Every one of these points I am about to make has a story behind it, that I would love to share, but don’t have time here. So I’m going to give you the highlights. But, if any of this peaks your interest, let’s grab coffee!When I was a little girl I believed I could change the world. I believed that I could do anything. I grew up in a nurturing environment with parents who supported and encouraged me in my dreams, regardless of what they were. I truly believed the world was at my feet. I had a wonderful Christian foundation with Sunday school and Youth Group, but am not sure I really, truly did “get it.”
My family started attending Hopewell Reformed Church when I was in the eleventh grade. Shortly after becoming a member, Pastor Randy Prentiss approached me to see if I was interested in attending a youth mission trip to Mexico in August 2002. My Mom started thinking of multiple polite excuses to get me out of going when, much to her surprise, I replied that I would love to. That trip single handedly changed my life. Something started burning in my heart while I was there, something that would not be smoldered.
One of the outreaches our group did was to a migrant workers camp. It was there we met a man who was very ill from what appeared to be a chronic ear infection, but was probably much more serious. We could see the city of Ensenada from where we worked, yet this man would never receive the medical care he needed. It was here that I was first touched by the life of the extreme poor in a third world country and the inequalities of the world.
I returned to Poughkeepsie transformed; determined that I would change the world. It was at that point that I committed myself as a medical missionary, though I didn’t yet have it right. I stood at this pulpit almost 10 years ago speaking of my experience and the new path Christ was leading me on. I went away to college and returned to Mexico two more times, both validating my desire to help those without access to basic health care. I knew this was the path I needed to take, but I didn’t know how. And I was certain Mexico was not the country I was being called to.
Through college, the desire to serve as a medical provider in a third world country was never far from my mind, but the secular world enveloped my life. I only went to church when returning home and my prayer life consisted of pleas to pass a test. I continued on a path in medicine, but was sure an organization like the Peace Corps or Doctors Without Borders was the right route for me. Who needs God? After all, I was going to save the world. I was going to heal people.
I graduated Philadelphia Universityin August of 2009 as a Physician Assistant and moved to NYC determined to live the American single-girl-in-the-city dream. My best friend and I rented an apartment on the upper east-side of Manhattan, I took a lucrative job at Montefiore Hospital and had many plans for travel and entertainment.
Once again God had another plan and a youth leader at HRC approached me. Lourdes Kleid, who saw my youth commitment to medical missions, invited me to the Dominican Republic with Sowers of the Kingdom. Sure, why not I thought. I love an adventure, and the timing was perfect because the trip would take place before beginning my new job. And, a little God in my life wouldn’t be a bad thing.
When I look at my life, it’s hard not to divide it as pre- and post- DR 2009. Outwardly, I remained the same Rachel. But, inwardly everything changed. God spoke to me on that trip and I finally listened. I was blessed to have the opportunity to spend my first job as a newly licensed PA serving Him. As a team we saw hundreds of patients. Patients who had never felt the touch of a stethoscope on their chest. Patients who had walked miles and waited hours to see us. Patients who had stolen my heart.
I knew on that trip that Christ was calling me to this place. Moving to the Dominican Republic was the only thing that made sense to me. I developed a hunger for Christ, to follow Him wherever He may lead. I no longer cared that I had a beautiful apartment on the upper east side. I didn’t care about the money I would be making or the trips I would get to go on. I knew I needed to do everything I could to get back to the DR and use the gifts Jesus has given me to provide care for those that are forgotten by so many.
And everything finally clicked. This was not about me. I cannot save the world. I cannot provide enough health care for everyone. I am not strong enough to move to a third world country alone. But the one who is calling me is. This , this overwhelming desire to serve the poor in the DR, is all for Christ’s glory. So that He may use me to further His will. I finally understood. I yearn to give health care that provides both physical and spiritual healing. To hold my patient’s hands and bow our heads in prayer when there is nothing further I can do as a health care provider.
In July I went to the DR, my 5th trip in a year and a half, for an interview and was accepted by the Christian organization Students International to lead their medical mission site. Lourdes has been taking youth from HRC to the DR with this organization since 2005. Students International pairs long term missionaries that have occupational skills with short term mission groups. My role will be multi-faceted. Several days a week I will work in a clinic within the city of Jarabacoa. But the majority of the time, I hope to do outreaches to remote villages that have little to no access to medicine. I want to implement health care education and prevention programs. But most importantly, I want to speak about the faith I have in Christ. To speak of a God who loves His children regardless of life circumstances.
As I’ve been on this the questions I get the most are about my call. The truth is, I’m not quite sure I even understand what a “call” truly is. What I do know is that we are all a part of a far greater plan than we can even fathom. And Christ has an individual plan for each and everyone one of us. Mine may be a little extreme with moving to a third world country, but all of us play a part in the kingdom of God.
In Matthew 22 Christ simplifies things for us. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself.” Well, simply put, I believe everyone should receive health care.
We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, whether in the states or the DR. It is our duty, as Christ followers, to provide for those who are unable to provide for themselves.
As Matthew 25:40 says, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” God has given me family in the DR and to them I will go.
Rachel Snider – Missionary
Rachel Snider spoke to the congregation on Sunday November 20, 2011 and met with them during the Fellowship time following each service.