Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. ~ 3 John 1:2, KJV

During my graduation ceremony in May 2004, a provocative statement was made that has stayed with me throughout my general surgery residency. “Patients remember most about their surgeon what they observe while they are awake,” remarked Dr. Roger Hadley, dean of Loma Linda University School of Medicine. Patients remember how well you treated them before and after surgery. Jesus gave us the ultimate example of “bedside manner” and the power of touch.

When Jesus healed people, He would often touch them – even if they were considered untouchable due to leprosy. A simple touch on the shoulder or holding a patient’s hand tells patients that you care about how they feel. Touch is an inaudible transmission of caring. Doesn’t God touch our lives, even when we are sometimes untouchable? Doesn’t He bless us when we don’t deserve to be blessed?

None who came to Jesus went away without any help. In body, mind, and soul, individuals were made whole. As physicians, these opportunities to make persons whole are available to us. God says: “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house” (Isaiah 42:6-7, KJV).

People may be imprisoned in the darkness of sin, depression, abuse, or addictions; or have sorrow, despair, or poor health. And the Lord is calling us to release these prisoners in His name. Beginning with a simple touch, we can transmit the Savior’s love and alleviate their pain.

During my surgery residency, I have had many opportunities to use the skills I acquired at Loma Linda University to share my faith with others. Some people want to pray before surgery to help ease their anxiety and fears. Some people want prayer for their loved ones who will be going through surgery. There are times I have the opportunity to give God glory when there has been a miraculous save on a trauma patient and the family members are tearfully thankful.

We are His hands – to touch those around us, to communicate His healing power and love to those whom society has deemed untouchable but for whose salvation Jesus died. “And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (Matthew 8:2-3, KJV).

Naeem Newman, LLUSM class of 2004 – for which he was freshman class senator for the LLUSM senate – is chief resident in general surgery at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Mytonia, have two daughters, Rhiane and Mya.