Seedbed is pleased to announce the release of Follow the Healer: Biblical and Theological Foundations for Healing Ministry by Stephen Seamands. Order the book and teaching videos from our store here. Explore the church kit here. Get a copy of the journal here. Read an interview with the author below.
What is the big idea behind Follow the Healer: Biblical and Theological Foundations for Healing Ministry and why did you feel compelled to write this resource now?
My experience has convinced me that in addition to significant practical training, we also need biblical and theological foundations to undergird our practice of healing. Simon Sinek has written a best-selling, influential book on leadership in which he urges leaders to “Start with Why” because “If you don’t know Why, you can’t know How.” I believe the same holds true for healing ministry. The “how-to’s” are very important. But it’s imperative to start with the “why-to’s” because ultimately they will profoundly shape the “how-to’s.” Many of the difficulties, disappointments, and distortions that occur in healing ministry stem from a failure to do this. There are few books on healing that adequately address this need.
Can you briefly describe your experience in healing ministry? How did you get started and how has it changed or challenged you over the decades?
I’ve been involved in healing prayer ministry, primarily with seminary students, since the early 1990s. I’ve also written a book about emotional healing, led seminars and healing services in local churches, and taught a seminary course on healing. I got started when, at the age of forty, I finally got in touch with some of my own deep emotional childhood pain. It was as if engaging my own suffering gave me eyes to see the suffering of others and a compassionate desire to see them come to Jesus the healer. I’ve learned, over the decades, that often that happens little by little—like peeling an onion, one tearful layer at a time. Jesus is truly a Great Physician who knows exactly how the process needs to unfold.
What distinguishes your understanding on healing ministry from other popular approaches and why do you believe God’s people are ripe for this invitation now more than ever?
My intent is to offer a holistic Wesleyan approach to healing. On one side, there are many Word-centered, traditional evangelicals and orthodox Christians who have tended to be skeptical about healing and have often tended to function as “practical cessasionists.” On the other side, there are Spirit-centered, charismatics and Pentecostals who have strongly emphasized healing, but have often demonstrated zeal without biblical grounding and balance. My aim is to stand in the middle by offering a a conjunctive Wesleyan understanding of healing, which brings together both Word and Spirit. I believe many in both groups are ready and hungry for such an approach and that such an approach is needed “for such a time as this.”
One area in Follow the Healer that feels unique is the section describing the five ways Jesus heals. Can you briefly touch on them and explain how you came to this understanding? How does this meet the challenges of the day?
Dr. Frank Stanger introduced me to “the five miracles of healing” when I was a student at Asbury Theological Seminary in the early 1970s. Let me describe them like this:
- Jesus heals directly and supernaturally–the miracle of the supernatural touch.
- Jesus heals through doctors and medicine–the miracle of modern medicine.
- Jesus heals through the human body’s healing power–the miracle of nature.
- Jesus heals through bestowing grace in suffering–the miracle of sufficient grace.
- Jesus heals through victorious dying–the miracle of the victorious crossing
I believe it is essential for those who engage in healing ministry to recognize and affirm all five ways Jesus heals. We shouldn’t elevate one above the others or set them over against each other. Often Jesus will use a combination of these five ways in bringing about healing in someone’s life.
Did the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic impact your theology of healing? How did it challenge you and how can healing ministry learn from and adapt to meet such crises?
The Covid-19 pandemic underscored the tremendous need for healing at so many levels—physical, spiritual, emotional, and social. Yet it also revealed the failure of the church in so many ways too. I’ve often heard J. D. Walt insist that “the church is the greatest healing agency in the world.” Sadly, however, scores of local churches virtually shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic. They lost a great opportunity, afforded by the crisis, to join Jesus in his healing ministry. We need to do better next time a crisis like this comes along. If we are going to we will have to recover our identity as a healing agency under the leadership of Jesus the healer.
What is your encouragement to ordinary Christians who are apprehensive or anxious about praying for people to receive healing?
Above all, remember that you’re not the healer—Jesus is. Don’t take the burden of healing on yourself. As opportunities arise and you feel nudged to pray for healing in someone’s life, simply pray as you are led for them to receive healing in Jesus’s name. Leave the outcome in Jesus’s hands. Remember—you’re not in management, you’re in sales! Jesus commanded his disciples to pray for the sick. Ultimately, when we pray for them, we do it not because we are necessarily gifted or know what Jesus will do, but simply out of obedience to his command.
What would happen in our hearts, homes, churches, and cities if God’s people were to take your message to heart and become open to participating in the healing ministry of Jesus?
There’s a wonderful Old Testament prophecy concerning the coming Messiah in Malachi 4:2–3: “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies (NLT).
I believe if the message of Follow the Healer is taken to heart, we will come closer to the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy. Jesus the Messiah, the Son of Righteousness, will surely “rise with healing in his wings.” And as a result, the two things the prophecy said will happen will come to pass. We ourselves, and those in our homes, churches, and cities will “go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” And God’s people will tread upon the forces of wickedness and evil “as if they were dust under [our] feet.”
Stephen Seamands draws upon four decades of teaching theology and active involvement in healing ministry to help us understand the essential theological foundations for healing ministry in a way that is accessible to all Christians.
This resource is perfect for:
- Prayer ministry teams
- Healing ministry teams
- Small-group leaders
- Missionaries and evangelists
- Pastors and Students
- Individual study
Learn more in our store here. We have also developed a church kit to help entire communities explore the invitation to participate in Jesus’s healing ministry. Explore the church kit here. Order a journal here.