FBC Lebanon takes medical missions to Asia
By Allison Sebolt
July 26, 2005
LEBANON– When Kevin Jones earnestly asked God how he could further serve His Kingdom, the answer was for him to travel to a closed country in Asia to minister though medical missions.
Jones, a deacon at First Baptist Church, Lebanon, is a physical therapist who had been in the field for 20 years. He has also been involved with foreign missions before, having been on mission trips to Brazil and Mongolia with his church. However, he felt that God had more in store for him in the mission field.
So he prayed a servant’s prayer, and when he did, God revealed His will through a divinely appointed meeting with an Asian businessman.
When Jones began talking to this businessman, he found out that in this particular country in Asia, someone who has had a stroke and has been in the hospital for an extended period of time will often be sent home without ever receiving physical therapy.
When Jones asked the businessman if he thought the government would be in favor of someone helping develop a physical therapy program in the country, he responded positively.
“God worked on me for the next two years and said, ‘This is something I want you to do for Me,’ ” Jones said.
So Jones began talking to Gary Longenecker, who was pastor at First Baptist of Lebanon at the time, about his idea. Longenecker was already heavily involved in Asian missions and had helped establish a partnership between Southwest Baptist University and a major university in the country. In addition to helping begin an English-as-a-second-language program at the university, Longenecker also has worked to establish networks to train leaders in the country.
With this framework in place, Jones then began developing a long-term plan for this partnership in his mind, with the end result being a certified physical therapy program at the university.
“During my career, I’ve taken a lot out of the profession, and I just thought it’s time for me to give back to the profession,” Jones said.
So in August, Jones and Longenecker will be going overseas on what they call a “vision trip” to meet with leaders to begin planning such a program.
“I hope to come back with a good idea of where they stand in terms of physical therapy rehabilitation,” Jones said. “I hope to get very positive feedback from the medical community, the government and the academic people over there that we think this is something to pursue.
“If I get those two things, I’m going to be very happy and very satisfied and I have no doubts that will happen.”
While the details of establishing the program have yet to pan out, Jones said he might end up going to Asia and teaching a semester-long course. Both men hope to eventually establish a faculty exchange program between the universities.
Longenecker describes Jones as being full of God-given passion for the project, and said it is unique for someone to be so filled with such a passion for a particular mission field before visiting it. Jones said he looks at this as a life-long commitment.
Both men emphasized the importance of building relationships with the people over there, as they believe that is the key to their success. In addition, they will be following Jesus’ example of ministry by meeting people’s physical needs first.
“If we can help a person physically, they are much more open spiritually to the Good News,” Longenecker said.