For Dr. Mark Wentz, a lifelong personal calling to serve has sent him to various countries and states to provide medical care those in need.
A family physician at the Toledo Clinic, Wentz has spent several years helping those who need medical services.
“I have always been drawn to mission work,” Wentz said. “I spent four years on an Indian reservation in Fort Yates, North Dakota, three months in Jamaica delivering babies, and I helped set up set up a clinic in Biloxi, Mississippi, after Katrina.”
Dr. Mark Wentz working in the Haiti clinic with a translator and
Wentz just completed his fifth trip to the Republic of Haiti, last month, where he and another physician saw 128 people a day for nine days.
Haiti is a Caribbean country that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. The largely desperately poor nation was decimated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in January, 2010. The death count has been estimated at 220,000. Hundreds of thousands are still homeless.
“I primarily do medical work on the trips,” Wentz said. “It is nice to go back and see some of the same people year after year. It is nice to know that I am able to help.”
Wentz works through Missions International of America, based out of Perrysburg. The organization has been working in Savanette, Haiti, a farming community, for the past 12 years, building schools, an orphanage, and purchasing a small medical clinic. MIA is currently working on constructing an irrigation system so residents will be able to farm the land and sustain themselves.
“They opened a little ambulatory clinic in a renovated house and we saw anyone who showed up,” Wentz said. “The youngest patient I saw was two days old. The oldest was 80. We saw a gamut of medical issues including skin infections, parasites, anemia, malaria, traumas, Tuberculosis, and malnutrition in young and old people. They are the poorest people in the western hemisphere. Despite that, they have enormous hearts. Part of my calling is to provide medical care to people who do not have it available to them.”
Wentz said he likes working with MIA because the organization is trying to help the Haitians become self-sufficient.
“Unfortunately, with all of the help in Haiti over the years, we have taught them to become dependent on missionaries,” he said. “We want to help them become self-sufficient and develop a local economy. We are not just giving them fish, we are teaching them how to fish.”
Wentz is married to Dr. Alma Garlo, an obstetrician/gynecologist, whom he met in medical school at Wright State University in Dayton.
The couple has three children: Maggie, a senior at The Ohio State University, studying nursing; Libbey, a senior in chemical engineering at Trine University in Angola, Indiana and Pat, a senior at St. Francis de Sales High School.
Wentz, a Vicar at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Stony Ridge, is currently attending Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is hoping to be called to a church and ordained once he finishes.
“I have had a calling to become a pastor for many years,” Wentz said. “I decided to wait until the kids were grown to go to seminary. My family is very supportive, but I think they think I have lost my mind.”
Wentz said he will continue to provide medical care to the Haitians.
“They are a proud and very warm people and it just feels so great to be able to help,” he said.
For more information on MIA and how you can help, go to http://www.missionsinternationalofamerica.com.