Paws and Reflect

Dr. Nancy Moore understands that people can come to know Jesus just because they love their pets. She had taken mission trips with Christian Veterinary Missions (CVM) to visit Lakota reservations in Oklahoma and New Mexico. There, she treated animals whose owners couldn’t afford veterinary care. While examining the animals, she witnessed to the pet owners.

So in 2021, Moore approached Yerusha Bunag, local missions director of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, to suggest the church could host an urban vet clinic. They chose their Sulphur Springs location, which is in a low-income neighborhood that doesn’t have a veterinary clinic within a five-mile radius. The church supplied logistics and volunteers while CVM brought Christian vets, vaccines and other resources.

“By teaming with a parachurch ministry like CVM, we extend the reach of what a local church can do,” says Moore. “These pet owners see that compassion for an animal can show how God loves them.”

Moore has had church members tell her that they were too scared to do something missional, but because they love animals, this outreach was a natural fit for them. 

“The pet element opened all kinds of doors that we don’t normally have,” says Bunag, who notes that folks in the community are used to churches showing up with food and clothing, but veterinary care is unique.

“These people may never step foot in a church, but they love their pets,” she adds. 

In 2022, Idlewild hosted a second vet clinic, this time partnering with Hillsborough County Animal Services. At this clinic, the church helped more than 100 pets and saw at least a dozen people come to Christ. The plan is to make the vet clinic an annual event.

“All walks of life came through the clinic,” says Moore. “We met people who were saved, others who were saved but disconnected from the church, and others who only heard the gospel because of their pet. It was just such a blessing.” 

Christy Heitger-Ewing
Christy Heitger-Ewing

Christy Heitger-Ewing is a contributing writer for Outreach magazine. In addition, Christy pens the “Now & Then” column in Cabin Life magazine. She also writes regularly for Christian publications such as Encounter, Insight, and the Lookout. She is the author of Cabin Glory: Amusing Tales of Time Spent at the Family Retreat.