Holistic Healing in Acts 3:1-10: A Transformative Church for All People

By Kamha, Micheline | International Review of Mission, November 2016 | Go to article overview

Holistic Healing in Acts 3:1-10: A Transformative Church for All People


Kamha, Micheline, International Review of Mission


Abstract

The understanding of healing focuses on Acts 3:1-10, where the rereading of this text with its picture of healing will lead to an understanding of inclusive healing in the sense that the marginalised people are included in this healing. This means that the healing is holistic, rather than focusing on either physical or spiritual healing only. The research on which this paper is based sought to explore the issue of holistic healing for a transformative church. The paper brings into perspective the following questions: What is entailed in Jesus' healing people with disabilities? And how can the issue of healing be opened to the possibility of building a community of love, justice, peace, and diversity? In an attempt to answer the preceding questions, this paper has two parts: in the first section, I focus on my personal rereading in view of my own disability experience and my experience with the participants of Bible study, whereby I use narrative interpretation of existing literature, and I interpret from a psycho-spiritual perspective framed by a liberation theology of disability. In the second section, I engage a dialogue between biblical scholars and ordinary people on the different perspectives on healing. My overall objective in this paper is to offer a new biblical understanding on the text and, on the other hand, a theological reflection on healing to assist church leaders and Christians to understand that people with disabilities, like any human being deserve to be in fellowship with God and with other people for the sake of social transformation.

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The text of Acts 3:1-10 is the first miraculous story recorded by Luke in the book of Acts. It is connected with the preceding text, Acts 2:43, which states, "Many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles." The heart of this story is that these wonders and miracles were done "in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth" (v. 6): hence, the Lord saves human beings through Jesus, via salvation. Salvation is thus the principal theme of Acts, its narrative being centrally concerned with the realization of God's purpose to bring salvation in all of its fullness to all people. (1) God so loved the world that he sent his only beloved Son into the world, so that "whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). This links to the programme speech of Jesus, "the Kingdom of God come to the earth, so that those who are poor, marginalized, prisoners and oppressed must be free and recover the light of joy" (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus encountered people with disabilities through his healing and miracles, because he preferred to "spend time with the 'least' rather than with people of wealth, influence, power or even those in the religious hierarchy" (John 9; Mark 2:17). (2)

Therefore, the book of Acts is a continuation of Jesus' action through and by the power of the Holy Spirit. The connection between Acts 2:43 and Joel's prophecy (Joel 2:28-32) demonstrated "the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Jesus' disciples and announces the Good News with healing and miracles." (3) In other words, the healing and miracles in the gospels and in the book of Acts show how the excluded have been integrated into society by Jesus' ministry, emulated by the apostles. (4)

The paper is in two parts: the first part deals with my own rereading of the text that I called "autobiographical criticism," in which I imply my disability experience, which is explicated in my doctoral thesis, "Developing a Holistic Educational Programme through Contextual Bible Study with People with Disabilities in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo: IMAN'ENDA as Case Study," (5) through the lens of social transformation. The second part serves the dialogue in which I engage between the Bible study participants' responses to the scholarly points of view on the text. I interpret the verses according to the way they are interlinked.

Autobiographical criticism

As I stated above, this first part focuses on my personal rereading in view of my own disability experience and my experience with participants in Bible study that I conducted with church leaders and few persons with disabilities. …

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