Mission, Hope, and Healing
Scripture: Matthew 9:35-37
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news
of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion
on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his
disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”
Every 40 seconds, another life ends through darkness and despair, often surrounded by
circumstances devoid of hope. These statistics should jolt us out of our comfort zones, and even
more so as we qualify this sad description by adding the fact that the most vulnerable to the tragedy
of suicide are those between the ages of 15 and 29 years. Hopelessness is no respecter of persons,
but it is sobering to note that the most endangered are the younger population. Does that surprise
us? The devil has long targeted our youth, and his attacks will not wane as we reach the climax of
the end times. Sadly, in many places, our young people graduate from school, and the graduate from
church at the same time.
All these thoughts flooded through my mind as we sat in the Executive Board Room of the
World Health Organization for two days of high-level meetings, where the imperative of reducing
this horrendous statistic of suicide was presented to representatives from various sectors of society.
My thoughts raced as I considered the opportunities offered by a Church that systematically
implements Comprehensive Health Ministry – comprehensive in that it addresses wholeness of
body, mind, spirit, social, and emotional, but also every ministry embraces wholistic well-being – it is
so logical and appropriate. Wholeness is intrinsic and foundational to every outreach, mission,
ministry, and endeavor of God’s Church.
My eyes then focused on the name boards of each delegation. There were various countries,
universities, institutes, and NGOs, but only one faith-based organization: The Seventh-day
Adventist Church! What an honor, what a responsibility, what an opportunity to share with these
august and focused groups that the actual “elephant in the room” was (is!) the absence of faith
initiatives to solve this huge problem or imperative: When broaching this subject, an uncomfortable
resistance, mixed with embarrassment, seemed to descend. Health, hope, mental and emotional wellbeing, ministry, and mission are inextricably linked! A church – not just any church, the Seventh-day
Adventist Church – entrusted with the mission and ministry of Comprehensive Health is ideally and
providentially poised to deliver not only physical relief, but mental health in a time when mental
health issues are about to become the single greatest cause of disability in the world (between 2015
and 2020). What an opportunity; what a responsibility. Every church a center of health education,
and every member a health (medical) missionary – comprehensively – body, mind, spirit,
Jesus is our “Pattern Man,” the Great Physician, the Great Healer, the Source of Hope.
When addressing the imperative and potential of Comprehensive Health Ministry, Ellen White
wrote prophetically and instructively:
“I can see that the medical missionary work [CHM] is to be a great entering wedge, whereby
the diseased soul may be reached.” Counsels on Health, page 535. “The union of Christlike work for
the body and Christlike work for the soul is the true interpretation of the gospel.” An Appeal for the
Medical Missionary College, pages 14 and 15
The secular world is using language such as the following: “Prevention can also be
strengthened by encouraging protective factors such as strong personal relationships, a personal
belief system and positive coping strategies.” Preventing Suicide, WHO Report, September 2014, page
I heard the importance of destigmatization – mental health and all that pertains to emotional
well-being – we should feel free to talk about these matters in an embracing and non-judgmental
way. I heard the words care, compassion, and hope – the description of our mission and the
indispensable ingredients missing from so many initiatives addressing human needs. God forbid that
these would ever be absent from the mission endeavor(s) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church,
because without these, our mission is incomplete and will fail.
Jesus, our Pattern Man, demonstrated wholistic and comprehensive ministry by embracing
the whole person. I have long been fascinated by the wonderful encounters Jesus had with the
different people of His day. Whenever He engaged individuals (or they, Him), the conversation and
emphasis focused on the spiritual – even, and often especially, when the miracles of healing took
place. We so often recount the miracles relating to physical health. Jesus also addressed the
emotional and mental – specifically and intentionally. The granting of forgiveness and the removal
of guilt are often central to Christ’s ministry of healing. Comprehensive Health Ministry and the
message of salvation are inextricably linked.
