International Ministries

Jesus reached out to the most marginalized and those with stigma

March 15, 2015 Journal
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Jesus reached out to the most marginalized and those with stigma

Ms. Connie Gates was the Chief Guest and Speaker of the Jorhat Christian Medical Centre School of Nursing Graduation on February 17, 2015. Connie is an active longtime volunteer of American Baptist International Ministries (IM). She began to serve as volunteer Special Assistant of Benjamin Chan for Primary Health Care Promotion in April 2013. Connie works with IM overseas partners to identify and develop resources to promote primary and community health care. Connie delivered the following speech on the Healing Ministry of Jesus in the graduation service.

Scripture: John 10:10

“I am very glad to be with you today – what an unexpected surprise, when I planned to visit Jorhat the beginning of this week, and when I arrived on Sunday to learn that graduation would be on Tuesday, and I was invited to be the chief guest! – and I consider it an honor and a blessing. Thank you.

This is a good example of how God works in mysterious ways – and I encourage you also to take advantage of opportunities he gives you.

This is the end of your studies – can you believe this day has finally arrived? – but really it is the beginning of your learning – the practical application of your studies, and learning “on the job” – how to be most useful in your service.

You have been well prepared by your tutors and your experience in the hospital and in the community, and now it is important to show them that you can apply what you have learned in the ‘real world’ in an appropriate way – and with love. Head knowledge is not enough, but showing compassion and understanding with the people who come to you for care. Nurses are so important in the healing process since they usually spend more time with each patient than the doctors, and develop relationships with them, which is so important in the process, more than just giving medicine.

Since I have come from US and work in Maharashtra, I want to reflect on 2 international healing systems.

The first example is the World Health Organization, which 66 years ago brought together most countries to learn from each other, to discuss common issues, and to set international standards. In its charter then, it defined ‘health’ as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” That definition is still used today, though many people think it can be improved. But even with this definition, it is important to remember that health and healing is more than treating diseases and caring for patients in the hospital. Health is more than physical health – we can also be sick mentally, socially and spiritually, and usually all four come together – in making us sick and in making us well.

The second example is Jesus – his ministry was of teaching, preaching and healing – he was called the “Great Physician”.  In his healing ministry he also did more than cure disease – physical and mental. He restored people to their families, religious communities, society in general. He reached out to the most marginalized, and those with stigma – especially women – and disobeying the current religious rules by touching people thought ‘unclean’ and healing on the Sabbath. And he told his disciples to “go and do likewise” – which is his message to us also. So sometimes we have to do things that are uncomfortable or against traditions, but are necessary – to allow people to become healthy and whole. (John 10:10)

And since I am involved in community health - and I encourage all of you to do some community health work during your career - I want you to remember that even in caring for patients in the hospital, it is important to remember that they are not only an individual – and especially are not only their ‘organ’ that needs treatment, like a heart or a liver - but that they are a member of a family and a community – these social environments are important to their health – for their healing and also for continuing to affect their health the rest of their lives.

So as you go from here, I ask God’s blessing on your lives and your ministries – that you may show God’s love through your actions and attitudes. And remember that you are partners with God in the healing ministry of Jesus’ model.”