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An Heroic Ministry
Verse of the day
YWI - working with...
YWI is pleased to work in association with
Fuller Youth Institute, US
Sophia Network, UK
MEETING AIM: To show that healing is one of the signs of Jesus’ power, and that we should pray expectantly for those who are sick; but that God doesn’t always choose to heal either.
BACKGROUND PREPARATION: Think hard about the situations of your audience. Are any facing serious long-term illness (their own or someone else’s)? Have they experienced bereavement or bafflingly unanswered prayer? This won’t necessarily change what you say, but may make you more sensitive in the way you address it.
Obtain a copy of both films and a stock of small candles.
Miracle count (3 mins)
Ask the group to brainstorm all the miracles of Jesus they can remember. Write the suggestions on a flipchart. If necessary, have clues ready to prompt their memories.
Circle all those which involve healing. Say: healing was a large part of Jesus’ job. Read Luke 6:17-19 and John 20:25; there were obviously many other unrecorded healings too. So what does all this mean for us now?
Healing Eye (7 mins)
This game is a variation on ‘Killer Wink’. As the group sit in a circle with eyes closed, someone is tapped on the shoulder. Tell them to open their eyes. The idea: everyone is sick. The person who has been singled out can heal anyone by winking at them. But he must do this undetected.
Whenever someone receives a wink, he must stand up, shout ‘Praise the Lord!’, then leave the circle. If any group member thinks she has spotted the ‘healer’, she can accuse the person suspected. If the accusation is correct, the accuser has won the game. (Two wrong accusations mean you drop out.) But if the healer can continue until only three sick people are left… the healer wins.
Play it a couple of times then say: in the game, everything depended on the healer’s authority. Recognising the unique powerful person was crucial…
The leper (10 mins)
In small groups, look up Mark 1:40-42. Then give each group this rendition from the NIV (Notoriously Inaccurate Version):
A man with leprosy sat by the roadside. Jesus asked him, ‘Would you like to be well?’ ‘Why not!’ the man replied, stretching out his hand. Jesus however didn't take it; under the law of Moses, touching a leper made you unclean. Instead he recited a long, complicated magic formula. Several weeks later the leprosy started to clear up, and a year later it was mostly gone.
Ask: what’s been altered here? How does the real version underline the authority Jesus possessed? (Possible answers might include: the man approached Jesus, with desperation and yet faith; Jesus wasn’t defiled by the touch, but the man was cured; Jesus healed with a word; the healing was instantaneous.)
KEY POINT: Jesus has the power to heal, and physical healing is one way in which God demonstrates the reality of Jesus' authority over evil and decay.
Keep taking the tablets? (10 mins)
Write up on the flipchart four inaccurate claims that people sometimes make about healing:
‘Christians with faith should never use medicines or other health aids.’
‘Devoted Christians never get dangerously ill.’
‘Everybody who needs healing can receive it from Jesus.’
‘Even if we don't believe, God will always heal us.’
Give each small group a list of four Bible passages - Mark 6:4-6; 1 Tim 5:23; Philippians 2:25-27; Luke 4:23-27 – and ask them to match up each passage with the inaccuracy it exposes.
Discuss your results. Make the point: God’s healing isn’t intended to be a replacement for medicine – but a wonderful way in which God sometimes overrules the doctors.
When nothing happens (7 mins)
Tell a couple of stories of people who genuinely did experience a remarkable healing – and others (e.g. Joni Eareckson Tada or David Watson) who didn’t. Ask the group for any similar stories they might have.
Stress how difficult it can be sometimes to tell if a healing really has occurred. With an older group, you might wish to look at some reasons: spontaneous remission, in which an illness appears to have gone away, but hasn’t; temporary psychological ‘cures’ which prove to be illusory in the long run; exaggerated stories and wishful thinking...
Bible study (10 mins)
Read together Mark 2:1-12. In small groups, discuss:
q How do you know the man’s friends had a lot of faith in Jesus?
q What did Jesus say that was surprising, and what does this tell you?
q Why do you think Jesus didn’t heal the man straight away?
KEY POINT: Sometimes the real problem isn't sickness, and Jesus is less concerned about healing our bodies than about putting our whole existence right. It's right to pray for healing... but good to remember that God doesn't guarantee to work in the way that we choose.
Mercy in action (5 mins)
Shor a short video clip of Christians using medicine as a way of demonstrating Christ love to others e.g. the work of the Mercy Ships (www.mercyships.org) from whom many films are available. Stress: even when healing is medical, not miraculous, God can use Christians to bring love and hope to others. God doesn't heal illness at a stroke - but involves his people in providing answers and human warmth.
Response (10 mins)
Light a candle and place it on a tray. Tell the group: this represents one sick person for whom you are going to pray. Ask them to take a candle each, and light it for someone they know who isn’t well and needs healing. Take a few moments in silence to pray for their chosen people.
Then ask them to light another candle for a Christian doctor or nurse who is expressing God’s love through medicine (someone they know, if possible). Take time in silence again.
Next, ask them to light a third candle for anyone they know who is ill and not expected to recover, or suffering chronic illness with no relief. Spend some more time in silence.
Finally, pray to sum up all the silent prayers. Thank God for the exciting possibility of healing through Jesus. Pray for those who are suffering, and especially those for whom the prospects look bleak. Pray for doctors and nurses who bring love and hope to people through their work. Ask God to make everyone more sensitive and caring for those who are ill.
[NOTES FOR ADAPTING:
For younger groups… Inject some competition into ‘Miracle count’ and ‘Keep taking the tablets’ by getting groups to race against each other. Award small prizes.
For older groups… Invite as a guest someone who has lived with illness for a long time. Ask them to talk about the experience, what they’ve learned through it, and how they feel about the possibility of healing. Alternatively, bring someone who has experienced a remarkable healing, and get them to tell the story. Focus on their feelings, beforehand, at the time and since.
For unchurched young people… If the group are uncomfortable with praying together, use the candles instead to provide a time of reflection and self-examination. In ‘Miracle count’, you might give them a list of true and false miracles to guess about, rather than relying on Bible knowledge.
For churched young people… Challenge them to ‘adopt’ one sick person to pray for over the next month - someone they’ve lit a candle for, or someone you assign to them.