Almost a year ago I decided to go back to school and pursue an education in theology. I had this burning desire to learn as much as I possibly could about Jesus Christ. When I signed up of course I didn’t really know what I was going to do with that education, in a way stepping towards it, was a complete step of faith. A way of saying, I hear you calling me and I don’t know where its leading, but I am willing to go.
Maybe like a modern-day Abraham I set out on a journey to find what God had promised me.
So the natural conclusion to seminary school is you become a Pastor. That never set well with my conservative fundamental foundation that leaves the pastoral duties solely to men. And please be assured I never really even felt that was my calling anyways, so I don’t feel “jipped” as some women do. I feel more a calling to reach the lost, not sit over a flock of saved sheep. I know that now when one thinks of someone in ministry they often see them standing in a pulpit, decked out in a shiny new outfit, bellowing out sermons of teaching and preaching on a Sunday morning to awe struck paritioners who are soaking up every word. Some of these pastors sit over tens of thousands of people every week. I guess there is a certain amount of honor and perhaps even notoriety that can be obtained from growing a congregation like that but that was never my cup of tea.
I like simple. I don’t desire people to look at me or even consider me important. I have one main desire. To be a servant to Jesus Christ, thus I became a Minister.
Minister means simply “servant” or “slave” in its original meaning. I am a servant to the Lord Jesus Christ. I go where he tells me and I do what he tells me to do. He has called me to do one very specific task, to set his captives free. Those that suffer from serious mental illnesses are the cast-a-ways. They rot, unmedicated and often tortured , in prison cells around our country. Many are too ill to call home or even write. Loved ones are lost as months turn into years without contact because these illnesses cut them off. If they don’t go to jail, they often end up homeless, abandoned to the street like yesterdays old newspaper. Tossed away without regard.
Do you think that is how God sees these people? No. Do you think we as Christians should be taking a firmer stand against this abuse than we currently do? I do.
Christianity has become something Jesus Christ would not even recognize should he come back today. Its become about who has the nicest praise and worship team or the most comfortable pews. That was never our calling. He made us to go out and get the lost, to serve those less fortunate, to feed the hungry, clothe the poor and help those that need us most…the sick. Having a mental illness is no different from having a physical illness.
Deep down I am an evangelist in the simplest form of the word. I take the Gospel message with me everywhere I go. I am a Minister of the Lord Jesus Christ to the hurt and dying our country has abandoned. The modern-day leper, that just like the lepers of old, nobody seems to want to touch them or their situation. Not society, not the government, not the hospitals, no body. They are extremely ill, untreated, and unwanted. They are our nations forgotten demographic, I want to serve to the best of my ability those living with serious mental illnesses.
God showed me a vision in my mind when my son first got sick. Two men sit on a park bench. One looks as if he has been shot in the chest. The other has a sickness in his mind you can’t see. Dozens of people rush to help the bleeding man, but the other man just sits there staring off into space…no one comes to save him from his affliction. His affliction is just as deadly, it gives him a 17x greater chance of suicide, will on average take 25 years off of his life, and cause him to live through situations you and I can not fathom.
I feel like how Mother Theresa must have felt when she saw the dying of Calcutta. That there is just certain pains that you cannot with a clear conscience look away from. Everyday I pick up this cross and do something towards making this world a safer, kinder world for those living with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. As a society we must do better. And as Christians we definitely must do better.
God has called us to love all people. Not just the cleaned up, spit shined, Sunday’s best brothers and sisters we worship with weekly. Even the lice infested, little old woman, who’s lost all her teeth and talks to herself is absolutely beautiful in the Lord’s eyes. The mentally ill need help. I charge you with giving it to them. When you pray please include them. Pray God manifest a miracle in America for them, a new system that provides them care. Pray that the jails and prisons start diverting some of their seriously mentally ill into programs aimed at treatment so that they can receive the psychiatric services they need to survive on the outside of prison. Pray that the way they are viewed changes, that there are more people coming in to help them, and that the Lord protect them in the mean time.
If your church has a homeless outreach you will come into contact with many people living with serious mental illness. I encourage you to learn about how to speak to or approach those with schizophrenia or bipolar. I encourage you to open your eyes and see them as God does. Beautiful people, made in his image, who are suffering from an illness. They need help, and I hope to inspire others to take up this cause. They need you and me and everyone else to unite and say this is enough. There are 10 million people who we need to speak up for in America!
The time is now. Set the captives free!