July 7, 2014

Outreach Health

Imagine waking up this morning to the news that a passenger jet had crashed overnight, killing everyone on board. We all understand how sadly we would respond to such news.

Now imagine that it wasn’t just one, but 100 jet planes that had crashed. News affiliates would cover nothing else, all air travel would come to a screeching halt, and billions of dollars would be spent on investigating the cause of these crashes following public outcry.

Yet the number of children that die every day from preventable conditions is the equivalent of 100 jets crashing. Every day 25,000 children under the age of 5 die from malnutrition or illnesses as basic as diarrhea, according to UNICEF.*44 1TANZANIA: As in many other parts of the world, ADRA helps communities in Tanzania to build wells to provide clean water close to where the people live. " class="img-right" style="float: right;">

But do you hear anything about it? Health-care crises are unfolding across the globe. Why is our compassion for others directly related to whether the people involved are close to us socially, emotionally, culturally, ethnically, economically, and geographically?

Surely God does not have different levels of compassion for children based on their nationality, their race, or their geographical location. He grieves because these are His children.

The Call to Compassion

As Christians we are called to take this compassion and live it the same way that Jesus Himself ministered to people’s needs and won their confidence. I like to think of ADRA as the healing hands of the church. We have a longstanding presence in some of the most difficult parts of the world, where we bring people a message of hope for their future.

We often liken the church to the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27). The church is made up of many parts. ADRA’s role is to begin a physical healing process so other arms of the church can follow to restore the spiritual part of a person’s soul.

ADRA works to meet people’s various physical needs worldwide, including health issues. We run medical facilities and provide community-based counseling for parents, vulnerable youth, and caregivers on health and nutrition topics.

We encourage people to seek care and practice appropriate health behaviors, such as eating foods rich in nutrients and protein, drinking clean water, and practicing proper hygiene and sanitation.44 2ECUADOR: ADRA assists native Ecuadorian families with planting gardens, which help keep families fed and communities thriving. " class="img-left" style="float: left;">

Our purpose is to better communities, save lives, and improve the overall health of the people we serve. We want to give communities a chance to thrive. ADRA is committed to healing the whole person and could accomplish so much more if our churches and church members became more engaged with these causes, because they are a part of Christ’s ministry of compassion.

Eradicating Disease

A few years ago India accounted for half the world’s cases of polio. ADRA joined forces with its global partners to participate in its eradication and encourage vaccination. Today India is officially clear of the disease.

In South Sudan ADRA collaborated with an international consortium of partners to address the problems of chronic malnutrition, food security, and other threats to health. The program sought to improve the health and nutrition of vulnerable women and children. The result was a significant reduction of malnutrition and a decreased prevalence of illnesses.

We hope to add mental health components to our health initiatives. This will be critical to the sustainability of any intervention. We also plan to work more closely with Adventist Health Ministries and our global network of Adventist health institutions to deliver a variety of services to the people who need them most.

Every ministry has different responsibilities to our church, but we should all work together so we can address issues of brokenness around the world and be agents of hope and healing.

* www.unicef.org.nz/ChildSurvival.