Sunday, March 05, 2006
Beth and I just finished 5 days of acupuncture treatments with Dr. Tran at the behest of my mom. I must admit that I was skeptical at first. I didn't know much about acupuncture except that it is alternative medicine and that it is an ancient Chinese practice. The most I had ever seen of acupuncture was an old Steven Segal movie where he healed himself using Chinese needles. But it seems to be working! Everyone says that my face and stomach have gotten smaller. Anything that can do that is worth a good shake! But I didn't want to talk about the validity or merits of acupuncture here. I want to tell you about our experience at Dr. Tran's clinic.
The New Acupuncture clinic is run out of the home of Dr. Tran and his wife. They are from Vietnam. When you walk in, you will usually find the house filled with people. It is not uncommon to wait for at least 30 minutes before 1 of 20 or so beds is free for you to be treated on. Treatment consists of a consultation and then two rounds of needles (front and back). We spend an average of around 2 hours there everyday.
From the very first day, we noticed that many of the patients knew each other. They talked and laughed and shared freely with one another. "They must be long term patients under Dr. Tran's care," we thought. On our second day, we met Eve and Arun. Eve is a pretty, 30-year old, French Canadian whom we instantly bonded with while waiting for our beds to free up. Arun was there to accompany his friend Anne. He is from India and was having some kind of problem with his shoulder. He got a consultation with Dr. Tran, and returned the next day for his own treatment.
Eve said something very significant and it got me thinking. She said that when she first started going to Dr. Tran, she was really shy. Apparently, Eve's right leg had some kind of skin problem that makes it look like her thigh was burned. There was no pain though. At first she was embarrassed to talk about it. But after some time, she realized, "Everyone is here with some kind of problem. You wouldn't even be here if you didn't have a problem." Then Eve proceeded to lift up her right pant leg to show us why she was at Dr. Tran's. She's come a long way.
When Dr. Tran consults with you, he doesn't do it in the privacy of an office. His consultations are right in front of everyone for everyone to hear. He is direct and to the point. He often anticipates what your problem is and begins to advise you immediately to change your diet. He once spoke to a man about his unbalanced testicles in front of everyone! The benefit of this "open" consultation is that you can learn something new everyday.
And I thought...this must've been how it was in Jesus' day when the Healer from Nazareth would go to a home and begin healing and teaching people:
1. Healing happened in a very natural and non-laboratory place.
2. There was a sense of community which revolved around the Healer.
3. Everyone was open about their problems.
4. The Healer spoke to each person publicly and truthfully.
5. Everytime you went to Jesus, you always learned something new.
What would simple churches be like if these charactersitics were evident in them? Imagine a network of people who met in homes not cathedrals. Imagine what it would be like when each of the people present came because of their relationship to Jesus and not because of their religious obligation. Imagine each person expecting to get touched by Jesus every time the group met. What kind of church would this be if the people were very open about their problems because they all admitted that the reason why they need Jesus is because they are damaged? Imagine this kind of church where Jesus spoke through the people in truth and love. And then imagine what it would be like where every time you attended this group, you learned something new that you could use in your life. Wow.
Dr. Tran has a full "clinic" due to word of mouth. He doesn't need advetising for his business. I calculated that he must make about $400,000 per year. And none of that is spent on commercials, posters, flyers or anything. He doesn't need to promote his clinic because each of his patients have become evangelists. Word of mouth fills his house with those seeking healing.
What can the church learn from that? Somewhere in that full house on Wellington Street in Ottawa is a hidden Jesus.