Top row, left to right: Elizabeth Centurión, Larissa Dean, Tiffany Wang, Jessica Bedele; Bottom row, left to right: Abby Weems, Juliana Bonilla, Nadine Kamel, Sosela Rrusho
I have no words for describing how grateful I am for being part of this huge opportunity. This blog is not enough to express all the emotions that I have had throughout this program. It is amazing how God has brought SMI students from different parts from the country and even from different parts of the world. We didn’t know each other before coming here and we didn’t know about our respective pasts or backgrounds; but each day, we got to know more about each other in a deeply spiritual way, until a point where I now feel that I have known them all my life. It is incredible how God is the common denominator, and how He is a huge bridge that allows us to build strong Christian relationships. These are relationships that will last for life and that help us grow in our spiritual faith and as individual people; I am completely grateful to God that I got to meet and have a relationship with these amazing people. Since the first day, I saw how God is within my friends, and that allowed me to learn from them.
To be completely honest, I came here afraid. I am the youngest of the group and I will be a junior as a Pre-Med. I thought that I was probably going to feel intimidated during the program, thinking I was not capable or probably good not enough. Nevertheless, this idea was gone since the first day, the idea of being vulnerable was gone, and I felt incredible under the protection of my friends here at SMI. They all supported me and helped me throughout the program. I got sick two times at SMI, one of them included going to the ER. This experience was a way where God showed me His love through my friends. Each of them took care of me and helped me through my recovery, as well as the staff members who took care of me and showed interest in my recovery; all the loneliness and vulnerability went away and I was filled by His love.
Besides, during each outreach, there were doors that were knocked, and in different ways these were a life-changing experiences. North Philadelphia is a very vulnerable place, where drugs, hunger and poverty are predominant. On each day that we started an outreach, I needed to remind myself of the context where I was. It was crucial to be aware that people in these neighbors are facing drug addiction, sexual abuse, and have endured other types of unimaginable suffering.
In each house we entered there was a spirit seeking for the gospel, there was a spirit seeking for peace and love. Every step that we walked was a step of hope that we provided for these people. We met people through screens and we realized how God has been working in their lives. There have been couple of times where someone might open a door, and the person received us wearing a heavy sadness or brokenness on their face. However, we realized how much God can work through a simple blood pressure or blood sugar test. At the beginning, I hadn’t realized how much hope we were bringing them by expressing interest in their physical and spiritual health. Even when the days were really hot and we had been doing screenings for a long time, we had a huge responsibility with every single patient. Therefore, we took our time and educated them as best as we could. I realized how important it was to not take health education for granted, considering most of the patients were not familiar with what blood pressure means, or what diabetes is about. Doing screens was not only about finding the systolic and diastolic number of a person; it was about letting them know how their body functions and how perfectly God designed their human body. After doing this door-to-door ministry, I gained tremendous understanding about God’s purpose for my life and reason why I was in Philadelphia for SMI.
I feel as though SMI is not just an intense three-week program, but it is also a life-changing experience. Even though the first day I came here with the idea of helping others, I found out SMI mostly helped me. It helped me understand the importance of being a Christian doctor, and the importance of restoring the physical and spiritual brokenness through God.
– My name is Juliana Bonilla, I am from Colombia, I go to Cornerstone University in Michigan, and I am a child of God.