Madeline Ray knows first-hand how God can use health challenges and health scares to bring people closer to Himself.
Madeline works as a missionary at the Send Relief ministry center in Clarkston, Georgia. Her service to the Ethne Health Clinic in Clarkston allows her to come into contact with people representing over 90 people groups that have been largely untouched by the gospel.
It’s also a place where her testimony of God’s faithfulness through health challenges is especially poignant.
Since the fifth grade, Madeline has battled cerebral arteriovenous malformation. It’s a condition that causes an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in the brain that usually forms before birth. It can cause brain aneurysms, and in Madeline’s case, minor to mild strokes. It’s also an ailment that, over the years, made her frustrated and sometimes question how much she can do on the mission field.
“I’ve always wanted to serve others for Jesus,” Madeline says. “At one point, I wanted to serve with the International Mission Board, but health challenges wouldn’t allow me to.”
She’s found her missional sweet spot in Clarkston, though, where she started her work in mid-March—just in time to see students from five schools and colleges across the Southeast converge on the Clarkston ministry center during a GenSend Breaks event.
“It was amazing to see so many people who are so young express a desire to not only love Jesus, but also to live for Him through service and missions,” she says.
This particular GenSend Breaks event also happened to fall on a week where the new coronavirus was beginning to reach pandemic levels.
Madeline attributes the strength of her relationship with Jesus to the challenges she faced with her own health. She would later find that strategically speaking about those challenges opened doors for her to share Jesus and the gospel.
“Sometimes it’s things like health challenges and other issues we go through in life that help us show someone what a relationship with Jesus can give us in hard times,” she says.
Now that the new virus has upended our world and shaken people’s confidence with its uncertainty, Madeline says it becomes a key time to encourage people with hope in Jesus.
“Our health is something we’re always concerned about,” she said. “And while it can be scary, times like these often make people more open to hearing about Jesus.”
Here are few ways Madeline encourages us to help share Christ’s love now.
- Provide a listening ear to people’s concerns. So many are scared for their health or for the health of a loved one—especially elderly ones. Don’t treat people’s concerns flippantly. Listen with grace.
- Take preventative measures seriously. Showing that we’re taking things seriously with regard to our own health allows us to not seem uncaring or tone deaf. When people see that from us, it opens a wider door to share Jesus with someone.
- Don’t be afraid to share your story. Every concern won’t be strictly health related. There will be other concerns, in addition to health concerns, that will shake people’s confidence. Your ability to share how Jesus strengthened you in a time of doubt or weakness can give comfort and confidence to others in their time of uncertainty.