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Odessa doctor making a difference - Odessa American: People

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Odessa doctor making a difference

Permian grad, others on Iraq mission

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Posted: Saturday, November 1, 2014 7:45 am

A group of 20 volunteers will head to northern Iraq this month to help people who have fled to the area, including those persecuted by ISIS.

One of the volunteers is Dr. Richard Bartlett, a Permian High School graduate, who says he and the volunteers are going to Kurdistan because the situation has become a humanitarian crisis.

“None of us have met each other. We’re all going because we believe we’re supposed to go help,” Bartlett said.

About 20 volunteers from the United States and Canada, including Bartlett, his 17-year-old son Daniel, and three nurses, will be going on the trip with World Missions Alliance.

Bartlett first became involved with the organization after the founders, Chuck and Helen Todd, came to Odessa two years ago and spoke about Kurdistan.

“I was captivated when I heard about it,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett has gone to Guatemala with Crossroads Fellowship and India to do a medical clinic.

The trip to India was his first trip. “It was eye-opening and life changing. You see such great need in how so little can make such a big, positive difference,” Bartlett said. “It was humbling to see the great need that most of the world is in and to know that although I may be just a drop in the ocean you can help a lot of people with your efforts and it’s still worth doing your part.”

The volunteers will be there for ten days with the goal of helping “hundreds of people,” Bartlett said, with medical problems including ear and bladder infections.

His 17-year-old son Daniel will go help with clerical work and paperwork for the patients.

“He’s taking a risk as well. He’ll have the experiencing of helping others without expecting anything in return and see a bigger picture of the world after this trip,” Bartlett said.

The trip to Kurdistan was planned before news coverage regarding ISIS broke out into the mainstream, he said.

“We’re still convinced we’re supposed to go. We’re very alert and preparing with medications, praying a lot and paying attention,” Bartlett said.

Churches and pastors in the area are helping people in Kurdistan as they flee the violence, Bartlett said, with thousands living in the streets.

“These were people that lived fairly normal lives and then they were driven away by ISIS,” Bartlett said. “Christianity is all about giving, and being a giver instead of a taker and wanting to help other and give people hope and about love. Just because there’s risk doesn’t mean we should not go. We could really change people’s lives forever with a little bit of our time and skills.”

World Missions Alliance was founded by Chuck and Helen Todd in 1999.

Chuck Todd, an American missionary, and his wife Helen, were married after they met during the break-up of the Soviet Union.

The Todds have traveled to China, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Jordan to minister and help victims following floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters, they said.

“It’s about building relationships. If you care about people, there’s going to be an influence there,” Chuck Todd said about ministering.

Todd said people fleeing from ISIS include those that refused to convert to Islam.

“We care about these people. These people have been in the streets. Some weren’t able to get their savings or photo albums,” Bartlett said. “Now they’re here and it’s a new start, they have nothing. Our hearts go out to them. We want to help them.”

The Todds and Bartlett shared the sentiment of how difficulty would be increased for the people if they had any physical ailments as they fled.

“Bartlett reminded me, ‘What if you were already sick and you have to make this trek? How much worse that would be.”

The volunteers will be paying their way to the trip, Bartlett said, so all the money raised through the World Missions Alliance will go to help the people affected by the crisis.

Those interested in donating can go to the World Missions Alliance website at www.rfwma.org.

Odessa, TX

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