Inspiration for Health Ministry, by LEM

An Unnoticed Kind of Poverty

Principles of Ministering to Wealthy People

(For this study, read also: Ministry of Healing Chapter 14)

1 Timothy 6:17-19 "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;"

1. Why would rich people need help?

Revelation 3:17  "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:"

     Many people in this world mistakenly think that money can buy happiness.  They spend a life time chasing after all that glitters only to discover it to be an unsatisfying desert mirage that leaves happiness ever out of reach.  The soul hunger for goodness and truth and the God-shaped vacuum that is in all of our hearts cannot be satisfied by all the trinkets and toys that money can buy, and the spirit remains destitute of what it truly needs.  Testimonies from insiders who have grown up inside the riches and glory of Hollywood sometimes relate the realities of emptiness and suicidal ideation that goes on behind the scenes. 

     But this is a type of poverty that goes unnoticed. Few would sympathize with those who seem to have everything.  Not many realize that dissatisfaction, unhappiness and depression are real risks for those who are wealthy in the things of this world.  But if you understand it, and also realize that this short life is not all there is for us humans, you will see that we should certainly sympathize with those who have a form of superficial riches without hope of eternal life. 

     More than sympathize, we should seek to reach them. As Ellen White so eloquently describes, efforts need to be made for the rich and “God is seeking souls high as well as low.”

     Jesus expressly indicated that it is difficult for the rich to enter heaven. Though we often think of ministry to the poor, which is certainly a worthy goal, we should not forget that it is prosperity that is most dangerous spiritually. 

2. What methods can we use to reach the wealthy? What kind of programs?

     Health ministry is ideal for ministering to all types of people, including those who are materially wealthy.  As previously described, working for the body to reach the soul is one of the most effective methods there is. Through demonstrating caring for people’s health as Christ did you can win people’s friendship and confidence which will open doors of opportunity to share about spiritual things in a non-threatening way. 

     Those who have material riches are often interested in their health and can become interested in personal health ministry or health programs.

     Personal effort, massage/hydrotherapy, home visitation, exercise and nutrition counseling, programs for the elderly

     Get them out into nature enjoying the beautiful scenery and fresh air, as well as a little gardening work and manual labor outdoors. Many of them have spent their lives indoors pouring over computers and fighting stress.  Their minds and bodies are imbalanced through the overtaxing of the brain and lack of use of the muscles.  The humbling work outside can help to restore the spirit and help them find true joy and freedom from stress.

     Stay-in patient health programs are quite suitable for them, it is required that it is more expensive in order to have nicer facilities, doctor, etc. and church programs can be done for the poor families who cannot afford the more expensive stays (except with sponsorship and fundraising, which can also be done).

     At a program like this which I worked with in Taiwan we had a steady stream of people which included CEOs of Taiwan companies, Taiwan government officials, Hong Kong businessmen, etc.  Multiple individuals came to stay in the program to improve their health and took the message to others. They seemed to be blessed and helped by the program and often commented positively about being inspired by it.

3 What should we be cautious of in ministry to the rich?

    We should avoid asking them for money, making any reference to hoping they will donate to us or seeking to win their favor in hopes of gaining financial support.  If they feel impressed to spontaneously give something to a health center which is in a position to legally and lawfully receive donations, it can be acceptable to receive it.  But this is an extremely sensitive matter as the trust which leads to their eternal salvation can so easily be broken if they feel that those involved in their care have ulterior motives. 

     It is the responsibility of Christian healthcare workers to trust firmly in God’s provision, while doing your best work, instead of seeking shortcuts to gain financial help through the typical ways which can so easily lead to misunderstanding and mistrust.  It would be better to refuse financial help from rich people than to either 1) cause them to doubt your Christian sincerity and unselfish care, or 2) put yourself in a position in which you feel more obligated to please some “rich people” than God in what you do and say because they provide a large amount of your resources.  Such things can cause you to quickly loose God’s blessing, which will lead to the ultimate downfall of the institution.

     Sometimes wealthy people can be more difficult to please, as well as more likely to sue. We must be aware of the need to be careful of all legal aspects, but we do never fear any human being because of this type of thing.  We do the best we can and trust our ministry to God’s protecting care.  We worship God – who is richer than any man or woman and holds the power of eternal life and death.

     We must have a high level of professionalism if you will have a program that serves them, as they are often aware of scientific and medical standards, which are important.

     But at the same time, we must balance this by avoiding caring too much about the ways of the world, using man’s wisdom which glorifies man’s accomplishments instead of doing simple, natural methods which get people in touch with nature and bring glory God.  Sometimes this can be difficult for them to accept at first, but many of them will begin to understand when they see the benefits of health which come – just as the story of Naaman demonstrates.

