In some mission lands there are places where only medical work is allowed. This is because it is so disarming. Prejudice finds it difficult to oppose a work that does only good.
With this message properly presented, with harmonious cooperation between medical and ministerial workers, organized opposition falls miserably flat.
Today we have developed to a very exacting- science the art of conducting a complete evangelistic effort. All the details are carefully worked out before time and fitted together to make a beautiful message easily understood. This is as it should be. Speaking as a medical worker and not as a preacher, I can say with some pride that I believe we have the best-trained evangelists in the world. Yet I would like to raise the question, "Do we always utilize the right arm to the full in these efforts?"
The Right Arm in Action
An American man, director of a large United States industry, reluctantly rented the "doctor" a company house to live in temporarily. He intimated that I could return to the United States as soon as I wished, for there was no need of me here. This was his attitude upon my arrival at our new mission station. Twelve months later he gave $1,000 worth of pipe to connect our new hospital to his company water lines, and ever since then he has given us water-without cost. The power company refused to give us lights. When the public became somewhat aroused about it, they finally agreed to sell us power. The price of our lights was at least ten times what they cost in the United States, and the service was continually interrupted. Today a flat fee lower than any United States price is given, and permission is always asked "before any interruption of service is made.
A strong Protestant organization representing 80 per cent of the Protestant population brought their best American worker to this place to ^'protect their flocks," as soon as they heard we-were coming. They gave us a frigid reception. Four months later this very worker initiated a drive to raise money to help us construct a hospital. This organization contributed one "hundred dollars. Today I can fly anywhere in Nicaragua on the national airlines free of charge, because the company does not want to charge anyone who is doing this kind of work. The local Catholic priests send me their sick members, and the nuns occasionally visit our hospital and send letters of thanks for the work we are doing. A recent letter from the presi dent's secretary states, "The president especially wishes to acknowledge the good work you are doing and considers the Adventist hospital an honor to the United States and a creator of good will between our countries."
Today in this vicinity prejudice against our message no longer exists. What an ideal time to begin actively preaching the message! Our lives have been preaching, but the people need doctrine too. The right arm is not complete without the body. The body is not so useful without a right arm.
If our medical work extracts large sums of money from the people for medical care, and works frequent hardships on family finances, then we cannot be credited with having done anything but a business transaction, and possibly a hard one at that. Our rates and fees in mission lands or in any other lands should be such that there can never be any question about the real intention of the care given to help those whom Christ loved and for whom He died. At times this may require a financial loss. We should not expect the medical work always to show a profit. Its success or failure should not be decided by its financial statement. The medical ministry is part of the gospel message. It, as well as the gospel ministry, deserves a financial budget. It should not be expected to show a profit in dollars, although it frequently does. Some medical workers use as an excuse for their exorbitant fees the thought that their service would otherwise not be appreciated. I am sure that the blind man appreciated having his sight restored by Jesus, even if he did not pay anything. I have frequently had patients insist on paying more for their service than their regular fees. I do not hesitate to accept the overpayment, telling them it will go to support a less-fortunate sick person. This makes me feel that the service is appreciated.
Spiritual Methods for Utilizing the Right Arm
The atmosphere in our hospitals must always be spiritual. One or two unconsecrated individuals working in our midst can undo much good that is done. The Lord cannot bless the work of the selfish or sinful employee. In our hospital we have morning worship, singing a few hymns in English and Spanish, reading from the Bible, and offering prayer. In the evening the student nurses have fifteen or twenty minutes of song service. Recorded hymns are frequently played on our amplifying system. All patients are prayed with and for, often publicly in our morning devotions. We occasionally receive requests that they be mentioned in our service and prayers. Our religious literature is kept convenient and plentiful, with a strange shortage of news magazines and novels. I do not believe in trying to force religion on a sick man, but I believe it can be made convenient and inviting if tact and care are exercised. People lying on sick beds, either convalescing or dying, have much time on their hands to think and to pray. One must keep that in mind when talking to them in bedside visits. Many decisions affecting their remaining life and future life are made on these beds. We must understand this to realize fully the significance of a simple statement such as, "Doctor, what was the name of the song sung last night for worship?" or, "Would you have them read the fifth chapter of Matthew for worship this morning?" Decisions reaching into eternity are often made at times like these. Our Christian demeanor and sincerity need always to be evident in order to guide a faltering soul into the fold.
I think of a sixty-year-old man who had had Bible studies for years from one of our believers who lived near him. He needed an operation for an ailment that had made him an invalid for the last five years. He had already under gone five previous operations for the same trouble, but without relief, and had about given up hope of relief when he arrived. While convalescing after a successful operation at our hospital, he began to read the literature. I watched him with interest and prayed with him. One day he said, "This little booklet has all the answers. I cannot see how I could have been so slow to believe this message." Having already heard the message for years, he needed only to see it in action a demonstration that the Christian nurses and other workers give every hour of the day.
When Jesus said in His commission to His disciples, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers," He connected the medical and gospel ministry. They are joined, and must always be so, if they are to be successful. "If ever the Lord has spoken by me, He speaks when I say that the workers engaged in educational lines, in ministerial lines and in medical missionary lines must stand as a unit, all laboring under the super vision of God, one helping the other, each blessing each." Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 169, 170.
Let us utilize to the fullest extent the prejudice-breaking power of the right arm.