September 2019 – A brand new mom, I was terrified as the physician walked into the exam room holding my baby’s test results.
“It’s alright, Mom,” said Dr. Murphy. “It’s nothing to worry over. His white counts are fine.”
He waited for my sigh of relief; it was not forthcoming. So, the doctor sat down at his desk, opened a drawer, and pulled out his sketch pad and pencils. He wrote my child’s name, Jacob, in large letters down the side of the paper. Continuing his work on the sketch pad, Dr. Murphy began speaking with medical expertise and precision about my unwarranted anxiety.
Eventually, he handed me a colorful acrostic (photo, above) with a scriptural notation below each letter of my child’s name: J-oyful, A-lert, C-alled, O-rderly, and B-old.
I accepted the artwork and the doctor’s request to pray over my baby.
“May Jacob one day exhibit each of these godly attributes in his life,” he prayed. “Guard, guide, and protect him, Lord. And may he always be a man after your own heart.”
As the doctor ended his prayer, I sighed deeply and murmured, “Amen.”
Jacob is 38 now, and he does indeed possess those godly attributes. Admittedly, the “orderliness” was an acquired trait, acquired after much prayer and admonition by Mom and Dad.
I framed that acrostic for Jacob’s nursery wall. And I’ll always be grateful for Dr. Murphy’s caring prayer.
– Joy Lucius
What if all Christian doctors approached patient care with the same mission-minded compassion as Dr. Murphy? Many do.
In fact, one particular ministry, Christian Medical and Dental Association, believes health care that connects faith and medicine can transform the world. CMDA’s vision statement is “Transforming doctors, transforming the world.”
CEO Dr. David Stevens explained to AFA Journal how CMDA addresses both the physical and spiritual needs of Christian medical professionals and their patients, with an end goal of glorifying God. Accordingly, CMDA helps medical professionals cultivate and nurture their faith within the context of their daily practices.
“CMDA strives to strengthen and undergird its membership of Christian health care professionals in every aspect of their walk with Christ,” said Stevens. “We offer members close to 50 different ministries in 4 key areas we label as transformation, service, equipping, and voice.”
Stevens believes global transformation begins with evangelism and discipleship of future doctors and dentists. CMDA reaches potential health care professionals through a campus ministry known as CMDA Student Life. A network of Student Life chapters meets weekly on 310 college campuses, reaching more than 90% of America’s medical and dental schools.
Student Life chapters were traditionally situated on campuses of Christian medical colleges. In recent years, the focus has expanded to include secular campus chapters, as well as students of optometry, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. CMDA is specifically striving to reach medical students earlier through its discipleship and evangelism efforts.
Learning to serve others in need, without recompense, is the next logical step in spiritual transformation. Therefore, CMDA challenges, trains, and sustains health care professionals as a means of missions outreach, both domestically and internationally. Likewise, it produces servants by serving and walking alongside members throughout their careers.
“Medical missions is one of the best ways to carry the gospel into difficult-to-access countries,” Stevens remarked. “Typically, Christians find a variety of ways to get into these areas, like teaching English as a second language.
“But often they get ‘found out’ and thrown out. Yet, health care professionals who are discovered to be Christians are often asked to stay in these countries since the medical needs are so great.”
Additionally, through its Center for Medical Missions, CMDA seeks new ways to advance the cause of health missions and international health care. Serving globally, it offers partnerships, strategies, resources, and opportunities to enhance and undergird health care missionaries.
Global Health Outreach is another service component of CMDA. Forty to fifty GHO teams travel annually in short-term international mission projects to places such as El Salvador, East Africa, Central Asia, Nicaragua, India, and other parts of the world. Partnering with ministry groups already working in these places, GHO teams provide primary care medicine, dentistry, and surgical services in small and large hospitals.
Furthermore, CMDA’s Medical Education International arm gives members additional opportunities to serve in both academic and clinical training facilitates, teaching fellow physicians in hard-to-access places. With a heart for spreading the gospel, fully trained teams of doctors teach on requested health care topics.
“Members must be equipped properly in order to serve,” said Stevens. “As our third area of ministry, we want to equip our members and the church. This is where we desire to see health care professionals and the church come alongside each other, getting Paul and Luke working together, so to speak.”
CMDA equips both its members and the church through several avenues, and education has proven to be quite a powerful one. The ministry offers members a wide range of online continuing education courses on timely topics. One of the organization’s most innovative educational tools, Standards4Life, can be accessed publicly on the CMDA website.
Standards4Life clearly addresses relevant questions on topics such as abortion, physician-assisted suicide, homosexuality, vaccinations, and stem-cell research in succinct, understandable language. Each standard can be reprinted by individuals and churches for use in sermon series, bulletins, and Sunday
“These are issues we are all struggling with,” Stevens said. “We look at what the Bible says about these topics and what impact they could have on us socially and ethically.”
Finding a voice
For medical professionals, these issues are critical, especially in areas of right of conscience and public policy. Therefore, as a final area of ministry, CMDA helps members find a voice to publicly address such issues directly with an educated, well-prepared biblical worldview.
In fact, on the day of AFAJ’s interview with Dr. Stevens, he and other CMDA leaders were meeting in a studio setting with several members in an intensive media training session. Each participant was scheduled to do multiple mock interviews on pertinent ethical topics.
“Through a cadre of people and resources, we teach these members how to do print, TV, and radio interviews,” Stevens explained. “Then, when media from a certain region of the country calls about a current event, we can refer them to one of our trained Christian
Not only do medical professionals find a voice through CMDA training, these Christian men and women are also giving a global voice to godly principles and precepts. And it all goes hand in hand, according to Stevens. Whether it involves transforming, serving, equipping, or finding a voice for its members, CMDA is dedicated to the advancement of biblical principles of health care in a culture as a witness of Christ’s love and compassion to all people.
▶ Go to www.cmda.org for membership guidelines or for more information on Christian Medical and Dental Association resources, including the Standards4Life.
▶ In his book Jesus, M.D., Dr. David Stevens chronicles his 11 years as a medical missionary at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya. (See AFAJ book review here.)