So here we are a month later at the penultimate post in this series. Today, I’ll be expanding some of the general ideas I discussed yesterday, while adding practical ways we can address crises better as a body of believers.
In times of darkness, we must be Spirit-led, radical thinkers who take chances that flow against the status quo’s stream. Truth is, the status quo got us into many of the troubles we face as Americans, as no one wished to buck the system to make things better. Too often, though we say we love the rugged individualist, the strongest voices for godly change are the ones we shout down fervently. Remember: they stoned the prophets, but the prophets were right.
Here are a few ideas I believe we must seriously consider in our churches if we are to prevail and be a shining, countercultural light for Christ in dark times.
Healthcare is troubling issue because fewer and fewer people can afford it, yet none of us is immune to entropy. The early Church made its name in Rome by caring for the sick. Most of the world’s hospitals were founded by Christians. Yet Christian leaders today seem utterly flummoxed by the issue, preferring to ignore it even while their congregations suffer.
I had a taste of this Easter Sunday when one of the key members of my church’s worship team was laid out by a condition easily treated by a physician. The problem? He couldn’t afford to see the doctor and get the prescription medicine he needed that would have enabled him to join us!
For this reason, I believe that churches need to start stepping up to the healthcare plate. Many communities are home to retired doctors. No reason exists that a church (or a communion of churches) could not approach these retired doctors and offer to pay them a stipend to look after those people in the church who lack healthcare options. A retired doctor could see the sick on a Saturday for a few hours. House calls are even possible. This kind of thing is easily set up.
To be even more radical, why can’t a series of churches in a community band together with local politicians to have the entire community buy the services of an actively practicing doctor—or three or four? We pay for fire departments and police, why not community doctors? Keep it local by keeping the county and state out. That keeps if from becoming a big government initiative while continuing to benefit an entire community. With most office visits handleable by general practitioners, there’s no reason why this can’t work. Why then are we not pursuing it?
For funding such an idea, or any other benevolence fund, most of us, as I noted yesterday, could get by fine without 75 percent of what we own. The early Church divested itself of all sorts of extra goods, including houses, but we seem loathe to give up even the smallest thing. Just how stingy are we? Look at how many families are failing around us and see how the cultivation of our island (every family for itself) mentality has damaged even our church families.
We need to get some sense about how we spend our money. When we’re starving, we can’t eat an iPod.We spend millions on junk, yet what really lasts escapes us. God will judge our generosity some day. Are we feeding Christ by feeding the hungry or are we simply out to feed our own desires? Which one makes us sheep and which makes us goats?
We Christians will collectively spend umpteen millions of dollars each year on Christian conferences that we attend and then forget about a month later. Imagine what we could do if we channeled that money to worthy preparation and stopped our fixation with one religious high after another. Could we strategize new ways of living and fund those initiatives?
Take housing, for instance. A coalition of churches could buy older apartment buildings, rehab them, and offer housing to those who fall prey to bad times. We had a family in our church lose a home to fire just a couple weeks ago and another family offered the use of the home they just left. That’s one way to go. Or a couple churches working together could buy up foreclosed or auctioned properties and rehab them for families. Or they could work deals with families who are moving to donate their old homes. Heck, that’s even a tax writeoff! These are all readily workable ideas.
We need to re-explore Christian communities. I’ve written before that I believe it a wise thing for a group of Christian families to buy available land, build their houses together on that land, have a common meeting building, farm the land, and maintain some percentage of common purse for use when tough times hit. Or a couple families could build condo-type houses with common areas linking two homes. Or we could work to rent out apartments together in the same building. We are not limited here if we set aside our faulty ideals on what it means to be well-off!
Food is big issue, too. Dark times almost always mean less food. I was in the store today and was shocked at how prices continue to rise either outright or through what I like to call “packaging fraud.” (Your half gallon container of ice cream is now 1.75 quarts, or even 1.5 quarts. I noticed today that packs of cheese that were once half a pound are now six ounces. Same price, but no fanfare on the smaller size. I consider that fraud, frankly.)
How do we deal with the problem of food? We grow our own.
I catch a lot of flack from naysayers on this, but if we have a backyard and we’re not growing food on it, we’re wasting our property. We can’t keep relying on others to feed us. It’s time that we Christians started assuming leadership on the back to basics of growing and making our own food. No excuses here, either. If I, the world’s worst “black thumb,” can grow food in raised beds on my property, you can, too. I have a fruit orchard, also. No reason why you can’t, either. And it’s far cheaper to grow food ourselves and preserve it than it is to buy from big food conglomerates. Tastes better as well.
