‘We are completely reliant on containers from Medical Missionary News to supply all our needs and this includes food’, so wrote a missionary couple just recently. This is frequently heard from those serving the Lord in Africa. It also places on MMN a tremendous responsibility to regularly supply all these needs, and with this responsibility comes an increasing awareness of our own weakness, but also a consciousness that ‘there is a God in heaven’, Dan 2. 28, who is able to supply those needs from His bountiful resources.
MMN was commenced by a group of Christian doctors in UK in 1922. These doctors had a concern for medical colleagues involved in missionary work overseas. In 1934 they began to publish a quarterly magazine which carried reports from the mission field and also gave information by which their missionary colleagues could keep abreast with progress in their profession. Some of the early issues show that there were very few funds being devoted to missionary medical work. The first issue included an urgent appeal for a stethoscope and and cheap watch to assist in pulse readings.
In 1947 the MMN fund was established with a capital sum of £400 to be used for charitable purpose for Christian missionaries and their dependents.The first editor and administrator was Dr. Chave Cox. After his death, in 1963, a new fund was established with a capital sum of £2,000. This was to be used ‘for the purchase and maintenance of equipment and facilities for the relief of disease and sickness and suffering in association with the preaching of the Christian gospel’. The main administrator was Dr. Archie Hanton. From time to time limited practical assistance was given with the purchase of equipment, e.g., microscopes.
In 1977 Dr. Hanton retired from his active role, and invited one of the Trustees, Mr. Norman Lane, to accept the position of Secretary/Treasurer. This was to be the beginning of a series of events which were to transform completely the scope of MMN.
An early letter which reached Norman was an inquiry from a missionary in Zambia as to whether a drug which was no longer available in that country could be obtained. The drug was obtained, and sent out by air mail, to the great appreciation of the missionary concerned. The good news quickly spread to other missionaries who were experiencing similar problems, particularly as the political situation in their countries was changing. Requests began to flood in to MMN and by 1980 consignments of up to 5 tons of drugs were being dispatched by air.
With his business experience Norman was aware of the advantage of container shipping and in 1982, using the facilities of his own factory, began to use containers to transport drugs, particularly to Africa. Initially about 2 container-loads were sent per year. As the political situation in many countries deteriorated, medical missionaries, mission hospitals and other missionaries become more dependent on sources outside their countries of service for supplies.
Currently we are sending approximately one container per week to 8 different countries, but mainly to Africa. A container might include, drugs, food, clothing, vehicles, roofing material, furniture, mattresses, sewing machines, children’s vests and baby layettes. In addition there are items to cater for spiritual needs such as Bibles, books and other literature.
The magazine, which is published quarterly and in total is in excess of 9,000 copies, is sent without charge to each assembly in the UK, to missionaries and the many individuals who have expressed an interest in the work. The purpose of the magazine is to inform on missionary activity and to stimulate prayer. Specific needs are mentioned and the response to these is very often enthusiastic and overwhelming.
Through MMN it has been possible for many individuals and groups, and especially the ladies, to play a practical part in missionary work. There are those who knit countless numbers of baby vests, prepare baby layettes, collect stamps, soap, sewing machines, spectacles. Commercial organizations and health authorities have become aware of MMN and offer their own products or surplus equipment – often in first class condition either free of charge or at greatly reduced prices.
In 1999 MMN had to vacate the premises at Harold Wood, but have moved into premises at Wickford in Essex under the care of Mr. Bryan Bland. As we see all that has happened we can only bow in worship before the Lord for His greatness and goodness to MMN.
If you would like a representative to come to your assembly and talk about the work of MMN please contact the office at Wickford.
MEDICAL MISSIONARY NEWS, UNIT 1, VICTORY CLOSE,
FULMAR WAY, WICKFORD BUSINESS PARK, WICKFORD,
ESSEX. SS11 8YW. TEL. 01268 765266