The least of these

One of my favorite things about Jesus is the way He healed people. I don’t mean in the miraculous sense (though that is pretty cool). I mean how He physically healed people: lepers, bleeding women, demoniacs, the crippled, and the blind.

Back in His day, not only were these people considered to be invalids, but they were also seen as divinely cursed. If a child was born with some sort of disability, it was assumed the divine was punishing that child for a sin: a sin of the child, a sin of the parents, or even a sin of the family. People ignored them, marginalized them, and alienated them. Those with leprosy were forced to live in their own communes outside of the city; the blind begged and were scolded and ignored; the bleeding woman was seen as unclean with no hope for redemption.

So, when Jesus offered salvation to these people physically—in setting them free from their inability to properly use somatic appendages designed by God in the beginning—Jesus also economically and socially set them free from traumatizing, enslaving stigmas that deemed these lepers, women, and children to be cursed by God for an unforgivable sin. He gave them economic restoration from a hierarchy that kept them perpetually at the bottom—terrorized by a cultural, systemic belief that those with disabilities were of demonic disposition.

Despite how atrocious it was to associate with such divinely detested folk—according to ancient Near Eastern culture—Jesus, the very incarnation of God, shattered the glass ceiling commanding their destiny and touched them.

He touched them as those He loved: children He adores; people who deserve to be recognized in their humanity. People, who were not cursed by God, but simply born different. They were to be cherished by God in special and miraculous ways, unique in comparison to the special and miraculous ways that God can use those without such characteristics. Not a better, or worse, way of being used by God—simply different. Unless He reached out and revealed to the hateful system, encompassing this belief, that God does not despise those who sin, but rather uses them in a loving, tender, dignifying, and merciful way to preach His good news, they never would have known.

Malawi mission trip - Caitlinn Betteridge - A few of my little friends from Malawi.

A few of my little friends from Malawi.

We as the body of Christ get to continue Jesus’ mission of healing people. What an incredible blessing and responsibility! I think of the CURE kids, and what a privilege it is that we can prove their dignity and value in the same way. We can offer that same miraculous healing Jesus did in a more physical way.

When I was living in Malawi, there was an orphanage for kids with special needs a mile or so down our familiar dirt road. I would often wonder why. I had witnessed the village raising children, did the village not also tend to these? It wasn’t until much later when I realized something Jesus would have immediately known, and immediately undid: there was a belief these children were cursed by God. To this day, that perception is something that wrenches my gut, makes me feel ill, and brings tears to my eyes. Those children were some of the most beautiful human beings I had ever met. I remember tears streaming down my face as I swept the floor of their home because I would’ve been content to sweep their floors for the rest of my life, as long as I was able to dwell in the warm light of Jesus that had poured out of their smiles.

This ideology of physical healing in the name of Jesus was one of the things that drew me to CURE. Sure, my brother-in- law works for CURE, my mom is obsessed with Brant Hansen, and I’ve lived in central Pennsylvania for awhile now, so of course, I’ve heard of CURE. As someone passionate about economic and physical redemption, that demolishing of a stereotype CURE initiates when they heal kids of both a physical need and a faulty assessment of their worth: this was what captivated my heart.

CURE is right: healing does change everything!

Malawi Mission Trip - Caitlinn Betteridge

Me with some of my friends in Malawi.


Photo of the Caitlinn Betteridge

About the Author:

Caitlinn spent the fall of 2016 as the CURE U intern at CURE International. After high school, Caitlinn took a gap year where she lived in Nicaragua, the Philippines and Malawi, where she felt the Lord inspire her to pursue a dual major in Journalism and Cross-Cultural Ministries. Come December, Caitlinn and her husband Luke will be moving to Seattle, Washington, where she will be pursuing a Master's in Reconciliation and International Studies from Seattle Pacific Seminary (and hopefully a PhD shortly after that!) Caitlinn and Luke someday hope to work with refugees, war-torn populations, and women's empowerment. Caitlinn loves Star Wars, her pet mice Chia and Flax, mustard yellow, bare feet, and fuzzy blankets.

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