September 18, 2016

Fellow in Action — Dr. John T. Baker

Dr. Baker shares some aspects from his 38 mission trips to the Chihuahuan Desert in northern Mexico!

For 20 years, my best friend Bob Burleson and I had been exploring the most secluded and impoverished areas of the Chihuahuan Desert in northern Mexico and adjacent Texas in the United States. Bob decided to do as much as possible to help these disadvantaged friends that we had come to know. Through the Baptist River Ministry Program, Bob started mission work that included habitat improvement, education, infrastructure development, medical and health clinics, dental clinics and more. I became the dentist for this endeavor, which involved caring for these wonderful people in three small villages and several outlying goat camps.

These Mexican Indians exist in the most primitive imaginable conditions, living in brush huts, caves, lean-tos, brush arbors, and dug outs—a 150 year ago type of existence with dirt floors and cooking outdoors for the most part. Needless to say, with our equipment which included compressed CO2 tanks and high speed drills, we were able to give these people as fine a dental care as any place in the world. Working under a tree, a brush arbor, a tarp, and sometimes in an adobe hut, we performed fillings, extractions, periodontal cleanings and surgery, and all types of care instructions to these impoverished people. All the while with goats, chickens, turkeys, hogs, donkeys, horses and dogs competing for our work space. Some of our oral surgery was of the type, that had we been in the United States, we would have put the patient in the hospital and used general anesthesia. However, as is often the case, God provides the healing and the protection for these types of emergency situations in such primitive settings.

We had many unusual experiences such as being taken into custody and having to work on “their” family, and having men with guns come up and having us do dental work on them all day as they held their firearms across their chest as we worked and while the others stood in a circle around us with their rifles ready, waiting each for their turn. But by and large, my dental care for these people was the most satisfying aspect of my 49 years in dentistry, as these families became my regular patients, seen and helped two or three times each year for 19 years. It has been wonderful.

This is just a short over view, and I am writing a book about these experiences. It will take a book to share the experiences of these missionary adventures.

Thank you for your kind contributions and congratulations Dr. Baker!

2016 August, Dr. Baker received a national award from the ADA for his volunteer service in Mexico.
The ADA sent out Certificates of International Volunteer Service for 2016 to the ADA members who achieved this recognition of service. The recipient dentists provided volunteer service to relieve pain and suffering to people in disadvantaged countries. In 2015, 62 dentists achieved this recognition. This Year 2016, there were only 22 recipients. Dr. John Baker went on 38 mission trips over 19 years to serve the impoverished Mexican people in the most primitive secluded wilderness settings of Mexico. Dr. Baker  is a full time practicing dentist in Dallas, Texas. He has been in practice for 49 years.  CLICK HERE to read more.

CLICK HERE to view the News Release 8-31-2016 about the ADA award Dr. Baker received.

Visit the Photo Gallery Below for Photos of Dr. Baker's Mission Trips to Mexico

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