[EDITOR’S NOTE: The South Georgia Advocate is the news source of the South Georgia United Methodist Church. Editor Kara Witherow recently published a story about Hazlehurst First United Methodist Church youth’s project to convert a shipping container into a solar powered medical clinic to be sent to Africa. The story follows.]
By Kara Witherow
Editor, The South Georgia Advocate
A group of South Georgia United Methodists has turned a can into a clinic.
Partnering with Rev. Bobby Gale and his Unto the Least of His ministry, Hazlehurst First United Methodist Church’s youth group has turned a shipping container into an obstetrics and gynecology clinic. By the end of the month, it will be completed, filled with more than $5 million in medical supplies and medicines, and shipped to Africa.
The clinic, which will be placed in Ghana, will serve approximately 5,000 people who currently have little to no access to health care. Fully solar powered, the container clinic has two patient rooms, an office, and a bathroom. Medical professionals will be assigned to the clinic by the Ghanaian government, Rev. Gale said.
“I know the importance of good medical healthcare and how it can change people’s lives,” he said. “God has taken a tin can – these old containers – and turned it into a miracle. Maybe now a mother won’t have to go to the riverside to have her baby. Maybe she’ll be able to have it with a little bit of decency and encouragement. That right there is what the church is supposed to be doing.”
Youth and adults worked side-by-side on the project, installing walls, insulation, the solar unit and batteries, building a closet for the batteries, wiring for 120-volt and 220-volt outlets, and more.
Rev. Allen Hartsfield, senior pastor of Hazlehurst First UMC and a former electrician, provided leadership on the project and installed the wiring. Jonathan Hartsfield, Hazlehurst First UMC’s youth director and former engineer, handled all of the solar work.
The project was an opportunity for the church’s congregation and youth to participate in something together that would benefit others.
“Seeing what we can do from here, together with our community, that’s going to go across the world and help a tremendous amount of people, was important,” Jonathan Hartsfield said of the project.
Joshua Parker, a 16-year-old junior at Jeff Davis High School, was one youth who helped construct the container clinic.
Excited about the project, Parker says it was one way to serve others and share Christ’s love.
“It’s a way we can worship God outside of singing hymns and listening to sermons,” he said. “It’s another way we can worship God, through loving people by sending this, showing our love to our neighbors.”
This is the second container clinic of 10 Rev. Gale hopes to build and send to Ghana. The first was constructed by Hopewell and Crosby Chapel United Methodist Churches in Baxley. Two more are being planned, one to be built by Wrightsville United Methodist Church and the other a partnership between Northview United Methodist Church in Perry and Andrew United Methodist Church in Kathleen.
“It’s a beautiful act of mercy,” Rev. Gale said. “God is taking a tin can – a container – and turning it into something fabulous.”