Why member-to-member sharing?
Jed Stuber · Jun 28, 2017
Have you ever received an incredulous look when you are trying to explain Samaritan to someone and you come to the part about the shares being sent from one member to another?
We get comments that run the gamut:
- “Wow, that’s different.”
- “I had no idea something like this existed.”
- “Are you sure that’s even legal?”
- “That will never work.”
- “That’s the way it should work!”
- “I’ve been looking for a ministry like this for my whole life.”
Perhaps even long-time members can recall many years ago when you were surprised to learn how it works.
We even get an occasional comment to this effect: “You know this would be a whole lot easier if Samaritan just collected the money and paid the bills, right?”
Of course, this comment misses the point entirely. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is that we minister directly to one another.
Direct personal ministry is emphasized in the Bible. There are 59 “one another” statements in Scripture, running along the lines of:
- Encourage one another daily.
- Be devoted to one another.
- Be kind and compassionate to one another.
- Have equal concern for one another.
- Be patient, bearing with one another.
- Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
The command “love one another” occurs 20 times. At Samaritan, we have always emphasized Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the Law of Christ.”
We would all readily acknowledge that for any ministry to be successful these Scriptural principles must be honored. However, when it comes to health care, we often fall into the habit of assuming that it’s an impersonal financial matter.
Sometimes you send money, sometimes you get money. Laws of large numbers come into play, and on average it works out pretty well for everyone. The problem is that we tend to think in terms of insurance.
But surely Christians should not fall for the idea that the spiritual aspects of any area of life can be disregarded.
We often receive member letters specifically stating that the spiritual aspects are more important than the financial:
- “I’ve been so blessed to be a part of this ministry. It’s been wonderful for all my medical bills. But even more important were the encouraging notes, Scriptures, and personal words, they truly were from the Lord.”
- “When the members of Samaritan Ministries sent cards and prayers, I knew the power of prayer is more important than money. I have kept every card and prayer sent to me.”
- “Some would say Samaritan Ministries sounds risky. I’m comfortable with it not being an insurance company, however, because I feel more secure in trusting God and His people, rather than a worldly company. Even more important are the prayers of those assigned to our needs.”
- “The money was very important to pay off these bills, but the cards, prayers, and encouragement were even more important as I faced this trying time.”
- “Until we found ourselves on the receiving end of Samaritan Ministries we really didn’t know or understand how vitally important it is to send a card or note of encouragement along with the share each month. I now take more time each month asking God to help me be a blessing to others. Thank you, family, and God bless you.”
Consider these classic quotes on the importance of prayer:
- “What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer.”—E.M. Bounds
- “God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.”—John Wesley
- “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”—Martin Luther
- “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”—Oswald Chambers
We also find that science confirms the importance of faith and prayer for our physical health. Dr. Harold G. Koenig, director of Duke University’s Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health, reports the following:
- An exhaustive analysis of 1,500 medical studies indicates people who are more religious and pray more have better mental and physical health.
- Religious people cope with stress better, experience greater well-being because they have more hope, are more optimistic, experience less depression, less anxiety, and commit suicide less.
- Regular churchgoers live longer. There is a seven-year difference in life expectancy between those who never attend church and those who attend weekly.
- Religious people have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, and better cardiovascular functioning.
Of course, none of this means that the financial aspects aren’t important.
Member-to-member sharing helps us all be more cognizant of the fact that shares come from another person, not an impersonal pool we feel entitled to. It helps us to be stewardship conscious about the financial aspects of a need because we know a dollar saved by us is a dollar saved for another family.
It also allows for us to have the responsibility and freedom to make health care decisions with our health care providers without interference from Samaritan as a third-party payer dictating medicine.
There’s much more that could be said about the importance of member-to-member sharing, and we’d love to hear from you about it.