The Friends of Israel Medical Clinic in Argentina
Alfredo Espinoza awoke one morning, dressed, and went to the medical clinic in Buenos Aires. The next time he saw his home was almost three weeks later. His family visited him and brought him food and clothing because he was so busy he chose to sleep where he worked.
Drs. Alfredo and Asunta Espinoza run The Friends of Israel Medical Clinic in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a sprawling city of 3.2 million people. About 13 million live in the Greater Buenos Aires area, making it one of the largest cities in the world. Since 1982 Alfredo, Asunta, and the medical team they have assembled have provided free treatment, ambulance service, and 24-hour emergency care for people who are too poor to pay for it. Almost all their patients are Jewish—and no patient leaves the clinic without being offered spiritual materials.
Nearly 100 patients a day pass through the doors of the tiny, four-room facility located in the heart of the Jewish population. Last year the ambulance responded to 5,000 calls, attending to people in homes, schools, and on the streets of Buenos Aires. More than 35 percent of the calls were “code red”—life-threatening medical emergencies.
When a terrorist bomb tore through the Jewish Community Center in 1993, The Friends of Israel ambulance was first on the scene and treated victims until all were cared for. Recently the Espinozas established a mobile clinic that travels directly into Jewish neighborhoods and treats patients in their homes and in outlying communities.
In a few weeks, life will change for the Espinozas and the clinic. After years of working in a crowded, rented a facility, The Friends of Israel Medical Clinic will move into a home of its own. The Lord has provided a three-story, 18-room building next door to a synagogue in the heart of the Jewish sector.
“It almost seems too good to be true,” Alfredo and Asunta said after they saw it. Because it was used as a medical facility, it has examining rooms, patient quarters, classrooms, and all the related service areas. Renovations will begin as soon as the clinic moves in May.
We at The Friends of Israel are profoundly thankful to God for the way He has guided us and provided for the expansion of this unique ministry that treats not only the body but also the spirit.
The Espinozas teach classes in Bible; distribute literature; conduct summer outreaches, hospital visitation, and wellness programs; counsel people; and do discipleship training.
In addition, they are outstanding physicians. Alfredo is a cardiologist, kidney specialist, cardiac surgeon, and critical care specialist. Asunta is a pediatrician and dermatologist. Their team includes more than 40 volunteer doctors, medical technicians, and support staff.
The Espinozas joined The Friends of Israel after working for two years as Christian physicians in the jungles of Bolivia. Alfredo, however, already was well acquainted with the work of FOI. His father, Julio, joined us in 1970 as a pastor and minister to the Jewish people of Buenos Aires. After World War II, many Jewish people immigrated to the metropolis. But they could not speak Spanish. Julio, who also speaks Hebrew, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, and Russian, ministered to them. The Espinoza home often looked like an international book repository as Julio distributed dual-language Bibles and materials to help them master Spanish.
Today he and his son serve the people of Buenos Aires together. Julio hosts The Friends of Israel radio broadcast every Saturday and faithfully continues to communicate the great truths and principles for living found in the Scriptures.
The past 20 years have born much fruit for the Kingdom of God. And with His blessing, it will bear much more. We still have many needs. It will cost much to outfit the clinic and renovate it. But we know whom we have believed and are persuaded that, with His help and guidance, it can be done.