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VALUE OF MEDICAL MISSIONS
Value to Othe
The reasons for Medical Missions are by no means exhausted by the consideration of physical needs in heathen lands resultg from ignorance, superstition, cruelty
A strong argument for the association of physicans with missionary operations might be built up on the single fact of the requirements of other missionaries and their families for medical aid. Every year a little army sails from Christian lands as missionaries. This wave of consecrated life breaks not only on distant shores, but is carried far inland away from many of the resources of modern civilization. Every missionary represents his country and his Church and their reputation in a measure rests upon him. The responsibility for their health is one of serious moment, considered even on the low ground of the expense at which the Boards are at for their transportation to the field.
No civilized government sends its agents on an expedition in a difficult climate without adequate medical assistance. Modern warfare depends for success as much on preparation against fevers as on shot and shell and skillful marksmanship. Yet scores of Americans and Europeans are in the mission field with their families far away from any skill in the time of sickness. When we realize the value of these lives, when we remember the large proportion of missionaries' children who in turn become missionaries, one sees in a new light the holy privilege of being able to prolong their lives by thoughtful advice and to save them when the ravages of climate are doing their best to break and shatter their health.
In Turkey some years ago a missionary's child died; a second died; then a third little one was taken. The fourth was ill, and the parents made a desperate effort to reach a doctor in time. They went a long journey, only to hear the verdict "too late" and to turn homeward, bringing back with them their last child to lay beside the other three.
"In the interior of most foreign lands the only medical aid available is that rendered by the missionary doctor. Excepting in the principal seaports of China, Africa and Turkey, in the large cities and cantonment centres of India, and in a few corresponding places in other lands, the only skilled physicians at hand are those possessed by the missions themselves. It is a matter that calls for gratitude to God that the lives of the missionaries-the most valuable commodity of a mission-have frequently been saved, their health preserved and sickness avoided by the timely attendance and advice of the resident missionary physician. It is a matter to be regretted that not infrequently devoted and earnest missionaries eager to preach the Gospel in new and remote districts have prematurely sacrificed their lives or permanently injured their health for the cause, when with a knowledge of Medicine in their own part, or the help of a competent physician, they might have saved them, to the greater good and enlargement of the work they sought to establish."*
Again and again a missionary has to make a journey of hundreds of miles, where traveling is excessively slow, in order to reach some medical mission and consult the physician there on his own behalf or for a wife or child with whom he has had to journey. This is not only a very expensive matter in money, but also dislocates the work of the mission by the enforced and prolonged absence of one or more missionary agents. It is, of course, recognized that in some parts of the field medical missionaries are not required and would be superfluous. But that is not true of vast tracts of unoccupied territory which could best be reached through the association of medical work with that of the ordinary clerical missionary. Ought there not to be a medical missionary
* The Medical Mission. W. J. Wanless. p. 58 et seq.
within easy access of every considerable mission station for the maintenance of the health of those workers, as well as for his or her own special influence?
fession at Home.
The opportunities of practice abroad are Value to the Pro- far more numerous than at home. Our profession needs the contributions of this immense field of clinical experience. Already workers in mission lands have rendered valuable service in many departments. This has been notably so in such subjects as tropical fevers, tumors, calculi, eye and skin diseases. The enormous number of cases passing annually through the hands of many mission surgeons make their records and generalizations of peculiar importance.
We note that in one hospital in North India during 1897, 1,200 operations were performed on the eye and nearly 100 malignant tumors were removed. We understand that this was the work of two surgeons. It is recorded of Dr. Kerr, of China, one of the oldest medical missionaries, that he has had 700,000 cases which have been aided, that he has performed 40,000 operations and stands second only to Sir William Thompson in the number of times he has operated for calculus-1,300 times.
The gain to the profession at large would have been far greater if medical missionaries had possessed greater leisure. The overworked and undermanned condition of almost every medical mission has made the task of collaboration of experience an excessively difficult one. Yet they stand in these far away outposts of the world in a position where they can render very real service by the records of their experience, which will be of value to their successors on the field and through the profession to governments and to commerce.
Moreover, not only does our profession claim the results of such unique experience, but it needs medical missionaries for its own sake.
New temptations are springing up in the spirit of commercialism, overriding and selfish ambition which threaten to rob the profession of Medicine of something which has so illumined it in the past. "The practice of
the healing art is an occupation intrinsically dignified. The true physician recognizes in the most abject human being a fellow man and in the most exalted nothing more."
We claim to constitute or represent a liberal profession and the very idea or essence of a liberal profession, as distinguished from a trade, is that the acquisition of money is not its primary object."
Again and again this nobility has been strenuously maintained. When some feeble attempts were made to obtain a patent for the use of ether or to keep secret the process of etherization, or when within the past few months a patent was sought for the preparation of an antitoxin, the indignation of the profession was aroused. "The money changers were driven from the temple of humanity."
Prof. Geo. H. Wilson was responsible for the statement many years ago that "the gratuitous professional services of medical men far exceed in number and weight the gratuitous professional services of ministers of all Churches or denominations."
Our great profession in every age has had the reputation of nobility and self-sacrifice. This is one of our most precious heritages. We can conceive of few things which will so maintain this high repute and ennoble and glorify its beneficent character as the going forth from the midst of it of a band of men and women to surrender their talents for those who are in physical and spiritual destitution. As a great surgeon* said, "We ask you to honor the profession by helping it to honor and adorn itself, by helping it to write on the bells of the horses, 'Holiness unto the Lord,' by helping it to be instrumental in saving the souls as well as the bodies of men, by helping it to place in its coronet new jewels of greatest value and brightest lustre, by helping it to twine in its garland a new wreath from the ever-green and ever-growing plant of renown." In thus honoring the profession we shall honor the profession's Head, the Lord Healer, God, who became man, and bore our sicknesses and carried our sor
All we have we owe to God. Ought" is just
* Late Dr. Miller, Professor of Surgery, Edinburgh University.
The Need to GOD.
Talent is a
the old Anglo-Saxon for "owe." debt of obligation. He is no longer on earth as man, but His command still endures, "Go . . . preach." The withdrawal of miraculous ures is no better reason for ceasing the work of healing which He began than is the disappearance of miraculous gifts of tongues a reason for ceasing to study language in order to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven.
God is no longer manifested in human form, going in and out among our sick ones. The hand of Christ is no longer laid on the fevered brow; it is for your hand to do that now and to reduce the fever by all the means within your power. His touch of the sightless eyeballs does not today restore vision. He has commissioned you to do that with your cataract needle and to be a light to the inly blind, showing forth the Father that He may be glorified in your good works. The summer evenings when the sick could be gathered at the door for the Master to heal have sped away from the world's Capernaums; He is seeking for representatives to-day who shall go in Christ's stead and do His healing work, beseeching men to be reconciled to Him. His wondrous works were tokens of superior knowledge and power. He has given the key of knowledge and power to us to acquire by diligent study. Is not the power with which He entrusts us even greater than that of the early disciples whose work was but for a few years and was local and limited in its operation?
GOD NEEDS YOU. Eighteen hundred years ago He said, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation and these signs shall folthey shall lay their hands on the sick and they shall recover."
To-day, half the world has never heard those good tidings. He has given to medical men a talent of singular power for proclaiming that message. What are we doing with it?
'The benefits of Medical Missions as a Resuits of Medical pioneer agency have proved themselves so great as to form an argument for the immediate and widespread increase of this method of work. Time and again
Missions as a