The American doctor and nurse being treated for Ebola deserve our well-wishes (maybe prayers, if you do that). You might think these missionaries, one working for an outfit led by Franklin Graham, would simply pray for healing instead of taking experimental drugs.
Well, anyway, my brain was immediately quarantined when I first heard they were missionaries. So I did what I often do, I did some quick research on what they were REALLY doing in Africa and WHY they were doing it.
Dr. Brantly thanks people from his isolation ward and says, “We went to Liberia because we believe God called us to serve Him. . . My focus, however, remains the same—to follow God.”
Alright. Many people go into helping professions because they “feel called.” I don’t disrespect that. However, it does raise questions about what the True Purpose of the Calling really is.
A quick scan of the their websites is revealing.
Their intent and the purpose of Everything they Do (including Medical Care) is right on the top of the page:
“Helping in Jesus’ Name”
That’s pretty clear. At least we know that each doctor and nurse is thinking about each poor lost soul as they are binding wounds and giving out pills (maybe leaving a bible next to their rag pillow?).
Read their Statement of Faith (notice that’s not a “mission statement”)
Note the usual “Bible is infallible,” one God in three persons, deity of the Lord Jesus, etc.
Then note “evangelism and discipleship” is every Christian’s responsibility.
Ok, get that. Typical Evangelicalism.
But then comes the longest paragraph, on. . .SEX!
“marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female”
(an obvious distaste for same-sex relationships; and “genetic”?: is that a jab at transgender folks?)
And then, of course, the end of the statement, the culmination (after SEX) which is, no surprise:
“human life is sacred from conception.” Right, don’t forget, we’re anti-choice.
As for the other missionary, Mrs. Writebol, she works for Serving in Mission which has another clearly stated intention:
“SIM is a community of God’s people who delight to worship him and are passionate about the Gospel, seeking to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ in the world.”
Our purpose is to glorify God by planting, strengthening, and partnering with churches around the world as we:
evangelize the unreached,
minister to human need,
disciple believers into churches,
equip churches to fulfill Christ’s Commission. [“make Christian disciples of all nations”].”
“We believe that mankind is lost and needs to be redeemed through Christ Jesus, whom we proclaim as Savior. All of our ministry is motivated by this belief.”
This CNN Belief Blog story puts the approach of SIM workers this way,
“For instance, when a person suffers from an illness or injury, the medical missionary will approach and ask if they can help. “The missionary just shares something … and then sometimes they’ll say, ‘Do you mind if I pray with you?’”
“People will say, ‘Why are you doing that?’ And we tell them that’s what Christ did,’” Salloum said. “It’s a natural transition – someone who has a physical need then to have a spiritual need.”
That’s precisely what Nancy Writebol did in Liberia, said the SIM executive. “She talked to children, she shared the Gospel. She was just available, there for the people. That was her world.”
Ok, what am I saying here? That these missionaries shouldn’t do their mission work? That they can’t believe these things or can’t preach in the name of their “Healing Savior”?
But what I think is rather appalling (and deeply concerning) is that these “Medical Professionals” are, at heart and by intent, “Missionary Preachers.” They are NOT in foreign lands, among poor people in need of medical care, in order to help the body more than they are out in the “Missionfield” to save souls. And, considering the Statement of Faith (and SIM’s Purpose) they must all sign allegiance to, each doctor and nurse carries their own conservative bias into village after village. The Face of Medicine, the Face of America, the Face of Humanitarianism is: Someone who wants to preach to vulnerable people, all the while pushing their Religion, their anti-Gay and anti-Abortion message, their Pro-Americanism, “making disciples of all nations,” spreading their “good news” like the epidemics they say they’re working to stop.
As a Former Evangelical Missionary, Yes, I have a Big Problem with that!
What do YOU think? Leave a comment.
*By the way, as you may have heard, I have the same critique of Preachers who dress up as Chaplains.