Early on the morning of the 2012 Armed Forces Day, I took a virtual tour of the National Arboretum – a 150-acre wooded parkland in Staffordshire, England. It is artistically and beautifully designed with memorials that remember UK servicemen, past and present. Few days before then, I had basked in the euphoria of witnessing the Olympic Torch pass through our city. London had been agog with unbridled excitement. All of the UK was wrapped in frenzy – buzzing and getting ready to host perhaps the greatest sporting activity on earth. But the electric ecstasy of those days decelerated into humdrum sombre on that Armed Forces Day. As I pondered, my mind raced down memory lane. Then I came by something even more sobering. It was Prince Harry’s speech three months earlier while receiving the award for distinguished humanitarian leadership:
“So many of our Servicemen and women have made the ultimate sacrifice; so many lives have been lost and so many changed forever by the wounds that they have suffered in the course of their duties. For these selfless people, it is after the guns have fallen silent, the din of battle quietened, that the real fight begins – a fight that may last for the rest of their lives.”
Life is a fight; a long, unending fight.
We enlist for that fight at birth. We only lay down our weapons at death. Every breadth we take is a call to arms. Every move we make is an invasion of the enemy’s camp. We are susceptible to attacks. We are bound to be wounded. We are prone to become a casualty. Prince Harry’s words struck me real hard: In life’s battles, wounds are inevitable.
Esprit de corps!
That’s a core philosophy in the military which describes such values as honour and commitment in the service. It epitomizes pride for, and devotion and loyalty to, other members of the service with which the soldiers fight and serve. That’s why it’s a grave offence in the military to attack, or to pass up a wounded colleague.
I find the absence of espirit de corps in ‘The Army of the Lord’ appalling. Only in this army, it seems, is it commonplace to see soldiers fighting one another. Only in this army is it commonplace to see soldiers who don’t care for their bleeding and dying colleagues. Many times we see battle-weary Christians stagger. And fall. Courage almost gone. Or actually gone. Some of their wounds are direct onslaught from the enemy. Some are self-inflicted.
But whatever the cause, it’s your sacred duty as a fellow soldier to bear the stretcher.
It’s your sacred duty to bandage their wounds. To nurse them back to health and recovery. It is against esprit de corps to break a bruised reed, or to put out a flickering candle. The demand on you is to tend it, trim it, give it fresh oil, and cause it to burn more brightly again. When you do so, you practice the service philosophy of esprit de corps.
Here are five compelling reasons why you should help a wounded Christian:
(1) You show your value for their lives.
Irrespective of tribe, race, nationality, socio-economic status, or accomplishment, all humans intrinsically dance to a kind of music. There’s a cord that binds us together – the cord of a shared humanity. All humans have built-in cravings for love, care, respect, dignity, connectedness, and belonging. When you help a wounded Christian, you demonstrate your belief in our shared humanity and your high value for human life. I think the humanity of those who deliberately wound people who are already wounded, or who pass-up people who are wounded, should be re-examined; they may not be humans. They may be outright robots, or robots in human casing!
(2) You believe their wounds shall heal.
When you help a wounded Christian, your act of love makes a loud, epochal statement. The gesture says: “You shall battle back, bounce back, and get back to form.” Your magnanimity screams, “We all fall, but we get back up. A winner is a failure who got up.” That’s the greatest pain killer that soothes their pain. That’s the most effective antiseptic that prevents their wound from getting worse. That’s the most potent medicine that speedily clots the blood. And that’s the most protective bandage that covers their wounds. I have read about athletes who came back from severe injuries to win medals because their coaches, teammates, or families defiantly believed their wounds shall heal and went further to help them recuperate. What a comfort! What a blessed assurance!
(3) You store up healing for your wounds.
None of us is omniscience. We don’t know what will befall us in the future. I don’t pray it rains on your parade. But doesn’t the Bible speak about ‘the evil day’ and warns those who think they stand to be careful lest they fall?
