Grace Dental Mission – Founding and Early Years
Grace Dental Missions, Inc. (GDM) was founded in 1996 as a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation whose purpose was to help local churches in their efforts toward worldwide evangelism. Earlier, in 1992, an opportunity had presented itself to help a missionary family on furlough from Africa with their personal dental needs. An outgrowth of this experience was an awareness of the difficulties many missionary families face obtaining affordable dental care. The mission was formally established a few years later with a burden to help missionaries by providing free dental care to qualified families both in the United States and on foreign fields.
The first two ministry trips to foreign fields (Senegal, West Africa and Papua New Guinea), were primarily focused on treating missionary families serving in those locations. While on these trips it became obvious that the dental ministry could also be used as a tool to bring unsaved people in contact with the message of the Gospel. Beginning with a ministry trip to Mexico in 1998, the focus of GDM began to shift toward assisting missionaries and local churches in their evangelistic outreach. While still interested in meeting the dental needs of the missionaries, the overriding purpose of the ministry trips became evangelistic: bringing missionaries in contact with those seeking dental care. It was not unusual that during a two-week dental clinic ministry several hundred people would be brought into contact with the local church planting missionary and local believers.
Also in 1998, GDM started to include non-dental participants in these ministries to aid in the evangelistic outreach, with a particular emphasis on ministering to children. This proved to be beneficial not only to the missionary on the field, but also to those participating and their respective local churches. These “team field trips” became a regular part of the mission.
Grace Dental and Medical Missions – New Name but Same Objective
Along with making evangelism our first objective, we began to see other health care professionals, such as physicians, nurses, and dental hygienists expressing their desire to serve God with their skills and love for the lost. With an expansion into other fields of medicine we concluded that we could impact even greater numbers of people by going beyond dentistry. As a result, the Board of Directors voted in February, 2009 to officially change our name from Grace Dental Mission to Grace Dental and Medical Missions (GDMMissions). Within a few years we added another full-time missionary family (Rick and Becky Enterline) and four associates (Mary Chase, Katrina Caturan, J.P. and Dr. Johanna Caturan-Pornan.)
GDMMissions – Focus on Core Regions
Increased complexity in the ministry naturally followed our growth in worldwide opportunities and more profesionals willing to participate. We moved into a permanent office in Methuen, MA at the end of 2012. As the Lord allows continued growth in our numbers, we are looking toward three specific geographic regions where we plan to extend help to local missionaries beyond evangelism into discipleship, church planting, and leadership training: Benin (Africa), Philippine Islands, and Micronesia. We will continue using medical and dental clinics in other countries where evangelism is culturally or politically suppressed.
A Worldwide Ministry Aimed at Individuals
Since its founding in 1996, GDMMissions has treated approximately 2,000 missionary family members and participated in over 75 mission trips to almost 30 different countries.
Local churches now exist that trace their origins to repeated, focused evangelistic clinics that opened up villages and neighborhoods to the Gospel. Ten thousand individuals across the globe are exposed to the Gospel each year as a result of GDMMissions ministries.