What is the perfect model for ministry? We must answer this important question if we are to fulfill our mission. We are reminded to revisit the early Christian church. After all, where else in history was a group of believers more successful in allowing God to use them in a powerful way to bring large numbers into the family of God? What was that church’s secret for success? I can think of two important aspects.
1. They received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in full measure. Once the Holy Spirit was poured out, they started to experience the gifts of the Spirit: love, patience, kindness, temperance, and self-control. Their care for one another resulted in health, healing, and wholeness in their communities. Many joined this loving group of Christians who knew Christ deeply, loved Him supremely, and shared Him passionately.
2. They accepted Christ’s commission and followed His methods of ministry. Christ had sent them “to preach and to heal” (Luke 9:2), and their homes became centers of healing and wholeness. There they cared for each other and shared the Christ they knew well. They had tasted God’s love and grace and had a deep bond with their Savior. The result was a passion to share His love with others by meeting their needs.
Should our methods be different today? People still have the same physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. When we look at the world, we are reminded that it “needs today what it needed nineteen hundred years ago—a revelation of Christ. A great work of reform is demanded, and it is only through the grace of Christ that the work of restoration, physical, mental, and spiritual, can be accomplished.”1
When we talk about sharing Christ and following His methods, we are talking about making every church a place where physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing is facilitated by His grace. This church will be seen by the community as the place where one may find loving people with open arms who share God’s love not only in words but also through their actions. To share love in action means to meet the needs of those around us.
One of the major needs in our communities today is related to the burden of disease. Our nation is struggling with the epidemic of obesity. Thirty-three percent of the U.S. population—including children—is obese. Scientific evidence confirms the links between obesity and diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other major killers.
What are Adventists doing about it? Recently the church in North America launched Adventists InStep for Life, the Adventist response to the epidemic of obesity. Families and leaders in churches, schools, and communities are called to join in this effort. As part of this initiative, a special event called “Let’s Move Day” is being planned to mobilize as many people as possible and to engage the community in physical activities, sending a message that we care about this problem and about our neighbors’ health. (See www. AdventistInStepforLife.com for more details.)
By showing an interest in this very real issue, we will have the opportunity to follow Christ’s example of mingling, showing sympathy, and meeting people’s needs.2 We will not give stern lectures about what people must do to live free from disease; rather, we will have the opportunity to present a loving God who gave us a special gift—a health message. This gift is not forced on us, and it does not make us holy. Instead, it allows us to experience a more abundant life.
What a privilege to help meet the needs of those around us in this way. Our call is to model our ministry after that of Christ and His early church, making our church today a center for health, healing, and wholeness in the community. Before that can be achieved, we are called to “choose life” ourselves. Christ has shown to us the path of life (Ps. 16:11) through His gifts of grace. “I have set before you life and death. . . . Choose life so that you and your children might live” (Deut. 30:19). I invite you today to “Choose Abundant Life, Tell the World,” making your church a “center for health, healing, and wholeness in your community.”
For more information go to www.NADhealthministries.org
1 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, 143.
Katia Reinert is director of the Health Ministries Department for the North American Division.