By Stan Friedman
DETROIT, MI (July 20, 2011) – Covenant Community Care’s (CCC) mobile medical and dental units served more than 3,000 people since mid-April, when the project was launched in conjunction with a citywide evangelistic outreach.
The ministry saved lives and provided much needed care that otherwise might not have been available, organizers said. CCC is a ministry sponsored by denominational churches in the Detroit area and Covenant Ministries of Benevolence that has established multiple permanent sites to provide services to the underserved.
Evangelical Covenant Church congregations were among the more than 500 area churches that participated in Everyone A Chance to Hear (EACH). Covenant congregations that participated in the EACH campaign were Life Covenant Church in Canton; Evangelical Covenant Church in Dearborn; The Bridge Covenant Church, Citadel of Faith Covenant Church, City Covenant Church, Hope Community Church, and Messiah Church in Detroit; Faith Covenant Church in Farmington Hills; Crossroads Community Church in South Lyon, Michigan; and Christ Covenant Church in Wixom, MI.
The campaign began on Easter and ended on Pentecost, but the dental and medical units continued to see patients until late last month. The two units were set up at various sites around the city every Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The trailers were at each location for one to four days.
The medical trailer purchased by the clinic was built by Buses International, which retrofits buses and trailers for medical uses. An ambulance that no longer was being used by an emergency organization was donated to pull the medical trailer.
CCC rented a 38-foot-dental trailers because the one it had purchased was not yet ready. The dental trailer was similar to a motor home divided into two examining rooms.
Medical volunteers provided care. Roughly six hundred other volunteers helped with registration and other tasks. They frequently prayed with people who came for assistance or offered other needed ministry, even if it was just listening.
People were “incredibly grateful” said Covenanter Jim Monkmeyer, who coordinated the seemingly countless logistics for each of the mobile units. Semmeal Thomas, pastor of City Covenant Church, the newest of the denomination’s growing number of churches in Detroit, was among the most grateful. A screening he received at the medical clinic probably saved his life.
The two units were stationed at a large fair put on by multiple churches. “When the opportunity arose for us to help sponsor this fair I thought how the medical and dental trailers would be a tremendous resource for our community,” recalled Thomas. “Never would I expect it in my wildest dreams that it would help save my life. It turns out my blood pressure was 199/139, which is considered to be heart attack or stroke level.” He was immediately sent to the hospital, and is now doing fine on medication.
Ernie and Robyn Brown oversaw the dental operation. They already had a mobile dental ministry, Sweet Smiles Dental Solutions, that offers preventative services at local churches. The couple carries around their equipment in an SUV, and already have provided their services at Messiah Church prior to joining up on the mobile trailer.
Patients received excellent care, but getting the dental trailer where it needed to go was something of a challenge, mused Monkmeyer. The dental trailer had not been used in some time. “No one wanted to drive it on the highway.”
There were so many requests for the mobile units that they could have operated throughout the summer, said Monkmeyer. CCC will dispatch the mobile clinics again this fall, but plans have not been firmed.
Churches also committed to offering ministries through their local congregations as well as participating in citywide planned events such as serving more than 10,000 meals a day beginning Easter Sunday and running through Pentecost. The Detroit Rescue Mission and Forgotten Harvest provided the food.
“It was an intense 40 days,” said Walter Farr, pastor of worship arts at Citadel of Faith, and director of good deeds ministries for the EACH campaign.
Covenant congregations engaged in a wide variety of ministries. They included hosting an arts and faith festival, ministering to strippers, Mothers Day parties for teen moms, and even camping out on city streets and inviting people to talk with them.
Pastors of Covenant churches reported that many people made professions of faith. Thomas said one man who showed up at the fair, had been been shot and left for dead earlier that month. “He turned his life over to Christ that weekend and is now in rehab.”
Also heartening to the Covenant leaders was the cooperation among so many churches coming together. Bob Hoey, pastor of Messiah Church, said, “It just encouraged us to do what we should have been doing all along.”