Four Friends For God
by Dr. Randy Stewart

The First and the Last, the One who was dead and came to life, says, “I know your affliction and poverty, yet you are rich.”
Revelation 2:8–9

“I want you to go on a medical mission trip to Guatemala.” These words from my pastor thirteen years ago changed my life. Even though I immediately said “yes,” I did so reluctantly. Granted, I had good credentials to be a medical-church support volunteer. I was a physician, a bi-vocational music minister, and the son of a pastor. In fact, my father had been in charge of Tennessee Baptist mission partnerships with the Philippines, Venezuela, and Chile, but I never went with him on any of his mission excursions—something I truly regret now. My excuse was that I was too busy. I told him I was too busy with school, too busy with medical practice, and too busy at church. The truth was that I really didn’t want to go. This time, however, there was no excuse, because it was God who was prompting me.

Our team traveled to the city of Jalapa, a three-hour drive into the mountains east of Guatemala City. There we encountered shocking widespread poverty. Many people struggled for life’s essentials, including medical care. Diabetics, hypertensives, and epileptics could not obtain their medications, due either to lack of funds or supply.

We teamed with a wonderful congregation in downtown Jalapa—the Life In Jesus Baptist Church. These visionary Christians, themselves poor, had established a mission church in Los Laureles, one the poorest areas on the outskirts of Jalapa. Four hundred yards from that mission church was the city dump, where families lived in shelters made of trash and scavenged for food, clothing, and recyclables.

The call of God was clear as we left Jalapa that week. We must partner with the Guatemalan Christians and minister to the people who were both spiritually and physically ill. It was similar to the approach Jesus used with the paralytic (Mark 2), first forgiving his sins then healing him. We named our organization Four Friends International, after the four men who carried that paralytic and lowered him through the roof. Our motto of service became: “Pick up your corner of the cot.”

A decade later we now operate three clinics in the Jalapa area. The clinic at Los Laureles was built in 2014 and began treating patients a year later. On the opposite side of town, in the rural village of Los Pinos, a second clinic was constructed and became operational in 2018. Both clinics are staffed by Guatemalans and provide free medical care and medicines Monday through Saturday of each week. The nurse of each clinic resides in an attached rear apartment.

Adjacent to the clinics are the two mission churches. At Los Laureles and Los Pinos, it is impossible to enter the clinic without noticing the church or to enter the church without seeing the clinic. The two are inseparably linked, both in proximity and purpose.

Two years ago we established the Four Wheels Clinic, our mobile unit, which travels to three mountain communities near Jalapa to provide ongoing care. Staffed by a nurse and a driver, this van carries medicines to the people of El Divisidero, Laguna del Pito, and El Charro each week. We are praying that God will use this mobile unit to plant seeds from which a new mountain church will grow.

All together, our stationary and mobile clinics treat over 1,500 patients each month, and more than 100,000 patient visits have been recorded since 2015. Included in this number are 20 infants from the city dump, to whom we supply diapers and infant supplies each month.

There are several ways that you, can “pick up your corner of the cot” to bring the sick to Jesus. You can add us to your prayer list. You can travel with us to Jalapa as a medical or church support volunteer. You can support us financially through gifts to Dawson. (Our church graciously provided funds for us at the end of 2023.) You can also spread the word to others about Four Friends International. Perhaps God will call them into service as clearly as He called me, and their lives may never be the same.

Randy Stewart became a member at Dawson eight years ago when he and Cathy, his wife of 46 years, moved to Birmingham to be near their two daughters and six grandchildren. A graduate of Samford University and the University of Alabama School of Medicine, he has been a hospital-based physician for 40 years. In addition, he is an ordained minister who has served as a music/worship minister in several north Alabama churches. Presently, he is the president of Four Friends International, a Dawson Life Group teacher, and a Sanctuary Choir tenor.



Richer Than You Think
by Randy Stewart

– On behalf of my brothers and sisters in Christ in Guatemala –

If you look at me now, you'd shed a tear,
and you’d say a prayer for me;
But beyond all the pain of my circumstance
is something you can't see.

I am dressed in His righteousness, clothed in His love,
washed in the fountain of grace,
Sheltered under His wing, my debt paid on Calvary's tree;
in Jesus, I'm richer than you think.

If you look at me now, my wardrobe so bare,
my meager food and drink,
You would not see the white robe I wear
at Jesus' banquet feast.

I am dressed in His righteousness, clothed in His love,
washed in the fountain of grace,
Feasting on the Bread of Life,
drinking the Living Water of Christ;
in Jesus, I'm richer than you think.

If you look at me now from earth's point of view,
I am the least of all;
But things will be changed when, on heaven's shore,
I hear my Savior call:

“Come, be dressed in My righteousness, clothed in My love,
washed in the fountain of grace;
Walk here on streets of pure gold, heir to a mansion untold.”
In Jesus, I'm richer than you think.

Richer, richer!
I'm richer, so much richer!
In Jesus, I have all things.



To learn more about Four Friends International, please click here.