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RIVERSIDE, Calif. (April 23, 2015) –About 100 students seeking to explore a life in medical missions attended the Global Missions Health Conference (GMHC) at California Baptist University recently.

The conference, operated by Medical Missions.com, is held in Kentucky every year with more than 3,000 attendees. A West Coast conference was added this year, which attracted students from CBU, Azusa, Biola, Pepperdine, Vangaurd, LaSierra, Loma Linda, University of California, Riverside, and Western. The event was hosted by CBU's College of Allied Health and School of Nursing.

"The reasons to host only a student event is to have clarity and focus of message and to invest in those who are about to step into their professional fields," Will Rogers, executive director of Medical Missions.com and GMHC, said prior to the conference.  "The medical field requires a significant amount of time in preparation and investment for education. These two factors can create significant distance and barriers to long term goals for missions. We believe that if we can have the healthy discussions early and connect people to the right resources there's a significantly higher chance of full-time service workers."

Kendall McFarland, a CBU nursing junior, attended the event, which was held April 10-11, to learn about opportunities and to hear what it is like on the mission field.

"I came to meet missionaries, to hear what it's like on the mission field, to really gain more perspective on what's happening globally and where I might fit into that," she said. "What is it really like and what opportunities are out there for me as a student? I want more of a realistic perspective and to hear what medical opportunities there are."

Speakers included Dr. Gil Odendaal, senior vice president of Integral Mission at World Relief; Claude Hickman, executive director of The Traveling Team; Charles Fielding, doctor and church planter; Erik Salley, CBU assistant professor of exercise science; and Kristen White, director of Global Mobilization at CBU.

Being a doctor allowed Fielding to go into many countries, he told students. 

"Health care gets you into closed countries; it gets you into restricted parts of closed countries," he said. "It gets you into homes; it opens up people's hearts to the gospel."

To be God's disciples, students need to let go of their ambitions and let God use them, even if they don't know how things will work, Fielding said.

"Obey. You understand God through obedience," he said. "That's how you grow in spiritual maturity. You show up in faith and say, ‘I don't know nothing. Tell me what to do.' And then he moves you further along."