Christian Medial Fellowship
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What makes Christian Healthcare Christian?

JOHN ATTIA
What makes the difference between a Christian healthcare worker and one who is not a believer? How does our faith actually impact on our work? Here are some thoughts on what the Scriptures have to say about the matter:
  • Our work is marked by Love. In the way we relate to our patients and also to our colleagues and fellow workers, we embody the principle of love. We are stirred to respond to the needs around us by the same motives that our Lord had and not according to the lifeless, hierarchical, class structured ways of the society.
  • That same love will also drive us to professional excellence. Technical mastery, keeping up on the latest developments, trying to obtain the latest equipment, etc. In the spirit of Col. 3: 23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men". We do the best job possible, as if we were treating the Lord Himself.
  • We are not focused solely on high-tech medicine, but we are also eager to do the much more time consuming and less glamorous work of teaching basic principles of hygiene and of community health. This means taking the time to do home visits, changing conditions that lead to disease (e.g. helping to get clean drinking water, combating poverty, health education).
  • We work while recognising the faceof Christ in those we serve. In Matthew 25: 37-40 Christ says, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did for Me".
  • We interact with and treat the whole person, body, soul and spirit (1 Thess 5: 23). This means that we are not afraid to delve into the personal and spiritual realm if that is the area in need of healing. We share not only medicine but the Gospel.
  • As part of our arsenal, we have not only our black bag, but prayer and spiritual gifts as well. We pray for our patients, as well as with them, whenever possible. We are also vigilant lest the illness have a spiritual or personal root, in which case the spirit can lead to a word of wisdom or discernment or casting out spirits. We can expect God to work supernaturally.
  • We go the 'extra mile' for each one we serve, doing the extra little bit that will make people realise who is behind our service.
  • Our work is also our ministry: there need be no separation between our tentmaking and our service. No matter what our job, a hospital is a place where we meet people at a time when they are most vulnerable and most needy. It is a privilege to be able to enter their lives at this point and act as a healing channel for the Lord to work.
  • Looking at the example of Christ, we can learn a lesson from those He chose to spend His time with, i.e. the outcasts of society. Today, we can follow His example by seeing those difficult patients, ungrateful, temperamental, those unable to afford treatment, patients that others cannot be bothered to see.
  • We seek to be blind to these divisions that society holds as important. We give the same treatment to a stranger as we would give to our own family members, same to a rich as to a poor patient.
  • We take the time to listen. Our aim to make contact with the person and hear the real trouble, not to get through the patients as quickly as possible and cash their cheques.
  • We also bring an understanding to dying that is not possible in a secular approach. One hospice chaplain described his job as listening to people in such a way that they would be able to bring up the unresolved issues in their lives, extend and accept forgiveness, be reconciled to God and die knowing His presence.
  • 'Perfect love casts out fear' (1 John 4:18). We are not paralysed by the fears of discomfort, of financial insecurity, etc. that tie others to their practice: we are freed by the love of Christ to serve wherever He leads, to wherever the needs are.
  • Behind all this is one important point: each worker in the hospital needs to have a deep and strong individual faith and to share that faith in a communal prayer life. Where a group of believers come together to pray with a common intent and to hear God as a corporate body, the Lord can do wonders.
(Dr Attia is an Egyptian, born and brought up in Canada, whose doctorate is both a PhD and a medical qualification. He is currently working in Ontario).
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