For 10 years, CIY’s Engage Program Director Pat Fancher has traveled the world with student teams on mission trips. Unique to the Engage program, Cambodia is the only location in which Engage participates in medical missions. It’s something that started in 2009, but to this day, Fancher said her first trip to Cambodia two years prior to that first CIY trip is one that changed her life.
“God turned my world upside down and broke my heart on that trip,” she said. “I go to a lot of different places and I’ve left pieces of my heart all over the world, but I would say Cambodia has a bigger chunk of my heart. Part of that is the devastation the country has suffered – which I think why sex trafficking is so huge there. The country is so vulnerable with extreme poverty … my heart was just torn open for this country.”
This year’s team is comprised of 22 people in the medical field who will serve mostly women and children in mobile clinics Jan. 4-15, 2018. Clinics will be held in places from Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, to cities like Siem Reap, as well as smaller villages throughout the country. Last year, this medical mission trip served close to 800 patients in five clinic locations. And in year’s past the team has been frustrated to leave knowing that so many medical needs still go left unmet throughout the rest of the year. But this year, medical outreach will continue long after the team has gone home.
"The Ministry of Health has asked me if we'd be open to partner with local health care workers to be at our clinics for follow-ups and after-care; which has been a frustration in the past," Fancher said. "This is a brand-new partnership and so it’ll be exciting to make those connections – to know that some of these patients we will be passing on. It doesn’t just end here.”
Besides exciting strides in the quality of after-care for patients, Fancher said this mission trip is unique among Engage’s annual trips because of the skill-level and average age of team members. The team includes medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, pre-med students, dentists and hygienists – all with a heart for the mission of serving Jesus. Fancher said there are several stations in the mobile clinic, but one of the most important aspects comes at the end of the patient's visit.
I go to a lot of different places and I’ve left pieces of my heart all over the world, but I would say Cambodia has a bigger chunk of my heart.
"We call it the powerhouse, where a ministry team and interpreters will pray over every person as they leave the clinic," she said. "Because of this, they will know we came in the name of Jesus. It’s important for them to know we worship the one true God and we're serving in His name. When we do these mobile clinics, we try to connect the clinic to a church. There have been some locations in the past where they were trying to plant a church, and the next year when we returned there was a thriving church."
Through years of Cambodia experiences, Fancher testifies there have been times when God clearly guided the trip.
"There are so many stories – I’ve seen lives changed but I’ve seen lives saved," she said. "We were in the right place at just the right time. There have been a few times our schedules were turned upside down, and after the clinic was over it was evident why we were there."
One of the largest clinics the team will host will be the Rapha House Kids Club in Phnom Penh, which is an organization that houses, educates and cares for victims of human trafficking. The faces of the patients, and some heartfelt moments, are unforgettable for Fancher.
"I think always our goal is for each of us to be humble servants, doing what we’re called to do, and be the hands and feet of Jesus," she said. "For me one of the most beautiful things is patients will be sitting on the ground in the dirt, or on a plastic chair waiting, and it's a face that is weathered with sorrow. But by the time they leave, there is a smile on that face. As much as we love and care and hopefully find solutions for their pain, they leave feeling better than when they came because they have truly seen love and grace right in front of them."
Engage offers year-round mission trips for missionaries and college-age students. Besides the Cambodian medical mission trip, other hosting countries include: Brazil, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Kenya. To learn more, please visit www.ciy.com.