A healthy mind in a healthy body – something the Romans knew already 2000 years ago, and something we, as rich and healthy westerners, often forget when we go out to bring the gospel to the people in different countries and on different continents.
Pastor Timothy Gaikwad, CEO of IMCares in Mumbai, India (http://imcares.org/), was at our church yesterday presenting a report on the activities of his organization. An integral part of the work his organization does in the slums of Mumbai is providing basic medical assistance to people living in the streets by either going directly to them to bring it to them or to take them to the hospital or by opening their doors for them to come in and rest and be taken care of in their clinic. His report showed how easy it is to show people the love of God, by showing them kindness and by showing them respect and by taking care of their physical needs.
While Jesus said that a man does not live from bread alone, a person who is hungry or sick or injured needs their physical needs to have taken care of before they can really receive God’s word. This is also the story of Diospi Suyana. Looking at the different departments now included in the project, you can clearly see the same idea: first, feed the body, so the mind can receive. At first, there was a hospital to take care of people’s physical needs. Then the kid’s clubs to provide a safe environment for kids living in the streets where they could also receive a warm meal and could play together. Later the school to educate the children and to give them a future. And lastly, for now, the media center to broadcast the gospel to all the people of Peru (only south Peru so far but they’ll get there).
Feed the body, then feed the mind. This is why I believe in the work Diospi Suyana does in Peru.
On the other hand, once we have heard the gospel and accepted the gospel in our hearts, God can give us a new body. He can make us free from addictions, from illness, from pain. He can renew not just our heart and our soul, He can renew our bodies. Which is why at Diospi Suyana there is a service every morning for the staff and patients, why they pray before surgeries, why they pray when human medicine fails. In the end it is God who works, who heals, who sets us free. At Diospi Suyana, human medicine goes hand in hand with the conviction that God sees us and that He is the ultimate healer.
Therefore, to reach a people with the gospel sometimes is not enough. Sometimes taking care of their physical needs first is more important or really all it takes.