Every family in our churches should be growing food. End of story. And for those with bigger properties, goats, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, and cows can supply meat. (I’m exploring that for my family even now.) Those people who have more resources for food production can assists those with less. Folks, this is about survival.
As for other skills, your church directory should list not only the basics like a phone number and address, but the skills and talents of each person listed. Someone got car fixing skills? Time to use them to the bettering of everyone in the church. Who sews well? Who can teach others sewing? Who has legal training? We need to know this. Every ability should be noted and made open for use. People who can pay should. Those who can’t should try as best they can to, yet that inability to pay should not keep them from getting services from their brethren. People with plumbing skills should be fixing plumbing in the homes of people in the church. Same for electricians, accountants, and whatever other skill is needed. We need to start depending on each other and living up to real community, even if it hurts. Again, the days of our privacy are gone. The government already knows everything about you, so privacy is a myth anyway. Our churches need what we have to give, money, skills, and all. Time to pony it all up.
Jobs are a big issue. Those people in the congregation who can make hiring and firing decisions need to understand that they should be hiring their out-of-work brethren. For those people in our churches who can train others in worthwhile work, they need to do it now, not wait till bad times come. An out-of-work person in a church is everyone’s responsibility. You can tell how loving and godly a church is by how well they meet the needs of their weakest members. And nothing in our society renders people weaker than being out of work. If our churches are filled with out-of-work people, then we’re not living up to the high calling of Christ. Jobs training, networking leads, anything that works we should be exploring. Absolutely no excuses on this, either.
Churches need to be working with local businesses to ensure them that they can provide ethical employees. Our churches should be able to go to any local business and say that the people in that church will make the best employees because they are godly, moral, ethical people who will do a company right. If we can’t say that, then we fooling ourselves concerning our discipleship programs. Church leaders need to be able to make that promise and fulfill it. They should cultivate relationships with community business leaders that will ensure that, even in down times, their congregants will have work.
As you can see, this takes on an alternative economy kind of thinking after a while. Underground economies exist all over the planet, but we suburbanites do a lousy job of creating our own. We need to learn how to barter and exchange outside the system. One day, off the grid and outside the system may be our only means of surviving. We better start planning those means now.
Why aren’t we training our children to survive? For all our obsession with homeschooling, how many homeschoolers are teaching real survival skills like animal husbandry, power generation, farming, and the like? Knowing Latin won’t fill an empty stomach. Our kids need to know how to live like the pioneers of old if they are to live in the days to come. (We adults also need that wisdom, too, though I suspect too many of us spent our precious time learning how to play video games or memorizing sports stats and not enough learning how to sex chickens.) Who in our churches can teach the next generation how to do these things? We need to identify them. And if we can’t identify those people, then we need to drop all the other junk we’re doing and start teaching ourselves those skills.
Our churches need to learn what real persecution looks like, too. How is the Church persecuted in other countries? We need to know how those persecuted churches survive. What happens if we have our church building taken away? How do we keep meeting? How does an underground church work? Our church leaders should stop assuming that tomorrow will be all milk and honey and start finding ways to test-run persecution. Break your church up into house churches for a while and see where the pressure points and weaknesses are. Who are the leaders of the church? Who will run things if the pastor or elders get taken out? How are we training people to assume leadership roles? This is basic discipleship training! How are we living it out?
Do we have prayer meetings in our churches going on all the time? Why not? Dark times call for serious prayer. Why are all the old ladies filling our prayer meetings? Why are all the able-bodied men camped out watching sports? What a waste! Are we serious or not? I’ll tell you, we’ll be serious when we lose our houses or can’t put food on the table. But by then, it may be too late.
Bad days call for fasting and repentance. I read all sorts of headlines about the dire economy, but I hear no Christian leaders calling for repentance, fasting, and prayer because of it. Why not? How badly do we want to be caught unawares? I don’t wish to be and I don’t want my church to be, either. Are we serious people or are we dancing when we should be preparing for winter? Dance when the stockpile is in place, but not before.
I could go on and on here, but I think the time has come to wrap this up.
