by: Norman Wetterau, M.D. - FMHF President
Our group started out in 1960 as the Free Methodist Medical Fellowship. It was initially a fellowship of doctors and dentist, many whom had been involved in missions. The group supported each other and also our denominational medical missions. Most groups like this do not survive for almost 60 years, but ours has and has expanded our vision and mission. The expansion of our vision and mission goes along with the new vision of medicine which emphasizes holistic care and team-based care involving physicians, PAs, NP, nurses, social workers, and chaplains. Many of the improvements in life expectancy are due to social and public health changes, rather than new treatments. Our biggest medical challenges are now mental health, drug addiction and ageing. Lone doctors working my themselves may have limited impact on these conditions. Even all the health care professions need the help of community groups and social networks such as Churches. Certified patient centered medical homes need to document how they connect patients with chronic diseases to these non-medical groups which could include a church.
But it is not just medical professionals and their patients that need churches. Churches need to know how to respond to those with chronic diseases, developmental disorders, mental health issues and addiction. Note that Jesus healing were not just those with acute illnesses. Leprosy was a chronic, and isolating disease. Jesus touched these people and healed them. Other people were healed of strange behavior or epilepsy.
The woman with the hemorrhage had been suffering for years. Our churches are filled with those who are suffering and as the woman with the hemorrhage they had spent all their money on doctors and were no better. Now can the church minister to these individuals, or to those with chronic pain, or with incurable cancer.
In September 2014 our fellowship hosed a national speaker, Dr Willard Swartley and author of featured InterVarsity Press book of the year in 2012: Health, Healing, and the Church’s Mission: Biblical Perspectives and Moral Priorities. The book is more about the church then health professionals but addressed both. We recommend this book for pastors as well as health professionals. So our fellowship, through our website, retreats and our members, help churches become better healing communities.
Our fellowship has changed in several ways First we have become a fellowship of all healthcare professionals, not just physicians and dentists. We include chaplains and emergency responders. Secondly, we are not a fellowship just for ourselves but a resource for our churches. Our online publication try to address some of these issues. We want our website to be a resource for pastors and churches.
Walking with those in Need without Losing Heart: this was the theme of our September 2018 conference. The speakers, Doctors Eric and Rachel McLauglin, from Kibuye hospital, Burundi, talked about the difficulties of reaching out to those who are hurting in situations where our efforts appear futile .One begins to wonder if God is breaking the promises he made to you when he called you. Although they were using illustrations from their medical work, these issues are present in any church which is addressing seemingly impossible situations in people lives. Our December 2018 Newsletter is a real resource and the McLaughlins book on this topic, when it is published will be a even grater resources. Our fellowship wants those who cannot attend our retreats to still benefit. Check out the article in our December 2018 newsletter.
The December 2017 issue has two articles on Soulcare. Medical science today now recognizes the important of soulcare, and we want to share this with Free Methodists in medical professions but also with pastors and those in our churches who minister to the sick.
Our November 2015 newsletter summarizing our conference which included 7 chaplains who shared how they relate to those who are ill. They also shared valuable insights on how people can effectively visit and support those who are ill. We have posted extensive notes on how churches can more effectively minister to the sick.
Finally, this summer at a General Conference Breakout session, Dr Wetterau will be addressing how churches can aid those who suffer from addictions. His presentation and resources from this will also be posted on our website. Anyone is free to sign up for our newsletter. Let your friends know about these resources including the one produced by our chaplains and the one that will appear after general conference on addiction.
Please share this article with your pastor and others. Go to www.fmhealth.org, read some of the material and sign up to be sent future information. If you are a healthcare professional you can also become a member and support us with fifty dollar annual dues. Thank you.