Coming forward

shutterstock_226195513This past Sunday, Garnett Slatton (one of the teaching pastors at the church my family attends) was preaching from Luke 5:12-16 on the topic of healing. In this passage, Jesus extends his hand to touch a man with leprosy, heals him, and sends him (in accordance with passages in Leviticus) to a priest to be declared healed.

Every one of us, because of the Fall, have all this stuff inside that is broken. He stretched out His hand and He touched him. Jesus went right to the heart of his isolation, his emptiness and his brokenness, and He healed the whole person, not just the infection. A word could have healed his whole body, but his touch healed his heart. Jesus then sends him to the Temple, so that he could return to community.

He healed the man’s physical problems, his spiritual problems, his emotional problems, his social issues and his spiritual issues. He made this broken man whole again – whole.

He is concerned with healing the whole person, redeeming everything that was broken in the Fall- all of it. Jesus is not just a teacher, He is a healer.

At the end of the message, Garnett invited everyone in the church in need of healing to come forward to the front of the church for prayer.

We all need prayer ourselves…we’re just as broken and in need of healing as much as anyone else…let me trust you with my weakness, my need.

I have need of healing myself. I have for many years, suffered with chronic depression, I’ve been medicated for it for about ten years. It would have been a lot longer, but I hadn’t been really stubborn. It’s hard for me to sleep almost all the time,  I’m always tired, I always feel the spiritual opposition that someone in my role feels. I need you to pray for me. But now is not the time for me. Now is the time Jesus invites you to come. He invites you for your own needs. He invites you for the sake of others.

Garnett’s message can be accessed by clicking on his picture below…but I’d like you to hold off on that until you read all the way to the end.


I didn’t go forward for prayer two weeks ago, nor did I go forward last week. That didn’t stop God from sending a signal that He was aware of my needs.

A couple approached me who I’d spoken with on a few occasions over the past year and said they felt led to pray for me. They laid their hands on me and proceeded to pray for, in order, three or four specific concerns that I had been wrestling with frequently over the last week. This was stuff that was contributing to less than restful nights…concerns that they would’ve had NO WAY OF KNOWING ABOUT from anything I’ve ever shared publicly. They prayed about stuff that I hadn’t discussed with anyone aside from my wife – and the Lord.  I guess God intended for me to be blessed even if I wasn’t going to come forward and ask for a blessing.

In Garnett’s message, he observed that prayer for healing often needs to be repeated and sustained over an extended period of time. I have a hard time setting aside my pride and my need to try to solve problems through my own abilities to ask other people to pray for me. The other challenge I have in asking others to pray for me is that the stuff I struggle with seems pretty trivial in the context of the challenges the families served by our practice face, and extremely trivial when compared to the challenges many of my colleagues in like-minded ministries find themselves wrestling with this Advent season.

I have great respect for Garnett. He and his family made great sacrifices in pursuing his ministry calling that I’m not sure I’d be able to make. But if he can lead by example, I can follow.

I need folks to pray for me.

I need folks to pray for me because it’s getting harder and harder to meet my emotional and financial responsibilities to my family while maintaining the level of excellence I’ve come to expect…and the families served by our practice demand from our practice. I don’t get to walk away from my job at 5:00 or 6:00 PM. Trying to sustain the level of service that families have come to expect – and demand takes so much mental energy that all too often I don’t have any left for my wife and family, much less other interests and people. I grew too tired to go to the early morning men’s Bible studies or fellowship groups in our area. I haven’t been much fun at times to be around…aside from watching sports on TV or reading about political stuff, I don’t have anything else to talk about. I can’t talk about what I do at work, except in the most general terms. I did watch a movie this year…once. And I did go to an Ohio State game a few weeks ago on my way home from a ministry conference.

Some might ask where I get the time or energy to write these blog posts or do the other things I do for Key Ministry. At times, the ministry has been a blessing in that the activity has served as a distraction from the sense that the best we can hope to do with our practice is to survive the changes in how healthcare is delivered. When we started our practice, we worked off the assumption that around 80% of our time would be spent with kids and families. Between paperwork, phone calls, e-mails, report writing and coordinating care, 50-60% of our time is now spent doing work we’re not paid for. Fewer and fewer families are able to pay for their actual visits with us, much less all the other stuff we do. I’m coming to realize that our families can’t find other places that offer what we do because there isn’t a business model that could sustain what we do in our region. I’d appreciate prayers for wisdom in knowing how we might continue to serve families with excellence while honoring the responsibilities God expects me to fill for my family.

Finally, I need folks to pray for God to send the right people with the right gifts and talents and passions to our ministry. Our team has been through several years of great transition as we’ve been wrestling with what God wants our ministry to become. We’ve been blessed with many talented trainers and writers and consultants. We need to identify the right people with the fund development and organizational skills necessary to sustain our ministry for as long as it is necessary.

Scroll back up and click on the picture of the good-looking guy with gray hair. Healing is a topic of great interest to most readers who regularly follow our blog. Many at my church were encouraged by Garnett’s teaching last week. I hope you will be too!


shutterstock_118324816Key Ministry has put together a resource page for pastors, church staff, volunteers and parents with interest in the subject of depression in children and teens. Available on the resource page are…

  • Links to all the posts from our recent blog series on depression
  • Links to other outstanding blog posts on the topic from leaders in the disability ministry community
  • Links to educational resources on the web, including excellent resources from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), a parent medication guide, and excellent information from Mental Health Grace Alliance.


About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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4 Responses to Coming forward

  1. Cheryl Allman says:

    Thank you for asking for prayer. I’ve always thought that pastors/leaders who are transparent about their personal needs are more effective. Those of us watching and listening see that most of us are like the rest of us and that God uses regular people, like us, not perfect people. Your needs are very significant for this meaningful ministry to morph and continue. I’ll pray for you and the ministry every time I read your blog, which is almost every day.


  2. Praying for you also. The process of going forward unleashes so much of how we are supposed to operate in the Body of Christ…to humble ourselves for help and prayer and to enable others to work in their God-given purposes toward us in our time of need. If all of God’s people in positions of leadership as you are would humble themselves in this way, imagine how many people that would help free up to allow the Body to work in their lives. Well done!


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