I ask again, How serious are we? When did we Christians get so “fluffy”? Tough times call for tough people and brave ideas with committed follow-through. Good times won’t always be here, yet we act like they’ll last forever. How foolish we are when we, of all people, know how things will end, yet we are not prepared for that Day!
In the next post, I’ll wrap up the “Banking on God” series. Stay tuned.
36 thoughts on “Banking on God: Crisis, Part 5”
I think this would work except the part about health care. Trying to meet the health care needs of a typical congregation would bankrupt that congregation, even if it shares all things in common, cuts back on expenses, and finds new ways to earn money. Who among us wants to say to a sick brother “We can’t spend anymore money on your illness” if there is another experimental treatment, another high-priced drug, another high-salaried specialist out there?
I know a retired couple who live in a nice house in a wealthy part of town. The husband was a corporate lawyer. I am sure the two of them are set for their retirements. Their son, though, injured his back and cannot work. He lives with them, but the father is helping him find charitable health care. Do I blame the father for looking for welfare for his son when he probably has more money than his son might earn in a lifetime if he were healthy? Absolutely not. He could clean out his bank accounts, sell the house and the cars, and still not have enough money to guarantee that his son would be made well. Then where would he, his wife, and his son be? On skid row, and his son would still be crippled.
Expand this by many families with all the ailments we know befall us. All the money in the world could not improve our situations. We do not dwell on it because the average person, rich and poor, eventually will give up when all he or she has to rely on is his or her money, welfare care, and perhaps the occasional generosity of friends. They learn to blend into society with their ailments, or they drop out of society to die.
James taught to give to the poor believer that which is needful for his body (James 2:15-16), but to call the elders of the church for prayer when sick (James 5:14-15). I do not think the two coincide, not in that day, not in this day. The first passage applies to preventative health care, certainly – to give the needy food, clothes, and shelter so that he or she can remain well. But curative health care must be addressed by the second passage, not the first.
Even on a national level, this crisis is coming to a head. Medicare and Medicaid are nearly bankrupt while providing middling health care. Private health insurers are trying to squeeze more and more money out of the covered while covering less and less. When this strategy no longer boosts profits, shareholders will sell, and the insurers will be bankrupt. You may criticize insurance companies’ greed, but it is the front of the shareholders’ greed, and the shareholders will answer to no one but God.
I’m not sure why you think the healthcare part can’t work. Securing the help of a retired doctor is not that big a leap. And when you get right down to it, I suspect 95 percent of a family’s healthcare needs can easily be handled by a GP. I know that would work for us. Again, though, my primary example here is using a retired doc to help people who have no health insurance.
Some remote towns have been known to buy the services of a practicing doc. That was the premise of the TV show Northern Exposure, if I remember correctly. The town bought up the debt of a doc fresh out of med school. Again, if a small community did that in conjunction with a small property tax, why not? The church could let him use part of their facility for a clinic and could staff it with volunteers.
You suspect 95 percent of a family’s health care can be easily handled by a GP. I suspect the other five percent, or at least one to two percent, would be very expensive to address. My best friend’s oldest son has hearing loss in one ear. The free health clinic, run by believers, had the ear, nose, and throat specialist check him out. The doctor said surgery might help. But the clinic did not have the resources to help.
Another family I knew, who by casual observation looked to be in good health, declared bankruptcy after being swamped with medical bills. An older lady at my other church stopped coming because of illness. A disabled friend had inexplicable cracking noises and pain in his neck. His Medicare GP denied referring him for an MRI. Another friend has plates in his head because he had a life-threatening condition requiring multiple surgeries after he was born.
All of these stories came from my own sphere of influence, on top of the story about the well-off family with the disabled son. How many more stories like that are out there? Where does the Church draw the line, covering medical expenses? And, most importantly, if the impetus is on us to sacrifice all we have and give until it hurts, what reason will we have not to pay for expensive doctors, drugs, and treatments if we still have one more car, house, or piece of land to sell? If we could put just a few more hours on the clock for a few more hours of pay?
I want the kind of future of which you speak, Dan. But we must address issues like these. The politicians are lying about it with messianic promises of national health care.
I suppose, to put it simply Dan, here is a real-life example: my friend’s son’s ear problem. I do not expect my pastor to raid his retirement funds and his children’s college fund, sell one of his extra vehicles and the land he owns in the country where he plans to build a house, to pay out of pocket for surgery for my friend’s son. Would I expect my pastor to go without some of the amenities he has earned over his lifetime if people in the church were hurting for necessities from a falling economy? Yes. In fact, he has come through in that respect. But my friends at church live in larger houses than my best friend, drive better cars, have more savings than she has, etc. Why are they not paying for her son’s surgery?
