TCD WINTER 2020 DS

Dentally Impacting the World for Christ

Over the last two years, CMDA’s dental outreach has developed into a two-pronged approach, ministering to traditional private dental professionals and also those seeking to serve the underserved, both domestically and internationally. Vice President for Dental Ministries Dr. William “Griff” Griffin focuses primarily on engaging with our dental members, while Vice President for Dental Education Dr. Jeff Amstutz is developing general practice dental residency programs to equip dentists in ministering to the poor in the name of Jesus. Both aspects of CMDA’s Dental Ministries have been made possible by the generosity of the late Dr. Pete Dawson, who we seek to honor in this article, as we trace the Lord’s guiding hand over the last decade.

by Christian Medical & Dental Associations®

Dentally Impacting the World for Christ
by William “Griff” Griffin, DDS, and Jeffrey Amstutz, DDS, MBA

Over the last two years, CMDA’s dental outreach has developed into a two-pronged approach, ministering to traditional private dental professionals and also those seeking to serve the underserved, both domestically and internationally. Vice President for Dental Ministries Dr. William “Griff” Griffin focuses primarily on engaging with our dental members, while Vice President for Dental Education Dr. Jeff Amstutz is developing general practice dental residency programs to equip dentists in ministering to the poor in the name of Jesus. Both aspects of CMDA’s Dental Ministries have been made possible by the generosity of the late Dr. Pete Dawson, who we seek to honor in this article, as we trace the Lord’s guiding hand over the last decade.

 

Growing Dental Ministries
by William “Griff” Griffin, DDS

My involvement with CMDA began in dental school, shortly after I came to faith in Christ. Since then, the Lord has used CMDA to grow my understanding of the relationship between physical and spiritual health, while also fostering my increased involvement in ministry through dentistry.

In the early years of my association with CMDA, my involvement was mainly through reading CMDA’s publications and attending the CMDA National Convention. It was an encouragement to know other healthcare professionals considered faith essential in treating patients holistically. Each article I read was a reminder that other Christian healthcare caregivers across the country and around the world were seeking to live for Christ. I wasn’t alone in this endeavor.

Along with another dentist friend, my wife Linda and I attended the first Saline Solution conference (eventually repackaged as Grace Prescriptions) in Asheville, North Carolina in 1995. This experience confirmed and advanced my belief that healthcare can indeed be a viable platform for the gospel. A year or two later, the conference was repeated in Washington, D.C., and I was compelled to register once more, this time accompanied by a staff member. A few years later a conference was held in Williamsburg, Virginia, a mere 30 minutes from our home, and there I was again, with additional staff members. The opportunity to hear co-authors Dr. Walt Larimore and Bill Peel speak so powerfully to this topic, plus the privilege of interacting with others in healthcare who shared this goal, was a tremendous source of inspiration for my day-to-day patient encounters. One of my patients came to faith in Christ, as did one of my staff members, and opportunities to speak of the love of Christ became more and more frequent during the course of everyday treatment. It was exciting to see how the Lord was at work, using dental needs to accomplish His eternal purposes.

In 2011, I received a startling email from CMDA announcing the search for a leader for the Dental Ministries, and they were asking me to apply for the position. The timing was not exactly ideal. I was the sole owner of a three-doctor dental practice, and I had just assumed the position of Board President of a local Christian medical-dental clinic. Linda and I prayed about it, and I submitted an application, but I let CMDA know up front that the timing was not conducive to us making a change at that time. The wheels were turning, however, regarding how we could make ourselves available for ministry possibilities in future years.

The Lord brought just the right person to CMDA to assume the position, Dr. Jeff Amstutz. I became part of the Dental Advisory Council, which enabled me to participate in several initiatives to grow the dental portion of CMDA. Then, in 2018, I received another email informing me of Dr. Amstutz’s plans to devote all of his time to the development of CMDA’s Dental Residency [+] program, and they were asking me to once more prayerfully consider coming on board with CMDA as Vice President for Dental Ministries. At this point, the Lord had provided two excellent Christian dentists who were working in my practice, and five months later they purchased the practice as I put on my CMDA hat in January 2019.

Since joining CMDA, it’s been a fascinating whirlwind of activity. I have had the privilege of speaking at numerous dental and medical schools, interacting with students who are passionately pursuing excellence in the realms of both physical and spiritual health. I have been given the opportunity to speak at healthcare conferences, exhorting fellow Christians to see God’s hand in their chosen profession. Through the Dental Sound Bytes Podcast, I have been able to share the stories of inspiring Christian healthcare professionals with our membership. At an age when many people are looking for retirement activities, I wake up each morning anxious to see what the Lord will do next through the lives of His faithful followers at CMDA.

