As I read and understand the Scriptures, I have come to the conclusion that authentic ministry encompasses three actions. They are: Preach, Teach, Heal. These three simple words have broad application in definition and practice.
I am doing a lot of preaching and teaching here in Kyrgyzstan. I speak to some group every morning. Mainly, I am teaching and instructing in these sessions. I preach nearly every Sunday morning in some church gathering. Preaching and teaching have a unique and important part in ministry – and is what we do mostly-preach and teach.
Personally, I believe we need to give more attention to the ministry of healing. Preaching and teaching do not necessarily bring healing. By “healing, “ I am not just talking about praying for the sick, I am talking about restoration of life in all of those areas in which it has been broken, shattered, or severed. This requires, in my judgment and experience, a different approach, other than preaching and teaching.
As I mentioned above, I have done a lot of preaching and teaching here, but we have been participating in much healing work as well. There are many situations where healing has happened or is happening. After each church service, I spend nearly two hours after preaching and teaching practicing the ministry of healing with those who come up. Perhaps next week, I will have permission to share a story of incredible healing on this blog.
It is easy to preach and teach, but healing is “trench work,” spiritual confrontation, sacrifice, it is often inconvenient and just plain hard work, but incredibly rewarding.
I have a renewed interest in what James says about just preaching and teaching. There is more, much more, to ministry than just telling people something or passing on information, or giving more rules and regulations. I guess my strong desire is to not just to return home with a bunch of pictures of preaching and teaching to people, but to return home with the knowledge that people’s lives have been changed and in some way or ways, healed.
James says that real ministry involves ministering to people’s needs in real, relevant and immediate ways. Read James 1:27 where he talks about widows and orphans- Kyrgyzstan has many of them. Most of the men here “gone” in some way. Also read James 2:14-17, it talks about a need for daily food – something to eat. A sermon or lesson has no value when a person is hungry. That can come later – after they are fed.
Some weeks ago, we posted a picture of a young lady hiding behind piles of trash at a local garbage dump. (see picture on the right side of our blog) She and her brother visited often there to find either something to eat or to sell. She is eleven, her brother is five.
Well, last night, July 8, I had the privilege of sitting next to and serving these two children at a village gathering. A Christian lady found out about the children, went to the dump and found them, took them to her home, cleaned them up and is now committed to caring for them. She receives no financial support or help in caring for these beautiful kids.
Sitting with these beautiful children at a village celebration.
It is an amazing story. Jayne and I will help Larissa take care of these children as best we can. This is just one example of what a healing ministry is. What this lady did and is doing for these children, could be called what James would call, “faith with works.”
There is a whole lot of preaching and teaching going on and this is good. However, there needs to be a whole lot of healing ministry going on, too. Lives are shattered. They need Christ – they need restoration. Jesus told Matthew when He invited him to follow Him that the trail would take them to sinners, (salvation) and to sick people (healing).
Someone once described ministry as “getting to know someone’s name, listening to their story, and falling in love with them.” Much healing can come from such a relationship.