by Terry Camsey, Major –
We had a visit from “The House of Luke” last night. They presented a tremendous program of drama and testimony that had an incredible impact.
“The House of Luke” is a recovery center for men, and the participants in both drama and testimony were people who had been there, done that, seen the light (through the ministry of others who had passed that same way) and shared the victory. They were using their hurts to heal others.
I saw a documentary some years ago about a lady who had once been a child living on the streets of a town in Ireland. Her name has long since slipped away but I do remember that she was working in a middle eastern country establishing homes to take local children off the streets where they had been living. She was using her past hurts to heal. She was, as Robert Schuller puts it, turning her “scars into stars!”
There is a tremendous power in the ministry of those who have been hurt, who then turn that hurt into healing through ministering to people going through the same situations. It’s a credibility issue. If I say, “I understand,” to a man going through a messy divorce, it lacks the ring of authenticity because—since I have not myself gone through that experience—I really do not understand. I may empathize, I may offer to pray, but I cannot truly say I “understand.”
Years ago, our first daughter Angela, was diagnosed with leukemia. The doctors did all they could to get her into remission. During that period I was involved with a tour of Australia with the International Staff Band. Almost every billet I stayed at was with a young family whose baby was undergoing serious problems. Those billets were not so much planned by the organizers of the tour as they were by God, who placed me in positions where I could say (with integrity), “I understand”… and minister to those families.
Sadly, Angela passed away to Glory. Since then Beryl and I have been brought (by God, we have no doubt) into contact with other parents whose children have leukemia. Who do you think was in the best position to minister to the mothers? My wife, since she had been there…all the way. Sure, I went through the pain and hurt, but I was a father not the mother and could not say truthfully to those mothers, “I understand”…I could to a degree, but not as a mother understands.
We are fascinated by the idea that God spiritually gifts us and many corps try to incorporate those gifts in ministry. Sometimes not too successfully, since we try to fit the willing into existing programs—to put square pegs into round holes. But, God made us in our entirety…gave us natural talents, gave us spiritual gifts (at the point of conversion), put a passion in our hearts for ministry (to a particular cause, or group of people, or idea), and gave us the personalities we have. Some to lead and be up front…some to follow and work behind the scenes…some to work alone…others in a group setting. He also can use our hurts. “All things work together for good…
These facets of our make-up collectively point to the ministry God wants us to do…and a congregation’s “picture of ministry” should strive to activate everyone in arenas that fit their calling. Hurts can influence our passion…and where our passion lies, there lies the ministry for which we were divinely designed. Working in that ministry area, our personality tells us what role we would be comfortable in. In team settings, our spiritual gifts dovetail together into a powerful ministry force…and our natural talents can be the bridge that opens up ministry opportunities. Ignore any one aspect of our divine design and our ministry may not be so effective.
Take someone with the spiritual gift of evangelism. If we take that one gift on its own we might be tempted to give him copies of the “Four Spiritual Laws” and send him off knocking on doors. But what if his personality is such that he is more comfortable in a team setting…has a natural gift for crafts…and a passion is to help elderly people who never leave their house. Can you see how teaming him up with someone else who shares his passion, who will visit elderly shut-ins with him, doing crafts (to open up ministry opportunity)…and both expressing their spiritual giftedness…can open the door to a fruitful, fulfilling, ministry?
But don’t forget the hurts! They can be used in a tremendous way to heal.