Lessons about Healing

By Myron and Marj Bromley

Retired international workers to Indonesia

The following is an adapted excerpt from an article by Myron and Marj Bromley, who were among the first Alliance international workers to serve in the Baliem Valley, in the former Dutch New Guinea (now Papua, Indonesia). 

When my co-laborers and I (Myron) arrived in the Baliem Valley in 1954, no contact had yet been made with the local people. A long row of men stood on the hilltop just across the river, holding their spears erect as they watched our every move. They gave our team a heart-warming highlands welcome, shouted to the warriors who appeared out of the underbrush on our side of the river, parked their spears against the trees, came across the river, and hugged us. They repeated things loudly and clearly to help us learn their language.

Bridges of Trust

Looking forward to sharing the good news that had changed our lives, we wanted to help them in tangible, understandable ways. Early on, we saw cases of yaws—-a disease that can cause large, ulcerated sores, eventually destroying the tissues of the nose and palate and leaving the sufferer horribly disfigured. We had brought a little oil-based penicillin and found that one injection was enough to cure the disease. This proved to be our single-best tool to build friendship and trust.

The Dutch government supplied more penicillin and other basic medicines. Warriors were often wounded in battles, some of which took place right near our camp. We tried to treat the wounded from both sides. None of us had specific medical training, but we did what we could for them.

I had grown up in a family that had come into The Christian and Missionary Alliance because of the message of divine healing taught in the denomination. Here in the valley, our simple medical help made it easier for the people to believe the good news of salvation that they would later hear.

During the next few years, our team gained fluency in the language with its intricate verb system and developed a workable alphabet for the previously unwritten language. Yet those who came to confess faith in Jesus could be counted on one hand.

While visiting nearby Australia to help with the Wycliffe American Summer Institute, I met Marj, one of the students who had trained as a medical doctor. In a truly miraculous way, the Lord drew us together. As we planned to marry, Marj applied to become an international worker with The Alliance. She had not heard of the C&MA before, but her responses to the application questions, including the doctrine of Christ as Healer, were satisfactory, and she was accepted.

After we married, I (Marj) went with Myron to the Indonesia field. In the process of reducing the language to writing, Myron had typed out a short prayer for God’s healing, to use before treating the sick. The Dani people—who had just begun to respond dramatically to the gospel and turned from idols to serve the living God—prayed for healing and came to be treated medically.

One local evangelist had the gift of healing, and a man across the gorge who had not walked normally for years was healed. There was also an outpatient clinic opened there. Simson was a man from a small village near our station who became very ill. The people had gathered the firewood for his cremation when the school teacher, a Christian man from Wissel Lakes, went and prayed for him, and he recovered. That village became much more open to the gospel after that.

The Mighty Hand of God

In answer to what appeared to be opposing views-using medicine made from materials He created and which He has brought to light versus praying only for healing—God led me to Psalm 44 to teach me my responsibility:

“We have heard . . . what you did . . . in days long ago. With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our ancestors; you crushed the peoples and made our ancestors flourish. It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm . . .

“I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame. In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever” (Psalm 44:1-8)

While God moved in this passage without the children of Israel raising any weapon to defeat the enemy, in most cases He expected them to use the weapons in their hands to win the battles. This said to me: God expects me to use the medicines, syringes, and scalpels in my hand to heal.

But He also expected the children of Israel to bring every difficult and apparently easy situation to Him in prayer first. Consider what happened at Ai (Joshua chapter 7). The men who had gone to check it out said, “It’s only a small city; we can take it.” But they didn’t ask counsel of the Lord, and they were defeated.

From this, I realized my wrong approach. I would see a patient at the clinic and think, “I can handle this,” and I would go ahead. If my treatment didn’t work, or if I didn’t know what to do for a patient, then I would pray and ask God’s help. I believe my fault was in looking to God if I felt I couldn’t cope—but instead I should have, in every case, easy or difficult, placed the patient in His hands first. Then the praise is His, in every situation.

 When the people in our area began to turn to Christ in large numbers, I (Myron) sat in on the first interviews of candidates for baptism and asked each person, “What caused you to believe in Jesus and want to follow His way?” By far, the most frequent response was that it was healing, whether from treatment at the clinic in Jesus’ Name or by prayer alone. Both were from God, in contrast to the spirits that they had long served. And today there are more than 10,000 believers in the Baliem Valley area alone.


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