Faith sending physician to aid tsunami victims|[2/3/05]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 3, 2005

A Vicksburg doctor says he relied on his faith in answering a call to learn to practice medicine. This time, the call is sending him across two oceans.

Dr. Daniel Edney, an internal medicine physician at The Street Clinic in Vicksburg, will embark Sunday for Indonesia on a medical relief mission to tsunami victims.

“This is part of my calling as a physician,” he said, “God called me to become a doctor – to serve him in the practice of medicine. I have tried to be sensitive to where he has wanted me to go. It became clear to me exactly when my skills and training would come in and fit the calling I feel God has placed in my life.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Edney has used his Baptist faith as a means of reaching out to the community of Vicksburg. About seven years ago, he opened the First Baptist Medical and Dental Ministry in Vicksburg to provide people without insurance or health coverage with medical and emergency dental needs. And, in 2003, the faith-filled doctor began offering free medical advice with a Christian perspective on WQBC radio.

Sunday, he will take his medical skills and faith to southeast Asia, reeling from devastation of tsunamis that hit coastal areas Dec. 26.

“This is my first international relief effort,” Edney said. “For the past 15 years, I’ve been ministering to our community.”

Edney has joined a team from the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief to support the efforts of the Southern Baptist Convention’s disaster relief program. They are the first group from the International Mission Board of the SBC to go to south Asia. The second group, a team of medical experts, is scheduled to go Feb. 28, 10 days after Edney’s group returns.

The six others on his team will prepare hot meals and clean water, while Edney provides medical care.

It was a month ago that Edney found he had been selected to go to Indonesia, the hardest-hit area. But, since he heard the news about the disaster, he has wished for this opportunity.

“I thought, ‘Boy, I wish I could do something,'” he said. “I knew I would help by praying and giving support financially, but when I heard physicians from secular walks of life were going, I became burdened – I wished there was more that I could do,” he said. “And, that’s when the doors started opening – it’s all happened so quickly.”

It was only a week later that the doctor began taking five series of vaccinations to protect him from the rapid spread of disease in south Asia. He is taking medication to protect himself from typhus, malaria, measles, polio and tetanus.

His preparation for this trip goes beyond taking vaccinations and having a medical degree. Edney has been training for disaster response since Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the United States. In the last year he has become certified through the American Medical Association on disaster relief. While the training was specific to terrorist attacks, Edney will take what he has learned in the two completed courses and apply it to the emergency response that is needed in southeast Asia.

“I’m very glad that I haven’t had to use the training before now, but it’s exciting for that training not to go to waste,” he said. “It can be put to use to help others.”

Edney has been told to be flexible because of the increasing number of deaths and illnesses in the area. He expects to treat patients suffering from complications from acute injuries, diarrhea related illnesses and treating and containing malaria.

“I will also continue to provide any trauma care and look out for the health and well-being of my team,” he said.

By providing food, water and health care, Edney said his team will show Christ’s love in action. There are dangers because the areas are populated by revolutionaries and by Muslim sects hostile to Christian views.

“Some of these Islamic nations are not happy about Christian relief, and there are Christian missionaries we are trying to protect, so we have to be discreet,” he said. “Our main focus is to meet the urgent physical needs – and, save some lives if possible. And, we will do that in ways that show Christ’s love.”

It is the overwhelming response from the community that has encouraged Edney as he prepares for this “physically and emotionally demanding” task.

Third-graders from Debrah Culbertson’s class at Dana Road Elementary drew pictures for Edney to give to the children in Indonesia. Twelve-year-old Kelli Brewer raised $300 to help pay for supplies. Edney said the money bought practically all the medicine the team will take.

“Its been a great encouragement to me to see everyone rally around the importance of this cause,” he said.

He believes, while he is doing what God has called him to do, much more effort is needed before the affected areas receive the relief they need. He hopes the community continues, not only to support him, but also give financial help to the victims.

“There’s going to be so much work to do – for a very long time,” he said.