Smile and Serve: Community Dental Health Outreach

June 11, 2024

OKLAHOMA CITY – “My brother has needed dental care for years but was afraid to go to a dentist and was also concerned about cost. He hasn’t smiled big in years. Dr. Van Zyl was able to put him at ease, work on his teeth and he can now smile!”

“We haven’t had the funds to get our teeth cleaned, and both my daughter and I were able to get our teeth checked and cleaned. The hygienists were so kind!”

“I’ve had some serious issues with my teeth but no funds to get them fixed. Dr. Proud patiently took care of all the issues and there wasn’t much pain. I am in tears with a grateful heart for this service.”

These were the grateful comments from some of the participants of the dental health outreach on Sunday, March 10, 2024, a busy day at the Central Seventh-day Adventist Church. In partnership with the Oklahoma Conference’s Native Ministries and Life and Health teams, the church members provided volunteer support to register, assess health status, connect with participants, assist the dental team and provide follow-up. Thanks to almost 30 volunteers, everything ran like clockwork and 26 participants (both tribal and others) received the expert care they needed. Many of these participants expressed interest in knowing more about our faith, and all expressed gratefulness for both the service and kindness they received. We will continue to pray for each participant. Our prayer before the event was that God would send us those who needed our help and that He would shine out of each of us as we ministered to each participant.

Special appreciation goes to each of the leaders who helped organize this event: Native Ministries and event leader, Jim Landelius; Central Seventh-day Adventist Church senior pastor Lonnie Carbaugh, event Chaplaincy director (he also spoke with each participant); Ezra Otieno, from Life and Health (he drove all the equipment and supplies from California and set up/ran equipment and more); dental assistant, Julie Marewha who coordinated all the dental activities (and recruited the dental assistant and hygienists); dentists, Dr. Nathan Proud and Dr. Ettienne Van Zyl; dental hygienists, Carey and Jenny; dental assistant, Stephanie; registration director, Susan Gay; medical clearance director, Nelly Njaramba; food director, Sue Bishop; plant directors, Bill Sims and Dick Lorenz; and hospitality directors, Micah and Diana Modrell. Also, thanks to Rick and Cindy Mercer for opening up their home for two volunteers who lived far away. Many thanks to all the other volunteers who selflessly gave up a Sunday (during the time change) to share God’s love. This event was truly evangelism in action!

By Joni Bokovoy, Dr.P.H.

Native Ministries Health Consultant