Preach & Heal: Our Method of Local Discipleship

"And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel
of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people."

- Matthew 4:23
 

We see Jesus' earthly ministry and his commands as the quintessence of missiological method. There is no higher example and no more beautiful of a ministerial balance than that of Jesus of Nazareth. In loving him we love his ways and desire to be like him as an organization and as individuals. Our passion is to emulate his walk with the Father, his bold preaching ministry, and his care for the broken bodies of his people.

Jesus healed the sick and Jesus preached boldly. In his life there is a union of these two elements and neither is made more important than the other, although often healing ministry makes a way for preaching ministry. Within FAI we have a high value for Christian Disciple makers (DM) who are honest, bold and clear with the message of the gospel although they may have no professional experience or credentials. We also have a high value for the Christian relief worker who may not have the same boldness or clarity in preaching, but is dedicated to showing the love of Christ with his or her experience and credentials for the purpose of making a way for the gospel. We value them both equally as handles on a two-handled plow.

I realize that not all workers fall into one of these two categories. Many DMs are very qualified in numerous fields and many relief professionals have been through seminary. The point isn't that both can't exist in one person, but that typically God uses the diversity of the body of Christ to form this union of preachers and healers to work together. Let us look at the unity of Christ's life and the commands that he gives to his disciples concerning this model.

Jesus' life:

Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them

And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea. (Luke 4:40, 42-44 ESV)

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. (Matthew 9:35)

To His disciples:

And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. (Matthew 10:7-8)

And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two…So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them. (Mark 6:7, 12-13)

And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. (Luke 9:2)

DMs are called to live and speak with honesty, boldness, and clarity.

What kind of disciple makers are we talking about? It seems clear that we are looking for Christian teachers, doctors, nurses, counselors, etc and their roles are relatively self-evident. When I say "doctor" most people typically know what kind of work that involves, but when I say "disciple maker" there is ambiguity there. We've chosen this language of Matthew 28:18-20, because we believe it encapsulates the essential elements of the work we are called to. With a Matthew 28:18-20 definition of "disciple maker" we would only add this triad to describe the kind of DMs we are looking for and using.

Honest:

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Cor 4:1-2 ESV)

The cross-cultural minister doesn't have permission to cloak himself in ambiguity. We are given a New Testament example of a man who let himself be known by his target people. They knew who he was and what he was doing. He didn't do anything underhanded of dishonest in his methods. It is this kind of 'foolishness' that God delights in pouring his power into.

Bold:

...Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Eph 6:18-20)

Paul's prayer request for himself is for boldness and he says that "boldly" is the manner in which he ought to speak. This is brilliant in light of many mousy methods that have been employed and failed in the Muslim world. The gospel is meant to be heard with the ears spoken by a man or woman who is convinced of it's truth. Boldness doesn't mean that the preacher must be loud, but it does mean that the preacher must be convinced and in being convinced must aim to persuade others (Acts 18:4; 2 Cor 5:11).

Clear:

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. (Col 4:2-4)

Again, Paul asks for prayer for clarity saying that it is how he ought to speak. There are a number of elements at work here. First it is our responsibility to know the contents of the message; second we must know the lens that our target people will be hearing it through; third we must not hold up longevity in our host country as a reason for ambiguity. This all takes practice so we encourage DMs to get out there and get some practice (Acts 17:17).

Conclusion

We need both relief workers and disciple makers to work together towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission. We need humble workers of all background and skill sets to work together for getting in, staying in, and doing the work in a manner pleasing to God.