Seventh-day Adventist health ministries’ leaders from across the Inter-American Division’s (IAD) major church regions met recently to go over comprehensive plans and initiatives intended to be carried out throughout the territory during the next five years.
“Our responsibility today is much greater than it was 15 years ago, for we know that the health message is the right hand of the gospel and a very close part of the Three Angels’ Messages of Revelation 14,” said Belkis Archbold, health ministries director for the church in Inter-America.
She continued as she unveiled objectives and activities to take place: “We want to reach the highest level possible of a healthy lifestyle which includes mind, body, and soul, provide awareness on the growing challenges of mental health, and ensure children and young people practice healthy habits early on while they learn Christian values as well.”
Reaching every corner of Inter-America
More certification pieces of training across Inter-America under its banner program “I Want to Live Healthy” will continue across churches, the teaching of the “I Want to Grow Healthy” program curriculum across church schools, as well as additional certification training in mental health led by Loma Linda University and the Adventist world church experts, Archbold said.
“Our goal is to reach every corner of Inter-America with the health message,” he said. It’s been something that has been aggressively taking place across the territory and sprouting like never before in the last ten years, she said, but more needs to be done.
“The plan includes continuing to serve the community, collaborating with government offices and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to identify and address the health needs prevalent in our communities, and sharing the mental health program included in the ‘I Want to Live Healthy’ initiative through health expos, health brigades, centers of influence, and more,” said Archbold.
It means activating each one of the more than 23,000 congregations as centers of influence across the IAD.
I Will Go plans
Initiatives and activities unveiled during the online advisory meeting on Oct. 15, 2020, by IAD’s health ministries are closely intertwined with other departments and ministries in collaborative efforts under the Adventist world church’s ‘I Will Go’ initiative for the current quinquennium.
Dr. Peter Landless, health ministries director for the Adventist world church, reminded dozens of leaders how God revealed the health message to church pioneers more than 150 years ago and how important it is today because it demonstrates the love, the grace, and the compassion of Jesus Christ so that people can be moved to know Jesus and love him.
“The health message was given to us because our work is still not done,” said Landless.
It’s about looking at “Jesus as our pattern man…as a great example who modeled wholeness of mind, body, relational…in all aspects he modeled wholeness,” said Landless. “Jesus cared about the details of life when he came to earth because he had compassion for everyone, and so must we as leaders and members.”
Collaboration among pastors, administrators, and members
For health ministries to have the impact for which it was intended, there has to be collaborating, equipping, and continuing the process of helping people to be well-trained to serve as Jesus served, said Landless. It’s why there have to be committed efforts together with the church’s “I Will Go” global initiative, with pastors, administrators, and members working together in support of the church’s mission.
Landless urged health ministries leaders to take care of their health, not only during the pandemic but all the time, because the more perfect their health the more perfect or effective their labor will be.
Being prepared to face the changes and issues that come with a pandemic or any other challenges that will be presented in a global setting is something that leaders must be prepared to face, said Dr. Zeno Charles, associate health ministries director of the Adventist world church.
“We must pray like never before and ask God’s Holy Spirit to guide us so that we will be able to do what he has asked us so we can be a people of love and compassion, but also a people of grace,” said Charles.
Every church a community resource
It’s a time to not stand still but to take advantage of opportunities to get involved and do something for the needs around your communities, Charles continued. “Keep up-to-date with reliable, vetted information, and strive to inform the public–educate–as we play a major part in reaching others with the medical missionary work.”
Every church should be a community resource or a center of influence, he said.
A church with a strong program to address the needs of the community such as those battling with addictions, said Dr. Katia Reinert, associate health ministries director for the Adventist world church, “can be channels where God can extend healing through health ministries.”
She continued: “What are the broad needs, global needs, local needs that I can fill? There’s a lot the church can do for those who are struggling with all kinds of addictions; it’s not only about alcohol abuse, pornography, and drug abuse, but there are individuals with compulsive behaviors or dependencies too.”
Restoring people in their need
One way to start is by learning more about the issues of addiction as health directors, ensure that churches have an environment that is more embracing, and have accessible resources to assist those struggling with all sorts of addictions.
“We need to be part of God’s plan of restoring people, of nurturing the leadership potential of young people as they face risky behaviors,” said Reinert.
When it comes to restoring people, the church has an amazing infrastructure to serve those who are dealing with mental illness, said Dr. Torben Bergland, associate health ministries director for the Adventist world church. “It’s in the church that we can help so many in our communities. With the increase in those who are living with mental illness to more than one billion people globally, it’s necessary for people to get support, care, and treatment, and we can help.”
The six-hour advisory meeting also included a seminar on stress management for families, a Q&A session, health ministries impact reports from throughout the IAD territory, prayer sessions, and more.
Inter-American Division President Pastor Elie Henry encouraged health ministries directors to continue trusting in God at such a critical time.
“We have to turn to the Lord, let God lead to fight for our families, our children, our grandchildren and friends and find a way to help people in the community with the hope we have in Jesus and the wonderful health message available to us,” he said.
Health ministries directors committed to continuing to spread the health message through the various initiatives, plans, and activities set out for the coming months and years.