The mission of Christ was to heal the sick, encourage the hopeless, bind up
the brokenhearted. This work of restoration is to be carried on among the needy,
suffering ones of humanity. God calls not only for your benevolence, but your
cheerful countenance, your hopeful words, the grasp of your hand. Relieve some of
God’s afflicted ones. Some are sick, and hope has departed. Bring back the sunlight
to them. There are souls who have lost their courage; speak to them, pray for them.
There are those who need the bread of life. Read to them from the Word of God.
There is a soul sickness no balm can reach, no medicine heal. Pray for these, and
bring them to Jesus Christ. And in all your work, Christ will be present to make
impressions upon human hearts.
This is the kind of medical missionary work to be done. Bring the sunshine
of the Sun of Righteousness into the room of the sick and suffering. Teach the
inmates of the poor homes how to cook. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd,”
with temporal and spiritual food. Manuscript 105, 1898.
Jesus was tired. Do any of you (us) identify with this? Have your busy eyes ever rested on the
following words as recorded in John, chapter 4?
[The rest of this sermon focuses on this scripture passage and Acts chapters 3 and 4. This note is for the
translators to read these passages carefully prior to the time of translation.]
“Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well.”
“Tired as He was from the journey.” This description probably fits more of those in this
audience than we might wish to admit. I feel encouraged to know that Jesus felt weary at times, too.
His tiredness was probably accentuated by His concern for the brokenness of the planet, as the
current challenges inside and outside of the Church accentuate our sense of fatigue at times.
Then a Samaritan woman comes to the well. The disciples were off to the “ABC” to buy
food for the journey – focusing on real and felt needs! Jesus then engages this Samaritan woman in
conversation by asking for a drink. I love to imagine the surprise and awe in her expression as she
questions Jesus on His appropriateness in asking her, a Samaritan woman, for water. She comes to
the well at this hour to miss the penetrating and judgmental gazes of her fellow villagers. You see,
she was carrying a load of emotional sorrows and guilt, brought into sharp relief by the attitude of
others (and her own behavior and situation).
Jesus shares with her the importance of salvation, and reveals that He is the Living Water,
the Embodiment of Salvation. They banter a little about where true worship takes place: “On this
mountain,” or in Jerusalem. Jesus describes deep truth to her, and He describes true worship – that
being in spirit and in truth.
He then reveals Himself to her as the Messiah. Just then, the disciples return, but – although
surprised that He was talking to a Samaritan woman – asked no questions.
[Describe “the look” we sometimes would give our children when not wanting them to speak out of turn!]
They offer food; He is no longer hungry or tired because He finds His fulfillment and
sustenance in mission. “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and finish His work.”
The disciples were indeed surprised! Jesus crossed every boundary of custom, religion,
ethnicity, and gender, and ministered with compassion to the needy, guilty soul. The pen of
inspiration tells us that “A mysterious hand was turning the pages of her life history, bringing to
view that which she had hoped to keep forever hidden.” (Desire of Ages, page 187) She accepted
salvation; she ran back to the city, persuaded others to come and met Jesus, and they were blessed
by His witness for a further two days.
“She proved herself a more effective missionary than His own disciples.” (Desire of Ages, page
195.1) What a blessed outcome of wholistic, comprehensive ministry – Comprehensive Health
We have come to a time when every member of the church should take hold
of medical missionary work. The world is a lazar house filled with victims of both
physical and spiritual disease. Everywhere people are perishing for lack of a
knowledge of the truths that have been committed to us. The members of the
church are in need of an awakening, that they may realize their responsibility to
impart these truths. Testimonies, volume 7, page 62.
