Written by Todd Mangum
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 00:00
My wife is a neonatal nurse, so this story about premature twins in critical condition caught our attention: http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_c4#/video/us/2013/02/22/ra-pkg-sylvester-power-of-touch.hln. One of the twins was going into lung failure; on almost a whim, a nurse put the other twin in the incubator with her. The healthier twin (instinctively?) reached out and put her arm around her ailing sister, which somehow sparked a rebound. Both twins eventually recovered completely, and today are healthy, normal teenagers – to the extent any teenager can be described as “normal,” that is.
The premature twin putting her arm around her sister became an international sensation – the picture appeared in Life magazine. But not only that, the incident made medical history. It prompted a whole movement in neonatal medicine called “Kangaroo Care,” in which the value of bonding (especially with the mother) and loving, human touch is employed as a deliberate aspect of good, holistic medical care.
It’s hard to miss some of the larger implications of this. “Have you hugged your kids today?” has been a national campaign to try to recapture and foster the formation of healthy families, good child rearing, and better parenting. At one level, that can be simplistic and superficial. At another level, though, the point is deep and profound.
It’s interesting how Jesus’ healing ministry often involved actual, physical touch. Wouldn’t it have been much more efficient to just snap His fingers and just generally, indiscriminately heal “all those in the crowd with any kind of problem”? But Jesus didn’t do it that way. Some televangelists might. But Jesus didn’t.
Is there a larger point here that we should heed? Good ministry is not about efficiency and cost-effective calculations of how to capitalize on resources. At least it’s not just that.
I won’t speak for you, but I can tell you that I need regular reminders of the need to take the time and energy to invest in the “inefficient” ministries of individual conversations, individual care, individual touch. Jesus had three years of ministry to walk the earth and demonstrate “how to do it” as God incarnate in human flesh. A disproportionate amount of His time was spent talking with and touching the “nobodies” of the world.
I can’t even write that without feeling the pinch of conviction. Can I get a witness?
Todd Mangum is the Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Biblical. He is ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention. Todd is the author of The Dispensational-Covenantal Rift, and of several articles seeking to bridge divides among Bible-believing Christians. He is married to Linda and they have three sons. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/todd-mangum.