Compassionate Humanitarian Ministry
On August 19 the world remembers those who unselfishly give of their time, resources and skills to help someone else in need by focusing on World Humanitarian Day. These giving people devote what they have to reach out to someone they don’t know, often who communicate in a language they don’t speak, but who all the while may be suffering from the aftermath of a disaster, the despair of a disease pandemic, or the devastating common effects of poverty. In either case, only those who have gone and been there have experienced the joys of such service.
The Adventist church has believed from its inception that we have a duty to extend the compassionate healing ministry modeled by Christ through such humanitarian efforts. In doing so, without strings attached, we are being Jesus' hands and feet in this world. It may sound like an obvious conclusion. However, as I have met and talked with people across NAD or other places, I meet some people who still believe it is a mistake to devote “too much effort” or resources on such ministry because, in their view, it does not bring “tangible results.” By this they mean, “no baptisms.”
Every time I hear this, I think to myself: Imagine if Jesus was here. Would people be asking Him about the results of “His ministry?” In 3 years of giving compassionately to those He met, and pouring out His life giving teachings to them, one might have thought His work was a failure. Not only He did not have baptisms that Scripture refers to during His ministry, but also when He needed His disciples the most (those who were supposed to be truly committed to Him), most of them were not there. They were scattered and some even betrayed Him with words or actions.
Where were those He healed? Did they speak a word on His behalf to the Pharisees or Religious leaders? No. If they were present they were silent. Jesus healed them without any strings attached. It was their choice to accept Him or not; to love Him or not. Why then the idea that unless there are “tangible or immediate results” we should not devote resources to it?
I believe Jesus had a different way of measuring results. He was more interested in connecting with people, making them feel valued and loved. Desire of Ages and the Bible tells the many stories on how His loving touch was transformative. He healed freely. To some, He did not even say a word about their spiritual needs. They came ill, and left healed. It was His loving touch that communicated the gospel, more than His words.
Today we are called to follow on His ministry. When engage in compassionate, unselfish healing or humanitarian work, sometimes people will be open and interested to know more about what we believe or the God we profess. Other times, they will not. Like Jesus, we should minister to all without fear and without strings attached. Let us make time to do this, and spend our efforts to touch someone’s life. The benefits we will experience are tangible for our own mental and physical health. But more importantly, they will help experience the healing ministry of Christ as if He was here, in our midst.
As elder Lowell Cooper so eloquently shared with those attending the NAD Health Summit in Jan 2014 (presentations available on DVD – see page 2), health outreach should be a MINISTRY and not an activity, or program. And as such, it does not come with expectations or strings attached. It is not a hook or a ‘strategy’ that can be used. It is about sharing His love with those who are broken and hurting. May God help us grow in our understanding of how to best model our health ministry approach after Jesus’ healing ministry.
Atlantic and Columbia Union Union
0ver 1200 attendees from 13 Divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church participated of the 2nd Global Conference on Health and Lifestyle that took place in Geneva, Switzerland, on July 7-12, 2014. Outstanding presenters with expertize on health education, research and ministry, came together to share insights of how to collaborate together with lay members, pastors and health institutions in a blended ministry approach known as Comprehensive Health Ministry. A main focus of the conference was to provide a framework for evidence-based approach to health ministry that models the compassionate ministry of Christ and also share resources that can be used to reach communities with a message of hope. The church as a center for health and healing was once again emphasized and people left inspired, equipped and motivated to expand their ministry all over the world.
Dr Reinert presented her findings at the Summit on Abuse that took place on May 4. Nearly 200 people attended the Summit that was sponsored by the GC and NAD Women’s ministries along with several other departments, including Health Ministries. Excellent presenters shared invaluable knowledge to equip attendees. All left not only more knowledgeable but also with contacts and specific plans to make a difference in their church and community. For handouts of the summit and more information go to www.enditnownorthamerica.org.
Campmeeting Focus on Health and Wholeness
Hundreds gathered at the Arizona Conference to grow in their understanding of the importance of the message of health in their own lives and also to be inspired to engage in active, transformational health ministry. This took place at the Arizona Campmeeting from July 16-20, 2014. Men and women of all ages shared their stories of healing, and learned from Katia Reinert, NAD Health Ministries Director, about important choices for a full and abundant life, and also from Dr Um, a pastor from the Southern CA Conference who shared the biblical concept of brokenness and how to find healing in Christ alone.
Adventist Health West and Loma Linda Co-sponsor Spirituality and Health Conference
On July 28-Aug 1, 2014 researchers, educators, health professionals, chaplains and others from many different faith traditions came to Pasadena, CA, to learn from experts in the field of religion/spirituality and health. Renowned pioneer researchers, such as Harold Koenig and Kenneth Pargament, reviewed the evidence available in regards to the many health benefits of religion and spirituality, and along with other multi-disciplinary presenters, shared insights on how spiritual care can have immediate benefits. Workgroups worked hard all week to provide tangible and practical tools that health professionals or chaplains can incorporate in their daily practice. This conference was the second annual event sponsored by Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Loma Linda University and Fuller Theological Seminary, said Dr Nies, psychiatrist and founding member of the conference planning committee. Dr Nies serves in the Mental Health TaskForce of the NAD Health Ministries department.
Stearns SDA Church in Kentucky Opens Health Center
On October 2009, Health Ministries director, Kristina McFeeters, Health Ministries director for the Stearns SDA Church began teaching a simple cooking class once a month in a local community center for the Stearns/Whitley City, KY community, on how to use fruits and vegetables. Word spread quickly and soon she received requests from surrounding areas to teach the same class! The local health departments began sending her requests for classes, and also requesting her to set up a booth at the District Health Department’s annual health fair. As word spread, and people came to the classes month-by-month, year-by-year, she began getting numerous requests from people wanting to purchase her food. And so the idea for “Kristina’s Kitchen” was first born. On June 11, 2014 the grand opening took place with the presence of several excited community leaders! Kristina’s Kitchen is a small-scale vegetarian cafe, health food store, and bakery. It was opened specifically to educate people on health, help people see that healthy food can really taste good, to form friendships with the community, and to be used as an evangelism center.
1. Toussaint, L., Owen, A. & Cheadle, A. (2012). Forgive to live: Forgiveness, health, and longevity. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 35(4), 375-86.
2. Reinert, K. et al (in submission). The role of religious involvement in the health outcomes of Adventist Adults Survivors of Early Traumatic Stress. Journal of Health Psychology.
3. Baskin, T.W., Enright, R.D. (2004). Intervention studies on forgiveness: A meta-analysis. Journal of Counseling and Development. 82. 79-90.
4. Toussaint et al (2001). Forgiveness and health: Age differences in a US. probability sample. Journal of Adult Development, 8(4), 249-257.