Rebekah Naylor, a decorated surgeon and medical missionary to India, didn’t always know that she was going to be a surgeon, or even a missionary.

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Rebekah Naylor is a surgeon and long-time medical missionary to India for 45 years. IMB Photo

Naylor first felt the Lord calling her to the mission field as a teenager when missionaries visited her church in Arkansas, where her dad was a pastor. Fast forward to the 1960s when Naylor first felt called to become a surgeon. Her journey was not an easy one. Naylor wanted to be a surgeon in a time that women weren’t normally surgeons.

However, through the Lord’s guiding and provision, Naylor was accepted into a program and became a surgeon who would eventually spend 45 years on the medical mission field in what she called a “uniquely impactful” experience.

But what did Naylor mean when she said medical missions are uniquely impactful?

“As healthcare professionals, we are able to cross every geographic, cultural and economic barrier because all people need healthcare,” she explained. “But perhaps what is most significant and unique is the fact that, in healthcare, a person can get to a spiritual conversation in minutes. For most others, it takes days, weeks or months of relationship building to have a spiritual conversation. In healthcare we’re able to talk about spiritual matters very quickly.”

This is just one part of a testimony Naylor and others like her will tell at the MedAdvance Conference, July 18-20, at Oklahoma City, Quail Springs.

MedAdvance is an International Mission Board (IMB) sponsored conference that engages health care workers and church leaders with opportunities in health care missions. Those who attend will be able to network with health care professionals from around the world, become better equipped to join God in His mission and explore how to leverage health care skills and experiences on the mission field.

At MedAdvance, Tom Elliff will present three evening messages. Elliff, former pastor of Del City, First Southern, recently served as IMB’s senior vice president for spiritual nurture and church relations. In addition to his work with the IMB, Elliff pastored for 42 years.

Hance Dilbeck, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, will lead Bible studies at the event.

“I have been involved in medical missions for about 40 years, and certainly I’ve seen much accomplished through medical missions,” Naylor said. “One of the things which is becoming more and more important today is that they can give us access to restricted places and to people whom otherwise we could not see.

“It gives us opportunities to be in an environment like a clinic or a home visit where we are able to safely share the Gospel. It’s very important. We are meeting needs that Jesus has commanded us to do. Medical missions can also result in church planting and empowering leaders in local churches,” Naylor said.

MedAdvance will feature testimonies from overseas workers, updates from around the world, breakout sessions on topics useful in the United States and internationally, a special student event on Thursday night and a commitment service on Saturday night.

Cost is $99, which covers the conference fee, dinner on Thursday evening, and lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday.

“Historically, as well as on-going, we see tremendous things that God does through healthcare,” Naylor said. “This conference is not just what it will do if you go overseas. I think it has affected people day-to-day in whatever job they practice or in communicating their faith, and in ways they can engage in missions here at home.”