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What is Medical Missionary Work?

"Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Mark 8:34.

"Study Christ's definition of a true missionary, 'whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.' Mark 8:34. Following Christ, as spoken of in these words, is not a pretense, nor a farce. Jesus expects His disciples to follow closely in His footsteps, enduring what He endured, suffering what He suffered, overcoming as He overcame. He is anxiously waiting to see His professed followers revealing the spirit of self-sacrifice. Those who receive Christ as a personal Saviour, choosing to be partakers of His suffering, to live His life of self-denial, to endure shame for His sake, will understand what it means to be a genuine medical missionary." Counsels on Health 511.

"Medical missionary work is yet in its infancy. The meaning of genuine medical missionary work is known by but a few. Why? Because the Saviour's plan of work has not been followed." A Call to Medical Evangelism 11.

What is "genuine medical missionary work?" Who is "a genuine medical missionary?"

There are many movements in the world today seeking to benefit humanity. We may be sympathetic with their objectives and do what we can to encourage them in their good work. But God has given to Seventh-day Adventists a program of life and health for body and soul which occupies a unique place.

"True medical missionary work is of heavenly origin. It was not originated by any person who lives." Medical Ministry 24.

With due recognition of the great work that has been done by such noble spirits as Pasteur, Trudeau, Florence Nightingale, and Clara Barton, it is not to them that we look as the originators or the exponents of the program of medical ministry which has been committed to us. Our health message is as distinctive as our doctrinal message.Let us examine "medical missionary work" in the light of three great principles. Perhaps we can think of them as three sieves. Some things can pass one test, some may stand two. But only that which passes all three is "genuine medical missionary work."


The true medical missionary is moved by the spirit of loving service (not by professional pride or the desire for money). "Genuine medical missionary work" is sacrificial. Study again the heart-searching words quoted in our opening paragraphs. Christ, the great Medical Missionary, has left us an example. Who will follow in His steps, ministering in His name, not for money, but for love's sake?

True, the financial part of medical missionary work must be conducted in a business-like way. God has given precious instruction on this phase of the subject. But none of this alters the fact that love - true, unselfish love - must be the motive of all our work. "And love will be revealed in sacrifice." Christ's Object Lessons 49.

These principles can be manifested by an institution only as they fill the hearts of the individual workers. Let us each ask the question, "Am I 'a genuine medical missionary?' Have I accepted the Saviour's call to share with Him His life of sacrificial service, not for money, not for fame - just for love?"

It is not our purpose here to criticize men and women of the world, to whom the care of the sick may be merely a profession and a means of making money. We are pointing out that this is not "genuine medical missionary work." It is not following the example of Jesus. It does not pass through the first sieve.

"We are not to cover mercy with selfishness and then call it medical missionary work." Medical Ministry 131.

What a pity that the very agency God gave us to be a revelation of His self-sacrificing love, should become one of the greatest money-making activities! How have the sacred pipes, dedicated to the task of conveying the golden oil of love from the heavenly sanctuary, been prostituted to the service of self!

"Some follow worldly policy in order to accumulate means, as they say, for God's service. But God does not accept such offerings. He says, 'I hate robbery for burnt offering.'" Medical Ministry 125.

"All heaven is looking on with intense interest to see what stamp medical missionary work will assume under the supervision of human beings. Will men make merchandise of God's ordained plan for reaching the dark parts of the earth with a manifestation of His benevolence?" Medical Ministry 131 (study also 124, 125).


The medical missionary is deeply interested in the relief of human suffering. But he is still more concerned with the task of bringing human lives into harmony with the laws of nature, which he recognizes to be the laws of God as truly divine as the ten commandments. Therefore, while he uses the simple remedies the Lord has provided to relieve pain, he seeks to lead the mind of the sufferer to an appreciation of God's way of life and the blessings of obedience. And he cannot be satisfied merely with the abatement of unfavorable symptoms.

Jesus answer to the tempter shows that it is better to suffer, in spite of obedience, if providence so orders, than to be free from suffering in spite of transgression. Therefore, EDUCATION, LEADING TO OBEDIENCE, IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY APPARENT RESULTS.

