To the ends of the earth: Bringing physical and spiritual care to indigenous communities in the Amazon

by Meredith Rose on July 1, 2022 in News

When Anna Clark, a premed biology student at East Texas Baptist University, tested positive for COVID-19 just days before she was scheduled to leave on a Go Now mission trip in January 2022, she didn’t know that God would be equipping her for something bigger.

He quickly began to reveal this.

“All throughout the period of not going on the trip, God brought out different areas of my life where I needed to grow — areas of fear and where I was not fully trusting Him,” Clark said. “One area of fear was in sharing the gospel. Even though I grew up in church and had done it before, I wasn’t 100% comfortable. But God provided. There was an evangelism training on campus, and I also got to go to Beach Reach and had lots of opportunities to practice sharing my faith there. He was equipping me to go on the next trip.”

Clark knew that she would sign up for another Go Now mission trip, but the Lord still needed to reveal to her when and where He wanted her to go. He did this at Discovery Weekend — a retreat for students to help them discover the next steps God has for them in missions.

Going into Discovery Weekend, Clark still felt very called to France and Italy, which was where she would have gone on her original trip. She also saw that Go Now was taking a medical mission trip to the Amazon. It interested her but was her second choice.

“I am a licensed vocational nurse (LVN), but being back at school, I hadn’t worked in the medical field in a little over a year. That and past experiences made me nervous to jump back in. It’s a hard line of work,” she said. “But then, I heard the Lord say, ‘Anna, you need to give me this. I want to redeem this in your life and show you what it’s like when I’m the focus.’ And so I responded, ‘Ok, Lord. I want to be where You want me to be.’”

Planting and sowing gospel seeds

So Clark followed God’s call and joined a team of six students and volunteers as they embarked on a journey to share the gospel through medical missions in Brazil.

“Just to give you a little glimpse at how far into the ends of the earth we went — our trip there consisted of three plane rides, a car taxi ride, a water taxi ride and another car taxi. All that was just to the hotel we stayed at,” she said.

For a portion of the trip, Clark’s team operated a clinic in an indigenous community in the Amazon — a unique opportunity as special permission from the government is usually required to enter indigenous villages. However, this one was open to missionaries.

“We took another car ride until the road stopped, walked almost a mile on basically a sidewalk that motorcyclists used from both directions, waded through the Amazon River, then walked a little further to reach the local church where we set up the clinic,” she said.

While there, the team treated over 300 patients. They helped diagnose physical ailments like irregular heartbeats and abdominal aortic aneurysms, as well as helped their patients understand basic medical education. They also seeked to diagnose their patients' spiritual life.

The clinic was set up in four stages — the first was triage where nurses checked patients’ vitals and medical history. Then patients moved to spiritual triage to assess their spiritual symptoms, hear the gospel and be prayed over. Lastly, patients saw the doctor and visited the pharmacy.

“On the second day in the village, I was working in spiritual triage and a woman and her young son came in. When I asked her who Jesus was to her, she had no idea who I was talking about,” Clark said. “I immediately shared the gospel with her. She wasn’t ready to respond, but I prayed over her. I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me, and I prayed that someone else would come along and share the gospel with her again today.”

Later that day, Clark found out that the woman had received the gospel message again during her visit with the doctor, and she accepted Christ.

“It was so amazing that Dr. Lee ended up sharing the gospel with her again. I was the sower planting those seeds,” said Clark. “Dr. Lee’s main focus was always spiritual. She reminded us that we need to help them in the ways we can physically, but we should always be ready to share the gospel.”

When asked why she recommends other students take a Go Now mission trip, Clark said, “It’s a wonderful experience to learn about different cultures and the people God created. It is also a chance to join in and see God’s view instead of ours and grow in your faith. You also get to meet so many other missionaries. You learn who the body of Christ is and how God uses each of us.

To learn more about Go Now Missions and the incredible impact student missionaries are making all over the world, click here.

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