It was quite a night last night at the BW PMs! I am still in wonder about all the stories I heard and experiences I had. We are alive in the Spirit. We are making a difference. People are seeking healing — and many are finding it, sometimes in surprising ways!
The church has always been full of surprises, hasn’t it? Historian Gary Ferngren writes that in 251 A.D., when Christians were still a small minority, the church in Rome took care of 1,500 widows, orphans, the sick and the dying. A century later, the church in Antioch supported twice as many. Out of this support network Christians created the world’s first hospitals.
Christians have often been in the forefront of improving the world. Just talk about this one thing: how we have contributed to health care, and we sound pretty amazing. For instance, the Brethren in Christ Church began a hospital in the rural, far-reaches of Zambia in 1957 at Macha, a village 50 miles from the nearest town, Choma. Dr. Philip Thuma has served there for years. Under his leadership the hospital grew into an innovative and effective malaria research center. Now it is a 208-bed inpatient facility with an affiliated nursing school. The research on malaria has world-wide partners.
Jesus intimated that he was a doctor and certainly demonstrated His desire to heal. I feel that urge, too. Last night when we sang this song, the tears trailed down my cheeks.
All who are thirsty
all who are weak
come to the fountain
dip your heart in the stream of life
let the pain and the sorrow
be washed away,
in the wave of his mercy
as deep cries out to deep.
All over the room people were dipping into the waves of mercy and being fed and freed. One person went home and wrote back to me about being seven days sober! A couple reported how a great sorrow was lifted. A man told me how God is sustaining him through the hardest thing he has ever faced. A student was present because they were curious about how our community is so healing. We give in to the urge to heal all the time.
We make a difference, as Christians always have. We not only work to heal people physically, we work to heal people spiritually: broken bodies and broken hearts.
One of the great issues confronting the new Congress is going to be whether the modest addition to healthcare in the U.S., Obamacare, will be dismantled. One has to wonder what the debate is about when the U.S. already has the most expensive healthcare in the world and yet ranks last in this year’s ranking of outcomes. The invisible hand has us in its grip. I am grateful for all my friends and family who have received some benefits from the law. But they are still being gouged by insurance companies and defrauded by the corporations who own the supposedly free enterprise system and the government that legislates it.
In that environment, we make a difference every day. I am so grateful for the advances medical science has made — last night, a friend told the story of how her mother’s emergency care saved her life! But I also heard a friend talking about how wanton prescription of antidepressants for anything that resembles depression is actually thwarting human development! I am not waiting for the wisdom of this world, no matter how technically amazing, to reflect the wisdom of God.
The difference we keep making is when deep calls to deep. Beyond our capacity to heal ourselves, inside or out, we find the place where Jesus makes us whole. In that work we are at the forefront. In so many ways we can make a difference – in every area we spend our day!