Summary: Jesus used both the art and science in His evangelism and we should too!
Art and Science of Evangelism
Introduction - Have you ever known a physician who practiced both the art and science of medicine? Perhaps you will enjoy hearing about a friend of mine who has mastered both aspects of cross-cultural medicine in Nigeria. Last year, the physician went to a remote village along the border with Niger Republic to investigate the possibilities of starting a new medical dispensary in the area.
In line with the Nigerian cultures, he began by greeting the chief of the village and requesting permission to begin a new medical facility for his people. Characteristically, the village chief was skeptical about the white doctor’s motives for starting a medical outlet in a heavily Muslim dominated area. Just when my friend thought he was going to be sent out of the village, the Spirit of God placed an idea in his mind. Quickly turning to the chief he said, "Do you have any pains in your body?" Taken back by this bold offer, the chief said, "Matter of fact, I do! Everyone in the chief’s palace stared incredulously as the chief stood to his feet. At this point nearly everyone in the 110F degree palace thought the chief would insultingly order the physician and his assistants out. Almost miraculously the chief continued, "In fact I have a pain in my knees that have been bothering me for a long time. Plus I have some severe pain in my hips that hinder me from turning over in my bed at night. In addition I have some more pain in my chest when I cough. Furthermore, I have serious headaches when I have lots of decisions to make. The list went on for another five minutes until the chief described all the pains that he felt now, yesterday, and assuming that his condition would not change, forever more!
Undaunted, my physician friend said, "I am confident your highness that I have just the medicine to take away your pain!" Even the physician attendants were ready to fall over in amazement. Did this mean that the conservative physician was ready to call down a cure from heaven at that moment. "Hand me a prescription pad!" The physician authoritatively told his assistant. Then as Dr. Phil wrote out the prescription, his every grunt, groan, and movement mesmerized the Chief. "Take this to the next town to have the prescription filled and be back in 30 minutes", he said to his assistant! By this time, the entire village of 5,000 were gathered outside of the Chief’s palace to be the first to learn of the outcomes of the white doctor’s encounter with their Chief. They longed to have access to real medical facilities, but were afraid of insulting the Muslim chief. All major decisions had to be made by the Chief or serious trouble would result for the insolent soul who tried to subvert the powers that be.
60 minutes later, the assistant returned with the medicine prescribed by the doctor for the Chief. "Take these pills with a cup of water and your pain will soon subside," Dr. Phil confidently told the Chief. Even though, he hesitated, the Chief felt that the white doctor would never dare to give him anything to make him sick, plus his credibility as Chief was on the line with such an important matter at hand. As everyone baked in the hot sun, the tension grew to a fever pitch in the village. Finally, the Chief said that he had made his decision, which he would announce in front of all 5,000 men, women, and children of the village. "Today, I have been asked by this white doctor for permission to start a medical dispensary in our village, but I wanted to test the powers of his medicine first. Before the white man came I had pain all over my body, but I am delighted to report that his medicine is power and effective. Now, all my pains have gone away. I am hereby granting official permission for the white doctor to establish any kind of medical facility he wants to in my village." The people cheered wildly, as they were suffering from all kinds of illness, infant mortality, and untold suffering.
When Dr. Phil arrived back in Jos that week I asked him, "I heard that the Chief allowed you to start a medical dispensary in his village. What miracle drug did you give him?" Phil laughed sheepishly for a moment and said, "Only aspirin! But I gave him lots of faith, hope, and love that the medicine would make his pain subside and he believed!" Phil knew how to practice a balance of both the science and ART OF MEDICINE. It struck me that in order to be more effective in evangelizing Africans our seminary evangelistic teams needed to learn how to balance both the SCIENCE AND THE ART OF EVANGELISM.