     We must avoid giving them preference over other clients. Treat all people with respect and dignity, and do not perpetuate the false societal ideas that personal worth can be measured by money. Those kinds of ideas are not in harmony with God’s spirit and could set them up for unnecessary loss of self-worth or even suicide if they ever run into tragedy.  We must gently guide them into higher ideas, and the true understanding that God human worth is measured by God’s love for man, and his being created in God’s image.

     James 2:2 clearly outlines the principle of treating all people with equal respect; “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? 8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.”

      Ministry to wealthy or famous members of society must always be selfless, for the benefit of those who may loose their souls without your help.  We should never seek to gain personally from interaction with them, such as to gain an element of fame, glory or even admiring their riches.  The story of Gehazi is a serious warning of this exact type of thing.  Because different aspects of the story is so pertinent to this topic, I will include the entire chapter from 2 Kings 5 here;

1 “Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper. 2 And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife. 3 And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.

4 And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel. 5 And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. 6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.

7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me. 8 And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.

9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. 11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.

12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?

14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.

16 But he said, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.  17 And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord. 18 In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing. 19 And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.

20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the Lord liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him. 21 So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well?

22 And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments. 23 And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him. 24 And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed.

25 But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither. 26 And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? 27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.”

4. Other thoughts about ministry to wealthy people;

  They are just as in need of sincerity and caring as anyone else, our message needs to touch the heart.

     They need to learn to reach beyond themselves, to realize what the responsibility of riches involves.  They should be gently brought to understand the importance of their responsibility to share with those in need.  This will bring true satisfaction and joy into their lives which can never be attained through self-seeking or hoarding blessings.  But never connect any solicitations for donations to such a message or you will loose respect and trust and risk the loss of their salvation.

     God is able to reach the hearts of rich men and women.  The greatest men on earth are not beyond the power of a wonder-working God.

     Biblical examples of rich people Jesus med include Zacheus, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea

     We need to keep in mind that those who are rich in the things of this world are not immune to tragedy.  Doctors and medical students have a higher rate of suicide than some others.  Many rich people may fall from their heights due to problems caused by substance abuse, scandals, personal difficulties or financial loss at some point in life.

     Also, just because people look rich and successful does not mean that they feel secure or happy, or that they are not facing serious battles and impending difficulties in their lives.  Many people who are rich and successful are chasing a life long need to prove themselves “worthy” because of deep-seeded self-doubts instilled by abusive or neglectful parents, or may have serious difficulties in their personal relationships which are serious barriers to happiness. 

     Besides this, just as Jesus said in Mark 8:36 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”  Those who are striving to gain the whole world but loosing out on eternity, have not found true riches.   

     For all of these reasons, and more, we want to minister to wealthy people with the same kind of Christian compassion and mercy that we show to those who are poor or have already fallen into more obvious tragedy or difficulty.

     The life-changing message of temperance and values which can be implanted into the heart by the indwelling of Christ’s spirit is the very thing that many rich people are missing, which their lives will be empty without.  It is the very most important insurance policy that they could get to help them avoid multiple serious problems which the sinful heart can get them into – such as corruption scandals, sexual temptations and substance addictions.

Ellen White Quotes:

Who was Ellen White? ; Ellen White named by Smithsonian among the 100 most significant Americans of all time , EGW Link 2

Labor for the Wealthy

Those who will exercise their God-given ability for the conversion to the truth of the intellectual, the refined, and the world-absorbed wealthy class, are doing a good and essential work. Many look upon this class as hopeless, and they do little to open the eyes of those who, blinded and dazed by the power of Satan, have lost eternity out of their reckoning. But here is a field of labor that should not be neglected. These persons are stewards to whom God has committed important trusts. We should come close to this class, for I know that many of them are soul burdened; they long for something, they know not what. {Medical Ministry 243.3}

If saved to Jesus Christ, they will be useful agents in the hands of God to communicate the light to others. If converted to the truth, they will have a special burden to draw other souls of this neglected class to the light. They will feel that a dispensation of the gospel is committed to them for those who have made the world their god. They need the awakening which the Holy Spirit of God can give them, and those who have an experimental knowledge of the truth are under obligation to God to communicate the precious light to the world-absorbed, world-loving soul. {Medical Ministry 243.4}

Some will be convicted and will heed the words spoken to them in love and tenderness. They will acknowledge that the truth is the very thing they need to set them free from the slavery of sin and the bondage of worldly principles. There are opened before them themes of thought, fields for action, that they had never comprehend. { Medical Ministry 244.1}

In Jesus the Redeemer they discern infinite wisdom, infinite justice, infinite mercy--depths, heights, lengths, and breadths of love which passeth knowledge. Beholding the perfection of Christ's character, contemplating His mission, His love, His grace, His truth, they are charmed; the great want of the soul is met, and they will say with the psalmist, "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness." The divine object of faith and love they see to be Jesus Christ; with them the love of the world, the worshiping of earthly treasures, has come to an end. . . . { Medical Ministry 244.2}