Story by North Philadelphia and Visitor Staff / Photos by Kenneth Moore, Jr., and Marquis Johns
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” said Marquis Johns, pastor of Allegheny East Conference’s North Philadelphia church, repeating a popular quote as he explained why his church recently hosted a free dental and vision care clinic. Noting the high poverty rate in Philadelphia, Johns said, “I tried to figure what we could do [to help the poor in our community] that’s not the traditional evangelistic outreach, and my mind was struck by Ellen White’s concept of disinterested benevolence, and that Jesus did more healing than teaching or preaching.”
Church leaders partnered with the Adventist Medical Evangelist Network- a non-profit network of physicians and dentists dedicated to providing free medical and dental care to the uninsured or under-insured. During the two-day event, more than 100 volunteers from North Church and the community (pictured below) assisted, provided free dental and vision care to some 200 Philadelphians.
“My glasses have been broken for over six months, and I don’t got any insurance. I prayed for God to send me some glasses and He sent me this clinic,” said Dania, a vision patient.
Another patient reported, “This was beyond my expectation. Everyone was so hospitable.” Wait times for some patients got as long as two hours, but this didn’t seem to bother them. “It was worth the wait,” said a dental patient after receiving treatment.
The patients weren’t the only ones who appreciated the clinic. “It was my pleasure to be able to help and take part … God bless you and your church as you continue to reach out to the Philadelphia community,” said Rhonaldo Silaban, an emergency medicine resident from SUNY Upstate University Hospital (NY).
After hearing about the success of the clinic, a member of the community called Johns and pledged $5,000 toward having the church host another clinic, something that Johns says is most certainly in the church’s future.