Physicians Responsible for Souls as Well as Bodies

How physicians can witness for Christ.

E. R. WASEMILLER, M.D., Wahpeton, North Dakota

Several weeks ago I saw a woman in con­sultation who presented various vague complaints. After discussing them and examining her, I prescribed for her. As she was about to leave she said, "And now I would like to ask you why you keep Saturday instead of Sunday." The primary reason for her call now became apparent. In the next forty-five minutes I was able to present the Sabbath to her and answer several other questions. When she left I gave her a copy of Steps to Christ and told her I would have another book for her when she returned.

As a physician I must miss many opportuni­ties to witness for Christ, and to lighten the burden of those who come to me for medical care. I realize more and more that the vague medical complaint is frequently given as an excuse to seek counsel. The basic problem, many times, is never disclosed because I do not take the time to tactfully seek it out, or I do not show sufficient interest in the patient's con­dition in general to give the necessary confi­dence and assurance in me to lead him to dis­close the true basis of the difficulty. From the experience just related, and similar experiences, I know this to be true. The patient realizes, after the consultation is completed, that unless the primary reason for coming is disclosed, the visit will have been in vain. For each patient who does this, there must be many who do not, and who return again and again for a change of medication or eventually seek counsel else­where.

Using Our Books and Magazines

In almost every instance where the basic rea­son for the consultation is due to psychoso­matic causes, it is easy to give sympathy and moral and spiritual guidance, and to present the patient with a book or some literature that will direct him to the Great Physician. In our clinic we use the book Steps to Christ and insert in each copy a Voice of Prophecy radio log, which also contains an invitation to en­roll in the Bible correspondence course. A num­ber of these people are placed on the Signs of the Times list and receive a subscription to this paper. We are also able to arrange for Bible studies in some of these homes. Other publica­tions used in our clinic reception room are the current issues of These Times, Life and Health, Listen, and Liberty magazines

I have found that the little booklet Life's Detours, by C. L. Paddock, is a source of great comfort to those who are mourning the loss of a loved one. Those who cannot understand why trouble has been permitted to come upon them are also benefited.

I have a few copies of The Great Controversy, Drama of the Ages, Conquering Personal Prob­lems, Happiness in the Home, and God Speaks to Modern Man also available for lending.

We are told in Christian Service, page 146, that literature is a fruitful messenger! It sows the gospel seed and is instrumental in bring­ing as many souls to Christ as the preached word. The following experience illustrates the truth of this statement.

It was necessary to hospitalize a forty-two­year-old woman repeatedly for severe emotional stress. She received the Signs of the Times and read Steps to Christ. I also suggested that she enroll in the Voice of Prophecy Bible Corre­spondence Course. On completion of this she came to my office and asked a few questions about our church, and stated that she wished to be baptized in the proper way and keep the true Sabbath. Our doctrines were reviewed with her, and she was baptized. During the past year I have been holding a cottage meeting attended by seven people, all invited by this woman. Her emotional disturbance has required very little treatment, and she has not been hospital­ized for this condition since accepting this message. Note that she was converted almost en­tirely through the study of our literature.

Physician, Pastor, and Church Members Teamed Together

Many physicians will remember how often Dr. Risley quoted such statements from the Spirit of prophecy as the following:

"I have been surprised at being asked by physicians if I did not think it would be more pleasing to God for them to give up their medi­cal practice and enter the ministry. I am pre­pared to answer such an inquirer: If you are a Christian and a competent physician, you are qualified to do tenfold more good as a mis­sionary for God than if you were to go forth merely as a preacher of the word."—Counsels on Health, pp. 503, 504.

Although no Adventist physician has per­haps yet fully comprehended the tremendous meaning of this statement, yet the physician who is earnestly watching and praying for op­portunities to lead those whom he contacts to Christ, soon realizes that he has made more contacts and found more who are interested in the message of salvation than he can properly follow up. It is therefore necessary to utilize all the means at his command.

The physician can work closely with his local pastor and with the Dorcas Society of his local church, referring those in need of welfare to the society for needed help. Many of these contacts will open their homes for Bible studies to the welfare workers, the physician, or the pastor.

In giving Bible studies we use the pro­jector, filmstrips, and tape recordings. We find this a most attrac­tive way to present the message. One always has a well-prepared study to present. This is impor­tant, for a physician is usually very busy, and many times emergencies arise that make it im­possible for him to ade­quately prepare.

