Medical Clinics

One of the ways that Ridgway Ministries is serving in Bulgaria is through church-based medical centers.  Jesus was deeply concerned for the personal needs of people around Him, and as He ministered to them physically, people were drawn to learn more of God’s love and call to repentance.  



Many Bulgarians do not have the basic state health insurance coverage, which means that they are refused medical care in state-run hospitals and clinics.  In most places in the country there are no private clinics at all, and where they do exist, they are too expensive for most people.  With the help of sponsors from the U.S., we have helped six Baptist churches around the country open and operate medical clinics to assist with some of the physical needs of the people in their community.  Since their inception in 2002, they have ministered to thousands of people, many of whom had never had any contact with an evangelical church.


  The facilities are located on the property of the churches in order for people to associate the clinic with the church itself.  In some cases a part of the existing church building was able to be dedicated to the clinic and has been remodeled or finished according to strict architectural plans.  In other locations it was necessary to construct a separate facility to house the clinic. 


The church-based clinics are able to provide a wide variety of medical services to their communities.  Each one is provided with necessary equipment such as modern exam tables, basic medications, EKG, glucometer, blood pressure cuff and other instruments.  Salaries for part-time physician and nurse are included in the budget for each clinic.  They are available for ten to twenty hours of exams and procedures each week.  Most of them are believers, and all are dedicated professionals who show a caring attitude, unlike most of the medical personnel in state-run institutions.  In three of the clinics there is also a visiting nurse who visits home-bound patients, providing specialized care and spiritual encouragement. 



The church families have been very supportive of the clinics.  We often hear comments such as this:  “Through the medical center we are able to reach more people for Christ and to gain respect for the church in our town.  People are beginning to understand that we are not a sect, but that we are concerned for their needs.”



The third quarter, 2008, reports from our church-based clinics show that a total of 4809 patients were examined during the quarter, most of them free of charge. In addition, 1185 tests were performed in the clinical laboratory at the Sandanski Baptist Medical Center.  Many people from the community come here for tests because it has a good reputation for quality work. 



Sandanski Baptist Church houses our largest clinic and employs a full-time GP and dentist, two part-time doctors and a full-time laboratory.  An additional building is nearing completion.  It will house several medical offices, x-ray equipment and rooms for in-house care of patients for up to three days.  Pastor Mitko Podgorski says, “The church has much greater authority in town now.  Last year an clinic was conducted in which hundreds of pairs of glasses were distributed including to the fire chief, police chief and assistant mayor!”


  Several years ago six ladies from the Kazanluk Baptist Church committed to serve one day a week as volunteers in the clinic.  They greet people as they come in, try to converse with them and to put the newcomers at ease.  They may prepare a cup of tea or share some of the Christian literature and Bibles that are available in all the clinics.  Pastor George Gurdev said recently, “Our clinic is providing a great service, especially to older people in the city.  This past year we baptized six people who came to the church for the first time because of the medical center.  We praise God for that!”