned from the war, he became a surgeon; later he and his wife began serving as medical missionaries in Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe.
The Pruetts raised their family there and had a productive medical ministry. They were convinced they could most effectively share the gospel by partnering with Christian nationals working in the medical field, so in 1985 they began a ministry called HASTEN International to spread medical ministry to other countries as well.
Dennis Pruett said,
Medical evangelism is the best way in the world to put Christian ideals into action. You see with your eyes, touch with your hands, and feel with your heart the love Christ had for people when he helped them. This is made wonderful when you see the appreciation from a people who now understand that the love God had for all mankind is manifested by his servants.
Since then, HASTEN—which stands for Health And Salvation To Every Nation—has worked tirelessly to provide medical care for people in Zimbabwe, India, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Mexico.
HASTEN supports Christian doctors who live in the area with their families. They create ministry opportunities through their medical practices, which then provide them opportunities to start churches. HASTEN calls it a merger of medical and ministry.
HASTEN’s work began in the country where Dr. Dennis Pruett had already established a ministry. In fact, Christian Standard provided half of the funds for the Mashoko Christian Hospital in the 1950s, with that nation’s government providing the other half.
Built in 1959, Mashoko Christian Hospital is now known as “the hospital in that part of the country,” according to Dr. Darel Pruett, the founder’s son.
The hospital provides medical care to people in the bush, but its doctors and staff do not stop there. They also provide spiritual care to people, praying with them and showing them the love of Christ while ministering to their physical needs. HASTEN also supports a school and has a variety of ministries in Zimbabwe.
Dr. Darel Pruett has served as president of HASTEN since his father’s death in 2014, continuing the legacy of service through medical care.
In India, HASTEN supports Drs. David and Sunisha Henry and their sons, Drs. David and Dennis Henry. Dr. David Henry Sr. is a dermatologist specializing in infectious diseases. He was inspired by his father, who started a hospital for people with leprosy. His wife is an ophthalmologist.
They now lead several hospitals and have started eight rural churches outside Delhi. They also operate several schools that provide children with education and the skills they need to become productive adults. Some of their students have gone on to work with the ministry, helping provide for the needs of others in their communities.
The Indian government recently has made it more difficult for Christians to minister and evangelize, but these doctors have been able to continue their medical work.
Dr. Dan Adolphe has ministered to people in Haiti for years. In the early 2000s, Reggie Thomas of White Fields Overseas Evangelism introduced Dr. Adolphe to HASTEN after seeing his passion for ministering to the physical needs of people as a way of ministering to their spiritual needs. Dr. Adolphe is a general practitioner and has a staff of about 10.
Since the earthquake and during the political unrest of the nation, Dr. Adolphe has been able to continue faithfully ministering to those who need that love and compassion the most.
HASTEN supports a medical clinic in Monclova, a city in northern Mexico. In this clinic, Francis Nash coordinates the work with medical professionals, a nurse works in the pharmacy, and the daughter of the clinic’s first doctor, Rosario Fuentes, works as a dentist. A mobile clinic provides care to people living in the desert, driving out to them several times a year. This care is done in conjunction with the 14 Churches of Christ in the area and care is accompanied by prayer and spiritual support.
Changes and Future Plans
Later this year, Dr. Darel Pruett will retire from his position as president of HASTEN, and Pete Kunkle will become the new CEO. (Kunkle will retire as founding pastor of First Christian Church in Kernersville, N.C.—now The Crossing Church—in August; see “New Name and Pastoral Transition at N.C. Church” on our website.) HASTEN is currently working on a new partnership with medical professionals in Colombia, and Kunkle hopes HASTEN will begin supporting that work soon.
HASTEN’S current initiative, 1,000 Friends of HASTEN, seeks 1,000 new partners to support the work of HASTEN through prayer and financial contributions. Additionally, HASTEN hopes to add a domestic mobile medical unit to provide medical care to impoverished areas of the United States where people do not have access to adequate and affordable medical care.
For more information about HASTEN International or to become one of the 1,000 Friends of HASTEN, visit their website at hasteninternational.org.
Laura McKillip Wood, former missionary to Ukraine, lives in Papillion, Nebraska, and writes about missions for Christian Standard.