DrSteveAfter we read Acts 13:13-16, you may ask: “What does this passage have to do with medical missions?”

A New Testament Pattern for Evangelism

by Dr. Chuck Hurlburt, MD

Paul and Barnabas took advantage of their position, of their background, of their abilities, and of their education to gain an audience so they could share the Gospel. The lesson is that every Christian should use whatever God has given them—their talents, their training, their background, whatever—to gain an audience with others to share the Gospel. That’s good biblical strategy for evangelism. God doesn’t give us talents and abilities and privileges just to bless us. He gives them to us so we can use them to serve Him. And that’s exactly what Grace Dental and Medical Missions does. We have something to offer people: medical and dental services. Those services are especially needed in places like Benin and they are wanted. So the biblical principle is to use that situation to share the Gospel. That’s exactly what we do. In order to receive the medical treatment they want, people have to wait in line and while they wait, they listen to the Gospel which is usually given in their language by national pastors or missionaries. It’s a simple strategy and it’s very effective.

Most of the people we saw at medical clinics in Benin were probably Muslim. Now, if you’d gone into a Dendi village and said, “Were going to have an evangelistic service and all are welcome,” I don’t think you’d have a good attendance. But if you offered medical services, they would come. The other place we saw that was with the Fulani tribe in Benin; they are standoffish, keeping to themselves; they don’t even mix with the other tribes nearby. The missionary in Benin, Collin Ovenell, said that they have had a struggle to reach the Dendi people because they view the missionaries as outsiders. But yet, if we offered medical or dental services they would come to us and heard about the One who died to save them. The last time we were there they came for the services offered and we use the opportunity to introduce them to Jesus Christ. Just like Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13. And that’s the strategy of Grace Dental and Medical Missions—I think it’s a good one.

What were the results of Paul’s sermon as noted in Acts 13:42-49? This is what happens when an ambassador serves dependent on God’s grace. Did you catch what happened at the end of this passage? Paul and Barnabas were bold—God was glorified, people were saved, the Word of the Lord spread. That’s what happens when we serve dependent on God’s grace.

I want to challenge each one of you to use whatever God has given you— not just your talents and your abilities—but your situations in life: your associations, your occupation, the contacts that you have with people. Use them as an opportunity for an audience to share the Gospel. I believe that’s the biblical pattern for missions and the standard for Christian evangelist individually.

(Dr. Hurlburt was the featured speaker at the GDMMissions 2016 Annual Banquet. This article is taken from his comments and was published in Sowing by Grace.)

IndiaThe Witness of the Christian Hospital

Great Missionary Meeting, Keswick Conference, 1938

The story told by Dame Edith Brown of the growth of Medical Mission work, particularly in India, was inspiring and soul-stirring. In vivid words she drew a picture of an Indian Mission Hospital; it was all so plain and simple, its long wards with whitewashed walls and cement floors; every bed occupied, and groups of women and children round the beds, or squatting in the courtyard. They would see Christian doctors and nurses, foreign and Indian, going from bed to bed doing surgical dressings, or speaking words of cheer; there would be little crowds of women gathered outside the door of the operating theatre, with hands clasped in prayer, waiting to know that all was well with some friend inside, and eager to see the tumour that had been removed! If they went to the out-patients' department they would see large crowds of women and children listening to the Gospel message before passing in to see the doctors. The Hospital was a wonderful new world for the women who stayed there, and after their stay they could never be quite the same. They took back with them to their homes the never-to-be-forgotten memory of service given to all in need, and of the wonderful message, so new to them, of salvation, not by their own works, but through One Who loved and died for them. And that new experience was not kept to themselves. They loved to show their operation scars to their friends and neighbours, and to tell them of the wonderful things they had seen and heard. Dame Edith Brown went on to say that things were rapidly changing in India. Power was largely and increasingly passing into the hands of Indians. The main task for the missionary was to prepare and train the Indian Christians so that they might themselves carry on the work in the Hospitals. They sometimes heard the question asked: Why should we take advantage of sickness, or of need of help, "to cram religion down their throats?” But no one would ask such a question who had ever given the Gospel message him, or who had known the hopelessness and despair of the hearts of an Indian woman without Christ, or if they had seen the light come into their faces as they realised the wonder of the salvation of Christ. Through Medical Mission work many were coming to know something of the power and love of the Saviour. “Let us press forward while the door is still open, and let us prepare for the time when the door may be shut, by training the Indian Christians to carry on the work. A shut door which we should have entered while it was open is a very terrible thing,” said Dame Edith Brown in closing.

NotesStir Me

It was common in the early 1900’s, when Christian families gathered for Bible conferences in England and the United States, to listen to world-renown preachers and missionaries speak on the subject of world evangelism. The goal was to exhort full consecration to taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to distant lands. Many responded to hymns such as “Stir Me.”

Hymns from a century ago focused as much on the meaning of the lyrics as on the melody. At camp meetings which characterized the Keswick Movement, thousands of participants sang the following hymn (“Stir Me” Hymn #371 in the Keswick Hymnal, lyrics by Mary Head, public domain) asking God to give them a heart for missions.

This as a prayer for God to make us sensitive to the world’s need for eternal hope which is only found in Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit move us such that others see Christ in us.

Stir me, Oh stir me, Lord, I care not how,

But stir my heart in passion for the world,

Stir me to give, to go, but most to pray;

Stir till the blood-red banner be unfurled

O'er lands that still in heathen darkness lie,

O'er deserts where no cross is lifted high.

Stir me, Oh stir me, Lord, till all my heart

Is filled with strong compassion for these souls;

Till Thy compelling word drives me to pray;

Till Thy constraining love reach to the poles,

Far north and south, in burning deep desire,

Till east and west are caught in love's great fire.

Stir me, Oh stir me, Lord, Thy heart was stirred

By love's intensest fire, till Thou didst give

Thine only Son, Thy best beloved One,

E'en to the dreadful Cross, that I might live.

Stir me to give myself so back to Thee,

That Thou canst give Thyself again through me.

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