It would be easy to rise up inwardly in protest over this one anecdote, especially since everyone involved knows my friend’s son’s situation. But expand this premise by several families, or exponentially as people hear free health care is provided, and you will understand the dilemma of which I speak.
Having the church provide specialized care might be too much, but still, as Dan suggests, why not offer a primary care doctor to the people in the church who can’t afford it? It won’t meet the needs of everyone in the church, but it could help many people substantially.
Yep. That’s all I’m trying to say.
I think that 95 percent of office visits are for simple things. Heck, I have an ear infection right now. I know that. I even know what prescription I should be on to fix that. Unfortunately, I can’t go to my pharmacist and ask for Zithromax. I have to see a doctor. Hello $150 office charge for something I already know I have and know how to treat. That’s nuts. But that’s how we’ve built our system. My question is whether we have to just knuckle under and not question if there’s a better way.
Ninety-five percent of office visits may be for simple things because people with serious conditions know they can’t pay for more complicated treatment. So they don’t bother going to doctors for their more serious problems. That can skew office visit stats. I think plenty of people out there with serious medical problems would opt for expensive treatment if money were available, and when we have as much material prosperity as we have in this country, it is easy to think we could afford that kind of treatment for those who cannot pay. But I don’t think we can.
I agree with the general spirit of your post, but again with health care, there are some real-world limitations.
Disagree concerning the retired doctor. Having worked in the healthcare field for over 20 years, I can tell you there are liability issues that could put that physician at considerable risk. Does the physician maintain sufficient CMEs for licensure or certification? Is he/she up to date on the current Standard of Care? We’re not just talking malpractice, we’re talking about possible criminal charges if a significant error is made, good intentions or not. And do I think that Paul’s doctrine of “no lawsuits among believers” would be honored? Not really. It’s truly too much to ask a person to take on (unless they are willing to do so themselves, at their own peril).
Better is the use of a licensed, practicing physician that is recruited out of medical school, if the community has the means to afford such. Or putting together a plan that offers a small compensation for a physician who is willing to donate his/her time for the sake of the less fortunate.
You are absolutely right about lawsuits and licensing, and I knew that going in to this. But I have heard of this done elsewhere, though not sponsored through a church or a group of churches. So it is possible, even if only possible under highly regulated means.
Sadly, you’re right about the lawsuits thing. I think that lawsuits are one of the largest contributing factors in healthcare costs. Ambulance chasers have ruined it for all of us.
I’ve long wondered why the AMA can’t assume a pool of malpractice payments and, in essence, end private malpractice insurance. If all AMA-approved doctors paid the AMA instead of their private insurer, I would think the AMA would better police its doctors and be able to lower the total cost of malpractice. But that’s another of my wacky ideas.
It isn’t just the retired doctor who would be legally liable in the event of a disgruntled church member. The church itself is usually named in the legal action as well, and if found liable (which is likely), would potentially have to close it’s doors as the result of a large lawsuit. Sadly, it takes very little in our litigious society to bring on legal action. A church might try having members sign a “Release of Liability” document — but we all know just how much those are worth. The hard truth is that whether a ROL holds any weight at all merely depends on who the sitting judge happens to be.
As much as I think the idea of a retired doctor helping in the congregation is a wonderful idea, the risk your local church would have to assume would just be ENORMOUS. It could very well mean the end of your church.
How to live out “having all things in common” in our current world is an intriguing question to explore, but one fraught with difficulties and dangers of huge magnitude.
If you read Robin’s comment, her church is making what I talked about work.
Let me turn this around. What do you think is the solution to this issue and how can the Church be instrumental in this area of healthcare (or any of the other pressing issues I’ve discussed)?
I’m just not sure administering a healthcare program is a role the Church should assume. Concerning sickness, I believe the best prescriptive we have is that the person should be taken to the elders of the church and prayed for, per James.
You asked what I think should be done in lieu of church involvement. Well, I have an unpopular opinion, but I have always believed that our government needs to move toward implementing socialized medicine, akin to what is found in Canada and European countries. For me, I don’t see it as developing a nanny state; rather, I see it as trying to institute the spirit of the early church — having all things in common and having equality.
