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We’ve often heard that America is a great melting pot. In other words, America is a country with an amalgamation of different people groups, ethnicities, and heritages. This is one of the things that I love about our country. So many people from all over the world have come to this country for a myriad of reasons and because of that we have a diverse citizenry in every city.
Every city also has physical therapy clinics. Or, at least clinics close by that serve our country's diverse population. I’ve often been thinking about this reality in the context of mission trips and Covid-19. I mean, let’s be honest, most of us have not been able to travel to different countries around the world to minister and serve on medical mission teams. What are we to do if we have a heart for international missions? What can we do to serve internationally without leaving our city? Discover the melting pot in our own backyard.
The opportunities are boundless. I have friends in the Pittsburgh area that are missionaries to the expansive Middle Eastern population that has immigrated and settled in that area. Many of these people would be difficult to engage because of travel and governmental restrictions, but my friends are staying within our national border and literally reaching many Middle Eastern Muslims in their own city as full time missionaries without leaving their city limits. How cool is that!
Similarly, we can think about the diverse population that steps into our physical therapy clinics and workplaces. We may not be full time missionaries but we have an incredible opportunity to share the good news of Jesus to the many people who walk through our clinic doors, step into our rehab facilities, or are admitted to our hospitals. It reminds me very much of Jesus’ words in Acts 1:8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”
I know in my own clinic as I began to think about all the different countries from which my patients called home, I was quite surprised. My Jerusalem and Judea were quite diverse! I have treated patients from China, Morocco, Vietnam, India, Columbia, Germany, Spain, Cuba, Mexico, Egypt, Haiti, Turkey, Malaysia, England, and Russia. I have been able to share God’s truth with many of them without ever leaving the office. But I also know that I can leverage this gift of international proximity even more purposefully. So how can we think internationally without leaving locally? Two quick ideas:
Search and Learn. Search for information about different people groups that might live in your area and begin to learn about their culture. Find out what ministries in your area might already be serving international citizens and volunteer your time to help and interact with these different people groups.
Pray. Pray that God brings some of these international people into your clinic and on your schedule. Use your clinic time to build a relationship with them that could carry over when your time with them in clinic is completed.
So, you want to reach the nations? Great! Let’s all start in our own backyard together making the most of every patient encounter.