When you help a wounded Christian, you store up healing for wounds you’ve not yet sustained, which could come either from the enemy’s gunfire, or from the cruel weapons of life. You pre-secure balm for yourself at a time in the future when you would need it the most. You accrue good deeds into an invisible trust fund. You make tangible deposits of goodwill into a tangible but unseen account. None of those good deeds is put in a row marked ‘Wasted.’ The Trustee – the shrewdest businessman – guards and secures these investments, and posts every act of kindness to an invisible account you’d draw from at a needy time in the future. I pray you understand.
(4) You service the covenant of Brotherhood.
The phrase “one another” or “each other” is used over fifty times in the New Testament. In Christian brotherhood, you are bound by a covenant that is sealed with the blood of Jesus. By this covenant, you vow – before God, before the hosts of heaven, and before the Saints on earth – to love, to hold, to cherish, to nourish, and to care for your brother and sister, even at your own loss, at your own inconvenience, and to your own detriment. By this covenant, you pledge your total allegiance – not only to the King – but also to the King’s subjects: The Brotherhood. The covenant of ‘Brotherhood’ compels you to help a brother or a sister who is wounded in battle. Duty demands it. You can’t do otherwise. If you do otherwise, you trample the treaty you signed under your feet. That’s a grave offence. And our Defence Headquarters will respond appropriately.
(5) You work ‘Relational Accountability.’
I call ‘bearing the stretcher’ ‘relational accountability.’ Your disposition to reviving a wounded or a fallen Christian is an expression of your Christian maturity. Pampers-wearing Christians just watch when they see people fall. They do nothing. But bone-cracking, mature Christians go for the rescue.
It is ‘relational accountability’ that prevents you from forming a gossip clique and making a fallen Christian a big item on your agenda in your cliques. It is ‘relational accountability’ that disallows you from blurting out in brazen callousness in your ‘prayer’ meeting, ‘‘I knew s/he would fall.’’
‘Relational accountability’ will cause your heart to break at the immediate effect of fellow Christians’ fall here and now, as well as the ultimate, remote cost of their eternal rewards should they die without being restored. I’m trembling as I write this because I’m guilty. I bow my head in shame. Oh God, break my callous heart! Oh God, break our callous hearts!
Healing ‘The Wounded Healer.’
Can the healer be wounded? Does the wounded healer need healing?
I met Mark Fitter in January on Social Media. Mark is the founder of Pastors In Transition – a ministry to Pastors and their families who are wounded and abandoned by the church. I found these stunning statistics on his website, www.pastorsintransition.net:
- Being a Pastor is one of the most difficult jobs;
- 80% of adult children of Pastors have to seek help from depression;
- 57% of Pastors said they would leave if they find something better, even secular work;
- 78% of Pastors have been forced to resign from a Church;
- 80% of seminarians who enter the ministry leave within the first 5 years;
- 9 out of 10 Pastors will leave the ministry.
Mark hopes that through the ministry of Pastors In Transition, God would bring healing and restoration to these hurting, disillusioned, burned-out Pastors and their families; offer a safe and viable way out to those who want to leave; and provide openings and opportunities in churches for those who want to stay – thereby resulting ultimately in healthier churches and healthier Pastors.
I shared with Mark my growing desire to reach out to these Pastors, especially Pastors from Asia, from the Afro-Caribbean block, and Pastors in Africa. If any person, group of persons, Church, or Para-Church organisation, feels a strong pull towards partnering with Mark and I, please contact me immediately. Together, we will bear the stretcher. Together, we will heal ‘The Wounded Healer.’
Reading this article will not do any good if you do not act on all you have read. Here’s what you should do right now:
(1) Write down at least 3 practical things you’ll do weekly to restore wounded or fallen Christians that you know;
(2) Start doing them right away.
I wrote this article recently for a christian lifestyle magazine published by a leading non-profit in Europe, with print runs up to 30,000 copies, and reaching about 250,000 in the UK alone. I’ve been a Contributing Writer for the magazine for the past two years. This article was published two weeks ago.