The alternative is that we all go on as now, where some have insurance and some don’t. That’s not equality. My family and I have private insurance through my employer, and I am quite grateful for it, but even with that blessing, our premiums are HUGE and the copays are a costly penny. With a socialist system of healthcare, the costs would be evened out for everyone — and NO ONE will be left without healthcare.
There are just some areas the government does better than the church and is more suited for. I wouldn’t expect the church to assume healthcare insurance costs any more than I would expect the church to build and pave roads on the street outside our church … or for the church to build it’s own power grid to provide electricity and air conditioning. That’s just not the role of the church.
Now, I DO believe the church has a role in the sense of, for example, a 5 year old boy who developed leukemia under the government healthcare system. There are some medicine copays that aren’t covered in full. Let’s say this boy is from a poor family who can’t pay for the costs of the copays. I absolutely think the church should step in and help the family — without a doubt.
But I just think the church’s role is to help where needed, if there is a true and actual need — but NOT to assume the mammoth job of administering a healthcare program.
HOWEVER, you gave me pause when I read this from you:
“…we are giving away our freedoms by the boatload in this country and nationalized healthcare will be the final nail in the coffin of genuine freedom in the US. Like I’ve said before, if you want to talk “Mark of the Beast here, realize that it will be sold as a nationalized healthcare initiative. How could anyone say no to that! It’s healthcare, right?”
What a scary idea! The “Mark of the Beast” being linked to mandatory, socialized healthcare never occurred to me. It is an interesting idea, to be sure. I sure hope it isn’t true, because we ARE headed toward nationalized healthcare, and it’s only a matter of time.
I do believe we will see the actual rise of Antichrist triggering the Great Tribulation, and often have wondered how the “Mark of the Beast” will come to be. In the 80’s and 90’s people thought it was the bar codes on supermarket foods, most recently people have thought it could be linked to dog microchipping. I’d never thought about healthcare. Do you really think it’s possible, Dan? I certainly would not want to support a socialist system of healthcare is that is indeed the case (that Antichrist will use the healthcare system to bring the Mark of the Beast) …then again, if that is God’s plan, then whatever will be, will be. God will bring to pass whatever He has foreordained, and we cannot prevent it, even if we fight against it’s enactment. History will unfold exactly as He planned long ago, when the fullness of time comes.
So, all that to say: I have long been a supporter of socialized medicine (for the reasons listed above), but reading your ideas put forth here have given me hesitation. I just don’t know what to think, now. These are scary days to live in.
The idea that socialized medicine could actually be an *ominous* thing (instead of a helpful thing) is frightening, indeed.
The cost of health care for a congregation is no more or less expensive when shared by that community. The insurance company has no magical skill in making dimes become dollars or getting more product for less money. They simply spread the risk over a larger pool of people.
The idea that somehow the same care can be delivered to people at less cost if someone else administers it is a denial of the fact that the cost of administration is a real cost.
For healthy families health savings accounts work because the family takes responsibility for the cost of the resources. They choose to use health care based on value NOT based on where or what the insurance company requires of them. There is transparency about the use of tests and the costs related to them.
This is contrasted by the unhealthy relationship between health care providers, patients and insurance companies where accurate and timely communication about the cost and relative benefits of various procedures, tests, drugs, etc rarely take place.
One problem that I would anticipate isn’t from those who have real needs and require the help of others, but from those who have imagined needs and demand the help of others. Real accountability is required in these situations and that is a tough thing to establish in our churches.
The other issue that the congregation needs to address is when does a health care resource add to the quality of life and when is it time to stop. My father at the end of his life was offered yet one more opportunity to undergo surgery. Knowing that the surgery would not cure his disease he chose to not have surgery. The idea of not having surgery was not well received by his doctors who had difficulty understanding that recovering from a surgery can be fairly grueling. Managing resources this way sometimes grates on our desire to beat back death and disease with everything we have.
Rising health care costs are due in part to the fact that we have as Americans come to rely on others to take on responsibilities that we have refused to accept for ourselves. IF you factor out the cost of diseases which are in whole or in part a result of our own bad behavior would this still be a crisis?
