Allan R. Handysides, Director
ealth ministry, along with preaching, teaching, and discipling, represents one of Adventism’s cardinal mission foci. More than fighting disease, the promotion of health has made us recognized globally as possessing the “Adventist Advantage.”
Our philosophy that the health message is part of the three angels’ messages is founded in the belief that we praise and give glory to God as we appreciate the measure of health He has given us and as we joyfully care for that gift.
At the Adventist Church’s most recent World Health Advisory, attendees adopted the theme “Every Church a Community Health Center” for the quinquennium. The response has been tremendous! From the Philippines, where more than 3,400 churches among some 4,000 took up the challenge, to the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, where nearly every congregation has had some form of health ministry, Adventists are indeed “medical missionaries.” Our official church magazines, the Adventist Review and Adventist World, regularly carry health articles. Sometimes entire issues focus on this dimension of our health work and message. Also, the second quarter’s Sabbath school lessons for 2010 were prepared by the General Conference Health Ministries team.
The Hope Channel carries health messages as well as the GC Health team’s program Life’s Beat—which won a prestigious Telly Award last year. The Telly is a prestigious award given after the recommendation of an external committee of television producers for content and production.
The Web sites representing the GC Health Ministries Department’s initiatives are being revised with an exciting addition: PositiveChoices.com. This new Web site sees its audience as the community at large.
The mission hospitals in the East-Central Africa and the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean divisions were visited by the church-appointed Appreciative Inquiry Team, and fund-raising efforts procured donations for several of these hospitals. These medical institutions are beacons of hope and security. Little children, sitting sad and weak on parents’ knees, are given medical care, even though their parents are destitute.
The GC Health team has conducted training sessions in many countries, including Russia, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, South Africa, India, Korea, China, Mongolia, Australia, the Caribbean, Nigeria, Kenya, and the United States. These included health modules for the three sub-Saharan Africa divisions’ Master of Arts courses offered by the Adventist University of Africa. A similar module was taught as part of Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health M.P.H. program in Russia.
A new program for individual church congregations called CHARTERS has produced many modules of PowerPoint presentations, enabling local congregations to conduct relationship-building programs in their local communities, thereby becoming a community health center.
A highly successful global health conference was held in Geneva in 2009, in collaboration with the Office of Partnerships of the World Health Organization (WHO). More than 700 delegates from 95 countries listened to world-renowned speakers discuss global health issues and needs.
Partnerships have blossomed in the wake of the conference. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has been introducing our Inter-American and South American Health Ministries directors to the government ministers of health in those regions. Loma Linda University (LLU) is involved with PAHO through its School of Public Health. WHO also is seeking to test a pilot project for training highly skilled birthing attendants, utilizing our Adventist schools of nursing in Africa and India, supervised by the LLU School of Nursing and our GC Health Ministries associate director of nursing.
The Adventist world is alive with plans for new medical schools and new schools of public health. LLU has given magnificent leadership in the M.P.H. course held in Russia, and the new one being planned for Europe. River Plate and Montemorelos medical schools send missionaries around the globe.
Dentistry also is working well in many parts of the world. The Institute for Prevention of Addictions (IPA), based at Andrews University, has produced many groundbreaking scientific papers in peer-reviewed literature.
Clearly, the dedication of the health ministry teams around the world results in massive outreach—but we need the prayers and continued support of the membership.
This article was published June 24, 2010.