Jackie Bailey was in her 50s before she started volunteering on a regular basis. Her office requires employees to put some hours into the community, so Jackie started serving with Shepherd’s Door, Portland Rescue Mission’s transitional care facility for women. When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Jackie felt compelled to go. She went to New Orleans with Forward Edge, and it was there that Jackie’s desire was sparked to keep going and giving what she can in the world.
Since 2005, Jackie has been on numerous short-term mission trips as well as one six-month trip with Mercy Ships in Sierra Leone. On Saturday, Jackie is heading out for another eight months with Mercy Ships, this time to Madagascar!
Jackie glows when she talks about Mercy Ships. She had many highlights to share of her time in Sierra Leone and she expects the same in Madagascar.
The Mercy Ship is a 16,500-ton, fully-equipped hospital ship. Over 400 people from 40 different countries volunteer their time and expertise to provide free treatment to thousands of patients while in port. Their emphasis is maxillofacial, reconstructive, plastics, orthopedic, ophthalmic and dental surgeries for those who have little or no access to this specialized healthcare.
“The challenge is enormous, but don’t let the statistics numb you. Every number has a name, a face and a story. And they will break your heart,” writes Mercy Ships of the problem. Their solution? For over 30 years, they have “followed the model of Jesus to bring hope and healing to the world’s poor one life, one community and one nation at a time.” Since 1978, Mercy Ships has visited over 70 countries, treating more than 2.5 million people!
Jackie will fly to Capetown, South Africa this coming weekend to meet The Mercy Ship. On this tour, Jackie will assist the Crew Physician and the Screening Team, which means she will be screening potential and incoming patients. Jackie says this is exciting for her because she will have more interaction with the patients as well as the locals who come on board during the day as interpreters, drivers, or other various workers.
There is something to do on-board The Mercy Ship every night of the week. There are Bible studies and worship services as well as ongoing professional training in specialized topics. There is even an accredited K-12 school for volunteer families! Volunteers are encouraged to worship with local churches on land. In Sierra Leone, Mercy Ships partnered with local churches to show the Jesus Film. Other opportunities include observing surgeries, and visiting or praying with recovering patients.
One of my favorite stories Jackie told of Sierra Leone was the weekly Celebration of Sight when people blinded by cataracts danced on The Mercy Ship deck, their sight completely restored by a simple surgery they could never have accessed in their country. I also loved hearing about the Living Blood Bank. Whenever a patient with your blood type is in the operating room, you can be on-call to donate. Later, you can actually meet the man or woman who now shares your blood!
As we talked about the great needs in the world, Jackie reflected on the huge number of retiring Baby Boomers with health and resources to share. But what are they going to do with these gifts? “There is always enough to go around,” Jackie said. It is the principle of loaves and fishes—God always multiplies the little that we give. What if more Baby Boomers gave their time and resources to help other people? What if all of us did that? There are many opportunities to serve in other countries, but there are also many opportunities to serve in our own neighborhoods.
The great needs of those around us belong to people with names and stories. What if each of us committed to following Jesus in giving what we have to bring hope and restoration to the people he places in our lives? One by one, the people around us would be transformed, and this would spread throughout our community, our nation and our world.
Thank you, Jackie, for sharing your story with us and for inspiring us to each do our part in loving others, changing the world one person at a time! We love you and can’t wait to hear the ways God multiplies what you are about to give in Madagascar!