Ministering to Soul and Body
The pioneer work of the gospel
When Christ sent His disciples out on their first missionary journey, He said to them, “As ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” [Matt. 10:7, 8, KJV]. And when at the close of His earthly ministry He gave them their commission, He said, “These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” [Mark 16:17, 18, NIV].
Of the disciples after Christ’s ascension, we read, “They went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” [verse 20, KJV].
To Christ’s disciples today there come countless opportunities to minister to sin-sick souls and to those in need of physical healing. Physical healing is bound up with the gospel commission. Medical missionary work is the pioneer work of the gospel.
God’s people are to be genuine medical missionaries. They are to learn to minister to the needs of soul and body. They should know how to give the simple treatments that do so much to relieve pain and remove disease. They should be familiar with the principles of health reform, that they may show others how, by right habits of eating, drinking, and dressing, disease may be prevented and health regained. A demonstration of the value of the principles of health reform will do much toward removing prejudice against our evangelical work. The Great Physician, the originator of medical missionary work, will bless every one who will go forward humbly and trustfully, seeking to impart the truth for this time.
Establishing Health Institutions
Sanitariums are to be established in many places, to stand as memorials for God. I know that the truth will reach the hearts of many who, but for the agency of these institutions, would never be enlightened by the brightness of the gospel message. Self-sacrificing workers, who have full faith in God, should be chosen to take charge of these institutions. They are to take up this work, not with the hope of gaining financial advantage, but because their hearts are weighted with the burden of the message for this time. They are to be willing to sacrifice personal gain and personal convenience for the sake of saving souls.
A Work Demanding Sacrifice
The work of God is to be carried forward in self-denial and self-sacrifice. “Whosoever will come after me,” Christ said, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” [Mark 8:34, KJV]. Christ became poor that we might be partakers of the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” [2 Cor. 4:17, KJV]. We are to practice the same self-sacrifice that led Him to give Himself up to the death of the cross to make it possible for human beings to have eternal life. In all that we do or say, in all our expenditure of means, we are to strive with full purpose of heart to fulfill the purpose of Him who is the Alpha and Omega of medical missionary work. Beside all waters we are to sow the seeds of truth, winning souls to Christ by tender compassion and unselfish interest.
Seek to Understand
We are to seek to understand the necessities of those with whom we are brought into contact, and to obtain their confidence. People are eager to hear the truth from those whose lips are governed by the law of kindness. The divine word, spoken by such messengers, will be as music in their ears. Thus many of those whose minds are now filled with prejudice against present truth may be won to Christ.
Our work is a great and solemn one, and it needs men who understand what it means to give themselves to unselfish effort for the saving of the lost. But there is no need for the service of men who are lukewarm. Men and women are needed whose hearts are touched with human woe and suffering, men and women who have heard a message from heaven, and whose lives give evidence that they are receiving and imparting light and life and grace.
This article is a selection taken from an article “The Blessing of Service,” originally published in the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, May 5, 1904, by Ellen G. White. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry