“Healing – Free for the Taking!”
by Isaac Watson, ATS Graduate Intern
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” – Matthew 10:8
There’s a Mennonite community in South America that supports itself by selling homegrown vegetables at a farmers’ market. A few years ago, a man broke in and stole all of their money. Eventually the man was caught, the money was returned and he was sent to jail. Rather than insisting he get the maximum sentence, the community requested he serve the minimum time. While the man was in jail, the Mennonites began construction on a new home on their property. Upon his release, the Mennonite community found the former thief and offered him the newly built home. Touched by the offer, the man accepted. Now he is an active member of the community, having made a 180-degree turnaround and become a welcomed help to the farmers’ market and a valued member of the community.
The Mennonite community is a faithful one: to the man who had stolen, they offer the forgiving grace Jesus has extended to them, reminiscent of Jesus’ interaction with the thief who asked for forgiveness on the cross found in Luke 23. Sickness manifests in so many ways; so does healing. The Mennonites offer healing to the former thief by forgiving him and providing him with a home. Rather than responding in a vindictive way, which would have been the supposed “realistic,” “normal,” “acceptable” response, the Mennonites took the “unrealistic” and “unexpected” route, providing the ex-offender with much-needed forgiveness and shelter.
Extending the grace of forgiveness like the Mennonites did is the antithesis of the vengeful selfishness that the world is full of. It is up to us to offer to others Christ-like grace in all forms. The result will be many people experiencing holistic healing and coming into relationship with Christ. Transformation! We have received freely from the hand of our generous God; let’s likewise freely give to others, becoming world-healers — like Jesus — in the process.