We are a fat and lazy nation. We eat too much processed junk, too much sugar, too much fat. We don’t exercise enough. We smoke, we drink, we do drugs. Somehow we thought that we could do this from the end of world
somewhat gluttony stopped being a sin in current american evangelicalism? How to adress a brother or sister with overweight problems w/o wounding their sensitivities? Or should they take the risk of being offended? Better to rebuke openly than loving them secretly? Why all the focus on corrective medicine? Preventive medicine anyone?
Thank you for bringing up the issue of health savings account.
Unfortunately, I believe that the families that would most profit from such systems can’t afford them, either. I know that my family would like to take advantage of such a system, but we live too close to the bone to be able to do so. That’s compounded by being self-employed.
I don’t believe that disease is always related to bad behavior, either. Health fanatics get cancer and die, too. They break bones, get arthritis, and suffer from a host of maladies. That said, yes, we can all llive healthier. We but no cooking meat that is not organic certified. Same with milk. I could go into that at length, but this is not the place.
So I don’t share the opinion that if we just lived less vicariously we’d solve our healthcare crisis.
Word War II and that somehow we would never have to pay for the consequences of our bad behavior. It isn’t really a surprise that we find ourselves a nation of preventable diseases, simply too lazy to push away from the table, turn off the tv and do something productive.
Speaking as an Anglo-Canadian, could someone from the US explain exactly what’s so difficult about national healthcare? Both countries I call home had this figured out decades ago. As far as I know, the US is one of the few industrialised nations in the world not to offer healthcare to all her citizens. I’d be interested in knowing the reasoning behind this.
But yes, Dan, I completely agree with you that the church should take a lead role in caring for her surrounding communities. Hospitality, (from which the idea of hospitals derived) used to be a required virtue of the church.
Canadians love their system for sore throats and psoriasis, but then they get a serious condition. Then they hate it. Ask anyone in Canada with a brain tumor what it’s like to wait months and months and months for surgery, the condition getting worse by the day, wondering if the wait will leave them untreatable in the long run. This is why wealthy Canadians come to the US for treatment. The delay isn’t there.
Most Americans have dealt with HMOs and hate them. Hate them. That’s no different than the national plans. Actually, the national plans are worse.
We also know that our government ruins most things that can be handled better privately. We don’t want a nationalized system. It creates a socialistic nanny state just like Canada now has, a nanny state that now has decided that Christians can no longer speak freely. Americans understand that abuse of power. The government is not our friend. It is a necessary evil, especially when it starts reducing us to consumers of government largess. Freedom-loving Americans don’t want a nanny state.
Sorry if that was harsh, but we are giving away our freedoms by the boatload in this country and nationalized healthcare will be the final nail in the coffin of genuine freedom in the US. Like I’ve said before, if you want to talk “Mark of the Beast” here, realize that it will be sold as a nationalized healthcare initiative. How could anyone say no to that! It’s healthcare, right?
I, for one, want national government out of our healthcare system. If the government wants to do anything, they can eliminate the crazy laws in this country that prevent competition between insurance companies across state lines. That’s a major reason we have crazy healthcare prices. Insurance companies are not forced to compete nationally, only on a state by state basis. Eliminate the protections against out-of-state competition and the price goes down. That’s the market at work.
Wow! Guess I touched a sore nerve there! But I’d respectfully ask that you’re careful telling this Canadian what ‘Canadians love’ and ‘Canadians hate’. My experience here has been that, while it’s not perfect, in both Canada and the UK the system has been there for me and my family when we’ve needed it. We’ve had minor conditions treated and major surgery performed in a timely fashion, and no-one goes into debt over it.
Having observed the European and Canadian systems, my feeling on this is that healthcare is one of the areas that government can do much better than the free market. (In Canada it’s a provincial rather than federal responsibility, which seems to work reasonably well.)
Maybe national health care is just a group of people getting together and saying ‘let’s pool our resources for the good of the vulnerable’ on a larger scale?
My Canadian wife will absolutely not agree with your assessment of the Ontario health care system. (My father was also a Canadian national.)
The semi-privitized/socialized health care system that we presently have in this country is not very “freeing”, to say the least.
BTW, I feel much freer in Canada than I do in my native country.
BTW…this series is very good. It’s really making me think.
Any of yous out there have need of an agriculturalist (major experience in animal agri., but also experience in fruits, vegetables, small grains, pasture management) couple in your group’s survival plans??
