By Tiffany C. Priester ’04, AIMS Council Co-chair
“Give hope for the hopeless!” “Provide high quality health care for free to millions of destitute and poverty-stricken people in poor countries around the world!” Lofty goals for sure and easier said than done. There are days when I wonder if it is even possible. In fact, I’m fairly certain it is actually impossible. Nevertheless, I don’t think we should give up when things seem impossible. There is always room for hope. People can’t be reduced to statistics. I’m reminded of the old tale of someone on a beach amid thousands of stranded starfish that are dying from exposure. She is stooping down to throw one at a time back into the ocean, but there is no noticeable effect on the thousands that remain in the hot sun. Someone asks, “Why bother? You’ll never make a difference!” You all know the punch line: as she bends over and tosses another starfish into the sea, she grins and replies, “It made a difference to that one!”
The goal of the Alumni in Mission Service (AIMS) Council is to inspire and support medical mission endeavors and humanitarian service; to facilitate connection between mission-aligned LLU alumni and christian health professionals worldwide; and to advance global and spiritual health through education, scientific exchange, philanthropy, and volunteerism. In these ways, we can help to make a difference in just one life at a time.
In recent years, there have been about 20 alumni serving as medical missionaries, all fighting an uphill battle against health care inequality around the world. Most with insufficient resources of time, money, equipment, and medications. They move through their days helping one person at a time. For some, it is providing pure physical relief: the pain of cellulitis or pneumonia cured with an antibiotic, the fever of malaria removed with antimalarials, the mother whose life is threatened by failed labor saved by a C-section. For others, it is mentally empowering patients to learn how to control, manage, and live well with chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension so they can reduce the risk of stroke, renal failure, and amputation. For all, it is the possibility of planting the seed of hope in another’s soul—the hope of a better world someday, a place with no suffering. We can share that hope and how the death of one Man can substitute for another: a free gift.
Our missionaries can only help one person at a time. It is impossible for 20 doctors to fix all of the world’s health care problems or even provide health care for the millions of people who still need it. But, they can and will continue to help one at a time. And it does make a difference to that person.
Please join in helping AIMS with these goals. This Christmas, consider how you can personally be involved with AIMS: become a volunteer, provide remote consultations to our overseas alumni, or financially support one of our specific projects and give hope to your fellow alumni, letting them know they are not alone in their struggles.