Abraham Kuyper was a Dutch theologian, politician, journalist and statesman who lived during the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. He was Prime Minister of Netherlands from 1901 to 1905. Kuyper was famous for his understanding that there was no aspect (sphere) of society that was outside the calling of the Church in which it is not too have an interest or influence. One of his most famous quotes was “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, mine!
If we believe this to be the case (and we do here at ZWK – Health for All Nations) then all we do on this earth as it relates to helping people live healthy lives (lives of shalom) is under the sovereignty of Christ. This would include all the resources being used in His name to conduct ministries of health and wholeness. If that is the case then we should do all we can to assure that we are practicing excellence in the stewardship of such resources. In the Christian health services dept this would require of us the best use of the hospital and clinics we have built around the world and would include the best use of the personnel and materials that God provides. (this is of course only a small fraction of what we believe the global Church is called to DO when it comes to health services) But is this what we are actually doing with these resources?
I would have to say that WE DON’T KNOW. We can’t answer this question because we may not be asking the right questions. But with this post I would like to simply focus on calling on the global Church to think more deeply and plan more abundantly to conduct research that critically analyzes what we are doing in the name of “medical missions” around the world and to make those findings known.
I wrote a piece regarding an article by Brian Palmer back in OCT which was based on his article in Slate. Here is what he said in part:
“There are a few legitimate reasons to question the missionary model, starting with the troubling lack of data in missionary medicine. When I write about medical issues, I usually spend hours scouring PubMed, a research publications database from the National Institutes of Health, for data to support my story. You can’t do that with missionary work, because few organizations produce the kind of rigorous, peer-reviewed data that is required in the age of evidence-based medicine. A few years ago in the Lancet, Samuel Loewenberg wrote that there is “no way to calculate the number of missionaries currently operating in Tanzania,” the country he was reporting on. How can we know if they’re effective, or how to improve the health care systems they participate in, if we don’t even know how many missionary doctors there are?”
This quote of course raises all sorts of questions and concerns but a major point that I believe we can all agree on is that there is a mountain of work being done in very difficult places (some where MSF won’t go I suspect) but for which we have no “Best Practices” or journal articles being produced! One of the most exciting ministries we at Health for All Nations are privileged to have birthed is the Christian Journal for Global Health. Two editions have been published (it is free and open access) with the 3rd nearly ready. (upcoming edition on global conflict) We believe momentum is being built up and we look forward to playing our role in claiming this SQUARE INCH of society (researching the Christian Global Health Movement) for Christ. If you are involved in such work and would like to submit an article please do so or if you are linked to this kind of work globally please advocate with your church or missions agency to invest in research that will help us ALL learn how to more effectively use our resources so that Christ is proclaimed among ALL peoples.