February 16, 2024

Adventists in Venezuela Engage in 5K Walk to Promote Healthy Lifestyle

More than 4,000 church members promote the ‘I Want to Live Healthy’ initiative.

Steven’s Rosado and Inter-American Division News
Hundreds of Seventh-day Adventists and their friends make their way through the streets of Santa Elena de Uairén, in Bolivar State, Venezuela, to promote the I Want to Live Healthy initiative. [Photo: South Bolivar Venezuela Mission]

Thousands of Seventh-day Adventist church members and their friends recently walked five kilometers (3.1 miles) through main roads, city streets, sports fields, and communities in the eastern part of Venezuela to promote the church’s “I Want to Live Healthy” initiative.

The health initiative promotes the eight natural remedies to living a healthy lifestyle, which includes drinking water, keeping a positive attitude, eating salads, exercising, resting, avoiding poor foods, eating a better breakfast and less dinners, and promoting happiness.

Bearing banners and homemade signs, church members walked during the church’s second annual territory-wide 5K event, led by the East Venezuela Union Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (EVUM). During the walk, church members engaged with more than 4,000 people on January 28 and February 4, organizers reported. Additional 5K walks are scheduled in the coming weeks in several fields, church leaders said.

Sharing Hope 

“This year’s 5K walk turned out to be a blessing for our members to connect with others in our territory,” Darlys Belisario, EVUM health ministries director and main organizer of the event, said. The activity was a way of sharing hope, she added. “People may not be directly open to learn more about the Bible, but they have an affinity for sport activities, so the objective of our health ministries is to open the doors to many hearts for the honor and glory of God,” she said.

In the southeastern part of Bolivar State, an Adventist radio station promoted the walk, inviting the people of Santa Elena de Uarién and other nearby communities to arrive at 7:00 a.m. to warm up for the walk. 

“As we ended the walk in a park, we divided participants in groups, and each group would go to designated stations where the eight natural remedies were highlighted,” Kendy Fernández, health ministries director of the South Bolivar Venezuela Mission, said.

No Matter the Age

Mariana Márquez, a cancer survivor, said she was delighted to take part in the I Want to Live Healthy activity. “Exercising gives you life, energy, and resistance, and most of all the capability to think more clearly,” Márquez said. “That’s why I want people to train to walk, to enjoy the sun and the fresh air, to have a calm and clear mind.”

“I walked the five kilometers even though my daughter doubted that I could do it,” said 77-year-old Elsy, who took part in the walk in South Bolivar. “I want to be part of any activity like this when it comes up for my health, and I know that I have the strength and God’s blessing.”

Eighty-year-old Maria Noguera, from another part of Bolivar State, said she knows it was God who motivated her to walk because He gives her the energy, the strength, and will to walk. Noguera said that she had been feeling pain in her legs for three days but prayed to God to feel better. “Thanks to God, I was able to finish the 5K walk,” Noguera said.

Connecting with Others

In Caracas, Venezuela’s capital city, Minerva Mejías said that she didn’t want to miss connecting with others and being active through the walk in even though her hip has been giving her problems. Mejías, who is 50, encouraged young people to be physically active and not waste their time on video games and social media. “It’s better to move your legs than to move just your fingers,” she said.

In Monangas State, Wilma Pérez was part of a group of 100 participating in the 5K. “I love to take part in walks and in marathons, and it’s important to show others the importance of physical exercise to enjoy good health and a positive attitude,” Pérez said.

More than 345 people, including 70 friends from the community, completed the 5K walk in that area.

Onlookers and drivers were given pieces of literature on family, the Christian faith, and health as they journeyed through the streets and communities during the annual 5K walk.

The larger crowds were escorted and protected by the municipal police and civil protection authorities, and regional media outlets covered the activity.

“Today we were able to enjoy a special day,” Kleiberlin de Cardossi, from Guarenas, Miranda State, said. “The activity was so comforting because as a church we have been taking on challenges here to care for our health at the start of the year,” she said. “We were able to walk with so many people from our region and share with others that don’t know about Jesus how beautiful it is to live healthy.”

Ana Gamboa, a district health ministries director from Santa Luciá, Miranda State, in the South Central Venezuela Conference, said she was delighted to see children, young people, and adults complete the 5K walk. “I am sure that this event motivated so many people,” she said. “I could feel the companionship of God and He helped us to accomplish what we sometimes think is not possible. Walking is health. And we should walk more often and with God next to us.”

Health Activities throughout the Year

Belisario said that the union health ministries department will continue to coordinate with youth, children’s, and women’s ministries to promote activities designed to highlight the I Want to Live Healthy initiative. In addition, the church is planning to promote it throughout the primary and secondary schools across the union territory, Belisario said.

“We have many activities taking place bi-monthly like health expos, health clubs, food fairs, medical brigades, open clinics, and others that help to alleviate the difficult social and economic situation that many live under in Venezuela,” Belisario said. “All of us can do our part to invite our fellow members and friends in the community, to promote this wonderful truth we have in Jesus.”

The original version of this story was posted in the Inter-American Division news site.