faculty_blog_header_summer

Esperanza Health Center

Writing and speaking on all-things-missional is largely conducted by church planters, pastors, and theologians — or at least that’s the way it seems when scanning blogs, new books, and conference programs. But not so long ago, New Growth Press released a missional book edited by Dr. Sam Logan called Reformed Means Missional that aimed to broaden the conversation partners. While Sam was working on this book, he was on Biblical’s faculty and enthusiastically shared the themes that would appear in the chapters. One of the themes was health care. He enlisted Dr. Susan Post, president of Esperanza Health Center in Philadelphia (now a member of Biblical’s board of trustees), to describe missional health care as it is practiced in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

Esperanza Health Center was founded in the late 1980s by a physician who desired to use her medical training in the poor neighborhood where she and her husband chose to live.

Resources were scarce so she asked her church small group for help with assisting patients with their needs. The result? Patients who were connected to church people got healthier faster. Caring for the “whole person” became the health care model for medical practice and church ministry that became the Esperanza Health Center.

Susan wrote, “Today Esperanza Health Center receives fifty thousand visits from members of our community annually [which] continues to be the poorest in the city…. Esperanza’s missional foundation has not diminished; rather, it is the basis for all decisions and requires developing tangible strategies for health-care delivery that are biblical, allowing us to participate in God’s work through his church as a vehicle for bringing healing, restoration, wholeness, and transformation to individuals and our community.” (p. 122)

Her chapter lists several ways that Esperanza Health Center lives out its missional calling. I commend her chapter to you, but here I offer four ways to do health care missionally that come from her chapter. It’s likely that these four ways are transferable to other ministries because they embody God’s “moving toward this sin-broken world to bring about restorative shalom.” (p. 112)

  1. Taking the first steps toward our patients is often necessary. Esperanza staff are committed to an incarnational health care model where “coming near” is valued and where patients are considered partners in their health care and overall well-being.
  2. Reaching out to the neighbors by speaking their language is a key to sustainable presence. Esperanza staff and volunteers are bi- or multi-lingual so that they can speak the language of the community around the Center. In so doing they model the love of God and bridge the gap that can hinder the relationship between patient and medical provider.
  3. Missional hiring is essential. The leadership of Esperanza defines this as a process of discernment on the part of both the leaders and the candidate. Esperanza looks for people who are committed to Christ, who listen to His word, who are committed to Esperanza’s model of holistic health care and are equipped the skills and compassion that enable them to carry out their responsibilities. Hiring within the community makes it more possible for Esperanza to understand the ways of the community and be responsive to changing needs.
  4. Partnering with the community is foundational to transformation. Esperanza’s model of medical care includes training and discipling what they call “community health promoters.” These promoters work with volunteers who carry out health care initiatives in their churches or neighborhoods. This model makes a giant step forward with “helping a community raise its own health status.” (p. 126)

These four ways—taking the first steps, speaking the language of the neighborhood, missional hiring, and partnering with the community—are values as much as they are actions. When done in the name of Christ and for His glory, those who use them are making a difference.

If you don’t live in or near Philly, you can virtually visit Esperanza Health Center here.

About the Author

Susan Disston

Dr. Susan Disston

Susan Disston, DMin, is the Director of Institutional Assessment and Hybrid Learning at Biblical Seminary and teaches in the Doctor of Ministry program.

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Blog Mission

The purpose of this blog will be to expand the influence of our faculty, maintain contact with our graduates, and invite other friends to think with us about important biblical and theological ideas.

Biblical's Faculty

Biblical’s Faculty:

We are committed to ongoing engagement with culture and the world for the sake of our witness to the Gospel, and to continual learning from Christians in other cultural settings.

Latest Blog Entries

Written on 29 September 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 26 September 2014 - by David Lamb
Written on 24 September 2014 - by Dr. Diane Langberg
Written on 22 September 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 19 September 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 22 August 2014 - by Philip Monroe
Written on 01 August 2014 - by Susan Disston
Written on 18 July 2014 - by Charles Zimmerman
Written on 11 July 2014 - by Bryan Maier
Written on 09 July 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum

Previous Blog Entries

Follow Biblical

Follow us on the following sites and receive notifications on upcoming events and blog entries:

Follow Biblical on facebookFollow Biblical on Twitterg+_64_black

Contact Admissions

800.235.4021 x146

215.368.5000 x146

215.368.4913 (fax)

 

admissions@biblical.edu

Stay Connected with Biblical

Follow us on the following sites:

Follow Biblical on facebookFollow Biblical on TwitterFollow Biblical on YouTubeg+_64_black
Or simply call us at...
800.235.4021 x146 or 215.368.5000 x146

Support Biblical by Giving

800.235.4021 x162

215.368.5000 x162

215.368.7002 (fax)

 

development@biblical.edu

Home

Site Login