NO DOUBT you remember being in the junior tent at camp meeting when the leader said: "Boys and girls, this morning we are going to have a story from a real live missionary!" "Live" missionaries who remain in the field of service know the vital importance of good health. Physically, mentally, and spiritually they must stay alive if they are to effectively witness for Christ.
"We cannot be too often reminded that health does not depend on chance." The Ministry of Healing, p. 128. Good health can be ours even under the stress and physical hardships met in overseas service; but also illness can shorten the service of almost anyone who becomes careless regarding health. Physical, mental, and spiritual breakdowns must be avoided if we are to be truly "living sacrifices" for God in world witness.
On the desk of every missionary there should be appropriate books on health topics. The Ministry of Healing may well be considered the missionary's most indispensable book, next to his Bible. Specific suggestions for preserving health and guarding against various disease hazards may be found in Dr. Paul E. Adolph's Missionary Health Manual (Moody Press).
Certainly, through no fault of their own, many missionaries have lost life or health under the stress of foreign living. But unfortunately the majority of health failures probably can be identified with careless, unbalanced patterns of living. An under standing attention to sound habits of healthful living "will not only be of immense importance to the personal success of the missionary, but such an example will also provide a profound testimony to the people he serves.
Whether in foreign missions or in the home field, all missionaries, both men and women, will gain much more ready access to the people, and will find their usefulness greatly increased, if they are able to minister to the sick. The Ministry of Healing, pp. 145, 146.
The chapter in The Ministry of Healing, "Teaching and Healing" gives invaluable instruction for the missionary, with emphasis on the importance of a unified ministry. Through a ministry of the Word the gospel is preached and through medical missionary work the gospel is practiced (ibid., p. 144). There are now abundant opportunities for gaining the preparation clearly expected in this counsel: "Every gospel worker should feel that the giving of instruction in the principles of healthful living is a part of his appointed work. Of this work there is great need, and the world is open for it." --Ibid., p. 147. The fact that the young missionary may discover upon arrival in the field that older missionaries and national members show little concern for health matters in no way lessens his responsibility. And he may, through a quiet and humble demonstration of healthful living, preach a practical and winning sermon.
The Wise Missionary
Great tact and courtesy are basic to Christian witnessing. Wise indeed is the young missionary who understands best how to live his faith, see and express appreciation for the qualities of the people with whom he serves, and never utters a single word of criticism or discouragement. There is a marvelous tonic to mind and soul in deciding and declaring, "By God's grace I shall enjoy this food; I will love this people; I will find beauty in this place; I will learn from my associates; I will strive to understand this language and this culture; and I will obey God's command to be content!" With such an outlook and up look, and with intelligent care to observe good health procedures, God's rich blessings will be abundantly experienced. The promises for those who surrender to God's will, who are willing to exercise self-discipline in obedience to all God's laws, be they physical or spiritual, are almost beyond our comprehension!
Would you know the experience of this promise?
The humblest workers, in co-operation with Christ, may touch chords whose vibrations shall ring to the ends of the earth and make melody throughout eternal ages. Ibid., p. 159.
Will you stretch your faith; will you reach high and touch some star of spiritual desire God offers?
There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God. All who consecrate body, soul, and spirit to His service will be constantly receiving a new endowment of physical, mental, and spiritual power. The inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command. --Ibid.
What more can we ask of the Lord which He has not offered? Indeed there is nothing good He will withhold from those for whom He shed His precious blood. Nor is there a soul on earth for whom He holds more tender regard than one who has left all self-seeking and has given himself in total surrender to the Saviour's will. No fear, no loneliness, no discouragement can defeat such a one.
For these God will do great things. He will work upon the minds of men so that, even in this world, there shall be seen in their lives a fulfillment of the promise of the future state. Ibid., p. 160.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Rom. 12:1).
Keep the following five-point check sheet on your desk for guidelines on how to be a living sacrifice for Christ:
A Five-Point Health Check Sheet
( ) Have a complete physical examination this year, including recommended laboratory tests and dental work.
( ) Review your eating habits with reference to quantity, quality, balance, and regularity. Are rich, fat-producing foods (desserts) prominent?
( ) Schedule daily exercise. Walk, garden, jog, et cetera. (Force it until you like it!)
( ) Keep a smiling, optimistic, Christ-like temperament through daily spiritual exercise; Bible, prayer, witnessing. Organize your life and work for mental and spiritual health and growth.
( ) Plan your daily work to include daily regular periods of rest and recreation, remembering the health and happiness of each member of your family will be strengthened by a well-ordered, properly scheduled life.