A Christian Nation?

As we hear a lot of debate now about whether or not we are/we should be a Christian nation, I would like to share the words of The Rev. Joseph Farnes, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Boise. I think he gives us much to consider.

“But let’s ask a question: What would a Christian nation really look like?

A nation that gives access to health care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay? Jesus healed a lot of people. He didn’t even ask whether they were employed or able to work.

A nation that supports education for all? Jesus taught the crowds openly and freely, and his disciples provided for material needs. Good thing Jesus wasn’t working on a teacher’s salary!

A nation that supports families and children — with access to nourishing food, clothing and community support? Where kids can go to school in safety, without fear of being murdered by someone with a gun? Imagine being eager to take care that there is no stumbling block for one of these little ones.

A nation that is slow to anger and abundant in steadfast love? Love toward neighbors and even enemies?

A nation that is quick to forgive crippling debts and burdens? “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors!” Uh-oh, what about personal responsibility?

A nation that embraces refugees, remembering that Jesus, Mary and Joseph sought refuge in Egypt when despotic Herod targeted them?

A nation that prizes goodness and righteousness over wealth? “You cannot serve God and wealth,” as it says in Matthew 6:24.

Now that’s an interesting image of a Christian nation. Even so, I wouldn’t want the nation to be conflated with Christianity. As a faithful Christian, I want all these things for people, no matter their religion, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, abilities or lack of economic power. An America for all Americans.

Christianity should always push for greater goodness, greater justice, greater mercy, not greater power. That’s a Christianity worthy of the name of Christ.”

Waves of Mercy

According to Mercy Ships, five billion people lack access to safe surgery. Children, teens, and adults suffer and die every day from treatable causes, and one child in eight will die before age 5.

In 1978 Don and Deyon Stephens founded Mercy Ships in Switzerland. Don says that “A devastating hurricane, meeting Mother Teresa and the birth of his special needs son drove an idea that would bring hope and healing to the world’s poorest people.”

First idea for a ship that would travel to countries without medical faculties and help came to Don at 19. His youth group saw a hurricane that came through the Bahamas when they were there. He heard someone praying for a ship that could come in and provide the care needed after such a tragedy. Later when he and his wife had a son born with special needs, he was reminded of that prayer and how many with such problems had no way to go for help. Finally, visitng with Mother Teresa she encouraged him to follow the dream God had first planted when he was a teenager.

The first Mercy Ship was a Italian cruise liner built in 1953 and called the Victoria. Converted into a mobile hospital it was renamed Anastasis. The Stephens lived on the first ship with their family for the first ten years of operation. The ship was retired in 2007 and replaced by Africa Mercy.

According to Mercy Ships “It is estimated 16.9 million people die globally each year from conditions requiring surgical care. 32% of all global deaths are a result of the lack of access to safe, affordable, and timely surgery.”

Mercy Ships until this year had one ship to reach out to the poorer nations with medical care. However, they have added a second ship, Global Mercy. Building the ship began in 2017 and was just completed last year. The ship passed all the testing to prove it sea worthy and will officially began serving the needy in March of this year. This ship has six operating rooms, 200 beds, a laboratory, general outpatient clinics and eye and dental clinics.

These ships not only provide needed medial care, but they also work to train local nurses and doctors to continue the care when they are gone. Since over 50% of the world’s population live nears a coast, the ships are the perfect way to bring this much needed health care.

The doctors and nurses who serve on Mercy Ships do so without any compensation.

Since its founding in 1978 Mercy Ships “has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1 billion, treating more than 2.5 million direct beneficiaries. Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,600 volunteers from more than 40 nations. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time.”

There are many amazing stories of lives that have been changed because of the work of Mercy Ships.

To read some of these stories – and see more of the work of Mercy Ships, visit their website: