Trust and Rita Paunganwa felt happy when it was confirmed that the 2022 Pathway to Health mega-clinic would come to the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. Both of them call Indianapolis home and had wanted to volunteer in such an initiative for a long time.
“We live just a few minutes from the Lucas Oil Stadium,” Rita said. “We were so happy that we immediately volunteered to help where needed.” Trust, originally from Zimbabwe, works with people with disabilities. Rita serves at the Indiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. But the couple are just two of the approximately 2,400 volunteers who have registered to support the Pathway to Health initiative in Indianapolis.
The mega-clinic in Indianapolis promises to provide free medical care to everyone who needs it. Adventist professionals will work in various sections providing primary care, dentistry, radiology, eye care, surgical, and other services from April 17 to 20, organizers said. The mega-clinic, originally planned for 2020 in the lead-up to the later postponed General Conference Session, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the General Conference Session was moved to St. Louis, Missouri, but the mega-clinic initiative is still taking place in Indianapolis.
All Kinds of Volunteers
Volunteers include all kinds of professionals with various levels and areas of expertise, organizers said. Susana Facundo works as assistant director of medical outreach for Adventist World Radio (AWR).
“That is my paid job,” Facundo said. “But I am here as department head of volunteer registration.” Facundo hopes the experience she is gaining can help her as AWR coordinates a similar clinic in Cali, Colombia, in the second half of June. “It will be big,” she said.
Putting together a mega-clinic like this has impressive logistical challenges. In the morning of April 14, scores of volunteers worked on the floor of the Lucas Oil Stadium (since 2008 the home of the American football team the Indianapolis Colts), putting up color-coded drapes to mark the makeshift medical “offices.” Colors are used to differentiate the services provided and help people and volunteers more around easily. Volunteers will also wear color-coded t-shirts and badges. As examples, the color blue will be used for those providing primary care, and green has been assigned to dentistry.
In a corner, a modified RV, which traveled all the way from California to the floor of the stadium, now hosts air compressors and vacuums that are key for the dentistry services to be offered a few feet away. Nearby, boxes with dental chairs, medical gloves, and other supplies wait for volunteers to distribute them among the makeshift offices. It seems hard work, but volunteers appear well coordinated and focused on the task at hand. And this year, they are committed to spending Easter weekend and beyond showing in practice that they are Christ’s followers.
A Packed Program
Setting up the mega-clinic and serving others is not the only thing that volunteers are planning to do. They will also be treated to a packed spiritual program before and during the official opening of the mega-clinic. It starts on Friday evening, April 15, with a service that will include worship, praise, interviews, and a special message by North American Division (NAD) vice president for media Maurice Valentine.
On Sabbath morning, volunteers will participate in a regular Sabbath School and then will participate in a worship service. Renowned evangelist Mark Finley will be the keynote speaker. The April 16 afternoon program will feature a panel with Adventist health-care professionals and church leaders from various levels of the church. Among others, it includes leaders from the General Conference, the NAD, and the Lake Union Conference, a church administrative region that includes Indiana and Lake Region. The evening program will be focused on the outreach work that AWR is carrying out in the Philippines and several other places.
A Sunday-evening Easter service will also seek to inspire volunteers after the first day of mega-clinic service, and a gratitude service will take place on Tuesday, April 19.
About Pathway to Health
Pathway to Health is a humanitarian, non-profit organization that, according to its leaders, “is dedicated to sharing the blessings we have received by giving free medical, dental, vision, and surgical services to communities we visit.” Pathway to Health seeks to spread love inspired by the example of Christ. With the help and commitment of volunteers, donors, partners, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the organization has already shared the gift of physical, mental, and spiritual health with tens of thousands of people.
Previous mega-clinics have served the communities of Spokane, Washington; San Antonio, Texas; Phoenix, Arizona; Los Angeles, California; Fort Worth, Texas; and Beckley, West Virginia, the organization reported.
Now in Indianapolis, leaders and organizers are hopeful and excited about the prospects of this new mega-clinic initiative.
“Just think,” Pathway to Health president and CEO Ivan Golubic said. “Think about thousands of volunteers coming together with one purpose: to show God’s love.”