Come with me now to the experience of Peter and John as they practice and implement
mission and Comprehensive Health Ministry, as learned from Jesus. We fast-forward into the book
of Acts, chapters 3 and 4. At three in the afternoon, Peter and John are going to the Gate Beautiful
and the Temple. There is a man who has been lame/paralyzed since birth. He is brought to this
place each day to beg. He locks gazes with Peter and John, and asks for money. You know how it is,
when someone approaches you begging. You can turn your eyes, pharisaically “cross to the other
side” … Peter responds in words that have become part of everyday parlance – but first he says,
“Look at us!” The man looks with a hopeful expectancy, and then comes the disappointment:
“Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.” Hope dashed! Have you experience this?
You want(ed) money (or whatever); here, the giver is changing the game! But it doesn’t stop there.
“‘In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him by the right hand (notice that
right hand), he helped him up and instantly, the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to
his feet and began to walk.” (Acts 3:6-8) The man’s demeanor changed – walking, jumping, and
praising God. Can you, can I imagine … I don’t think so – bereft of movement from birth, he now
has energy and joyful ability to move, walk, jump, and be exuberant about it all! What a change!
The people noticed; the Pharisees noticed – by whose power, how did this happen? Peter,
the one who had denied Jesus, boldly speaks up following his commission to Comprehensive Health
Ministry, “Feed My sheep.” “It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through Him that has given
this complete [comprehensive] healing to him.” (verse 16)
Body, mind, spirit, social, and emotional – all aspects are being addressed in this event. The
Sanhedrin now get involved. “By what power?” they were in their silos of denial and Peter, primed
and filled by the Holy Spirit, responds:
“If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are
asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus
Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands
before you healed…” (verse 8-11)
And here is the punchline – blooming from an act of healing of body, mind, and spirit:
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by
which we must be saved.” (verse 11)
There it is! No other name, the name of Jesus – in family ministry, education, youth ministry,
public campus ministry, chaplaincy, children’s ministry, publishing ministry, health ministry –
Comprehensive Health Ministry – no other name than Jesus – central, foremost, foundational, and
But look with me at the reaction of the people, Sanhedrin and all…
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized they were unschooled, ordinary
men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (verse 13)
At Annual Council 2014, will people be astonished, surprised, pleased, awed, delighted, taken
aback that we have been with Jesus – regardless of topic or challenge? Will they be astonished that
God’s Spirit can keep His Church united despite the varied viewpoints? Note that there is a subtle,
but definite difference in nuance – as I wrote the script, I wrote “untied” instead of “united” – only
one letter placement difference, and yet the difference between strength and weakness – “United we
stand,” “Together we can do more,” “Unity is strength,” or – God forbid – personalized by the end
result of being divided and conquered! Have you, have I been with Jesus?
Peter and John are apprehended; the saints band together in prayer, they are released. The
saints continue to pray – Comprehensive Health Ministry and mission must be marinated in prayer
and drenched with grace – they pray “enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness.
Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of
Your holy servant Jesus.” (verse 30) Then the place where they were meeting was “shaken.” (verse
The Lord will give you success in this work [medical missionary work], for
the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, when it is interwoven with the
practical life, when it is lived and practiced. The union of Christlike work for the
body and Christlike work for the soul is the true interpretation of the gospel. An
Appeal for the Medical Missionary College, pages 14, 15
Comprehensive Health Ministry, healing (wholeness in brokenness), and mission are
inextricably united. You see, these concepts of ministry embody Christ’s method of ministry and
reaching the people.
What does it look like?
• It looks as if Jesus has been here (is here);
• It is a mission and a ministry – not just a method;
• It reaches within and without – to the needs of all – wholeness and preventive
• It offers a continuum of care – including the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual,
and social. We are in for the long haul.
United in prayer, emboldened by His Spirit, claiming the promises and name of Jesus –
knowing that there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved, and under
Whom we serve, and Who strengthens and give us hope and healing in mission – let us be a focus of
astonishment as we move forward. Astonishment, not because of facile, factious argument, but
because we have been with Jesus and are galvanized into bringing hope and healing to a broken
planet, groaning to behold His soon return.
May God bless and lead us in our mission to bring hope and healing, in Jesus’ name, amen.