Although Christ spoke to the multitudes on many occasions, He frequently was found speaking to just one in­dividual. We find Him reasoning as earnestly and eloquently with the woman at the well, Nicodemus, and others as He did with the mul­titudes. It is in this type of ministry that we as physicians find our greatest opportunity. Each consultation is the one-soul audience. Hearts are more easily reached when ill or discouraged. If we can listen, sympathize, and counsel, our work will be much more satisfying to us and of much greater value to our patients.

"Doc, I Believe We Broke the Barrier"

Many on their deathbed could be saved in God's kingdom if we would but show them the way. Many opportunities are lost because we feel that unless we can present all of our doc­trines and have them accepted, it is useless to do anything. In Medical Ministry, page 38, we are told that in many cases all that should be done is to point to Christ as a personal Sav­iour. We must remember that salvation is as­sured the moment our sins are confessed, Christ is accepted as our personal Saviour, and we determine by His grace to follow Him to the best of our knowledge. This hope and assur­ance we can give to all, no matter how much time they have to live or how great their sins have been.

One of the finest experiences we have had concerned a sixty-two-year-old railroad engineer. Dr. Wall had studied with him and his family during the previous winter. They had enjoyed the studies, but had not made a de­cision. His wife was a member of a popular Protestant church, but he had never accepted Christ and was not a member of any church. He became ill with cancer, and eventually was bedridden and confined to the hospital. It was obvious that he had but a short time to live, and he was suffering a great deal. All of us prayed for opportunities to help him make a decision. His wife's minister and the Catholic chaplain of the hospital labored with him to no avail. He was remembered in the weekly prayer meeting of our clinic group. Some of us made special trips to the hospital at night, hoping to find him at a time when he was free of pain and able to talk of his salvation.

One Sunday morning as I was making rounds at the hospital I stopped at his room. As we talked he said, "Dr. Wall has presented all of these studies to me and I believe they are the truth. The story of Jesus cannot be a lie, but there seems to be a barrier. I feel I have re­jected it too long." I suggested that perhaps he was looking for some dramatic, sudden ex­perience to indicate that he had been accepted. "Perhaps that is true," he agreed. We talked more of the great love, grace, and long-suffering mercies of God. We prayed that God would give him the assurance that He had accepted him.

I saw him several days later, and his first words were, "Doc, I believe we broke the bar­rier. When I have this severe pain, He hears my prayers and relieves me." Everyone noted the difference in him. He no longer cursed; he was kind to those who attended him; and he was able to patiently endure his suffering.

A few days later he told me his wife wanted him to join her church, but he believed as we did and wanted to be baptized and join our church. He was visited by our pastor, Wil­liam Harbour, and examined on our points of faith. He grew so ill that it was impossible to baptize him, but he was accepted into our church on profession of faith. His joy was complete. A few days later he passed away, and his funeral service was held in our church.

Many are dying without hope who could, as this man, be saved, if we as Christian physi­cians would point out the way. In fact this is to be our first work. In Medical Ministry, page 37, we are told that the Redeemer expects our physicians to make the saving of souls their first work. The tremendous importance and re­sponsibility placed upon each one of us is emphasized by this quotation from Medical Ministry, page 31: "Every medical practitioner, whether he acknowledges it or not, is responsi­ble for the souls as well as the bodies of his patients."

Some have the opinion that we as physicians should riot meddle in religion. Does this type of work have an adverse effect on a medical practice? It has been a blessing to us. During the past eight years that we have actively en­gaged in lay evangelism our group has grown from one to four doctors. Our Wahpeton Clinic includes Drs. M. E. Belts, G. L. Wiltse, and W. H. Wall. Our patient load has steadily in­creased. This has been the experience of many other physicians. It is not only the Christian who prefers a Christian physician.

Christ, the Great Physician, was never out of work. By His love, sympathy, tenderness, and kindness He drew men to Him. By behold­ing we become changed. When we follow the example of Christ our work becomes more ef­fective, and He is able to work in us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure."

Jesus has made a special promise for the sick, and for those who pray for them, in James 5:15, "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." Consecrated to His service and armed with His promise, we can break the sin barrier.

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E. R. WASEMILLER, M.D., Wahpeton, North Dakota

October 1955

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