challenges AND PROSPECTS OF christian HEALING ministry
CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS OF CHRISTIAN HEALING MINISTRY
Background Of The Study
Christian healing is an extension of the Judaic tradition and reflects “a specific mode of therapy that has been well cultivated since ancient times”.
Most dictionaries define healing as an adjective derived from the verb to heal, which implies “to cure a disease or disorder”, “to restore to soundness”, “to make whole and healthy” (chambers 20th century dictionary). In this perspective, healing would imply the eradication of the elements that produce sickness and infirmity.
Despite advances in modern technology and medical research, both the biblical and Annang traditions must revere the religious or spiritual side of healing (Ps 42:11; 43:5; 67:2). Both Judeo-Christian and Annang anthropology emphasise the notion that a human being, as a socio-religious entity, need healing for his entire being.
Perhaps in light of this, one can see the total value of Christian healing ministry as a sign of faith. As a result, it is established in the church as a legitimate sign of faith witness and an occasion for God to publicly display His glory in the condition of His people. It is a unique moment of faith profession.2
Meanwhile, it appears that the pursuit for faith healing is currently dominating African Christianity. It has reached such proportions in Annangland that new churches, healing centres, and prayer houses are opening on a daily basis, all claiming the ability to heal and perform miracles. According to Udoette, “almost all the so-called prophets in Nigeria's NRMs claim to have the gift of healing and the ability to work miracles”3
The new churches, ministries, and centres that are established are frequently overflowing with enthusiastic seekers for God's direct intervention in their lives. Many of the older churches have added miracle healing services into their programme of activities in order to maintain membership and attract new members. As a result, “many ‘healers' have emerged, and whether in private homes or at public prayer assemblies, testimonies or “claims” of miracles abound,” according to Umoren.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the majority of these churches, healing centres, and “healers” compete for space in the media, beeches, street corners, and abandoned buildings. They can also be found in public places, such as school halls, hotels, restaurants, rented flats, and passenger buses, where they proudly showcase their newfound power and “make it happen” in a variety of astonishing ways.
Their target audiences include businessmen and women, the sick, the demon-possessed, those in need of life partners and children from marriages (especially male children), pregnant women eager for a safe delivery, those seeking financial breakthroughs, those seeking deliverance from sin and sinful attitudes,
those seeking supernatural protection from enemies and unseen forces, the unemployed, workers seeking job security, and those who have been treated unfairly by others. In a nutshell, individuals in need, whether spiritual or material.
Despite this, the pursuit of good health in both mind and body receives the most emphasis. The Annang people have adopted a classic African saying that declares nsongidem ade imo (health is riches). All other human demands are meaningless without excellent health.
As a result, the majority of miracle seekers are looking for God's miraculous intervention in one or more medical ailments. It is not harmful for such people to try “this or that healer” if “the hospital or the other healer” does not provide them with the expected relief from illness or even any assurance against illness.
As a result, people seek miracle cure wherever they hear “it is happening.” Miracle preachers have readily made the sick their special target group, aware of the urgency of this search for good health and in light of the generally poor state of health facilities in many parts of Annangland.
It is not an exaggeration to say that sickness and other types of human misery have existed in human society and have become ingrained in man's notion of life. There has always been a deep desire in the heart of man to be free of all types of human misery.
Modern man has made a concerted effort to battle and eliminate this problem. Today's society is investing more time and money on disease prevention in order to avoid it. Sickness has been a prevalent feature throughout human history, and it is not a new phenomenon.
During Jesus' public career, a large number of sick people approach him, either personally or through friends and relatives, seeking healing. The Lord accepts their plea, and the Gospels include no condemnation of these requests. The Lord's only complaint is that they may lack faith.
In the Bible, Jesus is frequently accompanied by sick individuals of all kinds. He was never hesitant to help them. He regarded illness as a disease that affects both the body and the soul of man, and hence handled anything that came his way as an integrated entity.
While he was constantly concerned with healing the sick in body, he also paid special attention to the sick man's mind and spirit. So healing for Jesus has a lot to do with either the sick person's faith or the faith of his or her relatives or friends. “If you believe, everything is possible” (Mk 9:23; Mk 6:5-6; Jn 4:48).
Without a doubt, God has continued this healing ministry in his church via the prayers of his ministers. In her liturgy, the church has never stopped praying for healing on behalf of the sick. The sacrament of anointing of the sick has always been available to help the ill. The teaching on praying for healing right acknowledges the church's sympathy for the sick.
The church has never stopped celebrating this sacrament for its members through the anointing and prayer of its priests, commending those who are sick to the suffering and glorified Lord in order for him to raise them up and save them.
Making reference to an important aspect of the church's prayer for the anointing of the sick, the document underlines the church's aim, which is regularly articulated in her prayer for the sick. The congregation prays:
Make this oil a medicine for everyone who is anointed with it; heal them in body, soul, and spirit, and rescue them from all afflictions.
As shown in this short prayer of healing for the sick individual, the church's aim in celebrating this sacrament extends beyond physical healing.
Before leaving the world to return to his Father, Jesus entrusted to his disciples the mission he had received from his Father, as well as the authority and power to heal the sick and preach the good news.
He gathered his twelve disciples and gave them dominion over evil demons, as well as the ability to cast them out and cure all manner of ailments and sickness (Mtt 10:1; Lk 9:1-2; Mk 6:7).
Since her commissioning, the church has seen numerous people who are endowed with the healing charism. These healers' ministry should not be defined apart from the overall process of the church's healing ministry. Their healing ministry must be included into the church's statement of faith.
That is why it must follow the guidelines established by the church for its sick ministry. As a result, the church's understanding of human disease must serve as the foundation for treating every situation.