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Baptists known for excellent medical care in Indonesia

A radiology technician at Imanuel Baptist Hospital examines the CT scan of a patient. IMB photo

KEDIRI, Indonesia (BP) – Southern Baptists have a long history in medical missions and have continued to bring hope and healing during the COVID-19 crisis. Field workers around the world use hospitals and clinics as ministry centers to serve communities and offer physical and spiritual healthcare.

In 1957, three Southern Baptist workers – nurses Ruth Ford and Everly Hayes and Dr. Kathleen Jones – founded Kediri Baptist Hospital in the city of Kediri on the island of Java in Indonesia. In 1972, Southern Baptist doctors opened Imanuel Baptist Hospital on the island of Sumatra. Since then, Baptists have opened two more hospitals and two clinics in other Indonesian cities.

In 1963, Dr. Frank Owens moved from Kediri to open another hospital in the city of Bukittinggi on the island of Sumatra. IMB photo

Throughout the decades, Indonesian staff, nurses and doctors have served alongside Southern Baptists as they increased their own responsibility.

Since the late 2000s, the hospitals and clinics have been under the leadership and direction of the Indonesian Baptist Convention, and convention leaders have carried on the legacy of ministry through medical care. The first Indonesian director of Kediri Baptist Hospital was Dr. Sukoyo Suwandani in 1989.

Southern Baptists have made a renewed commitment to partner with Indonesian Baptists, both during the COVID-19 crisis and in community outreach. This January, with funding from Southern Baptists, the Eternal Peace Primary Care Clinic opened in a village near Kediri.

The idea for the clinic came through conversations Christian worker Jacob Stanley* had with the staff at Kediri Baptist Hospital and local churches. They discussed how their partnership could expand medical services into communities.

Part of Eternal Peace Primary Clinic’s mission is to care for its community, share a message of hope, and be a channel of God’s love for Indonesians. Stanley and his wife, Julie*, moved to the region in 2017 to partner in medical ministry. Stanley said part of their role is to support, train and encourage the doctors, nurses and chaplains.

“In this city, we’re standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us,” Stanley said.

The majority of patients in both Kediri Baptist Hospital and Eternal Peace Primary Clinic are Muslim. More than 82 percent of Indonesians are Muslim, and the area around Kediri is 99.5 percent Muslim.

Gifts through Send Relief, Southern Baptists’ disaster and crisis relief ministry, recently purchased food bags for 30 families in need. Many people in the community were laid off from work during the COVID-19 pandemic and are struggling to provide for their families. Teams of nurses, Indonesian Baptist pastors and the Stanleys distributed bags of food to the families and shared a message of hope. Each family wanted to be prayed for in the name of Jesus. Stanley said the goal was not simply to donate, but to build long-term relationships.

Donations also provided boxed lunches for nurses and doctors during the middle of the country’s COVID-19 lockdown as well as personal protective equipment for medical and non-medical staff.

In the area surrounding the clinic, no positive COVID-19 cases have been reported – a testament to God’s protection.

“That is really just a touch of God’s gracious hand because every sub-district of the county … has had at least one case, but where the clinic is has had zero,” Stanley said.

Southern Baptists’ second hospital in Indonesia – Imanuel Baptist Hospital on the island of Sumatra – also is now under the leadership of the Indonesian Baptist Convention.

Hospital leaders Kusuma Dewi Palupi and Kostalfina Kudubun emphasized the hospital’s dedication to meeting both physical and spiritual needs of patients.

Pastors from local churches make frequent visits to pray with patients. After being discharged, patients who are interested in learning more are connected with a church in their area. The hospital’s audio system plays Christian music and encouraging messages throughout the building. Every morning, each department has a prayer time. The hospital also holds a weekly chapel service; those have been moved online during COVID-19.

Though the hospitals’ Christian mission is clear, Muslim patients sometimes drive several hours to receive care because of their reputation for quality. Both hospitals have continued to serve patients well, even through a pandemic. Pray for protection and wisdom for hospital leaders and workers.