“Preach and Heal: A Biblical Model for Missions,” Dr. Charles Fielding’s practical missions guide based on Scripture, history and personally reaching Muslims, presents creative ways to touch unevangelized peoples’ felt needs.
The book is designed to help medical and non-medical professionals understand medical missions.
Fielding believes that self-sacrificing missionaries have wasted money and effort in Gospel-resistant areas. Missions hospitals with no disciple-making agenda have commonly served religiously-resistant peoples for decades without launching any churches.
He cites K.P. Yohannan’s “Revolution in World Missions” that 150 years of missions greatly modernized Thailand, giving it “the core of its civil service, education and medical systems,” plus eliminating slavery and preventing colonization. Thailand got widespread literacy and its first printing press, university, hospital and doctor, but few citizens followed Christ.
He cautions against hospital-based ministries but advises that medical pros can use clinics “if they can temper their passion for high-tech clinical practice and primarily be disciple-makers …. The doctor must see every surgical case as an opportunity to get into the home of a needy family to share the Gospel.” Medical practice time should be limited, focusing on teaching others simple procedures and treating and preventing common diseases. As people are impressed by missionary competence and love, Christ’s Gospel gains great credibility and openings.
Unfortunately, evangelicals often have separated preaching and healing. Jesus and His apostles synergistically preached and healed. Fielding desires “to make church planters out of doctors and health practitioners out of preachers. Jesus practiced, taught and commanded both.”
Fielding focuses on healing but broadly encompasses many serving ministries, including dentistry, psychological counseling, hospice, rehab, community development, sanitation, nutrition, disaster relief, refugees, prisons, construction, agriculture, veterinary medicine, digging wells, economic development, teaching English and other training and education. These are equally spiritual to preaching, evangelizing and praying. Lovingly uniting “physical helping” and “spiritual” ministries has given remarkable access into extremely impervious societies.
Healthcare approaches can concentrate on particular needs, like healthy pregnancy, HIV/AIDS or malaria. A closed Muslim nation desperate for tuberculosis treatment gave a missionary’s anti-TB program the red carpet.
Patients would prematurely quit taking their TB meds after feeling better, letting highly-contagious TB germs recover. The solution: Christians watch patients take their full course of daily meds—plus evangelize and disciple.
Fielding explains: “Our objective is indigenous movements of reproducing churches.” Most “church-planting movements have been among the poor and people in turmoil.”
James 2:5 says, “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom?”
Interestingly, Iran has today’s fastest growing national church. Natural disasters, wars and political upheavals may lead to questioning one’s ancestral religion and seeking the risen Savior.
Fielding also shares some instances of miracles. When a Sultan’s official jailed and starved national evangelists H and DJ, the official vomited everything he ate and drank for 36 hours—until freeing his prisoners. They shared the Gospel, and he accepted and let them evangelize. An angry man accusing these evangelists of sorcery and blasphemy immediately went blind. Two days later he dreamed of a man in white, Jesus, who told him to request DJ’s prayer, which he did, and Jesus restored his sight.
Church-planting movements use prayer, abundant Gospel sowing, intentional planting of healthy, reproducing churches, Scripture, cell or house groups, and lay leaders. Fielding advises on various ministry approaches, including optimally matching them to various settings.
His health-strategy ABCs are: Access unreached areas; Behind closed doors; Care for the needy; make Disciples; Empower the church. “Behind closed doors” means that since public outreaches in religiously-restrictive areas draw persecution and dissuade truth-seekers, Christians need to share Christ and disciple converts privately.
Fielding’s insights offer a rich bounty of strategies to reach the world’s toughest mission fields.
Richard Penn served as a missionary in the Philippines.