World Humanitarian Day shines a light on the hundreds of thousands of volunteers, professionals, and crisis-affected people who deliver urgent healthcare, shelter, food, protection, water, and much more. In honor of this day, we connected with QMG Gynecologist Dr. Deborah Woodard to learn how her heart was drawn to mission work and how the experience has impacted her personally and professionally as a physician in our community.
It was in 2010 when Dr. Deborah Woodard took her first mission trip to Honduras, an experience she calls “life-changing.” From that moment, she was committed to future trips to do her part to help people around the globe.
“I do mission work that involves both Christian ministry and medicine. My faith in Christ and His command to go and share the gospel to all the nations and to help is what inspired me to go on my first mission trip and continues to fuel my passion for missions,” she said.
Beyond Honduras, Dr. Woodard has also been to Haiti, Guatemala, and India. She and her family have been many times, and they often take teams of individuals from Quincy and other cities. They serve in whatever capacity is needed. Their work has included serving in rural medical clinics, distributing food, surgery, delivering babies, conducting vacation Bible schools, performing school physicals, providing education on hygiene and first aid, building houses and doing home repairs, praying with people, and preaching and teaching in local churches.
On each trip she takes, Dr. Woodard is inspired by the people she encounters. People, who despite their hardships, show strength and optimism.
“From my time in the mission field, I have so many stories of people who have touched my heart. One is of an elderly lady who had 10 children, four of whom had died in early childhood,” Dr. Woodard shared. “She lived in a small one-room hut with dirt floors in Honduras, but she had the biggest smile and tender heart. She loved Jesus and welcomed us into her home. Her faith truly inspired me. She displayed such beautiful humility and joy despite her difficult life circumstances.”
Some of her experiences have been difficult, including an incident during her time in Haiti. There was a massive trauma incident from a truck accident where people who were injured and dying came to her and her mission team for aid.
“Despite the tragedy, I was so inspired by how the Haitian people came from the villages to help us care for the injured and dying in any way they could,” she recalled. “It was a beautiful display of community in a severely impoverished country with often little hope. It is still a very emotional memory for our team, but I know that God had us there at just the right time to do what we could and remind us all of the fragility of life and the urgency of knowing Christ.”
The opportunity to go and serve has been humbling for Dr. Woodard. For her, mission work is a way to care for others who are in great need.
“I have seen people die right in front of me because they did not have access to basic human needs like clean water, food, or healthcare. Being able to help in a small way is very rewarding and life-changing,” she said.
Her trips have also shown her what a gift her chosen career is and what is truly important in life.
“It is humbling, and reminds me of the desperate need to know Christ in a dying world, and how we can use the gifts he has given us to care for others. It has made me more patient and compassionate. I am so incredibly grateful to be able to go and serve. My family and I lived and served in India for a three-month trip with one of the missions, and that experience strengthened my conviction that money and material comforts don’t really matter, but people do,” she said.
Dr. Woodard takes about two mission trips a year. She and her husband, Chris, are headed to Guatemala in September and India in January. For them, it’s an opportunity to share the love of Christ, meet desperate needs, and encourage the long-term missionaries in those countries.