Mahoney A pharmacist and a missionary

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					Michelle
            Mahoney                                                               A pharmacist and a missionary
                                                                                                  B y J a n e t Wa l k e r


                                                                                                     Eighteen years ago, pharmacist Michelle Mahoney went on her
                                                                                                  first overseas medical evangelism trip with HealthCare Ministries
                                                                                                  (HCM). At the time, she didn’t realize how that experience would
                                                                                                  change her life.
                                                                                                     Although Michelle grew up in a Christian home, she knew little
                                                                                                  about missions until she attended First Assembly of God in Grand
                                                                                                  Rapids, Michigan, while in college. She soon developed a love
                                                                                                  and passion for missionaries and their service.
                                                                                                     In 1990, a friend at church suggested that she sign up for an
                                                                                                  HCM medical evangelism trip to Guyana, South America.
                                                                                                     “I was probably one of the most unlikely candidates ever to
                                                                                                  participate in missions or become a missionary,” says Michelle.
                                                                                                  “For most of my life, I did not like public speaking. When I was
                                                                                                  in high school, I would literally get sick when I had to stand in
                                                                                                  front of an audience. In college, the associate dean told me, ‘You
                                                                                                  WILL enroll in every speech class possible because you don’t
                                                                                                  talk.’”
                                                                                                     Michelle worked as a pharmacy director and consultant for an
                                                                                                  organization that serviced about 4,000 nursing home patients.
                                                                                                  The trip to Guyana so transformed her life that six months later
                                                                                                  she signed up for another trip — this time to Panama. The team
                                                                                                  hiked 11 hours into the country’s interior to treat patients and
                                                                                                  share the love of Christ. When she returned, she told the singles
                                                                                                  pastor at her church, “When I retire, I will join HealthCare
                                                                                                  Ministries full time.”
                                                                                                     As the years passed, she continued working and taking inter-
                                                                                                  mittent medical evangelism trips. When HCM moved its offices
                                                                                                  to Springfield, Missouri, the director asked her to come and work
                                                                                                  full time.
                                                                                                     “Immediately, I said, ‘I can’t do it,’” says Michelle. “By
                                                                                                  that time, I was helping my brother, a single parent, raise his
                                                                                                  two daughters. Also, I had always been close to my family in
                                                                                                  Michigan, and it was difficult to think about leaving them.”
                                                                                                     Nevertheless, Michelle agreed to travel to Springfield and
                                                                                                  talk with the director and staff about the potential opportunity.
                                                                                                  During her visit, she sensed the Lord say, This is where I’m calling
                                                                                                  you for the next stage of your life.




                                            “Lord, what am I going to do?.”   (Left) Missionary
                                            I prayed. “I’m a pharmacist.      Michelle Mahoney
                                                                              in Bangladesh and

                                            How are You going to use me?”     (right) in South
                                                                              Africa.



