In 1999, Dr. Bill Perry, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church, had an idea to reach out to carnival workers of the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair who were in need of medical and dental care.
According to Ricky Allen, minister of education and outreach for First Baptist Church, “In the beginning, we only had six dentists and five physicians volunteering and we actually transported workers to medical offices.”
Over the years, the Ogeechee Fair ministry has grown into a community event housed on site at the fairgrounds and encompasses doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and healthcare employees from many denominations.
Approximately 15-20 dental patients are seen each day through the Baptist Mobile Health Ministry unit which provides room for two dentists and assistants. Additionally, one day a week medical services are offered by local physicians with over 30 patients being treated.
According to Dr. Ricky Lane, who has volunteered his services for the last five years, “The mobile unit is well equipped and travels all over the state of Georgia and assists in meeting the physical and spiritual needs of underserved persons throughout the state. It is evident that God continues to work in powerful ways to bring together a diverse group of people to share His love here in our community.”
Todd Angelo, a fair worker with Amusements of America, had trouble with a tooth for more than four months.
“This particular service they offer here in Statesboro is so helpful since it is hard to schedule dentist appointments while on the road,” he said.
Angelo had an extraction done in less than 45 minutes by Dr. Lane. Exiting the mobile unit, he reported he was no longer in pain.
“I regret I didn’t take time to come to the clinic when we were here last year because I might have saved the tooth, but am thankful my dental problem is resolved today and I feel pretty good,” Angelo said.
Although the focus is on medical and dental services, First Baptist aims to increase the spiritual component each year as they minister to the fair workers.
“Currently we are exploring the addition of self-contained units that house shower facilities as well as washing machines and dryers,” Ricky Allen said. “It’s a great outreach that started simple and blossomed to a multifaceted ministry.”