While recently watching a snippet of the O’Reilly Factor on Fox News I was introduced to the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors. This mission is accomplished primarily by raising awareness of the needs of severely wounded service men and women and by providing unique programs and services to meet those needs.
The organization was started after a group of veterans were moved by the tragic stories of injured men and women who were returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Being greeted by brass bands and ticker tape parades didn’t begin to meet the real needs of these wounded warriors.
Some of the various programs offered by the WWP include Caregivers Retreats, Coping and Family Services, Peer Mentoring, and Warriors to Work. Though I have not spoken to a single person who has benefited from WWP, I have no doubt this organization has made a huge difference in many men and women’s lives.
What really struck me was the similarity between the WWP and the outreach that any Bible-based church ministry should aim for. I have often likened the church to a spiritual hospital, a place where people from all walks of life with all sorts of “wounds” can come and have their hurts ministered to.
In order for a believer and/or a church to effectively minister to the “wounded” all around us, we will need to have the same compassion and perspective on people that Christ had: When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9.36 ESV). People are “harassed and helpless” because of the consequences of sin, because of the assaults of Satan against them and their families. People are wondering aimlessly through life “like sheep without a shepherd” because of false teaching and false religions.
People are wounded because of divorce, death, and disease. They hurt because of unfulfilled dreams and selfishness on the part of a parent, spouse, or friend. They have scars because of lies and deception, because of broken promises, because of physical, emotional or sexual abuse. The wounded list goes on and on and on.
Christians sometimes experience their own specialized wounds…often from “friendly fire.” We succumb to the nastiness of our flesh and throw verbal hand grenades, with shrapnel flying all around. We split churches because of pettiness and pride. Pastors are sometimes treated like dogs, and the pastors sometimes treat church members like unwanted and unloved stepchildren.
We see someone suffering the consequences of their sin and instead of extending a helping hand, we kick them in the face and think, It’s what you deserve!
May the God of Heaven have mercy and help us! Christians must step up to the plate and do everything in their power to make the church a place of refuge, a place where “wounded warriors” can have their “injuries” ministered to. A place where those who have suffered much at the hands of their “adversary the devil” can be nursed back to spiritual health. A place where any believer can regain his/her spiritual equilibrium and one day resume useful service to the Lord.