our history

For over 50 years, MBF has been an independent non-profit organization working in partnership with individuals and churches throughout the U.S. to equip Presbyterian partners in developing countries to proclaim the gospel through medical ministry.

Many trustees, staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly since 1963 to proclaim the Gospel through the healing ministry of the Church in developing countries around the world. As you read some of the history and hear familiar stories you will be amazed at how true MBF has remained to its original calling from God. MBF was started as a result of great need and a passion to serve others. More than fifty years later, the need for excellent medical care is as great as it ever was and the unique opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ through medical mission only grows larger.

In 1962, the Board of World Missions (BWM) of PCUS appointed a committee “relative to medical work, especially the financial support of hospitals” as a result of recommendation by Dr. Paul Crane a missionary at the Presbyterian Medical Center, in Chonju, Korea. The committee conducted its investigation and formally recommended the formation of a foundation dedicated to medical missions. 

MBF was formally registered in Tennessee on July 3, 1963 as a 501-C-3 Not-for-profit Charity. The Board of World Missions charged the new organization to do the following.

  • Educate Presbyterians on the wide medical mission opportunities available.
  • Help local congregations select medical mission projects that are appropriate for developing world conditions.
  • Build long-term relationships and forge sustaining mission partnerships.
  • Provide a professional evaluation of the cost of sustainable medical missions.
  • Realize that as new medical mission opportunities surface, a nimble and flexible response team is vital.

The first board meeting was held in November 1963 in Atlanta, GA and Dr. J. K. Fancher of Atlanta was elected the first president. In July 1964, Dr. Cecil Thompson took a one year leave of absence from his position at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA to become the first Executive Director. The PCUS in the southern U.S. and the United Presbyterian Church in the north reunited in 1985 to form PC(USA). In 1989, after the reunification, the Presbyterian Medical Mission Fund (PMMF) a very similar organization which had been started by Dr. Burr Lewis in 1972 to serve the northern church, merged with MBF. Initially, MBF’s ministry was focused on Mexico, Korea and Africa, especially the Congo. The merger with PMMF brought an expanded mission field of India and other areas of Asia.

The MBF headquarters was located in Woodville Texas from 1968 until 1992 when it was moved to Houston. A large number of dedicated individuals have served MBF. Board Members, Executive Directors, Regional Directors and office staff, all have worked together in innovative ways. This remarkable organization has been held together for 50 years by the work and prayers of many as it adapted to political and economic changes across the world. Through this sustained effort hospitals have survived, doctors, nurses and technicians have been trained, pain has been relieved, babies born and lives saved. Christ has been preached, demonstrated and understood. With His grace may our future be one of loving perseverance.