I feel like God’s called me to the mission field, which is here in this office
From an article by The Halftime Institute
We are living longer and many people have two lifetimes now. The Halftime Institute help people discern what they might be called to do in the latter part of their lives. Many people are unprepared as they search for meaning in mid-life - the season of 'now what?'. Some carry on working at their jobs but add other activities that leave a legacy. Others start a charity or non-profit. Others join another organisation which better fulfils their calling.
Here is part of the story of a dentist, Dr Phillip Kemp who decided to continue his dental practice but with an added dimension:
As a relatively young dentist, Phillip had a successful practice in a well-to-do Nashville suburb, but he was in no position to retire on his savings and start or join a nonprofit. He was wondering how a dentist gives back in a meaningful way. .
“I feel like God’s called me to the mission field, which is here in this office.” Phillip says. Phillip’s quest to match his passions and gifts with the needs of others led to a creative program that others now want to replicate across the country and around the world.
Most Fridays, Phillip and his staff volunteer to treat patients who can’t afford care, usually women who are in nearby recovery programs such as the Hope Center or Mercy Ministries. Through neglect or abuse, these women often require significant cosmetic dental work as they rebuild their self-esteem and find their way back into society.
What makes his second-half calling unique and its impact more powerful, however, is that it’s more than just providing free dental care to the needy. His impact has leverage because in the process he’s mentoring student dentists and modeling for them the idea that the most rewarding practice is bigger than tooth care and includes the deepest heart-needs of your patients. Phillip brings in a rotation of dental students from the dental school he attended who witness and assist on complex procedures they may never get a chance to see in their academic environment.
His credibility has grown in the university, and now he’s in a position to grow the mentorship program across the Nashville area. As these students look over his shoulder and learn the latest procedures, they get to hear from his heart about why his life’s passion is to serve people. Phillip is able to lift their vision above simply building a practice that creates wealth to dream of a practice that transforms lives.
The program has also had a profound impact on Phillip’s staff. When it first started, Phillip paid his staff for their work each Friday and he volunteered his time. Before long, as they saw the impact they were having, his staff members began coming to him one by one, offering to give back their salaries for that day. Eventually, they just asked not to be paid, even though he’s more than willing to make that a cost of providing the service.
The patients, many of whom saw their mouths as a focal point of depression, often find the procedures life-changing. One story from a girl in a treatment program illustrates:
"Her mouth looked like those you see on carved lit-up pumpkins at Halloween. The teeth that remained, Phillip said, were 'horrible.' And most of her oral problems weren’t from neglect, which meant she’d been living with them all her life. From the time she was young until treated, she was just berated unmercifully, even by people in her family and friends at school. She talked about how the work that was done on her smile not only restored her self-esteem, but her faith in men.”
“It’s restoration of lives,” Phillip says. “This girl really communicated that.”
Giving his time and talent, not to mention sacrificing a day’s pay, is easily worth the price. Indeed, Phillip and his wife Rhonda hardly see it as a sacrifice but as 'the least' they can do.
It is amazing to see how God is using this for something much, much bigger than Phillip ever envisioned. And as a result of his speaking engagements at dental conferences, dentists and universities are replicating this strategy in other communities.
That is going to impact a tremendous amount of people in the next 20 years.
Listen to more of Phillip's story and also the remarkable story of Papa Joe in this 4 minute video:
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