(Jan. 23, 2015) A chiropractor at Healing Hands in Berlin by day, Dr. Tracy Rush said she has a “higher calling to help others” that has motivated her into international mission work.
Rush first became involved in missions after a patient told her about the Appalachia Service Project in 2007, a volunteer effort that repairs homes in rural West Virginia and Kentucky.
“I did it as, not as a chiropractor, but just building a house, ” she said. “And then from there I thought I would like to do something different. ”
When the Community Church of Ocean Pines announced a missionary trip to Galapagos in 2010, Rush immediately signed up.
“We went to the Galapagos Islands, and a team built a church from the foundation all the way to the roof in 10 days, ” Rush said.
Rush is an avid traveler, but had never been out of the country at that point.
“It was incredible, ” she said. “To get there was a day because you have to go through Ecuador, so it’s planes, trains and automobiles.
The mission set up a base in the mountains, literally at cloud level.
“It’s a beautiful place and it’s right on the equator, ” Rush said. “You would think it would be warm, but it’s not warm. I was unprepared for how cool it was.
“In Galapagos, there are animals that you don’t see anywhere else, and the people were so humble, ” Rush continued. “That’s what really gets to your heart, because they had nothing. It was literally dirt floors and four walls and nothing else. They’re so grateful that you’re there and you’re providing and you’re loving on them. That really stirred up my interest. ”
Rush relished the experience, but after spending two trips erecting buildings rather than using her medical training, she found herself wanting to try something different yet again.
Then, in 2011, Rush heard about a different kind of mission while attending the Ocean City Worship Center.
“They have a relationship with a mission in Ecuador and they had a medical clinic associated with it, ” she said. “So, a couple of nurses, a doctor and myself went there to provide medical health and chiropractic health. ”
Ecuador has its share of doctors and chiropractors, but Rush said many of the impoverished people could not afford the care.
“Treatment is expensive, so many of the natives don’t have a place to go, because they’re working for $2 a week, ” she said. “The medical clinic is a free service, so when they heard that we were there it was flooded with people. It was incredible. ”
Rush saw scores of cases claiming lower back pain, thanks to the intense physical labor many natives have to endure, but one circumstance in particular stood out.
“A gentleman brought his 8-year-old daughter in because she had been in an accident, ” Rush said. “She had been hit by a car and she didn’t walk right. You could see that things weren’t right with her spine and her hips. ”
Rush advised the man to get x-rays at a neighboring clinic and return with his daughter.
“He brought them back and I was really impressed and I showed him what was going on in the x-rays through an interpreter and I started adjusting her, ” she said. “I adjusted her three times while I was there, and he was going to continue with her care.
“Just to be able to help him see that his daughter didn’t have to grow up that way was just incredible, ” Rush continued. “It was so satisfying to know that I changed the life of an 8-year-old for her whole future. ”
Two years later, in 2013, Rush and her husband became involved with the Christian Chiropractors Association after having a life-changing experience during a church revival meeting.
“I just felt God … saying, ‘You need to get out of this area. You need to get your talents out and you need to do a mission trip. ’ So I got in touch with Christian Chiropractic, ” she said. “Ultimately, my husband and I know we’re going to be in the mission field. We know that God is calling us to help others with our talents. ”
After conferring with the organization, Rush agreed to travel to Jamaica to offer her services as a chiropractor. Her husband, Chris, her partner at Healing Hands, came along.
Although the country is a tourist destination, Rush said she saw far more disadvantaged people than sandy white beaches.
“It’s definitely a class society, ” she said. “It’s a beautiful place, but when you get away from the oceanfront and move inland, it’s very impoverished. ”
The two spent most of their time in schools adjusting students and teachers.
“We were there for two hours and we adjusted as many kids as we could in that time slot, ” she said. “We’re talking from four years old to 11 and 12 years old. When you go into the schools, they’re so excited to see white people, and of course they’re laughing because you’re touching them. It’s all very different.
“We first went we went to the poorest schools, and we noticed how the kids had no shoes, or the shoes had holes in the soles of their feet and you could tell the clothes were passed down, ” Rush continued. “Seeing that, you just become so grateful for what we have in America and what we take for granted here. ”
In 2014, Rush went back to Jamaica with her 17-year-old son Jacob, a student at Stephen Decatur High School.
“He was support staff, and to be able to experience that with him was priceless, ” she said. “Just to be able to see how people live and just the love they have for you and how happy they are. When we got to schools they were all over us. ”
Rush plans to continue her mission work, and advised others to follow her lead, especially internationally.
“There are impoverished areas in the United States, but there are always opportunities, ” she said. “You can find an opportunity some place. In Jamaica and Ecuador and Galapagos, there’s not much of an opportunity. There’s really not a whole lot there. ”