Why medical missions?

My cousin asked me to write something for him on why medical missions.  This is what I wrote while being distracted by a beautiful little boy who was eager to sit in my lap and read him books (which I did gladly). 

Matthew 28:18-20, "And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”"

Clearly, Jesus Christ wants us to go to all nations.  One of the big themes of the Bible is that God desires the praise of all nations.  Psalm 67:3-5 reads, "May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.  May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the people justly and guide the nations of the earth.  Selah  May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you." 

And again in Genesis 12 as God calls Abram to himself, "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."  God's objective through all history has been to make Himself known to the nations so that all may praise God and God may be glorified.  There are billions of people who do not know who Christ is.  They do not know the only name that deserves praise.  So we must go.

The question remains, "Why medical missions?"  And there are very many reasons for this. The first I'd like to focus on is that through medicine we have access to parts of the world that otherwise would not allow missionaries.  There are many nations in which evangelism is illegal, Christians are persecuted, and access is limited.  Medical teams can get into many of these nations.

Moreover, the call of the Christian is not solely the Great Commission.  Christ said in Matthew 10:8, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give."  The ministry of Jesus, Paul, Peter, and the other apostles were filled with stories of healing.  This served multiple purposes.  For one, it showed God's compassion for those suffering.  And additionally, it legitimized their message.  Medical missions enables us to spread the Gospel while loving others and taking care of their needs. 

1 John 3:16-18 demonstrates another reason for medical missions, 'By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."

There are Christians all over the world who live in poverty with no access to physicians.  Their children are dying of preventable and treatable illnesses.  1 John demonstrates that if we do not take care of our brothers, the love of God is not in us.  So medical missions does not only call us to spread the Gospel but to take care of our brothers and sisters.  We are not just to show the love and compassion to the lost, but also to the redeemed.  We have been given much, and as such, much is required of us. 

And for my final point, I will turn to James 1:27, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."  Some will say, "well, we have widows and orphans in America."  This is true.  We should take care of them. 

But should we also not take care of the widows and orphans in other parts of the world.  In parts of Africa, AIDS is leaving thousands of orphans, and in many parts of the world, children are cast out.  War has made many widows as has illness.  We are called to take care of the widows and orphans in America, and we are also called to take care of the widows and orphans outside of America.  For we have been adopted into the family of God.  Much mercy and grace has been extended to us.   If we are followers of Christ, we must extend the same grace to others.  And one of the best ways to take care of widows and orphans is to take care of their physical needs with a prayer that perhaps by doing this we can also teach them of the love of Christ.


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