Jeffrey Collins shares the following story in the Christian Reader (Mar/Apr 1998):
It had been a trying week at our Love & Action office. At five o'clock on a Friday, I was looking forward to having a quiet dinner with friends. Then the phone rang.
"Jeff! It's Jimmy!" I heard a quivering voice say.
Jimmy, who suffered from several AIDS-related illnesses, was one of our regular clients. "I'm really sick, Jeff. I've got a fever. Please help me."
I was angry. After a sixty-hour work week, I didn't want to hear about Jimmy. But I promised to be right over. Still, during the drive over, I complained to God about the inconvenience.
The moment I walked in the door, I could smell the vomit. Jimmy was on the sofa, shivering and in distress. I wiped his forehead, then got a bucket of soapy water to clean up the mess. I managed to maintain a facade of concern, even though I was raging inside.
A friend, Russ, who also had AIDS, came down the stairs. The odor made Russ sick, too.
As I cleaned the carpet around Russ's chair, I was ready to explode inside. Then Russ startled me. "I understand! I understand!"
"What, Russ?" Jimmy asked weakly.
"I understand who Jesus is," Russ said through tears. "He's like Jeff!"
Weeping, I hugged Russ and prayed with him. That night Russ trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior--a God who had used me to show his love in spite of myself.
What does it look like to do Christian ministry? Jesus makes it simple.
A SIMPLE APPROACH TO MINISTRY—GO PREACH AND HEAL.
As Jesus sent out the Twelve on their first mission, He told them to concentrate on doing only two things. He told them to heal sick people and to preach the Good News. Jesus was simply telling them to do what they had seen Him doing. He had been going to where the people were and was touching them and teaching them. Here’s what Jesus had been doing:
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (Matthew 9:35).
Jesus went about preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing hurting people. Now Jesus wants His followers to do the same kind of ministry that He does. Go preach and heal. He sends them to help hurting people and to proclaim the good news.
That’s our ministry as well. We must go preach and heal. Jesus never set up a ministry campus and required all the people to come to where He was. Jesus did not have a “Field of Dreams” mentality: “Build it and they will come.” Some think that all we have to do is to build a church building and people will just flock in. But that is not Jesus’ method of ministry. He says go. His ministry was not building-focused, it was people-focused. He was constantly walking around the region going to where the people were.
The Father sent Jesus into this world and Jesus sends us out into the world. The night before Jesus was crucified, He prayed, “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” (John 17:18).
The twofold task of a disciple is simple, preach and heal. Jesus didn’t give us four laws or twelve steps or eighteen tasks. He simply said, “GO to where the hurting people are and help them and tell them the good news of the Kingdom.” Our mission is to go where the people are, showing them the love of Jesus by what we do and what we say.
That’s not just the preacher’s job, or the deacons’ job or the church staff’s job. It is the JOB #1 for every disciple of Jesus.
How do you do ministry?