The Boise Vineyard (vineyardboise.org) has a free medical clinic on its campus. I’m not sure how many years its been in existence, but it’s at least six. The people who work in the clinic do so for free, and they get lots of medical equipment, etc., donated. They recently began expanding the facility so they can treat more people. The clinic is open to anyone who needs it, members of the church and members of the community alike.
I’m sure if people wanted to know how the clinic was started, those in the know at the Vineyard would be happy to share.
I’ll tell you, Robin, every time I hear what your church is doing it just amazes me. You folks are truly on the cutting edge of a lot of good and right works.
So thanks for providing an example of how at least one church is doing what I was talking about. I’m sure it’s not an easy thing to pull off, but it can be done!
I suppose, then, my objection comes down to this. Where I live, we have free health care as it pertains to general practitioners. I know of at least four free health clinics, two run by churches. As I follow Dan’s discussions of these issues, I think Dan is saying:
1. People are going broke from medical bills.
2. The economy is falling apart.
My area already has free health care clinics, so I answer these two issues thus:
1. People are going broke from medical bills for treatments not provided or covered by free health care clinics’ general practitioners.
2. If the economy collapses, then national health care will not work.
Even if retired doctors work for our churches (which would be good), even if we open free health clinics (which also would be good), people in our churches still will go broke because they require expensive medical treatments that these options do not cover.
Dan also has suggested:
3. We establish microeconomies so we can help support each other.
However, if our national economy collapses, and therefore cannot afford national health care, then our microeconomies will not afford expensive medical treatments for the participants, either.
So you must answer the question, if not to me, then to people in your own church: Do you require the Church to pay for expensive medical treatments not provided by charitable GPs? I say no. I say provide health care general practices provide. But beyond that, the sick will need to be healed. Period. Otherwise, no matter how many houses, lands, cars, clutter, stocks, and bonds are sold off; no matter how many retirement funds and college funds are raided; no matter how many extra hours everyone works, the long-term, specialized care some members of even a few families in the typical church might require could bankrupt every other family in that church.
This would have been an issue for the early Church, too. The woman with the issue of blood for twelve years spent everything she had on physicians (Mark 5:25-26).
You’ve raised a lot of objection on the healthcare issue.
What solutions would you promote?
The only solution there may be: Let churches pay for services provided by general practictioners. For more serious problems, such as the above brain tumor you mentioned, pray for the sick to be healed. (This is apparently how free clinics work in my area already. If you just need to see a GP for a prescription, great. If you need surgery, you’re out of luck.) Invite disabled and seriously ill believers into our homes and churches to live. Exercise Paul’s maxim, that “if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thes. 3:10). Only the comatose or extremely mentally handicapped cannot “give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4) and “[trust] in God, and [continue] in supplications and prayers night and day” (1 Tim. 5:5), especially if they are praying for the Lord to heal their own medical conditions and studying the Word to find out how that can be effected.
I raise a lot of objection because I think there are more disabled and seriously ill people out there than we realize. We don’t see them in public or at church because they’re too disabled and sick to go out. We don’t visit them that often in retirement homes and hospitals. We don’t hear about what led up to their funerals. On top of that, we don’t fully know because a lot of Americans simply do what they have to do to get health care. They work punishing hours at jobs they hate for what little health coverage they get. They keep rotating debt in order to pay what insurance doesn’t. Doubly so if the sick ones are their kids. They don’t ask for handouts since they figure (accurately in most cases) that handouts will not be forthcoming.
Hey Dan, I just wanted to tell you that this post really inspired me. And despite the obstacles of some of your propositions, I think there are some great ideas there. With some thought I think there are some ways to overcome the obstacles. I cant write more now, but thanks again.
Sure thing, Brian. You’re welcome. Please come back when you do have time to write?
Feeding the obesity epidemic:
Actually, Francisco, the fault for obesity in the US may actually lie with the very institutions we’ve charged with helping us eat properly!
For years we were told a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet was the way to go. But the science behind that assertion is sketchy at best. In fact, many of the foods that we were told to stop eating may actually keep us slim and trim, foods like meats, eggs, and dairy.
As someone who lost 30 pounds on a low-glycemic diet, I can attest that when I started eating the “old fashioned farmer’s diet,” I instantly started dropping pounds and feeling better. I’m now thirty pounds less than I was. I now weigh what I weighed when I was 22.
Look up the book Good Calories, Bad Calories. It goes into great detail about how the low-fat, high-carb diet made us fat, and how the old ways of eating were vilified for no reason at all. It’s a completely countercultural book, but one that makes absolute sense.
