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Center for Soul Care: Setting People, Once Again, Within Their True Identity

Published Date: September 20, 2013

by Marilyn Elliot, (DMin, 2006; MA, 1998), Vice President of Community Formation

Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)

In his little book, “God’s Healing Community”1 Frank Bateman Stanger lists six convictions about healing (pgs 19, 20):

  1. Healing is a ministry that Jesus Christ committed to the church. Being involved in healing ministry is a central matter, not a fringe activity.
  2. God wills wholeness for the total person. The divine ideal is wholeness on all levels.
  3. There is no ‘right’ way to go about the ministry of healing. All healing, whatever means used, is ultimately accomplished by God.
  4. Healing is not magic, but the result of prayer to a compassionate God.
  5. There are no ultimate failures in the Church’s ministry of healing. The highest healing is always a right relationship with Christ.
  6. Every Christian is called to the ministry of healing, with or without special gifts.

Pay attention to the second point. Stanger suggests that Jesus does not merely cure diseases; he heals whole persons. “The individual is truly healed in so far as he recovers the possibility of the maturity of his entire person. The healed person is restored and set once again within his true destiny. Healing means wholeness, and such wholeness is dependent upon the Holy Spirit’s integration of one’s total being – body, mind and spirit (pg. 26)”. Healing is not simply about returning to one’s old ‘normal’. Rather, healing from God is about coming back to one’s truest self, to the deep image and calling that was in the heart of God when a person’s life was created.

The healed person is restored and set once again within his/her true identity. Healing includes moments of transformation as well as seasons of growth. No one can control transformation, or even create the conditions in which it will happen. Transformation is a divine gift that completely reorients life. What a holding community can do is to perceive when the tremblings of transformation begin, and help people notice and attend to the work God is doing. The journey of growth, living into the long obedience, is then a disposition to say yes to the constant present invitations of the Spirit to become new.

Our dream is to nurture a community that is unafraid of the recovery and healing process in all its uncertainty and raggedness, and able to walk the long journey with persons who are asking Jesus for living water. We dream of a community in which a person can safely journey to the deep places of conversion, and where the path toward holiness is accompanied, safe and free. We dream of a community that can recognize the signs of transformation, especially when these signs look like devastation.

We are creating a space that is dedicated to changing the culture of the community simply by modeling visible intentional practices, soul deep hospitality, and fearless engagement with the whole person as they come to us, and where any person can find welcome and wisdom.

Beyond attending to transformation in our very midst, our dream is that we develop a model for soulful pastoral care and sacred recovery that will become transferable into local churches through our graduates and alumni. Asbury could very well become a leading institution known for healing of addictions and brokenness, and a place known worldwide as a safe refuge and source of healing grace and whole life transformation.


1 Stanger, Frank Bateman. God’s Healing Community. Wilmore, KY: Francis Asbury Society, 1985.

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