There are some who say that local churches should not be very concerned about mercy ministry because they should be concerned about preaching the gospel.
I would say that local churches should be very concerned about mercy ministries because they are concerned about preaching the gospel.
Bavinck puts it like this in his book, An Introduction to the Science of Missions.
“In light of what we have said, this point of view appears to be insufficient, for it views the essential element of the missionary too exclusively in terms of the preaching of the gospel, or rather, it overlooks the fact that the preaching of the gospel is a very complicated affair that touches man in all his aspects and relationships. If medical assistance and education is exclusively given in order to win confidence, then it misses its goal, because it is then not essentially rooted in a true compassion for the needs of those with whom we are to work. And, on the other hand, if these services are motivated by the proper love and compassion, then they cease to be simply preparation, and at that very moment become preaching.
The deepest cause for misunderstanding lies in the fact that people think too narrowly and one-sidedly of preaching as speaking, and understand too little the fact that a person very frequently can speak much more clearly and directly through deeds. Such a sharp distinction between words and deeds is unknown in the Scriptures. God’s deeds are also the words in which he reveals himself. The prophets frequently chose to speak through extremely concrete deeds…And within the preaching of Jesus his words and deeds are constantly intermingled…The Scripture view word and deed much more as an indivisible whole.”
I went for a jog the other day and I ran by a man picking food out of the trash can. What I want to know is if I could run by that man and not stop even if I had the means to help him in some way, am I not saying something? Does that not communicate something? Wouldn’t you say that my failure to help was a form of communication?
And if the church can live in a society and in a world where there are people starving and there are grave injustices taking place all around them when they have the ability to help and that church and more specificaly the elders of that church do not think carefully about how they can challenge and encourage and strategize to help the people within that church meet the needs of the people within their community and to stand up against injustice, isn’t that church saying something?
We do not only communicate through what we say. We also communicate through what we do.