New Hope Christian Reformed Church in Lansing, Ill., is attracting people from its community with an offer of free dental services.
Dr. Gene Keessen, a retired dentist, and his wife Jan, a nurse, had often talked about volunteering their skills in an overseas location. Circumstances prevented that, so they were happy to volunteer right in their own church. They work in a corner of the church library, where a clinical area has been set up with a dental chair and equipment received through donations.
They provide cleaning, check-ups, and fluoride treatments for families who are in need and for new area residents as a way of introducing them to the church. Patients who need further dental work are referred to area dentists.
Patients often come in response to ads in a local paper, and the church also reaches potential patients through the local food pantry.
Each patient receives a packet with devotional materials and information about the church. Patients often spend some time with the pastor, Rev. Ildefonso Torres, and some have attended Sunday worship services.