The people of Lubango, Angola are eagerly awaiting the completion of a new hospital that believers hope will make a difference in health care in the city of one million people.
The Evangelical Medical Center, which has been in the planning stages since 2000, will be officially dedicated on June 11 during an upcoming Festival of Hope with evangelist Franklin Graham.
Churches of the Angolan Evangelical Alliance (AEA) have dreamed of a medical ministry that will be a witness to the city, wrote North Carolina-based Serving in Missions (SIM) in a recent report.
The churches of AEA, which are sponsoring the effort, hope it has an impact for Christ in the Lubango area, the mission agency added.
According to SIM, the medical center has been under construction since 2003 and has cost $3.7 million (USD) so far in private gifts through the Christian development group Samaritan's Purse and through grants from USAID.
Dr. Steven Foster, who serves as the clinical director for the new hospital, has been partnering with the AEA and Samaritans Purse since 2000 to develop this ministry. Foster, a Canadian surgeon who has worked in Angola as a SIM missionary since 1978, recently toured the medical center with fifty young representatives of Lubango area churches.
As he showed the facilities to the visiting group of church representatives, Foster explained the goals of the hospital.
"God made people and they have infinite value which is why we need to give value to the patients who come here and treat them with respect," the clinical director said, according to SIM.
A large sign announces the project with the verse Luke 9:2, "Jesus sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick."
"We need to be a model in society of how to care for these needy people and be an example to the community," Foster said.
With 40 beds initially, the hospital will offer semi-private rooms for higher-paying patients to cover the costs of those who cannot pay, SIM reported. There will be heated rooms in the wards for the colder months of the year, and showers wide enough to be used easily by paraplegics. Wards will be built by June when the hospital opens as part of the Franklin Graham Evangelistic Festival in Lubango.
The hospital also hopes to minister to the increasing numbers of HIV and AIDS patients.
According to SIM, the official dedication of the Evangelical Medical Center will be June 11, 2005 during Franklin Grahams Festival of Hope.