The Inter-American Division (IAD) opened its territory-wide 2020 Health Summit by reminding top regional administrators and health leaders to begin the new decade with a healthy heart dedicated to strengthening the church’s health message across churches and communities.
Nearly 200 administrators and leaders from dozens of IAD countries and islands met in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, January 22-25, 2020, for several days of lectures, workshops, and opportunities for networking among the core group.
Themed “Your Brain, Your Body, Your Heart,” the four-day event reinforced the need for the physical, mental, and spiritual health necessary for a fruitful health ministry throughout the division territory and beyond.
“As leaders, we are committed to educating, serving, and evangelizing,” said Belkis Archbold, health ministries director for IAD and main organizer of the event. In essence, the health message has all of these three components, a message from God that we as Seventh-day Adventists received more than 150 years ago to not only have quality of life but a long life, she said.
It’s about getting all members involved to promote a healthy lifestyle and share Jesus using the method He established while on earth, Archbold said.
Elie Henry, president of IAD, said the event is part of the start of the year in the territory, holding the banner of health high across the 24 church regions in the division.
“We are here because, as church leaders, we are finishing mapping out where we want to go as God's church,” Henry said. “We are not going to forget our priorities of evangelizing, educating, and serving, as we incorporate those components with an open mind regarding integrated health.”
Peter Landless, health ministries director for the Adventist world church, spoke to leaders on the importance of taking care of the heart and historical milestones in the development of cardiological health. Some 17.5 million people die from cardiovascular diseases each year, he said. Experts estimate that by 2030, some 23.6 million people will die annually from cardiovascular disease.
“Jesus spent more time healing than preaching,” Landless said. “We don’t have a record that He baptized anyone. We know He healed many, so He left us an example we should follow.”
Seventh-day Adventists were given a formula, Landless said as he pointed to the banners displaying eight good-health practices displayed behind him. “There’s a knowledge/behavior disconnect.”
“Are you at risk? How is your heart health?” Landless asked. “You may think that is very good because you say, ‘I exercise, I watch my diet carefully, I sleep well, I don’t smoke or drink alcohol.’”
Landless touched on the benefits of keeping the heart safe while practicing forgiveness and optimism, knowing that you are loved, enjoying supportive relationships, having a purpose in life, and practicing an attitude of gratitude.
“As leaders of the church, we have to lead from the front, share the ‘light’ we have been shown,” Landless said. “The best way I can be like Jesus is to minister to the needs of others, just as Jesus Himself did when He was here,” he said. “He mingled with people, healed them, and then He saved them.”
According to the official program, the health summit featured the topics of rest and its benefits; curing high blood pressure in four weeks; diabetes and its risks; depression, mental health and the minister; the Adventist philosophy of diet, nutrition, cancer prevention, and more.