, news editor, Adventist Review
Some 1,500 volunteers — nearly twice as many as organizers had sought — are gearing up to provide free Seventh-day Adventist healthcare to an expected 3,000 patients at a two-day mega-clinic in the U.S. state of Washington next week.
The “Your Best Pathway to Health” event — the third mega-clinic over the past two years in the United States — will be held from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 3 and 4 at the Spokane County Fairgrounds and serve as an introduction to the weekend ASI National Convention, which opens Aug. 5.
“The mega-clinic is a thank-you gift to the community for allowing us to hold the convention in their beautiful city,” said Dr. Lela Lewis, president of Your Best Pathway to Health, a service of ASI, or Adventist-Laymen’s Services & Industries.
Thousands of Adventist entrepreneurs and other businesspeople will join church leaders in Spokane, a city of about 209,000 people, for the annual ASI convention.
Lewis said the 1,500 doctors, nurses, dentists, massage therapists, chaplains, and other volunteers who have signed up for the mega-clinic far exceeded her hopes of gathering at least 800 volunteers.
The goal is to provide 1,500 people on each of the two days of the clinic with access to a wide-range of free services, including primary medical care, minor surgeries by appointment, dental care, vision, mental health, women’s health, physical and occupational therapy, nutrition and lifestyle coaching, and clothing, including both men’s suits and wedding dresses.
Organizers have the support of Spokane Mayor David Condon, whose office has donated use of the fairgrounds (a $30,000 value), arranged the printing of 30,000 brochures, helped with financial recruitment to support the clinic’s expanded pharmacy department, and provided free tables and chairs. The mayor's office — along with ASI Youth for Jesus, Bible workers, and church members — is also distributing 45,000 handbills.
“The mayor's office has assisted with numerous resources, in fact with more broad support than any other mayor’s office thus far,” Lewis told the
Her organization’s first free clinic provided nearly 3,000 people in San Francisco and Oakland, California, with $5.2 million in free healthcare over three days in April 2014. It was followed up with a three-day event that offered more than $20 million in services to 6,200 people in San Antonio, Texas, in April 2015. San Antonio’s mayor furnished the Alamodome stadium at no cost for the event, which introduced the city to Seventh-day Adventists ahead of the July 2-11 General Conference session in the same stadium.
Watch San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor tour the mega-clinic in the Alamodome stadium on April 9, 2015.
A total of 105 people have been baptized as a direct result of the free clinic in San Antonio, and the number will grow when the latest evangelistic meetings wrap up with more baptisms, Lewis said.
The new believers were among Alamodome patients who were invited to visit “Health Information Centers” at local Adventist churches to complete follow-up work with their laboratory and pathology reports or to pick up free prescription glasses. While at the churches, the patients were offered health courses that lasted for nearly eight weeks and then transitioned into gospel evangelism.
The same methodology used in San Antonio will be repeated in Spokane.
“We pray that this will have a similar result in Spokane as we saw in San Antonio,” Lewis said.
The free clinics have generated considerable interest in their communities. So many patients turned up at the inaugural event in California that some had to be turned away. In Texas, patients arrived at the Alamodome from hundreds of miles away. A similar excitement is growing over Spokane
The event — which cost more than $100,000 to organize and is co-sponsored by the church’s Upper Columbia Conference, North Pacific Union Conference, and Adventist Health-West — is being promoted through billboards, radio interviews, and news releases from the mayor’s office, in addition to the thousands of brochures and handbills.
Local media are taking notice. This week the
Moscow-Pullman Daily News newspaper ran a story with the headline “Adventist Church Offers Free Medical Care. The report noted that local clinics operated by the Upper Columbia Conference-sponsored Total Health Care Physician Group in the adjacent cities of Moscow, Idaho, and Pullman, Washington, are offering free transportation to the mega-clinic in Spokane, located 75 miles (120 kilometers) to the south.
After receiving treatment during the day, patients will be invited to attend evening presentations titled “Heaven’s Answer” — the theme for the two-day free clinic — by John Bradshaw, speaker and director of It Is Written, the Adventist television ministry. The evening program also will include a video, “Mission Minutes,” where volunteers and sometimes patients share their personal testimonies about miracles that happened to them that day.
“It is a very high time and generates a lot of enthusiasm and excitement from the volunteers,” Lewis said.
The meetings will be broadcast by 3ABN, which is also covering the ASI convention.
Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson will thank Spokane Mayor Condon for allowing the church to partner with the city to help improve the community’s health during a Sabbath afternoon program at the convention on Aug. 8.
After Spokane, the next free clinic is scheduled for Los Angeles from March 23 to 25, 2016.