Paul Kim on Confronting Sickness & Death as a Christian

Paul Kim is the Asian-American relations consultant with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee and pastor emeritus of Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass.

A hospital chaplain is called to minister to the sick and to give spiritual care along with the clinical care provided by doctors, nurses and medical technicians. The reality of life is that, like the poor, there will always be among us those who suffer from illness and disease.

Luke, himself a physician, wrote in his Gospel about a woman suffering from bleeding for 12 years who spent all her money on doctors but could not find a cure.

By faith she approached Jesus from behind, touched the hem of His robe and was instantly healed. Although the crowd was oblivious to what happened, she knew it was a miracle of God. Even with all the advancements in medical care and technology, medical professionals are humbled before God, who is the Great Physician.

After I finished my seminary education, I returned home to the Big Island of Hawaii to start a new house church in a nearby beach community. Soon after, I began a second house church plant across the campus of my alma mater, the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

It was during this time that I felt the conviction to serve as a hospital chaplain, so I began my studies in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) for pastoral care and counseling in the fall of 1977. I spent one year in CPE at Memorial Hospital Medical Center in Long Beach, Calif., and at South Carolina Baptist Hospital (now, Palmetto Health Baptist Hospital) in Columbia, S.C.

I remember vividly when the wife of a patient came by the hospital chaplain’s office of Memorial Hospital Medical Center one afternoon in October 1977.

She wanted a chaplain to visit her husband who was in his late 60s. She told me that he had refused to take any medicine and had not eaten for a few days. She wanted me to convince him to change his mind, but that he was not up for any religious dialogue.

At her request I went to his bedside and quietly introduced myself. I just wanted to listen. He shared with me that he was afraid he was going to die. As I listened to his emotional pain I encouraged him to have hope. I prayed for him silently on my own. I found out later that he was discharged from the hospital. Sometimes all we can do is show that we care — and pray.

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Source: Baptist Press