BRENTWOOD, TN – When we list the needs of the underserved, indigenous, and poverty-stricken people around the world, we rarely include one of their greatest yet most visible needs. Healthy teeth. Picture after picture, image after image we see these people smiling through missing teeth – probably for the sake of the camera. Yet, rarely do we think about their shame – not to mention their misery or the burden of the physical ailments that are generated as a result of cavities, missing teeth, or another dental disease.Hope Smiles is a ministry that uses dentistry to reach people in Uganda and Haiti and that opens their patients’ hearts to understanding hope. When they realize that there is someone who can heal their smile, they are open to hearing about the One who can heal their heart and flood it with the sure and certain hope of everlasting life that will be far better than the one they have had on this planet.
Hope Smiles’ founder, Dr. Phillip Kemp, said,
“Hope Smiles has helped me see the power in a purpose and that people really do want to belong and matter to something greater than themselves. As we travel this journey, we get to make lifelong connections and encounter a true and living God whose only desire is that we live fully in relationship with Him and others.”
Dr. Ryan Shinska, the Director of the Uganda mission, underscores the dental ministry, saying,
“Hope Smiles is a place where faith becomes action. We enter into the pain and suffering of the world, committing our work to God, and watch Him use us to bring peace into lives that were broken — including our own. We do this in a global community, united by a common mission that transcends our differences. Together, we learn about what it means to develop and use our talents in the service of God to share His love.”
These men reflect one of the fundamental approaches of Hope Smiles team members:
This is a journey. None of us are going to be perfect in this process. We admit when we are wrong and acknowledge when our ego gets in the way. We apologize. We serve with humility, recognizing our smallness before the magnitude of the grand vision we are pursuing. And most importantly, we recognize the smallness of the vision before God.
Through it all, we become the people God created us to be…loving Him, loving others, and working with all of our strength as God uses us to build His Kingdom here on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Each Hope Smiles location operates from a dental center that serves not only that community but also acts as the home base for operations in the surrounding areas.
The flagship work in Uganda continues to expand as the team trains native Africans in its dental residency program, purchases new equipment for its clinics, and acquires more vehicles to help mobile teams reach outlying villages.
Mobile team members ministering in those villages make a generational commitment to serve, thereby ensuring a continuous, consistent, and lasting relationship that reflects the love and character of Jesus Christ.
Since 2014, Hope Smiles in Uganda has
- Helped nearly 37,000 patients in previously unreached communities
- Finalized more than 1,200 root canals
- Expanded to a staff of 20 full-time team members
Its dental education seminars are open to all dental professionals in the region in the hopes of equipping them to provide the kind of quality, compassionate care through the expansion of locally-led teams that will put smiles on faces and the joy of knowing Jesus in hearts.
To read more news on Medical Missions on Missions Box, go here.