From October 25 to 27, 2018, the first traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) conference organized by Bethesda Volunteer Service Center (BVSC) was held in the city of Wenzhou, Zhejiang. Coming from all across China, people serving in TCM healthcare and medical treatment gathered together to discuss how to serve China, even the surrounding countries through Chinese medicine and free clinics.
The conference was planned and organized by the BVSC. Formerly known as the Bethesda Gospel Medical Task Force, the center was founded in 2011. At the conference, BVSC staff told the amazing story of when BVSC was established, and also shared about the free clinic work carried out in recent years.
In March 2011, at a large conference in Bangkok, Thailand, brothers of Bethesda met a Mr. An, an elderly gentleman who was in his 80s. He was imprisoned for 25 years during a special time in Thailand. However to him, in his heart, this time was not a tribulation. It was because of the Lord. He said, "It is God who kept me in a safe place for 25 years."
Mr. An's great love of the Lord inspired the BVSC staff. They also heard how foreign missionaries had spent enormous amounts of financial resources to help Chinese Christians print the Bible at a time when there was no Bible in mainland China.
This trip made the staff see that China should rise up to bless the world. They realized that the best way to evangelize was by giving medical care and showing love. The poorest places are often the most backward, and behind poverty is often found the ravages of disease and the privation of souls. The Bethesda Gospel Medical Team (BGMT) was therefore established. They hoped that God could use them to impact lives and show God's grace so that more people could be healed.
From 2011 to 2015, the medical team's impact had spread across the Yunnan border in China to the southeast Asian nations of Myanmar, Thailand, and Malaysia. The number of doctors also grew from one to a medical team consisting of more than 100 staff.
Later, in order to address the issues of doctors' leaves and scheduling, the Chun Guang Tang (Spring Sun Temple) Chinese Medicine Clinic was founded in 2015 and is now one of the local designated medical insurance units. In January 2017, Bethesda gained the authorities' approval, was officially established as the Bethesda Volunteer Service Centre, and obtained a private, non-profit organization certificate.
The reason that the medical team chose Chinese medicine was that Chinese medicine is one of quintessential elements of China and Chinese culture. Chinese medicine is also not very dependent on instruments and so therefore very convenient for the clinic. Later, after Dr. Liang joined the organization, the medical team didn't even need to carry many herbs with them while the free clinic was mobile. They simply needed to take needles for acupuncture which was much easier.
In conjunction with medical services, there were also music ministries. When the free clinic was on the road, the staff spent most of their days in clinics and held concerts in the evenings.
In January 2018, they conducted free medical care in the Pingyang and Longwan areas of Wenzhou city and participated in joint public welfare events initiated by local social service centers. From March 5 to 16, they then headed to the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, and Lashi in Myanmar to conduct more free medical care. Every day they treated nearly 100 people. After returning to China, the free clinic moved to Zhaotong in Yunnan province.
Through this conference, they hoped that more Chinese medicine practitioners would join them, follow in the footsteps of the early missionaries, and let China become a blessing to the world through Chinese medicine.
During the two days of the conference, the organizers shared the "Traditional Chinese Medicine Mission, Vision, Values" and launched a series of Chinese medicine forums. Dr. Guo Minhua from Qinghai province introduced the medical team's free clinic work there. Evangelical doctors and medical specialists also answered some health and medical issues that everyone was concerned about.
- Translated by Jake Jason