For Dr. Susana Hernandez from Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a unique opportunity for her to serve the Lord through her medical profession. Hernandaz became a virtual resource for medical advice for pastors and congregations all around Juarez, Mexico.
Before the pandemic began, Hernandez was already actively serving as a Texas Baptists River Ministry missionary with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, working to benefit the surrounding communities of her area. Hernandez organized and participated in several medical clinics, preventive workshops and even first-aid training to help people with their health while also teaching them about Christ. River Ministry missionaries work on both sides of the Texas/Mexico border to serve their communities and connect churches to specific projects along the border and in the most populous Mexican cities.
“Our goal would always be to help people both physically and spiritually,” Hernandez said. “We want to show the love of Christ in everything we do whether that be a medical consultation or any other form of service to our communities,”
A change in plans
At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, all of the projects Hernandez was involved in came to a halt.
Moreover, while the early stages of the pandemic brought about an immense demand for doctors, Hernandez had to stay home as she was considered high-risk due to her pregnancy.
“Although I was happy with the blessing of a new baby, staying home was really difficult for me. I felt somewhat useless in my ability to serve God and my community. After all, I could already see myself helping people in the higher-at-risk areas, but in the end, the Lord had other plans for me,” Hernandez explained.
Mario Gonzalez, director of the River Ministry, encouraged Hernandez to use her time at home to reach out to all the pastors in Ciudad Juarez to support them through prayer and address any medical concerns they might have had.
Soon, several individuals from the different congregations began contacting Hernandez for help with their medical needs and questions.
“I think by now my phone number can be easily found all over Juarez,” Hernandez said, laughing.
“Throughout the whole period of quarantine, I found myself helping diagnose and treat people through video calls,” she continued. “Even when the virus was really aggressive [in Juarez], the Lord was merciful and gave me great wisdom to be able to help treat so many people remotely.”
Even though Hernandez was able to help meet the needs of many people through her free virtual consultations, the longevity of the pandemic devastated many resources within her area. In particular, Hernandez shared how there were times when food, medicine and especially portable oxygen machines were scarce for the people of Juarez.
In fact, toward the end of 2020, River Ministry partnered with the National Baptist Convention of Mexico to donate two portable oxygen machines in order to provide free treatment to those with below-normal oxygen levels.
“I believe it was during these times of great need where people realized God’s love for them,” Hernandez said.
“I would always tell them that through my own strength I didn’t have the means to help them. God was the one who orchestrated and allowed the means for them to receive the medicine or oxygen machine they needed to be healed,” Hernandez said. “It was through the Lord’s constant faithfulness and provision that we have been able to win a lot of souls for Christ.”
Continuing the mission
Hernandez noted that although COVID-19 cases are not as high as they were at the beginning of the pandemic, there is still a great need for medical assistance throughout the area.
For this reason, Hernandez, along with a group of doctors from Ciudad Juarez, hopes to resume the medical clinics twice a month to some of the communities around them. Hernandez also hopes to continue serving the medical needs of pastors and their congregations through her virtual and in-person consultations.
“There is no doubt in my mind that I am a doctor because God willed it so. I studied medicine in order to serve the Lord and help people, so wherever He sends me, I will go,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez asked the Texas Baptists family to continue supporting her ministry through prayer, especially for the protection of all her colleagues serving in the medical clinics, for the Lord to continue providing medical supplies to those who need it and for strength to continue working to help others.
“While right now there is a great need for medical assistance, there is an even greater need for Christ,” she said. “I believe it’s time to go out and share the love we have in Christ.”
For more information about River Ministry missionaries, go to txb.org/riverministry.