READ: Acts 3
THINK: Lulu Cecilia Fleming was born in Florida in 1862, the daughter of a slave who died at the close of the Civil War. This remarkable woman received training in theology and became the first black person commissioned for career missionary service by the Woman’s American Baptist Foreign Missionary Society. Miss Fleming’s first term of service was in the Congo, after which she came home and completed medical school. She returned to the Congo as a medical missionary, but contracted African sleeping sickness and died in 1899.
Dr. Fleming did not have much in the way of “”silver or gold”” to give the people God called her to serve. But what she had, she gave freely. She gave of her love for Christ and of her abilities as a teacher and physician. Ultimately, Dr. Fleming gave her life in service to the Lord. The same could be said of many of God’s servants. Though Peter and John did not have what the crippled man at the temple gate was looking for, they certainly had what he needed.
It’s interesting that while this man’s healing was recorded, his salvation is not specifically mentioned. But the events that follow make it obvious that this hungry beggar received the Bread of Life when he encountered the two apostles that day.
This story, and a number of incidents in the Gospels, illustrate a fact we mentioned at the beginning of the month. A passion for souls involves caring about the whole person, body and spirit. Combining evangelism with care for human needs has been a successful ministry formula for many centuries.
Some people in church history have focused on the physical and social side of ministry, to the neglect of people’s eternal needs. Some have focused on preaching the gospel, to the neglect of people’s physical and material needs. But the pattern for us is established in Scripture. Peter and John did not simply heal this man and leave him in his sins. He became another witness to Israel of God’s saving grace in Christ.
Jesus cared for the whole person. He said to a sinful woman, “”Your faith has saved you”(Luke 7:50) and to a suffering woman, “Your faith has healed you” (Luke 8:48) Interestingly, the word translated “saved” and “healed” in these verses is the same Greek word, sesoken. When we are passionate about souls, we will view people the way Jesus saw them, as whole persons with physical, material, and spiritual needs.
PRAY: Ask that God would give you his eyes so that you can see the people around you the way he does. Ask him for the wisdom to know how to do both physical and spiritual ministry well. Ask him to help you love people the way he does.
– Adapted from Today in the Word