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HCJB World Radio Hospital in Ecuador Celebrates 50 Years of Service

September 26, 2005

HCJB World Radio Hospital in Ecuador Celebrates 50 Years of Service

September 26, 2005

September 26, 2005

HCJB World Radio is celebrating 50 years of medical ministries in Ecuador this week with a vision to expand the work around the world in collaboration with local medical partners.

Hospital Vozandes-Quito, the 76-bed mission hospital founded by HCJB World Radio, officially opened on Oct. 12, 1955. "Vozandes" is Spanish for "Voice of the Andes," named after the international shortwave radio station that was founded in Quito by Clarence Jones and Reuben Larson in 1931. The hospital served nearly 160,000 patients in 2004.

"In the last 50 years the work has grown, and we've been blessed to provide quality, Christ-centered healthcare via hospitals, clinics, education and community development," said Latin America Healthcare Director Sheila Leech. "We've learned some lessons, and now it's time to look outside of Ecuador and into the rest of Latin America and the world. Our focus continues to be providing integral healthcare so people come to Christ and join healthy churches."

In recent years the medical staff has worked with local partners in countries such as Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Indonesia. New opportunities are opening with potential partners in Colombia, Honduras, Republic of Congo, South Africa and Malawi.

Hospital Administrator Daniel Shedd added, "The future has many challenges, but as we stay focused on what God wants us to do, we can't go wrong. Our vision is to offer integral and qualitative healthcare, directed by biblical principles . . . extending His kingdom for the glory of God in Ecuador and beyond. We don't know the future, but we know who holds the future in His hands."

Anniversary Celebrations

The anniversary celebrations kicked off on Sunday, Oct. 9, with a "Family Day" attended by some 1,400 hospital employees, missionaries and their families. "There was a huge cake with candles, and balloons that were released into the air," Shedd explained. "At about 4 p.m. there was a thunderstorm and things got a little damp. By then about two-thirds of the people left, but about 400 stayed for the activities that continued in the covered court at the Alliance Academy International (next to the hospital)."

Shedd led a Bible meditation, and various contests were held, including a baking competition featuring typical foods from different parts of Ecuador.

The festivities continued on Wednesday, Oct. 12, with a special coffee time during which two commemorative plaques were presented by Jim Estes, director of the Latin America region, and the Association of Employees of HCJB and Hospital Vozandes-Quito. A total of 47 employees and doctors who had served at the hospital for at least 20 years were recognized with a pergamino (illuminated parchment) and a commemorative coin.

Missionaries Michio Ozaki and Dorothy Nelson provided special music, and various music groups from HCJB World Radio and local churches visited patients on the floors and serenaded them. "We also handed out tracts at the front door, and there was a puppet team at the 'Bible corner' to entertain the children and present the gospel," Shedd added.

On Wednesday evening a three-hour open house was held for all former employees and retirees to share memories and photos. "There was a fair amount of catching up to do with some of the 'old-timers,'" he said.

Dr. Paul Roberts, the hospital's Canadian founder, presented a slide show, and the evening ended with fireworks. Three of the hospital's first of the first licensed nurses-Beth Huddleston, Ruth Burbank Winslow and Martha Brunner-were also present along with nurse Kay Erb Berry who first came to Ecuador with Roberts in 1949. Dr. and Mrs. Ev Fuller, founder of Hospital Vozandes-Shell, were also present for the celebration.

On the evening of Friday, Oct. 14, Roberts will address the crowd at a special meeting to be emceed by retired Ecuadorian missionary Lenin De Janón. Invited dignitaries from Ecuador's government and representatives of the national and provincial medical associations will be present. Among the many invitees is Ecuadorian President Dr. Alfredo Palacio who is also a cardiologist, and Quito Mayor Paco Moncayo.

Retiree Dr. Wally Swanson will speak about Project Life, a 10-year renovation and rebuilding project that started in the mid-1980s, and the hospital's medical residency program. Leech will speak on the future plans of healthcare, and attendees will see a 20-minute video on the hospital.

"We're also unveiling the book edited by Dr. Juan Roldán and Gabriel Ordoáez who documented the history of the hospital in their new book, The 50 Years of Hospital Vozandes," Shedd said.

Musicians David Cliffe and Lois Vásconez wrote and arranged a special song in commemoration of the hospital that will be performed by the ensemble Conjunto HC. Testimonies will come from Dr. Galo Nuáez, who came to know the Lord through the medical education program several years ago, as well as a couple who just accepted Christ while at the hospital within the last two weeks. Mélida Logacho, secretary for nursing administration, who came to know the Lord in the hospital will also testify. Estes will give a challenge for the future.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, missionaries who served in the hospital will be honored in a tent set up in the courtyard of Radio Station HCJB (across the street from the hospital). There will be a luncheon and an informal time of sharing testimonies, especially by those who live overseas.

At 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, Pastor José "Chema" Reinoso will preach at a service of gratitude at the Iáaquito Evangelical Church while De Janón will again be the emcee. Reinoso is associate director of HCJB World Radio's Latin America region. The present and past hospital administrators, healthcare directors and medical directors will also testify, presenting "stones of remembrance"-stories of the blessings that God has bestowed about the hospital throughout the years.

Early Beginnings

The idea for HCJB World Radio's medical ministries came from mission co-founders Clarence Jones and Reuben Larson who launched the radio work in 1931. They approached Roberts in Toronto in 1946 while he was still a medical student regarding missions work in Ecuador.

"I spoke on a couple of other occasions with Clarence Jones and Reuben Larson, and they told me of their dream of establishing a medical work in Ecuador," Roberts explained. "They said they needed a doctor in Ecuador to establish a missionary clinic. I think they then had 30 missionaries, 'and boy, we need a doctor for 30 missionaries!'"

That same year Jones wrote to mission trustees, explaining the need for health workers to provide "medical supervision for our HCJB family, both national and foreign."

Dr. Harry Rimmer, missionary voice of the "Morning Cheer" radio program in Philadelphia, visited Ecuador and asked Clarence Jones how he might help HCJB. Rimmer and Dr. George Palmer, director of the same program, then began raising funds to build an Indian Clinic in 1948.

As a result of these fund-raising efforts, the Albergue y Dispensario Indígena (Indigenous Hostel and Dispensary) was inaugurated on April 28, 1950. In practice, it didn't serve as an overnight hostel, but as an outpatient clinic, said Roger Reimer, former director of the Healthcare Division.

But Roberts had a much bigger dream than just a clinic for missionaries or a small Indian hostel clinic. He envisioned a large, modern hospital where all Ecuadorians would receive the best medical care possible, regardless of their ability to pay. He also envisioned a teaching hospital where Ecuadorian doctors and nurses would be trained and a place where God's love would be shown to everyone who entered its doors.

In 1952 Roberts and Palmer began raising funds for the mission-run hospital which opened as Rimmer Memorial Hospital on Oct. 12, 1955. It is now commonly referred to as Hospital Vozandes-Quito.

HCJB World Radio, the world's first missionary broadcast organization, has been touching lives around the globe since 1931. Together with its local partners, HCJB World Radio now has ministries in more than 100 countries and broadcasts the gospel in nearly 120 languages and dialects. The mission's passion is to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that people are transformed and become active, vital parts of the body of Christ. HCJB World Radio also ministers through healthcare and training . . . doing whatever it takes, so all may hear.