Our efforts to continue growing CMDA’s Dental Ministries include three primary goals:

  1. Connect every Christian dentist and dental student with CMDA. Despite the great blessings of a career in dentistry, there can be severe bumps in the road along the way. We all need the fellowship and camaraderie of others who can understand the peculiar challenges we face and how the gospel ministers to us like nothing else can.
  2. Inspire and equip Christian students and healthcare professionals to share the God’s love with their colleagues and patients. As important as physical health is, the excellent care we seek to provide for our patients is inspired by the even higher motive of showing them the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14). Truly holistic care recognizes each patient as being more than flesh and blood, having a soul and being made in the image of God. What a privilege it is to help patients discover that we are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
  3. Utilize dentistry as a platform for the gospel through domestic and international mission opportunities. Galatians 6:2 calls us to, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” What better way to do this than to give away our services to the needy around the world?

In addition to the resources and services available to CMDA members, a variety of resources are available for dental professionals through CMDA’s Dental Ministries, including:

  • Dental Impact e-newsletter with regular updates on dental events.
  • Dental Sound Byes Podcast with interviews from dynamic dentists sharing their stories.
  • Continuing dental education through the online CMDA Learning Center at cmda.org/learning.
  • Dental school Bible studies where students come to know and grow in Christ.
  • Regional Dental Coordinators who serve our members and students around the country (see sidebar for more information).

Get Involved
CMDA’s Dental Ministries is dedicated to encouraging and supporting dentists in living out their Christian faith in their professional and personal lives. For more information and to get involved, visit www.cmda.org/dentist.

 

What is God Equipping You to Do?
by Jeff Amstutz, DDS, MBA

Through its dental initiatives, CMDA is helping to meet the dental and spiritual needs of underserved populations in the U.S., while also equipping young dentists for long-term service to underserved and underreached populations in both the U.S. and around the world.

When I joined CMDA in 2012, I asked the Dental Advisory Council this question: “What is God equipping us to do?” Little did I know the trajectory the answer to that question would provide. Having just returned to the U.S. after 12 years of missionary service in West Africa, I was well aware of the lack of dental care in most parts of the world, as well as the multitude of unfilled opportunities for dentists to serve in missions through dentistry. What I was less aware of, but becoming increasingly burdened by, was the tremendous need right here in our own U.S. cities and rural areas. Sitting around that advisory council table were some of the nation’s leaders in dentistry, women and men who God was using in the situations to which he had called them in their practices, their communities and in serving short-term around the world.

But who was focused on the care of those with less access to quality dental care? Might God bring together, through CMDA, a program that would focus on care to the least served while preparing for care to the least reached—all while living out the gospel through dentistry? Out of these questions was birthed the CMDA Dental Residency [+]program, and along with it came a major change in trajectory for my life and for CMDA’s Dental Ministries. God provided the way forward, through leadership and financial stability, for this new training focus, but also to bring in a new leader, Dr. Griffin, to grow and expand Dental Ministries while we also expand our incarnational service and training programs.

The work is hard, but God is calling young dentists to serve Him in new ways. As we approach dentistry to the poor and dentistry to unreached areas around the globe, we are thinking in new ways as we approach the problems/opportunities with a different mindset. While our programs certainly focus on dental training and delivering excellent care to those we serve, our primary focus goes well beyond the dental operatory as we equip our program participants to serve with resourcefulness, in humility and with generosity. Discipleship, community and dental excellence are paramount in building our culture. Building cross-cultural understanding and living it out daily in our neighborhoods, sharing our faith and praying with our patients are just some aspects built into the three-year program.

Launched in 2014, four cohorts have graduated to date from the dental residency’s Memphis, Tennessee location. All of the graduates continue to serve God and underserved populations, with three serving as dental residency directors and one as dental director. Plus, all eight are faculty members, with seven in urban areas and one in a rural area, and a couple are in preparation for international service. Two graduates have moved to Detroit, Michigan to help launch our second program, which is in partnership with Covenant Community Care. In Memphis, our dental program through Christ Community Health Services has cared for up to 15,000 individual dental patients in a given year. These are patients who otherwise would have nowhere to turn to begin the path toward oral health. While in our clinics, many were prayed with and the gospel, both spoken and lived, was present in the dental operatories through our dentists and staff.

