Headlines from First Thoughts

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Missing Healthcare

Video of RAM's Work in Knoxville

Healthcare is the buzz these days. Politicians, pundits, and pollsters have their spin. What about preachers?

Jesus walked by the first century version of a hospital in John 5. The place was the pool of Bethesda. He demonstrated that we can love the missing who are sick, paralyzed, blind, and lame. All needed physical and spiritual healthcare.

The issue of healthcare in America runs much deeper than insurance coverage, pharmaceutical companies, and lawsuits. For Christians, healthcare is a platform for listening to the missing. You can find them at the doctor's office, Emergency Room, clinic, or in the case of one group in Knoxville- the Chilhowee building on Magnolia Avenue. In this video, RAM set up a clinic in Knoxville, treated 920 patients, gave away 500 pair of glasses, administered 94 mammograms, and pulled 1006 teeth. They turned 400 people away.

In John 5, Jesus showed us that for believers, healthcare is about two things--

1.) Showing up. No matter what you think about the political solution, Christians show up during a time of crisis. Jesus demonstrated how to go and be with this one paralyzed man.

2.) Asking a question that invites someone on a journey. Jesus' question, "Do you want to be made well?" is more than just, "Can I fix you?" The question implied, "May I journey with you into your soul?"

For the believer today, the most important question we can ask someone we know in a healthcare crisis is, "May I pray for you?" This question has the same effect as, "Do you want to be healed?"

As we pray, we share their needs with others. People become engaged. We remember the other person's needs. We look for answers together, and most importantly, we listen to their spiritual needs. We provide relationship, friendship, and introduce them to the one who offered something more than a new body. He offered eternal relationship that was worth something in the present.

One person at a time, all of us are made well.

1 comment:

mickyr said...

Bill:

This is a critical issue and I'm glad to hear you speak on this from the church!

Today it seems the target aimed for is the medicalization of social problems, I heard in your message the need to change the emphasis to the socialization of medical challenges. In other words, how do we as a society care for our elders, the poor, and disparate outside existing frameworks? Or adressing the question of how we go about “empowerment” seems to be a moral issue that each individual will have to address at some point or another.

We have seen over and over how dismal a market/profit making approach has taken advantage of service/treatment for the sake of profits under the guise of “cost containment” or “efficiency”. I see no solid consistent evidence that the “empowerment imperative” has been either. And, not because it can't work but that it has never really been tried.
Illustrative of this point is the TennCare experience. A wide open formulary with the incentive for providers to bill as much as possible to maximize a dismal reimbursement rate on the dollar for services provided was a recipe for disaster.

I find the same hope in your sermon as i find in this quote from LeLand Kaiser, "there really are no problems...only choices".


Thanks for bringing this to the forefront as this was once the primary role of the church in ages past. Mick

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