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By JOHN FRIEDLEIN
Severns Valley Baptist Church earlier this month sent a contingent of 16 doctors, nurses and other volunteers to northern Brazil on a mission to heal and evangelize.
Working with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, they visited the small arid town of Juazerio, which is in the “least evangelized state in Brazil,” according to the church.
They saw 690 patients at a free medical clinic and heard 70 “professions of faith,” church members said.
“It was a wonderful trip,” Minister of Media John Rice said. It’s part of a “more intentional focus for us to be witnesses not only in Hardin County but around the world,” he said. Other recent missions have included visits to Mexico and Baltimore.
The Brazil project was a community wide effort. For instance, businesses donated medical supplies, which filled 16 suitcases.
The effort was well-received. Rice, who went on the trip, said he heard some mothers and their babies spent the night outside the clinics to see American doctors and get medicine.
While Dr. Chad Brown saw unusual — for Kentucky, at least — ailments such as leprosy and certain fungal infections, the Brazilians’ medical problems in general weren’t too bad, he said.
Brown was prepared to make the trip as a general practitioner but ended up being a dermatologist, his specialty.
As such, he noticed a need for sunscreen in a country crossed by the Equator. The product isn’t affordable at $50 to $70, and not all of the residents have heavily pigmented skin.
A lack of eyeglasses also was evident. Optometrist Dale Souleyrette “did more than any of us,” Brown said. Some recipients of the roughly 600 pairs of glasses brought on the trip walked out of the clinic crying because they could see clearly.
While the town’s residents have few possessions, they seem happy, Brown said. The medical team “really got a true taste of society” during visits to homes, which were built more for functionality than aesthetic appeal.
The Baptist church there is modest, with only a dozen members. But the five-day Severns Valley visit will help establish it.
“Our main focus was the spiritual aspect of it,” Brown said. It was rewarding to see people come to know Jesus, he said.
Dr. Marshall Johnson posted a comment on the church’s Web site: “We have been able to assist in the medical care of many people but more importantly been able to share our love for Jesus to these people.”
Dr. Marquita Ball also left a message from Brazil.
“This has been the most fun experience. I am tired and hot but happy. I am going to be sad to leave here but I am looking forward to sharing all my stories with you.”
John Friedlein can be reached at (270) 505-1746.