An LCMS Mercy Medical Team prays before clinic
An LCMS Mercy Medical Team prays before clinic

Arise and shine in splendor;
Let night to day surrender.
     Your light is drawing near.
Above, the day is beaming,
In matchless beauty gleaming;
     The glory of the Lord is here.

Recently, a meeting here at the International Center opened with the hymn “Arise and Shine in Splendor,” (LSB 396). This was entirely appropriate, as we are in the season of Epiphany, celebrating the revealing of Jesus as Light of the World. What joy to sing about the shining brightness of our salvation!

See earth in darkness lying,
The heathen nations dying
     In hopeless gloom and night.
To you the Lord of heaven—
Your life, your hope—has given
     Great glory, honor, and delight.

As we sang, my thoughts turned to the LCMS Mercy Medical Team program. Yes, we provide care for the aching bodies of our brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world who are suffering in gloom and night, but that’s not the main reason that we exist. There are many other organizations that provide physical relief. What makes us different?

The world’s remotest races,
Upon whose weary faces
     The sun looks from the sky,
Shall run with zeal untiring,
With joy Your light desiring
     That breaks upon them from on high.

Our medical care is always accompanied by spiritual care. It’s a partnership. If we could heal every physical malady that we encounter—and we certainly try—our patients will still die. We all will. We are all sinful, and in need of a savior. The spiritual care that we provide, through our team and the local Lutheran church partner, provides true healing for our patients. What an honor to witness a weary face begin to shine with joy when they hear of the Light that is theirs through Jesus Christ.

Lift up your eyes in wonder—
See, nations gather yonder
      From sin to be set free.
The world has heard Your story;
Her sons come to Your glory;
     Her daughters haste Your light to see.

Often, the physical healing that we provide opens a door for sharing the Gospel. We don’t always see it happen—mostly it happens long after the team is gone, through the local church partner who diligently follows up with those who were treated at our clinic. Sometimes, spiritual care can provide relief from physical suffering. There are diseases and conditions that we just can’t cure, but praying with our patients and sharing the Gospel brings peace and contentment to the suffering.

Your heart will leap for gladness
When from the realms of sadness
     They come from near and far.
Your eyes will wake from slumber
As people without number
     Rejoice to see the Morning Star.

Many of the countries in which we work have few Christian citizens. We treat everyone who comes, and thank God for the opportunity to witness to each and every person. Our doctors, nurses, pastors, and laypeople desire nothing more than to see our brothers and sisters safe in eternal salvation through faith in the One true God.

A joy-filled Epiphany to each of you. May your hearts leap for gladness as you worship Jesus, the Light of the World.

Are you interested in serving on an LCMS Mercy Medical Team? I’d love to talk about it. Contact me at for more information.