Each month, First Assembly of God in Victorville, California (lead pastor Dr. John Martin), collaborates with Arrowhead Regional Medical Center to provide ministry and healthcare for those without insurance. The mobile medical ministry works in conjunction with the church's food bank, called Feed My Sheep in the High Desert.
Inside a mobile medical unit, two exam rooms and an educational room are available for patients, serving as a doctor's office on wheels. Health screenings, primary care and health education are provided for patients through licensed doctors and nurses from the medical center that volunteer to serve.
Linda Triska, who attends First AG, founded the ministry in November 2008 and now serves as the executive director. Tim Schoch, who also attends First AG, works alongside her as the director of operations. The ministry began after the county realized the need for health care in the High Desert and provided funding for the program.
"The High Desert is having a lot of financial problems," Triska says. "There is a very high unemployment rate - higher than the state average and even the national average - so people can't afford healthcare. By offering this ministry, we are helping the community. We're really grateful to Arrowhead that they selected Feed My Sheep for this program and that they chose to partner with our church."
The mobile unit is available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the third Monday of every month, and patients are accepted on an appointment basis. Typically, 30 patients are seen and treated that day.
"The doctors and nurses will see any patients that don't have health insurance," Triska explains. "It's treatment and follow-up, not just screenings. People who haven't had treatment in a long time are able to see a doctor and get treated."
Triska recalls one patient that was treated at the mobile unit. The girl was very sick and they discovered she had diabetes that was going untreated, Triska says. She was able to receive the medication she needed and was referred to educational programs to learn more about her condition.
"I love the program," Triska says. "We're able to cater to the low income and needy that otherwise might not have received health care."
Most of the patients that are treated are clients that come to the food bank. "Through the food bank, we're able to pass out tracts, offer Bibles, pray with them and direct them to church services," she says. "Our bottom goal when we started the food bank was to reach people for the Lord. We are feeding their stomachs, but we're really after feeding their souls. We are hoping to get the gospel out in our part of the world."
Currently, there is a food bank on three of the four First Assembly campuses, but the mobile medical unit is only available on the Victorville campus. Triska is intently working on getting the ministry up and running on the other campuses.