Imperial Valley is one of the garden spots of America, with a population of over 60,000, and watered by one of the largest irrigation systems in the world. The city of Brawley, located near the center of the valley, affords a central working point for medical missionary evangelism. Our Brawley Dispensary is located on the ground floor of a commodious hotel on Main Street, among the offices of shippers and growers of some of the largest lettuce, carrots, cantaloupes, and watermelons produced in the world.
In planning for the dispensary Dr. A. H. Foster, elder of the church when the project was launched, was the guiding hand in the undertaking. He already had an excellent private practice two years ago, when the dispensary opened its doors. The secretary of the chamber of commerce, whose family were patients of Dr. Foster, was interested in the dispensary idea, and in turn secured the location. It happened that the manager of the hotel knew of our work in Los Angeles, and also of the Battle Creek methods; consequently, he gave us every consideration. Our dispensary has a threefold objective:
1. To provide medical aid for the less fortunate, regardless of race, color, or creed.
2. To bring to its beneficiaries a vision of God's love, protection, and long-suffering.
3. To make known the everlasting gospel to both high and low, rich and poor, in every family in Imperial Valley.
Expressions, such as "Genuine medical missionary work is the gospel practiced" ("Testimonies," Vol. VIII, p. 168), coupled with the fact that thousands "would rather see a sermon than hear one," served as an inspiration for action. Other incentives were:
"There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen."—"Ministry of Healing," p. 11,3. "Our physicians are to unite with the work of the ministers of the gospel. . . . Medical missionary work is in no case to be divorced from the gospel ministry."—"Testimonies," Vol. VI. pp. 240, 241. "In every city where we have a church, there is need of a place where treatment can be given."—Id., p. 113.
In these closing days Seventh-day Adventists will need all the vantage ground possible. It will be well if we have made friends with men of influence. Consequently it follows that ministers and workers should unite with doctors and nurses in carrying out the program outlined in the "blue print," thus accomplishing a twofold purpose,—making known Jesus Christ to the world through their ministry, and making friends with or among all classes of people. Relative to this latter point, the manager of the county hospital said to me recently, "You people are doing a wonderful work. I wish you had a dispensary in every town in the valley."
Every dispensary should be a soul-saving station. "Into the medical missionary work should be brought a deep yearning for souls. To the physician equally with the gospel minister is committed the highest trust ever committed to man. Whether he realizes it or not, every physician is intrusted with the cure of souls."—"Ministry of Healing," p. 119. Thus we see that Christian physicians stand on an equal footing with the gospel minister in a common cause. Shall we not as gospel workers encourage our doctors and nurses to unite with us to advance medical missionary activity in a very definite way?
Ministers and doctors may well go together into a city or community, and find a suitable location for a dispensary, enlisting others to help in equipping the place. Ask the laundry to do your laundry work free or at a discount, the druggist to furnish supplies at cost. Let the Dorcas Society have a part in the project by furnishing some things. Ask the newspapers to give you modest publicity, the theater manager to throw slides of your work on the screen. Be cooperative. Be a Christian. Work and pray, and God will vindicate His name and cause in the ranks of both high and low in your community.
Our dispensary has been operated for the past two years without cost to the conference, in either equipment or operation. This soul-saving station has had a stabilizing effect upon our work in this great valley. It is becoming well known in almost every home. We can legitimately use this publicity as an aid in producing confidence in our program.
Miss Mabel Updyke, R. N., supervisor of the dispensary, gives of her time, thus keeping the work upon a high plane. Drs. Foster and Mitchell likewise give of their time, and the writer serves as manager and counselor.
It is our avowed purpose to pray and study with the patients as opportunity affords, gaining their confidence so that Bible studies may follow. We have passed the experimental stage in our work, and are highly gratified with the results. Patients have come as far as seventy miles for service. A small charge of twenty-five cents is made for registration. Everyone is asked to pay something; however, none are turned away for lack of funds. The school nurse takes advantage of this service for the needy children. We seek to make our work efficient and businesslike, and to render kindly assistance to all the needy.
With a renewal of Sunday laws in our city, and communistic activity in the valley, one can see that we are located in a strategic position, so as to make known the great Creator and Saviour and the wonderful principles of our message in this section.
There are seven papers published in the valley, every one of which has given us publicity. Our two churches are growing. New faces are seen at Sabbath school. Our Harvest Ingathering donations increased quite materially last fall. Plans are underfoot to place literature in every home in our territory, extending some sixty by thirty miles. Two of our other doctors in the valley are cooperating in the plan, all working for the same objective,—the threefold message to all the homes in the valley in the shortest possible time.