Salvation is central to the message of Jesus. He also preached about healing, both physical and spiritual, and the restoring that comes with it. Jesus became known throughout the region because of the signs and miracles he did. He also was known for caring for the outcast and restoring people to society through the ways he healed them and set them free. Christian ministries today are still known for following the example that Jesus left. Even though they mostly focus on spiritual growth and healing, social justice and freedom have always been something that Christians take responsibility for.
Jesus said to his disciples in the gospel of Matthew that when he returns, he will say to believers that "When I was in prison you visited me and when I was hungry you gave me something to eat." He continued by saying that he would say to others that when he was in prison they did not visit him. Jesus said that he would tell some of them that if they didn't do that to the least of his brothers, they didn't do it to him.
Because of the teachings of Jesus, the early church highly valued caring for the sick and the outcast. They chose upstanding people who served as leaders in the church, and their job was to make sure that members of the church and the people who weren't members were cared for. The history of the early church also records that Christians made sure that non-Christians who were fleeing the plague in Alexandria were looked after and provided for. In addition to that, the church also cared for those who were sick.
By the year 500 AD, Christian monasteries started creating places for healthcare. These places carried the responsibility of caring for the sick, regardless of their faith. They made sure that they all had access to free or affordable healthcare. During the middle ages, Europeans were flocking to the region of Palestine. Many of the Europeans became ill with several unknown sicknesses. This then resulted in a need to establish hospitals. One of the most notable of these was called the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem.
At the beginning of the 19th century, churches were the ones who provided free education in various locations across Asia and Africa. These Christians also established hospitals and hired staff members who were qualified and at the same time they also trained locals so that they could also work in these hospitals. In 1831, Amalie Sieveking created a sisterhood and they took responsibility to take care of anyone who had Cholera during the Hamburg epidemic of 1831.
Also, in 1836, a man named Theodor Fliender established the first protestant hospital in Kaiserswerth. The Kaiserswerth Diakonie was not only a hospital, but also a place of training that was foundational in creating modern nursing schools. One of the world’s best known nurses, Florence Nightengale, came from Kaiserswerth. Fliender also gathered a group of nurses and formed them into a team that was fondly called, the female diaconate who made a forming impact around the world.
The idea of the Red Cross originated with a Swiss man called Henri Dunant. It was his Christian upbringing that inspired Dunant to provide medical aid to people who were the victims of war and natural disasters.
In modern day, the same as before, the central calling of the church is to obey the command of Jesus to preach the gospel and call people into the salvation that is ours through faith in Christ. In addition to preaching freedom and salvation in Christ, the church cannot ignore the many needs of those in the world today. There are so many needs and opportunities to speak up for social justice while injustice continues to abound. Christians today should continue to promote public safety and welfare.