The regional conference this September brought together 650 Christian medical and dental students and graduates, and allied health professionals, from 60 countries. United by a desire to follow Jesus in healthcare but from many different settings and cultures, we enjoyed rich fellowship and teaching in Schladming, Austria. Opening his address, Professor John Wyatt said:
'It is a great privilege to be here and be one with Christian people who have come from all over the world. For all our differences and barriers between us; north versus south, different languages and cultures, the history of conflict in Europe and the Middle East over the centuries... Despite all this, werecognise one other as brothersand sisters in the Lord Jesus. We are part of an amazing people.'
Highlights included daily Bible readings from Genesis, keynote addresses developing the conference theme resources [un]limited, and an extensive seminar programme. Times of worship and prayer directed us to the One whose resources really are unlimited. We were encouraged to see our work as God created it to be, as our worship and service, were reminded of the dangers and opportunities in the workplace, and of the need to maintain a right relationship with God ourselves.
Two thirds of those attending joined one of the preconference streams: students and juniors, HIV-AIDS, medical education, allied health
professionals and International Saline. These were run in partnership with IHS (International Health Services), PRIME (Partnerships in International Medical Education), HCFI (Healthcare Christian Fellowship International) and the ICMDA HIV Initiative.
It was encouraging to see delegates from countries not previously represented. Through the bursary fund over € 50,000 was raised which enabled 130 delegates from the eastern and southern borders of the region to attend. We are thankful to God and to those who gave.
The leader of the delegation of bursary recipients said:'All those who were able to come to the conference are grateful to God for the opportunity. They are encouraged and willing to do new projects in our country. One student was able to open up during the Conference. Another, a doctor, said that the time during the Conference was one of the best in her life.
Work a day for ICMDA
Recent years have witnessed amazing growth across Eurasia. Alongside this, regional expenditure has increased as we keep pace with what God is doing. A new initiative to support the work of ICMDA in Eurasia was launched at the end of the conference, encouraging people to 'Work a day for ICMDA' by giving the equivalent of one day's salary a year. For more information on this initiative or on ICMDA in Eurasia, contact the Eurasia email address.
The months prior to Austria were a time of transition between myself and Peter Pattisson as incoming and outgoing Eurasia regional secretaries. During the conference, we publicly thanked Peter and his wife Audrey for their willing service over the past six years. Peter will continue as Secretary to the ICMDA UK Trust for the time being.
As I take up the role of regional secretary I am conscious we remain in a time of change with a number of Area Student Representatives and Eurasia committee members needing to hand over their responsibilities. A team development time planned for March will bring the opportunity to look back over recent years and consider where God is leading us as ICMDA in Eurasia.
The next ICMDA World Conference will be held in South America at Punta del Este, Uruguay, 4-11 July 2010. See www.icmda2010.org
James Tomlinson is ICMDA Eurasia Regional Secretary