The true medical missionary is a teacher, giving instruction in the principles of healthful living, using "a knowledge of physiology and hygiene" as "the basis of all educational effort." Education 195.

As in the first great principle, so here, Christ is our Example. "When Christ healed disease, He warned many of the afflicted ones, 'Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.' Thus He taught that they had brought disease upon themselves by transgressing the laws of God, and that health could be preserved only by obedience." Ministry of Healing 113.

"Teach the people that it is better to know how to keep well than how to cure disease. Our physicians should be wise educators, warning all against self-indulgence, and showing that abstinence from the things God has prohibited is the only way to prevent ruin of body and mind." 9 Testimonies 161.

The people "need to be taught that every practice which destroys the physical, mental, or spiritual energies is sin, and that health is to be secured through obedience to the laws that God has established for the good of all mankind." Ministry of Healing 113.

If obedience, based on knowledge of nature's laws, is more important than relief of symptoms, what shall we say of any method which promises to cure disease or relieve pain without teaching obedience? What master mind inspires the effort to persuade men and women that they may eat as they please, or disregard God's laws in other ways, and still find a means of healing without learning and obeying the laws of health?

Is not this inherent in the false miracles of healing which we know will increase as we enter the final conflict?

Is not this the basic error in drug therapy, making it even more damaging to the soul than to the body?

And is not this danger present in many "drugless" methods?

Even in the use of the Lord's appointed remedies, we need to remember that education, leading to obedience, is most important.


The true medical missionary cannot be satisfied with ministering only to the body. In fact, his primary burden, never forgotten, is for the eternal salvation of those for whom he labors.

And is this not most reasonable? For, if love leads him to give of his best that physical health may be restored and a patient's life be extended a few years, will not the same love lead him to make most earnest efforts to extend that same life through eternal ages?

How can I say I love a man so much that I will try to save his life for this world, and yet be indifferent to the opportunity to save his life for the future world?

Soul-winning, then, is the goal of all true medical missionary work.

"We should ever remember that the object of the medical missionary work is to point sin-sick men and women to the Man of Calvary, who taketh away the sin of the world." Ministry of Healing 144.

And once more, the Saviour appears as our great Example.

"Jesus was not satisfied to attract attention to Himself merely as a wonder-worker or as a healer of physical disease. He was seeking to draw men to Him as their Saviour." Ministry of Healing 31.

Years ago, the Spirit of Prophecy pointed out the danger of losing sight of this great objective in one phase of our medical missionary work. As we re-read this quotation, let us remember that this principle applies to every other phase."

There is danger, in the establishment of restaurants, of losing sight of the work that most needs to be done. There is danger of the workers losing sight of the work of soul saving as they carry forward the business part of the enterprise. There is danger that the business part of the work will be allowed to crowd out the spiritual part.

"Some good is being done by the restaurant work. Men and women are being educated to dispense with meat and other injurious articles of diet. But who are being fed with the bread of life? Is the purpose of God being fulfilled if in this work there are no conversions? It is time that we called a halt, lest we spend our energies in the establishment of a work that does little to make ready a people for the coming of the Lord."

The only object in the establishment of restaurants was to remove prejudice from the minds of men and women, and win them to the truth.

"It is not the large number of meals served that brings glory to God. What does this avail if not one soul has been converted to gladden the hearts of the workers?... Unless our restaurant work brings favorable spiritual results, let the world do their own serving tables and let the Lord's people take up a work in which their talents will be put out to the exchangers." Medical Ministry 306, 307.

We repeat, this principle applies not only to health restaurants, but to every other phase of our medical missionary work. Surely we cannot be satisfied unless, through our efforts, souls are being won to Christ and His message.


Now, with hearts uplifted to God in prayer for His Spirit's conviction, let us examine whatever we are doing which we have called medical missionary work. And let us not seek to judge others. Rather, "let a man examine himself."

1. Is my work done wholly from love - unselfish, self-sacrificing love?

2. Am I more concerned with leading people to obedience to nature's laws than I am in relieving symptoms? And are the methods I am using accomplishing that result?

3. Is my great goal in all my work the winning of souls for Christ and His message? And is the program I am following, the work I am doing, producing souls that I can present to Jesus at His coming?

W. D. Frazee
Wildwood, Georgia

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