Based on the book “Evangelism” by Ellen G. White
The disciples asked Jesus, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” . He first warned them about the dangers of the prevailing deceptions of the last days preceding His second coming. He also told them, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” . We see nations are getting angry, and turmoil in the Middle East and elsewhere; but another important sign right before Jesus comes is pestilences, or, diseases. Jesus, who knows all things, understood that diseases would increase worldwide in all new forms and shapes.
It is such, by divine design, that in the last days right before He comes and when diseases would be rampant, Jesus entrusted the Advent movement with a health reform message, given in vision, in 1863 through Ellen G. White. It was then that our medical missionary evangelism began.
What then is the purpose of gospel medical missionary evangelism? What are some essential principles of this work? Admittedly, many times, we have neglected those principles, yet still, label our work “medical missionary work”. The Bible says, “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach”. Some individuals want to be called ‘Gospel Medical Missionary,’ but adopt other healing arts or health messages that are directly against biblical teaching and divorced from its original aim and the Gospel. In the book “Evangelism,” Ellen White has clearly outlined essential principles which must be followed to be truly called gospel medical missionary evangelism. If any of these principles are omitted, this work would be weakened, and the full impact of what might have been gained will be lost. The more one studies, contemplate, and employs these basic principles, the more (s)he realizes their importance and the success that following these principles will produce.
Many of our health education programs have not been successful in introducing people to Christ because we have not followed these principles. What are these principles? Let’s look at them in their entirety and see how they can be applied to a total program of local, foreign and even church health evangelism.
1. Gospel medical missionary evangelism should open doors for the entrance of the present truth.
“Evangelistic medical missionary work” opens doors for the truth like nothing else can. “This work finds access to the hearts and minds,” converting many to the truth. Our medical missionary evangelism work should be the “great entering wedge,” which attracts attention, gives the opportunity to meet people’s physical needs, so that we can minister to their spiritual needs. “God reaches hearts through the relief of physical suffering.” It is the pioneer work of the gospel. Pioneer, meaning, “one that goes before to remove obstructions or prepare the way for another.”. It is to remove all prejudice and obstructions that people may have about our evangelistic work, so that the everlasting gospel may find entrance to many hearts and homes .
2. Gospel medical missionary evangelism should be combined with the complete gospel.
“The gospel of health is to be firmly linked with the ministry of the word. It is the Lord’s design that the restoring influence of health reform shall be a part of the last great effort to proclaim the gospel message.” Medical missionary work is not to eclipse or take the place of the Third Angel’s Message. It is simply the right arm of the Third Angel’s Message, the helping hand of the gospel. In other words, we are not to spend all our time doing just health education, while people’s spiritual needs are neglected. We are to give them sound biblical studies, so they may clearly understand what God expects of them, and point them to the only source of salvation – Jesus Christ. Even gospel ministers will be “twice as successful if they understand how to treat disease”. They should be gospel medical missionaries and should give instruction in the principles of healthful living. It is part of their appointed work. Medical missionary work must not be divorced from the gospel ministry.True medical missionary work keeps before the people the terms of eternal life, as given in the Word of God. If it does not do this, then it is not true medical missionary evangelism.
3. Gospel medical missionary evangelism should include house-to-house work.
“In teaching health principles, keep before the mind the great object of reform – that its purpose is to secure the highest development of body and mind and soul. Show that the laws of nature, being the laws of God, are designed for our good; that obedience to them promotes happiness in this life, and aids in the preparation for the life to come.” House to house instruction should especially include “the art of cooking wholesome food.” Our gospel of health evangelism work would be far more successful if it is taken to the homes of the people. If we limit our health evangelism only to those who come to us, we will reach but a small portion of those that might be touched if we took our programs to the people. Cooking schools in local neighborhoods, done in the homes of church members, could be one way of fulfilling this instruction.
