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SBC DIGEST: IMB to host medical conf.; Fort Hood chaplain recharges at NAMB event

MedAdvance conference to combine medicine and missions
By Ariana Castro Acuña

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — At IMB’s 2014 “MedAdvance: Helping Hands, Healing Hearts Conference,” medical professionals from across the United States will have the opportunity, July 17-19, to learn how they can use their skills to make an impact for the kingdom of God.

The event will be held at the International Learning Center near Richmond, Va. The last day to register is July 3.

The conference is designed for anyone interested in the fusion of medicine and missions. More than 30 Southern Baptist missionaries from around the world will travel to Richmond for the event. They will share their unique perspective on how healthcare strategies are helping advance the Gospel among unreached people groups.

In 13 breakout sessions, conference attendees can discover how to connect with missionaries on the field through short-term medical mission trips and assist in planting new churches. Attendees also will explore different strategies that blend healthcare and missions, and learn how they can strategically leverage their skills to help evangelize some of the world’s least-reached peoples.

Rebekah Naylor, a healthcare consultant for the International Mission Board, said the conference also serves to emphasize IMB’s continuing commitment to healthcare ministries — being the heart, hands and feet of Jesus by caring for both the body and soul of the lost. Naylor pointed out that some of the first missionaries sent to East Asia and South Asia were medical professionals.

“We’re getting access to far-flung villages and places where the Gospel has not been, using community health strategies,” she said.

Today, more than 300 active Southern Baptist missionaries use some type of medical or health care strategy. While that number is larger than ever before, Naylor said more medical personnel are needed to take the Gospel to people who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The conference will cost for attendees is $125 and includes lodging and meals. Registration without lodging is $80. Health care students, residents and fellows can attend free of charge.

For more information about the conference or to register, visit the MedAdvance 2014 website.
Fort Hood chaplain recharges at NAMB conference

By Carolyn Curtis

FORT HOOD, Texas (BP) — Chaplain Major Steve Yarber said a chaplains’ conference earlier this year provided a much-needed respite from the intensity of his duties as a chaplain at Fort Hood.

Yarber attended the conference held at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth and sponsored by the North American Mission Board. The event was scheduled before the tragic April 2 military shootings tragedy but came at a time when he needed it, Yarber said. The rampage claimed the lives of four soldiers, including the gunman, and injured 16 others.

Sessions on Care for the Caregiver and How to Avoid Compassion Fatigue were especially helpful, Yarber said.

“Military chaplains don’t get a lot of calls when things are great,” Yarber said. “We’re needed most in a crisis.”

Yarber has had plenty of crisis-care experience in his 12 years in the U.S. Army, including deployment to Iraq. “We have a credibility with our fellow soldiers that a civilian counselor would not have. We’re chaplains but we’re soldiers too.”

On the afternoon of the Fort Hood shooting, Yarber had left the post to change into civilian clothes before returning to lead his Wednesday evening Bible study. Just as they were leaving, his wife Mauri got a call from another chaplain’s wife, telling about the shooting. The Yarbers turned on their television, learning about the post lockdown and transport of wounded soldiers to Scott & White hospital in Temple, which they could reach from their off-post housing in a matter of minutes.

Yarber changed back into uniform and they left immediately, working their phones as they drove. Yarber posted on Facebook about cancellation of the Bible study and called the garrison chaplain’s office, which coordinates chaplain coverage to report that he was on his way to the hospital.

It was to be a long night, followed by many others.

“My wife and I got to bed about 4 a.m. She helped with the families, and I was allowed into the critical treatment areas to be with the wounded.” He credited the police and hospital chaplains for efficiency by allowing only required personnel into a cordoned-off section for the Fort Hood wounded.

Yarber said he talked and prayed with soldiers, some who had been shot in the chest and neck. He added that, in crisis situations, the most important thing chaplains can do is simply to be present with the wounded. “The difference in this case, as opposed to a war battlefield, is that their families are there.”

Yarber’s unit took charge of rotation, assigning army chaplains to 12-hour shifts at first, then eight-hour shifts as wounded soldiers’ conditions improved.

“The chaplaincy force has done a great job,” he said, adding that any Fort Hood soldier or family member can call a hotline for 24/7 counseling, even when no tragedy has occurred.”

He said he’s grateful for NAMB’s on-going training and support.

“It meant a lot that NAMB’s chaplaincy office checked in within hours of the shooting. They were asking, ‘Are you okay?’ I told them, ‘I’m good. I know how to practice self-care.’ It’s part of our training as military chaplains and soldiers.”

For more information about chaplaincy, visit www.namb.net/chaplaincy. To receive a set of military chaplain prayer cards call 866-407-6262, or go to www.nambstore.com.

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