Compassion in Action Around the World
by Becky Davey, former Director of International Healthcare Ministries
God is a God of compassion and care for His children as well as for all of His creation, and His Son, Jesus Christ, modeled this for us. Matthew 9:36 says that Christ was busy teaching, preaching, and healing the sick. He told His disciples to pray that God the Father would send out workers to reap a harvest among these people, the harassed and helpless, those in need of leadership and care, because they were ripe for harvest. Then He sent out the disciples to preach, teach, heal the sick, and do other acts of compassion. We are commanded to be like Christ—to clothe ourselves with kindness, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12), to be compassionate and humble (1 Peter 3:8). Healthcare ministry offers one of many platforms to follow Christ’s model. People around the world are finding hope and healing as ABWE healthcare professionals act as channels of His love.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
In Papua New Guinea, the Seigu clinic ministry reaches out to the community, and the clinic staff as well as local pastors follow up with new contacts. There have been salvation decisions as a result of these efforts. On Sundays, new visitors are coming to the local churches. One woman with end stage cervical cancer visited the clinic hoping that we might have better news than terminal cancer. Unfortunately, her cancer was spreading, but she did hear incredible news and options for help she had never heard about before—the hope in Christ for eternal life. She had to keep coming back to the clinic every three weeks for medicine. During one visit, Pastor Ipa again explained to her the simple plan of salvation, and she trusted Christ that evening. Later in the night she was unexpectedly ushered into the presence of the Lord.
Clinics in Ukraine give missionaries contact with people who would never visit a preaching service. Valya has been coming to the clinic in Ukraine for several years and has listened hungrily to the gospel and even wept over her sin. But she did not trust in Christ. Because of the relationship the missionary doctor had built with her in the clinic, this woman accepted a visit from a local church leader accompanied by the doctor. After a short conversation about the gospel, she eagerly stated she wanted to repent of her sin and ask Jesus to save her. She is the first person in her village to make such a decision. Since there is not yet a church in her village, her only opportunity to hear more about her new faith is to continue visiting the evangelist at the clinic.
There once was a village in Togo in which there was absolutely no one, as far as missionaries knew, who had ever heard that eternal life comes through faith in Christ. Then a Community Health Evangelism (CHE) team visited. They talked with the villagers about health issues including spiritual health and how it was possible to have God's peace. When the team was leaving the village to walk the dirt road toward another village, a man came out of the bush. He had a question: How could he have this peace that the CHE team had talked about? They answered his questions from God's Word, and he asked God to save him from his sins. He has already asked about doing a Bible study with the nearest pastor in order to grow in his new life.
For more than 40 years, a full-service hospital in South Asia has carried the gospel to hurting people through compassionate, high-quality healthcare. Patients continue to be drawn irresistibly to the light of the gospel as the staff diligently cares for each of them in their health crises. One example of a life saved is a young man who received Christ during treatment for a very aggressive cancer. He had an abysmal prognosis, but grew rapidly in his faith as he was discipled while undergoing repeated cycles of chemotherapy. His suffering is now complete, and he was promoted to eternity with Christ.
All over the world, compassionate evangelism is resulting in salvations and the discipling of believers who are being added to the Church. It is also giving local church members opportunities to be involved in community outreach—taking the gospel to new places. These vignettes are examples of the expression of compassion and God's tender mercies delivered in deeds plus words of love through healthcare ministries. As we see the desperate need of the crowds, we recognize how few we are to meet these overwhelming opportunities and needs. Won't you join us as we follow Christ's model of showing compassion through action?
From the ABWE Message Magazine, Vol. 56, No 1, Winter 2008