When you think of healthcare ministry you may tend to think of nurses and doctors caring for both physical and spiritual needs, but do you think of a hospital as a tool for church planting? Recently D.S. Andrew Akus shared at our Nazarene Health Ministries Leadership Retreat. He began naming churches that were started not by pastors but laymen whose main job was the health ministry. Others added to the list which included both missionaries and Papua New Guineans of lab technicians, nurses, doctors, maintenance staff, administrators, College of Nursing instructors, etc… This includes the laymen at Kudjip going out to surrounding areas as part of the community, but also churches planted by follow up of patients giving their lives to the Lord in the hospital. There is also church growth through our Rural Health Services and Community Based Health Care. DS Andrew also showed the daughter churches that these churches went onto plant. In total over 250 churches have grown out of the outreach of the NHM.
This work continues and is a special recent focus. We are trying to integrate more our discipleship methods- we have nursing students who graduate with a diploma in nursing and a certificate in lay-ministry that go into the workforce all over PNG. We have Christian staff who plan on some day returning to their home area. Why not help them learn to plant churches now? We are matching this need to another need – which is better patient follow up. We don’t want to just win converts but make disciples. When people give their heart to Christ in the hospital we want to support them. If they have a church home or their family does, we encourage them to follow up there, but some patients don’t have evangelical churches near them and want one planted there.
Such was the case of a man who gave his life to the Lord after a vehicle accident led him to have surgery at our hospital. Two chaplains, some nurses and lab people involved in his care, and 8 nursing students recently drove to his area on Sunday. He invited his family and others in the community, including two other churches – 150 people came to the service and to invite the Church of the Nazarene to come and plant a church there.