INDONESIA – 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 representatives—nurses Ruth Ford, 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. Baptist hospitals were later opened in two other cities, Batu and Semarang on the island of Java, and a clinic was opened in Kediri and in the city of Kupang on the island of Timor.
Throughout the decades, Indonesian staff, nurses and doctors have served alongside Southern Baptist medical staff from the U.S. 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 national 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 in a village near Kediri opened.
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 their communities, 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 says.
One of the pediatricians in Kediri Baptist Hospital served with Dr. John R. Clement. Clement was the last practicing Southern Baptist doctor in Kediri Baptist Hospital. The pediatrician said Dr. Clement passed on a passion for serving in medical ministry and inspired her to serve her people with a sense of urgency.
That sense of urgency led her to an initiative to introduce palliative care to the hospital. Palliative care will meet a felt need of the hospital’s patients and allow staff an avenue to serve beyond the hospital walls.
Eternal Peace Primary Clinic staff have recently been following up with patients who visited a community clinic last year.
The majority of patients in both Kediri Baptist Hospital and Eternal Peace Primary Clinic are Muslim. More than 82% of Indonesians are Muslim, and the area around Kediri is 99.5% Muslim.
Opportunities during coronavirus pandemic
Staff at the Eternal Peace Primary Clinic are currently serving their communities during the COVID-19 crisis. Southern Baptist gifts through Send Relief, the disaster and crisis relief ministry, recently purchased food bags for 30 families in need. Many people in the community were laid off from work and are struggling to provide for their families. Teams of nurses, Indonesian Baptist pastors and the Stanleys distributed the bags of food for the 30 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 lockdown during COVID-19 and personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical and non-medical staff.
Stanley said meeting needs has been a wonderful bridge for meeting new people and developing meaningful relationships. When he asked the chaplain at the hospital about their needs, the chaplain mentioned a shortage of masks, especially for non-medical staff. Stanley presented an idea of partnering with a local non-profit sewing ministry to make masks. The masks have been favorably received by non-medical staff, chaplains, church members and others connected to the outreach of the clinic and hospital.
Miraculously, in the area surrounding the clinic, no positive cases of COVID-19 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 says.
An Island Away
Imanuel Baptist Hospital was the second Baptist hospital Southern Baptists opened in Indonesia. Imanuel is located in Lampung province on the island of Sumatra. Like Kediri Baptist Hospital, Imanuel Baptist Hospital is now under the leadership of the Indonesian Baptist Convention.
Kusuma Dewi Palupi and Kostalfina Kudubun, hospital leaders in Imanuel Baptist Hospital, emphasized the hospital’s dedication to meeting both physical and spiritual needs of patients.
Palupi and Kudubun said pastors from local churches make frequent visits to pray with patients. After being discharged, staff connect patients who are interested in learning more with a church in their area.
Over an audio system that can be heard throughout the hospital, Christian music is played and pastors share encouraging messages from Scripture.
Every morning, each department of the Imanuel Baptist Hospital has a prayer time, and on Fridays, the hospital has a chapel service. With COVID-19 restrictions, chapel services have moved online.
A YouTube channel was created so staff at both Imanuel Baptist Hospital, Kediri Baptist Hospital, Batu Baptist Hospital and the Baptist clinics could continue to worship remotely and post videos of Bible stories.
A reputation for excellence
The Baptist hospitals in Indonesia are known and recognized for their excellence in medical care. Even though the Christian mission of the hospitals is clear, Muslim patients will drive from several hours away to receive care because of the hospitals’ reputation for high-quality medical care.
Both Imanuel Baptist Hospital and Kediri Baptist Hospital continue to serve patients during COVID-19, including patients who have tested positive.
As Indonesian and Southern Baptists continue to minister, pray for protection and wisdom as they serve their communities during the COVID-19 crisis.
Caroline Anderson writes for the IMB