A doctor and a minister

Enhancing the doctor-minister team relationship

David Livermore is senior pastor of the Kelso-Longview Seventhday Adventist Church in Longview, Washington.

When I was in my first district, a doctor helping W W me with Breathe Free Seminars asked, "What can we do to follow up our efforts?"

"We could invite the people to come to your house weekly in small groups to discuss 'Real Christianity,'" I suggested.

Ten people showed up at his door with Bibles in hand. We held small-group meetings in his home that resulted in several baptisms. I'll never forget the day the doctor's wife stood up after Communion and said, "What has happened in our home this past year needs to happen in every home in this church." The small groups continued in that area until the doctor relocated.

One day before both of us left, we were discussing together how we could reach out to more people. We thought of a program for his patients and named it "Dine With Doc." We invited up to forty of his patients to a vegetarian meal, and then we both spoke on the health of the heart. He spoke on how unforgiveness affects the heart, and I spoke on how a heart is made new. We followed the program with "Dine With Doc's Kids." His children put on a program for the same people with another meal that we served them.

This year, in our new location, one of our doctors had been thinking of how to reach some of the nurses she works with daily. Then she heard about an evangelistic Christmas party. She invited thirty nurses to her home to share Christ mas traditions. On the invitation she mentioned that there would be a special guest to talk about the real meaning of Christmas. The special guest was yours truly. I arrived, not knowing what to expect but prepared to present the gospel. Thirteen nurses were there when I arrived. With smiles and kindness, they shared their Christmas traditions. One by one they spoke, and amazingly, some of them opened up and even talked about their divorces. I could hardly believe how many had been divorced. With sadness, they spoke of how traditions were a thing of the past for them. Their lives had changed so drastically.

After much sharing, the doctor said that she had invited me to share with them too. I began by telling them about gift giving at Christ mas how you need a giver, a gift, and a recipient of the gift. As an illustration, I gave one of the nurses a gift that my doctor friend had handmade. Then I talked about John 3:16 and how God, out of love, sent us the world's greatest gift. As I watched the nurses, I knew they were with me. I talked about how I had had a hole in my heart until I applied this gift of Jesus Christ right in the center of it. I described Christ as the missing piece to the puzzle of life. We were clearly connecting. I invited them to pray with me the "sinner's prayer" and unwrap this gift and apply it in their own lives. When I had finished praying, I had cards and pens ready, and I asked them to write down how they felt about being there that night. If they were asking Jesus to enter their hearts for the first time, I asked them to specifically mention that. I told them that the doctor was interested in having a January Bible study in her home, and if they wanted to be a part of it, they should leave their name and phone number. We finished with some more Christmas cookies baked by the doctor and then they left. The doctor and I couldn't wait to look at the cards. Everyone had been comfortable and felt that the evening had been a great way to begin the holiday season. Two requested Bible studies; one asked if this could be a new Christmas tradition. One, we discovered, was a new-age witch. She talked about the positive power she had felt all evening in the room. She had come up to me as she was getting ready to leave and told me that she felt more at peace in her heart than she had felt for a long time.

People were blessed. But most of all because of her love for Christ and longing to reach others, my doctor friend had done something she only dreamed could ever have been possible. She had truly reached out to the group of people that only she could touch. The touch that was felt that night was more than just the doctor's touch. It was the touch of God, a personal touch.

There are, no doubt, myriad other ways of teaming up with the physicians in our churches. It's worth searching out these ways and bringing them to reality in our communities.

There is something special that happens when we work together in this way.

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David Livermore is senior pastor of the Kelso-Longview Seventhday Adventist Church in Longview, Washington.

April 1999

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