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Michelle Mahoney
                                              In 1999, Michelle applied for a two-year term as a           At the end of Michelle’s term as a missionary as-
                                            missionary associate with HCM. After a few months           sociate, she signed up for two more years — and two
                                            on staff, she traveled with a team to Lithuania. The        more after that. During her fifth year with HCM,
                                            team arrived without a problem, but their medications       she was on a trip to Zambia when she realized her
                                            were held in customs.                                       two-year commitments were no longer sufficient. She
                                              “Lord, what am I going to do?” Michelle prayed.           needed to apply for full missionary appointment.
                                            “I’m a pharmacist. How are You going to use me?”               HIV/AIDS and malaria were rampant in this area
                                              She went to a local pharmacy to check on available        of Zambia. Mothers were bringing their babies to the
                                            supplies and met the pharmacist, Ineta.                     clinic, unsure whether they would live or die.
                                              “I will never forget her,” says Michelle. “I have            “On the last day of the clinic, more than 400 people
                                            never felt a burden for anyone like I did for her.”         were in line,” says Michelle, “I was doing pharmacy
                                              Michelle was delighted when Ineta invited her to          and crowd control, and I had to tell them, ‘I’m sorry.
                                            join her and her daughter, Virginia, for lunch.             We have to close the clinic; we can’t see any more pa-
                                              During the meal, Virginia asked, “Why do you do           tients.’”
                                            what you do?”                                                  A woman from the crowd stepped up and asked
                                              Michelle shared what Christ had done in her heart         Michelle, “How can you leave when we are so desper-
                                            and life and why she traveled around the world to           ate?”
                                            share His love and compassion.                                 “I knew that these people — dying physically and
                                              That Friday evening, Ineta, Virginia and Virginia’s       spiritually — broke God’s heart,” says Michelle. “I
                                            daughter came to the HCM team’s evangelistic service.       also knew it was time for me to commit my life fully
                                            All three responded to the salvation invitation, and        to this ministry.” She was approved as an Assemblies
                                            Michelle led them to Christ.                                of God missionary in 2003.
                                              Michelle admits that prior to that trip she had              Today Michelle serves as pharmaceutical distribu-
                                            struggled, wondering how God would use her, a               tion leader at HCM. Some of her responsibilities in-
                                            pharmacist, in full-time missions. But in Lithuania,        clude procurement and distribution of medications for
                                            “God showed me that it isn’t what we have in our            all medical evangelism outreaches and assisting with
                                            hands,” she says. “When we have faith in God, He            logistics.
                                            takes it and multiplies it. I saw not one, not two, but        Over the years she has repeatedly witnessed how
                                            three generations come to Christ at one time and find       God uses His church to provide for needs at HCM.
                                            hope.”                                                      She remembers one specific time during her first week
                                              Each year, HCM hosts an average of 12 to 15 over-         at the ministry when she discovered there were no
                                            seas medical evangelism trips in response to requests       children’s vitamins in stock. To purchase what was
                                            from missionaries or national churches.                     needed for the scheduled overseas trips would cost
                                              “It’s amazing how God brings together the vol-            several thousand dollars a year. That very day, a
                                            unteer medical professionals needed for each trip,”         representative from a Women’s Ministries group in
                                            says missionary Deb Highfill, director of HealthCare        Oklahoma stopped by the HCM office. The trunk of
                                            Ministries. “Our volunteers include physicians, nurse       her car was full of children’s vitamins. Now several
                                            practitioners, nurses, dentists, ophthalmologists, op-      churches provide children’s vitamins as one of their
                                            tometrists, pharmacists and others.”                        regular missions projects.
                                              Prior to each trip, the team works closely with an           “Once a church or individual catches the vision of
                                            Assemblies of God missionary and/or a pastor of a           what HealthCare Ministries is doing,” says Michelle,
                                            local church in the area where the clinic will be held.     “they want to help.”
                                            In this way, they help facilitate the church’s vision and      Michelle is now beginning her 10th year with HCM
                                            outreach. All names and addresses of patients treated       and she recently completed her 33rd overseas trip.
                                            are provided to the local church for follow-up.                “It’s exciting to see the way God transforms lives,
                                              “On one of our trips to Benin, there was no church        both physically and spiritually,” says Michelle. “But at
                                            in the area,” says Michelle. “A pastor and two dea-         the same time, He is transforming me. I feel privileged
                                            cons from a neighboring village came to pray and            and honored to be a part of this ministry. I have seen
                                            share with the patients. Their partnership with us was      firsthand how God transforms us when we use the
                                            vital.”                                                     gifts and abilities He has placed in our lives for His
                                              In Benin, Michelle and five team members treated          honor and glory.” tpe
         Michelle in South Africa           more than 500 people in a village where voodoo was
                                            common. By the end of the clinic, more than half of         JANET WALKER is assistant editor of the World
                                            the patients had accepted Christ, and a church was          Missions Edition of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel.
                                            planted.                                                    E-mail your comments to tpe@ag.org.


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