“The practice of healing ministry in Africa: What is the Christian contribution today?”
Despite the intervention of scientific medicine, the practice of healing is appearing as a new attitude alongside the emergence of churches in Africa. Some practicioners of healing would have one believe that healing is the sign of a life in conformity with the will of God, whilst the absence of healing, or any kind of suffering is a curse, or the result of disobedience on the part of the person concerned, or his or her progentiors. This give an opening to the practices of healing. This way of thinking could have one believe that instead of a liberating healing, one could also be dealing with a worsening of the physical condition and psychology of the people concerned. In fact, examining these practices, we believe that there is certainly a legitimate care to help the suffering people from the perspective of the Apostle James (cf. Jas 5:14f.)
Taking this approach, several challenges should be noted for a good pastoral care of health in Africa: returning to the sources of Christian faith. As Jean-Marc Ela affirms, the faith leads us into every situation of distress and suffering to bring promise and a hope for life to whoever has been stripped of these. The highest calling of the of the Gospel in Africa is to explore viable pastoral ways to respond to the spiritual miseries of Africans – celebrating the sacraments, caring for the sick within the context of the healing ministry recommended by the Church. As St John Paul II said in Salvifici Doloris, we must reassert the value of suffering if we want to be followers of Christ, respecting human dignity in its entirety.
by Solange NGAH
Doctoral student in moral theology
Masters in Canon Law
Catholic University of Central Africa / Catholic Institute of Yaoundé – Cameroon
 cf. Bernard Ugeux, Guérir à tout prix? Paris: Ouvrères, 2000, 15-17.
 cf. Jean Marc Ela, Le cri de l’homme africain. Questions aux chrétiens et aux églises d’Afrique. Paris: L’Harmattan, 1980, 115.
 cf. The Church in Africa in the Service of Liberation, Justice and Peace: Lineamenta of the 2nd Special Session of the Synod of Bishops for Africa. 2006, no 71.
 cf. John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris: Pastoral Letter on the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering. 1984.