One year ago, Dr. and Mrs. Brown moved their family from the United States to an undisclosed location to serve local people through medical ministry.
It was the kind of move that relatively few would consider due to insecurity and conflict in a nearby region. The intensity of the conflict was driving thousands from their homes, communities, and families, causing them to become refugees near where the Browns now live.
In part one, the Browns are a few weeks out from their move. Part two explores their life after one year in their new home.
Their names have been changed for their protection.
Living in an area that houses thousands of refugees is stressful enough. Ministering to the spiritual needs of people when officials will not allow you to pray with anyone offers an extra challenge.
When planning their move to a new country, the Browns were clear with leadership about their faith and their desire to minister spiritually to those around them. They saw their acceptance into the nation as medical ministers as a blessing. Initially, Dr. Brown had arranged to establish a government family medical facility. However, shortly after arriving, government leaders instructed him to find work in the refugee camps.
Without a place to serve, Dr. Brown spent almost all of his time praying that God would provide. After several weeks, he was able to partner with a larger organization that had resources but no expert medical advice to start a refugee clinic. Meanwhile, he also volunteered at a government clinic.
The things he encountered in the camps were clear evidence of a spiritual battle. Medical professionals and patients were in need of God’s spiritual and physical healing. Within the government clinics inside the camp, professionals were restricted from playing Christian music or praying for people.
At home, Dr. and Mrs. Brown’s two boys adapted their routine to a new place. Through morning devotions, homeschooling, and making friends, they adjusted to a new life. But, this new life came at a cost. They do not have peers their age and have been really lonely. At the time of this writing, they are asking God if they are able to continue and transition to a boarding school.
Loneliness affects Mrs. Brown too. It has been hard to learn language with the school and home responsibilities. Mrs. Brown began taking lessons in the local language and teaching English in exchange. Even though the electricity is unpredictable, Mrs. Brown has learned to cook using local recipes.
Now, God is opening new doors for them.
“We’ve been invited to set up basically a health care clinic next to a camp,” Dr. Brown explains. “They’ve asked us to consult on setting up a clinic and we’re setting up everything from the moment the person walks in and registers.”
A major goal of the new clinic is to spend time with patients, hearing their needs and praying with them. Many of the people suffer from stress-induced illnesses. While government clinics often solve physical complaints with a quick diagnosis and medication, Dr. Brown hopes to get into the deeper issues individuals bring to him.
“We can’t take everyone,” Dr. Brown said. “We have to limit our numbers, but we intentionally treat, listen to, and spend a lot more time with patients in communicating – understanding the specific needs they have and hopefully we don’t need to give them medicine. We can give them the option for prayer and just a blessing.”
There are 16 camps not more than an hour from where the Browns serve. Within each camp, there are 5,000 to 20,000 people. The facilities and structures vary from camp to camp. Although some camps are run by the government, medical facilities are often outsourced to various organizations. These clinics have limited hours.
“We’ve been proposed to work in the afternoon when no other clinics are open,” Dr. Brown said. “The challenge is going to be the number of people. 20,000 people in the camp and there’s about 30,000 people outside the camp. The ones in the camp have regular service, food allotments; things are much more regulated. The ones outside the camp have nothing planned.”
Within the independent clinic Dr. Brown currently works in, there are great opportunities for spiritual healing and growth. Local people are coming to understand who Jesus is and how they can gain the hope of salvation. Many are choosing to follow Him.
The Browns are eager to make deeper connections with the local Nazarene church. Currently, the church speaks a language that the Browns have not yet learned. Unfortunately, their English connection to the church left the area due to personal safety concerns. They are now connecting with them through a translator.
For now, the Browns are leaning heavily upon prayer and God’s continued supplying of their needs.
“We’ve realized that it was impossible to do what we’re doing as a family and individually without the prayer. But the good news," Dr. Brown continues, “is God has brought really committed people to pray for us, and a team of people that are actually really committed to pray for the land and the area.”
As far as their end goal, Dr. Brown has one thing in mind:
“To try to present hope in a hopeless environment; that’s the thing I want to communicate," he said. "We need your prayers so we can continue to be here – so we can be used. We’re nothing, but if we can be used of Christ to provide that hope, I think that’s worth it.”