Dr. Mark Coker of Thomaston took his medical talents on the road recently, all the way to the Andes Mountains of Peru. With his 10-year-old son, Wesley, and a multi-denominational group, he joined with Team Expansion to minister to the remote Quechua people.
“The Quechua, who are descendents of the ancient Incas,” said Dr. Coker, “remain a primitive people whose needs are great.”
Dr. Coker treated over 100 patients a day, some of whom had walked four hours for medical care.
“Lack of clean water and non-existent sanitation are the beginnings of the health issues for this people group. Ecoli and parasites, which are easily treated in the United States, go unchecked in this inaccessible area. The diet of potatoes and little protein cause malnourishment resulting in small stature and bone deformities. The dry, high Andes air combined with the harsh equatorial sun results in leather-like skin for even the youngest members of the group. Cataracts and blindness due to the sun’s UV rays could be averted with proper eye care and sunglasses,” said Coker.
“I would like to see people both here and in Peru step up and help the Quechua, not with handouts, but with education, business advice and connections as well as church partnering. After providing clean water sources, the people need to learn basic hygiene. Training locals in several villages to administer donated medicine and vaccinations would raise the health standards drastically. People with knowledge and expertise in agronomy and animal husbandry could advise the Quechua to expand their diet to include more variety in plants and animals that could be produced as a food source year around. Extensive breeding programs of a high protein meat source could help the economy and the health of the people. Cloth woven in traditional intricate patterns of the Quechua could find a market here and abroad. These are a few of the possibilities that we brainstormed to raise the general health and welfare of the Quechua. It takes people with a vision and a passion to make things happen.”
The most important need of the Quechua is spiritual and because of the remoteness of the villages, there is inadequate Christian representation.
“As I treated people, the other volunteers prayed with the patients standing in line and over two hundred people were introduced to the gospel of Christ and accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior,” said Coker. “Every night during the week we were there, seventy native pastors met, creating ties between large native churches and the remote villages where we were ministering. It was exciting to see Catholics and Protestants work together to share Christ’s love to a needy people.”
Bibles in the Quechua language are available, but are in limited supply in that area. To donate or volunteer to help, contact TeamExpansion.org.