According to Seventh-day Adventist mission experts, the Northern Nigeria church region is part of the 10/40 Window, an area with much of the world’s population but very few Christians. A region like this requires a special approach, which includes medical missionary work, usually defined as “the right arm of the gospel.”
To set a plan in motion, more than 100 delegates from the Northern Nigeria Union Conference (NNUC) attended their first health summit, in collaboration with Adventist Possibilities Ministries, in Abuja, Nigeria, from January 29 to February 2, 2020.
In his welcome address, NNUC executive secretary Istifanus Ishaya, representing union president Harry Yohanna, reminded the delegates of the urgent need to create a paradigm shift that will stimulate a positive attitude for healthy living among church members and other people in the region.
“The Northern Nigeria geographical region looks to our denomination’s medical mission to provide to the average person faith-based awareness, re-orientation, and total education on how to live healthy, live spiritually, and [enjoy] a high-quality life,” Ishaya read.
WAD health ministries director Andre Ndaa stressed the importance of wholistic health, wholeness, and mission, urging delegates to do their best for the benefit of God’s church in Northern Nigeria.
“Our health message should be comprehensive, taking into account all the dimensions of a human being,” Ndaa said. “We are given health to promote the mission of the church. God invited us to go and preach as well as heal.”
Ndaa said that it was good for them to remind church people and leaders that there is no mission if they only preach without healing. It is the reason, he said, that the health that we need and promote should prompt us to be physically fit to serve other people.
Both NNUC health ministries director Chikwe Amaike and possibilities ministries coordinator Ibrahim Maigadi reminded listeners that the event’s goal was “to train health workers, leaders, and church members to live a healthy lifestyle, to eat well, and practice Adventist health beliefs in a way that will help everyone to support the gospel ministry.” A healthy lifestyle keeps the brain and body in harmony, they emphasized.
The event lasted for five days and included presentations on spirituality and health, the problem with opioids, mental health, nutrition and brain health, the importance of physical exercise, and living with purpose, among others.
Many delegates said they enjoyed the presentation and pledged to support Adventist outreach efforts through health in the area. One of them was Laraba Oka, who said she felt she is now ready to impact her hometown with some of the tools she acquired at the event.
“It has been a great privilege and opportunity. I intend to go back to my locality to begin to introduce a healthy lifestyle and living to my neighbors, my friends, and colleagues in my office,” Oka said. “In my church, I intend to do some counseling.”
Oka added that since she works with children, she feels duty-bound to introduce some of the healthy lifestyles of eating and drinking and encourage parents during Parent-Teacher Association meetings to help the children eat and drink right and sleep enough.
“By doing this, a school can become very meaningful,” Oka said. “And who knows? Children could even become healthy lifestyle tutors in the future.”