Ribbon cuttings, such as the ones done at Grand Opening ceremonies, originated in Europe as part of wedding celebrations. They symbolized a "new start." Ribbon cuttings might also mean this to many people: GIFTS!
God has sent a true gift to Appling, Bacon and Jeff Davis counties by aiding and guiding the staff of The Mercy Ministries (TMM) to open the new free medical clinic for the uninsured in Graham, Ga. However, it is the staff and volunteers of TMM who truly feel as though they have been blessed with a gift! Seeing God work in the lives of individuals in need is the most rewarding and blessed work any Christian could hope to witness inside of their organization.
Mike Hagan, Chairman of the Board for TMM, opened the ceremony for the TMM Graham Clinic's Grand Opening Thursday, June 20th. "What a privilege, honor and blessing to be kicking off the opening of the Graham campus, and I am so blessed to be a part of this ministry," he said. He then introduced Dr. Joe McGee, DOM for the Baptist Consolation Association, who he invited to pray over the opening of the new clinic.
"Lord," started McGee, "send those folks here to not only need to be dealt with physically, but spiritually, as well, so souls can be saved, and lives restored through this ministry." He went on to pray for the staff of TMM, for the volunteers, finances, resources and protection. "We also pray for growth, Lord God, that word will get out and that those people who qualify will be able to find themselves here like an oasis in the desert..." he continued, closing in thanks to God for all He has done to bring this dream to life.
Next, Carly Benton, Director of TMM, took the mic and thanked everyone for coming out in the summer heat, despite the threat of thunderstorms, and reminded everyone this has been a long awaited dream for Dr. McGee and many others.
"About thirteen years ago this community had a vision to open up a charitable clinic and take care of those individuals who were falling through the cracks of the health care system. And, people came together to build this beautiful building. However, due to unforeseen circumstances and things beyond their control, the dream became lost," said Benton. "However, about two years ago, we at Mercy began praying about how we could help more people, and in praying about that we started researching the counties that were on the outskirts of our campus in Lyons. We realized this area had a 17% uninsured rate! That's higher than the state average and the national average. There are about 5,000 people between the ages of 19 and 64 just in Appling and Jeff Davis counties alone that fall into that gap of not having health insurance and not being able to afford it. So, we knew with those statistics we had a mission field right here that had the potential to thrive."
Benton went on to encourage those in attendance that Appling, Jeff Davis and Bacon counties had the resources necessary to move forward. She added, "You have to have vision, passion and organization to make a ministry like this successful, and we believe the people of this area have the heart to take care of your own."
After Benton thanked the sixty-five people in attendance for coming, and was joined by Keri Orvin, Baxley-Appling County Chamber of Commerce Director, and Andrea Taylor, President and CEO of the Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis Chamber of Commerce and Development Authority. The ladies expressed the excitement of the community to have TMM coming to their area, and how happy they are for those individuals in need who will now have a medical home.
It was an exciting moment as guests all gathered around Mike Hagan and Carly Benton as she cut the ribbon, leading the ministry into a future full of new beginnings, and untold gifts to come!
Following the ceremony guests were taken on an air-conditioned (hallelujah) tour through the clinic and fed refreshments, provided by the First Baptist Church of Baxley.
If you would like to know more about how you can help the Graham campus continue to grow and reach more individuals for Christ, visit this page.