Unique Opportunities and Obligations
Few of our workers have the privilege of close association with the better classes which falls to the lot of our sanitarium pastors and chaplains. These men and women come as patients to our sanitariums, weary and worn by the demands of modern business and of society. In many cases they long for the rest that comes through the spiritual touch as truly as they desire physical rest and healing.
In all our associations in these institutions we should ever keep before our minds the inspired statement, "He that winneth souls is wise." We should be alert to make first things first, never permitting any heaven-sent opportunity to pass unimproved because we are engaged in various kinds of routine work which may not be essential to real soul winning. Some of this work may be necessary, and may be turned to account in accomplishing our true objective; but we must ever be on guard, lest we fail to do all that might be done to help our sanitarium patients to find Jesus. "We must turn away from a thousand topics that invite attention. . . . The highest interests demand the close attention and energy that are so often given to comparatively insignificant things."—"Ministry of Healing," p. 456.
In view of the times in which we live, and our responsibility as depositaries of the last saving message to go to the world, we should be mightily stirred. Daily we should cultivate the ability and aptitude for soul winning. It may be that in the past we have overstressed the importance of presenting different points of doctrine, and perhaps underemphasized the importance of actually bringing men and women to accept Christ as their personal Saviour. It is true that doctrine must be taught; for over this highway the saints travel to the city of God. But it is also true that they must be "shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace." And many are longing for this peace.
A wonderful opportunity is also afforded to our sanitarium chaplains to mold the lives of our young people who come to these institutions to receive a training as medical missionaries. Sometimes I tremble at the thought of this sacred responsibility. Will these young people be so trained that they will stand true when they leave the sheltering fold of our sanitariums and schools, and face the stern realities of life?
Is it not possible that we sometimes console ourselves with the thought that we are sowing the seed, and that in His own good time and way God will bring the harvest? While much wisdom is needed, and heaven-born tact is essential, in order to reach those who come to our sanitariums, both as patients and helpers, we have the assurance that the Holy Spirit will supply all our lack. And we should ever remember that discourtesy or impatience or unkindness "may close the door to hearts," so that we "can never reach them."
For my own part, I am determined to give personal evangelism a more and more prominent place in my ministry.
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