Nicaragua Missionary Visiting WPAUMC
9/25/2019Dr. Belinda Forbes, center, is shown with WPAUMC Mission Engagement Coordinator Sandra Matoushaya, left, and the Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn, director of connectional ministries at the UM Center in Cranberry Twp.
Dr. Belinda Forbes, a dentist and United Methodist missionary serving with Acción Médica Cristiana (Christian Medical Action or AMC) in Managua, Nicaragua, will speak at several Western PA churches during November.
AMC is a Nicaraguan Christian ecumenical organization specializing in community health and development in impoverished rural communities, many of which are home to indigenous and afro-descendent populations. As the organization’s international liaison, Dr. Forbes serves God and the church by contributing to a community-based primary dental health program, mentoring volunteers, and interfacing with AMC’s international partner organizations.
“AMC’s model for local empowerment allows my contribution to be long-lasting and sustainable. AMC has evolved from a clinically-based health organization into an agent for transformation, committed to building local capacity among families in the areas of health education and promotion, farming and nutrition, disaster prevention, HIV/AIDS prevention, clean water and sanitation, women’s health, and youth leadership,” she said. “ AMC’s successes are based on community participation and the values of faith and justice.”
The health program is guided by AMC’s pastoral care commitments and is more than just a humanitarian response to need. The Christian principles that undergird AMC’s work reflect a living example of the Gospel teachings.
In her years as a missionary, Dr. Forbes has learned a great deal about the best ways to help individuals and communities.
“Mission oriented to health and development is less about direct transfer of goods or knowledge and more about sharing, learning, and together implementing ideas that can enable God’s transformation of suffering to wellness,” she explained. “My role is to accompany my Nicaraguan brothers and sisters to reaffirm their trust and hope that God has a plan for their lives, and that they themselves can develop that plan. Outsiders can help, not by doing everything for the community, but by joining with the community on a journey toward life and wellbeing. I am also transformed through this process and become a better witness for Christ’s love in the world on behalf of the church that sends me.”
Dr. Forbes arrived in Nicaragua in 1999 as a lay missionary and has served in several roles since then. After working with the covenant relationship between the New England Conference and the Association of Iglesias de Cristo de Nicaragua, she was assigned by Global Ministries as a short-term innovative missionary, and was then commissioned in 1997 to serve with the Nicaraguan Council of Protestant Churches (CEPAD).
Early in her service in Nicaragua, Dr. Forbes grew to know and respect AMC’s professional staff and its strong faith community. Her Global Ministries vocation assignment to AMC in 2000 was a natural transition after many years of collaboration in AMC’s strategies for health and education.
Born in Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom, Dr. Forbes was raised in Massachusetts. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and Spanish from American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts and a DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston. Before her ministry in Nicaragua, Dr. Forbes was in private dental practice in Boston and participated in volunteer dental service. Originally an active member of her local United Methodist Church in Winthrop, Massachusetts, she is currently a member of Uncasville United Methodist Church in Connecticut.
Dr. Forbes is married to Gerardo Gutierrez, a medical doctor with a Master of Public Health, who is director of AMC’s community health program. They live in Managua with their two daughters.
She’ll tell her stories at the following churches in Western PA
- November 10, 2019- Hastings UMC and Bakerton UMC worship services - Johnstown District
- November 11, 2019- Clarion First UMC - evening program
- November 12, 2019- Warren First UMC - evening program
- November 14, 2019- Heritage UMC/Ligonier - evening program
Support Dr. Forbes’ ministry by giving to Advance # 12109Z through the search page at umcmission.org/give-to-mission OR go directly to Dr. Forbes' missionary profile and scroll the bottom of the page.
Read more about Dr. Forbes’s ministry on her blog belindagbgm.blogspot.com or on Facebook: Belinda Forbes Gbgm.