I’ve been doing a garden every year and think of myself as a pretty good gardener. Each year, though, I cut back on what I plant because it seems to get harder and harder to get a good crop. I fight the deer, coons, and rabbits with fence, flags, reflectors, etc. to no avail. My most protected area is too far from a constant water source.
I have 2 apple trees that produced several small apples last year, but none were worth eating after peeling away the scabby skins. How do you properly prune trees and organically protect from worms and such? I need help, but I never seem to have time or resources to give to those trees.
I’d love to have chickens, but 1) I know nothing about raising them, 2) I travel out of town too often on my job and for family things, and 3) my area has a growing coyote problem.
Dan, it’s spring and time to start the planting. As a “black thumb” do you have any recommendations for how to get a good crop? It would cost me a boatload to put all my garden into raised beds and then build a bigger, stronger fence to keep the deer away from them. (And I’m a single girl with very limited help I can count on.)
So, I’m a frustrated gardener this year, but I agree with you on our need to know how to work the land and the need to work together doing it. Thanks for the post.
Can I also ask what you are doing to inspire your pastor and fellow church members to take action on this crisis? I really don’t know where to start at my church to raise the call. I have recommended your site for good reading, but I’ve failed to get any dialog going about it with anyone beyond my aging mother.
Our church has so many immediate needs, like a leaking roof, tithers who are dieing off, and a pastor without health care, that thinking about a coming recession and persecution is probably beyond them.
Too many Christians are franticly trying to just make it through today to worry about preparing for tomorrow. It’s easier to hope tomorrow will take care of itself.
Hey again Dan,
I was thinking about the various ways that communities and churches could help out other people with healthcare. Im not sure how prevalent free clinics are in the world, but I can guess that they are always in need of more funding. So without really knowing the expenses of a free clinic, or the expenses of any specific clinic, I will have to make a guess. I work in the Veterinary medical world, where most people pay out of pocket for all services and tests. But just having had a broken leg and two surgeries I am aware that there is a huge difference between what human hospital charge and what veterinary hospitals charge for THE SAME SERVICES.
So without offending anyone with a human medical background, I think there are some really inflated prices for human lab tests, X-rays, anesthesia, and surgery. Pharmaceuticals may be similar in price.
Also I am reminded of a hospital in Cambodia that is run largely on donations, simply because the costs are not inflated.
So, I think it would be possible to give people quality medical care for less than hospitals charge now, if there are more volunteers working, and hospitals agree to lower fees for surgery suites, lab tests etc that are hugely overpriced.
But that would require a community or church being really sacrificial with time and services, and money as well. That I think is the biggest challenge.
But what if there is an alternative to having to come up with all the necessary medical services? What if churches could raise money to pay part of medical insurance premiums, sort of like how my employer takes care of about 75% of mine and my wifes monthly insurance premiums. Im not a big fan of health insurance companies, but this idea makes use of any healthcare professional already in the healthcare network, and lowers the cost of office visits, and tests, etc. And then theres medicare or medicaid, but I am not sure how these programs work, so I dont even want to suggest getting involved on that level.
Is it possible for a church or community to pay a portion of a medical insurance policy for someone who doesnt have health insurance? Is that something people are willing to donate to?
Or is it even less expensive to form a volunteer medical corps that can be available at certain times and have slightly more limited resources?
Well, these are just some ideas I came up with on the fly, so please scrutinize away.
Perhap, Dan, the world should be sending us “medical missionaries.”
Nonetheless, you certainly are brimming over with ideas. I’ll grant you that. It’s too bad our current church leadership is so obtuse about these things that not a bit of it will ever get enacted.
I am too pessimistic to say more.
My husband and I own a very small house on the north side of Columbus, OH. We’re in a poorer working-class neighborhood with a high immigrant population (and a lot of foreclosed on and abandoned houses). The Somali community here is already practicing some of the housing ideas you’ve touched on in this post.
Alone, many of these families cannot afford to buy a home, but get a hundred Somali families together and they pool their money to buy entire apartment complexes. In turn they rent to relatives and friends as they move to the city. They’ve bought and rent many of the declining strip malls in the area. They’ve started many businesses that service their tight-knit community.
These devout Muslim immigrants are helping their own and bringing life back to a once forgotten corner of our city.
They really put us Christians to shame in many ways.