The True Physician

Oct 25, 2016

Ben Riggs

Lively laughter and “stop pushing me,” erupt through the multi-purpose room entrance at the Community Center of Tres Reyes. Oti’s 6 daughters, one of Back2Back Cancun’s Strong families, race toward an open table where Dr. Justin Dukes from Greenville, South Carolina, debriefs with a Back2Back staffer over their last appointment. 16-year-old Jeny wins the race, jumping into the chair. She sees his stethoscope on the table and asks, “What’s that?” Before he can answer, Jeny has it in her ears as she sings into it.


In September, a group from Parkside Pediatrics visited Back2Back Cancun for a week of medical care and outreaches. One of the group’s leaders, Dr. Stephen Jones, visited in February. Months after his first visit, Dr. Jones returned with an infirmary’s worth of medical donations, supplies, and his entire practice from South Carolina.

Throughout the week, Parkside served over 400 people. They cared for children and families at Casa Hogar San Jose and in the communities of Bonfil and Tres Reyes. Though check-ups were provided as part of the goal to provide physical care, strategic and long terms goals were created, too. Learning from the pediatricians, who listened and learned from families, has helped Back2Back staff consider how to best care for families in numerous areas.

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Following the outreach in February, pediatricians noticed similar coughing and chest issues with many children, typically tied with smoke and ventilation problems. Back2Back looked into potential causes. Through caseworker visits, they learned many families couldn’t properly ventilate their homes when they cooked. Since then, Back2Back has helped families better ventilate their homes. As a result, the clinic in September saw fewer cases of coughing and chest issues.

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Though fast and full, the week offered a snapshot of holistic care. In the midst of the craziness of check-ups, each pediatrician offered every patient prayer and a Bible. Seeing children and families as whole people, bearing God’s image, meant the difference between giving an efficient assessment and slowing down to learn their story.

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“As physicians who are Christians, we try to model Christ’s love as we serve others and work hard to help meet all their needs,” said Dr. Stephen Jones.

Every patient brought more than an issue; they brought their story. And with every story was an opportunity to provide medical care today and ask the Author of that story for hope for tomorrow.


One by one, Dr. Justin checks all six girls while the others pick up his other instruments. They giggle looking in their ears through a device meant to examine the eyes. As the appointment ends, Justin offers to pray with the girls. They join hands and, for a moment, quietly hear Justin advocate for them, petitioning the Father on their behalf.

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Ben and his wife Emily Riggs are site-staff with Back2Back Cancun. He serves with missions teams, Back2Back's Child Sponsorship Program, and tries to keep up with the stories God is writing in Cancun. He's baffled by the grandeur of words, story, and their Author. He's also overly attached to coffee, Charlie Brown, conversations, and story-based blogs.

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