While reading Henri Nouwen’s book, The Wounded Healer, I found myself frustrated with one of his illustrations. Now, I have to say that I really enjoyed reading most of the book and I do love his tag line that says, “In our own woundedness, we can become a source of life for others.” This sentence seemed to summarize the ministry the Lord has given to me. I have been beaten and bruised and have made many mistakes that the Lord has asked me to share publicly for the encouragement and exhortation of others. I tend to preach to the sick (hospitalized or not). It is the place of woundedness and weakness that I have found a greater strength. It’s also in the place of weakness that others listen louder.
My frustration, however, is related to his illustration of the minister who could not communicate the gospel to a hospitalized man the day before his scheduled surgery. The sick man died in surgery without any spiritual guidance or connection with the visiting minister. The wounded in this case was the patient because the minister did not have the inner strength through weakness or discernment or enough personal woundedness to provide healing to the patient’s soul. Let me back up and explain why this irritates me.
I received the gift of evangelism at 14 years of age. The Lord used me in a very secular high school to bring many of my peers (and teachers) to Christ. When I was 16, I became a Certified as a Nurses Aide and started working in convalescent homes. I lead many patients to Christ. This gift grew in strength as I could lead others to Christ on airplanes and I have even led a telemarketer to Christ. In time, I worked with Campus Crusades Medical Evangelistic Outreach group and helped train medical professionals in how to present the gospel to their patients. During the process, I met many Chaplains who could not lead patients/people to Christ. I asked them, “Why then did you become a Chaplain?” The hospitals these Chaplains worked in where Christian based. It was not unethical. And it is very clinical to address spiritual matters with patients as it is referred to as holistic care (which was addressed and given approval through the New Age Movement). The answers of the Chaplains were very consistent that went something like, “I wanted the title to have the excuse to talk about Christ.”
If people cannot talk about Christ without a title, maybe they should not be in an occupation that implies they can lead others who truly need a spiritual counselor and leader. Give the job to someone who can help in spiritual matters, instead of letting the sick die without any comfort or peace in their sickness. People need Jesus today. We might only have one chance in a person’s life. The hospital is the greatest soil to produce amazing fruit.
Regardless of the title, we need to be passionate about the Lord. No one can argue against a personal testimony or a changed life. We need to share out the abundance of our hearts and hopefully our hearts are filled with Love for the Lord and others…regardless if they are sick or well!