4. Gospel medical missionary evangelism should lead to conversions and baptisms.
Medical missionary evangelism gives opportunity to gather the most precious fruit for the Lord. Fruit bearing is the salvation of souls to baptism. The Lord God of Israel is hungry for fruit. Evangelistic medical missionary work will be a means of converting many to the truth. The conversions of souls to God is the greatest, highest work. Sinners must be converted and baptized. Winning souls to Christ is the greatest bliss this side of Heaven. Repentance, faith, and baptism are the requisite steps in conversion. Baptism is the symbol of entrance into Christ’s spiritual kingdom. Connection with Christ involves connection with His Church by baptism. Baptismal candidates need thorough preparation in the teachings of the Word of God. If we are to seek people through our health evangelism, we must carefully instruct them in all that Jesus taught.
5. Gospel medical missionary evangelism should be done with simplicity.
Faith must be bound with the medical missionary work and the ministry of the gospel. Jesus showed the simplicity of his work, by full dependence upon the father. “The Savior fed the multitude with five loaves and two fishes. This merciful provision for temporal need helped to fasten in the minds of the people the gracious words of truth which He had spoken.” “Christ has left us an example, that we should follow in His steps. He always drew near to the most needy, the most hopeless, and, attracted by His sympathy, they came close to Him.” “We are to work as Christ worked, in the same practical lines. Then we shall be safe.”Some have suggested to modify our work, making it very technical, incomprehensible and complex. “The divine commission needs no reform. Christ’s way of presenting truth cannot be improved upon.” Our work was designed to reach all classes of people, in every part of the world, and in every language. “Learn how to give simple treatments”, the use of water, dietetic reform and home remedies, that is cheap, inexpensive and accessible even to the poor. “There is sickness everywhere, and much of it might be prevented by attention to the laws of health.” These laws are universal and can be accessed in every part of the world. Our methods must be simple in treating the sick and also take “the place of the use of poisonous drugs”, or pharmaceuticals .
6. Follow the divine model of Jesus Christ in Isaiah 58.
Self-sacrificial service to others means following the footsteps of the great medical missionary, Jesus Christ. In many cases today, “medical missionary work” is only a “profitable business” strictly setup for gain. If there is no gain, there is no help for others. If I don’t get paid, you are “suffering.” Wow! How we have forgotten the great exemplar, Jesus Christ. Isaiah fifty-eight clearly lays out the true principles of medical missionary work.“The fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah contains present truth for the people of God. Here we see how medical missionary work and the gospel ministry are to be bound together as the message is given to the world. Upon those who keep the Sabbath of the Lord is laid the responsibility of doing a work of mercy and benevolence. Medical missionary work is to be bound up with the message, and sealed with the seal of God”.
7. Those doing medical missionary evangelism should also do the spiritual (or bible) part of the work.
We are not to be satisfied with doing only a surface level work. Once the work is begun we must not leave it until all who lean toward the truth are converted, baptized, and joins the Church. We are not to put forth efforts in different places that use up our strength and vitality, then go away and let the work ravel out. Work that is left in an unfinished state usually amounts to nothing.
Those who begin work in a place are not to leave portions of that work for somebody else to follow-up. The one who begins the project is to continue until truth has been faithfully presented and the people have been converted. Often we violate these essential principles by doing “seed -sowing” with medical missionary work, and the leaving for the evangelist or pastor to do all the spiritual presentation. But this is not the Lord’s order. Those who are involved in the health work should also be involved in presenting the full everlasting gospel, and bring people to a decision for the truth.
Those engaged in gospel-medical missionary work must realize that this work is a high calling. It is not just giving some talks on herbs, vital signs, water or eating healthy plant-based foods, but rather also pointing people to Jesus. He can save, cleanse them from all sin, and restore them back into His image. It is a work that is bound up very closely with the ministry of the Word. It is to be the helping hand of the Third Angel’s message. It is largely a spiritual work. It is the gospel practiced. It is to be like Jesus; the greatest gospel-medical missionary who ever lived.
When conducted aright, this work will bring in a harvest of souls, and an effective evangelism cycle must be put in place to be able to lead those souls to the truth, to Jesus, and to the watery grave of baptism. Let us follow these principles and be faithful to the true and complete gospel of the health message that God has given us for these last days.