What is God equipping us to do? We must continue to ask that question and respond. Recently, God seems to be providing an opportunity to expand our PLUS[+] programs to grow beyond just the resident program and to explore the addition of a PLUS[+] Fellowship program. We envision PLUS[+] Fellowship as a post-clinical training program to equip dentists and other healthcare professionals, including administrators, as they seek to live out their call to serve God cross-culturally through their vocations.

We continue to walk in obedience through faith into the areas God is leading us. This includes both expansion of services and opportunities for our members and students, adding Regional Dental Coordinators and caring for underserved populations, while also equipping dentists (and others) to live out their call with a lifetime, missional mindset.

Get Involved

CMDA Dental Residency [+] is preparing a generation of dental disciples to go throughout the United States and the world providing excellent quality dental care to the poor in the name of Jesus. For more information, visit www.dentalresidency.org.

Introducing CMDA’s New Regional Dental Coordinators

Midwest Region — Katherine J. Musser, DMD
Dr. Katie Musser is a general dentist in Memphis, Tennessee, working at a Christian federally qualified health center. She graduated from the CMDA Dental Residency [+] program in 2019 and now serves as faculty. She and her family live an intentionally missional lifestyle alongside other like-minded individuals. She graduated from Asbury University with a degree in biology in 2011, and then she received her Doctorate of Dental Medicine at The University of Kentucky’s College of Dentistry in 2016. She is blessed with two daughters and a loving husband who has been a faithful flosser since the 7th grade.

Northeast Region — Gary M. Beaudreau, DMD
Dr. Gary Beaudreau is married to Nan, and they have two adult children. Gary is a general practice dentist in Augusta, Georgia. He graduated from Medical College of Georgia (MCG) School of Dentistry and came to know Christ personally while in college. He volunteered for years in dental student ministry at MCG leading student discipleship groups. He served on dental mission trips for MCG students and with the local CMDA council. Additionally, Gary worked on the development of an indigent care dental clinic at Christ Community Health Clinic in Augusta. In his free time, he engages with younger dentists and enjoys outdoor activities.

Southern Region — Lee Bridgeman, DDS, MABS
Dr. Lee Bridgeman grew up in the church, coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in elementary school. During his undergraduate training, he was challenged by a campus ministry worker to commit his life to sharing Christ with others and making disciples. Dental training at Baylor College of Dentistry was next where he learned that dentistry and other healthcare professions are a great platform for sharing the gospel and making disciples. A Master of Arts program at Dallas Theological Seminary gave him a good biblical and theological foundation. Ministry opportunities over the last 23 years include short-term mission trips to Africa, Asia, Central America and Eastern Europe, plus a year in Cusco, Peru. He is also an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, serving in a local church as an assistant pastor.

Western Region — Malieka T. Johnson, DDS, CPT
Dr. Malieka Johnson is a general and adult special needs dentist who holds additional certifications in personal training and nutrition. Dr. Johnson graduated from UCLA School of Dentistry in 2011. In 2012, she completed a general practice residency at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center and received training in treating people with special needs. Dr. Johnson loves service and volunteers on multiple boards and within her local church and community. She has gone on multiple dental and housing mission trips abroad. Dr. Johnson enjoys learning and creating and is the author of the daily devotional, The Rx for L.I.F.E.

 

About the Authors

William “Griff” Griffin, DDS, is CMDA’s Vice President of Dental Ministries. He has been a member of CMDA since dental school and has served on the Dental Advisory Council since 2013. He is a 1983 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry, and he has been practicing in Newport News, Virginia for 37 years. Dr. Griffin formerly served as Board Chairman and Dental Director at the Lackey Clinic, a Christian medical-dental clinic in Yorktown, Virginia. He averages four international dental mission trips each year, and he is passionate about opportunities to communicate the love of Christ to others, both domestically and internationally. He and his wife Linda have been married since 1983, and they have enjoyed many mission trips together.

Jeffrey D. Amstutz, DDS, MBA, is a graduate of Case Western Reserve and its School of Dental Medicine. He also completed an MBA at Kent State University. In 1999, he and his wife Carrie were called to the mission field where they opened a dental clinic in Gabon, established a program to train Gabonese dental technicians and launched a mobile ministry to reach remote villages. They also served in Mali and Senegal. He joined CMDA in 2012, and he now serves as Vice President for Dental Education, Peter E. Dawson Chair of Dentistry. His primary focus is the development of a Christian dental residency program to train dentists to help the underserved, both domestically and internationally.

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