November 12, 2014

Bahamian Prime Minister Seeks Community Health Center

Adventist Church leadership has been seeking to open community health centers around the world, but it’s not every day that a prime minister makes a personal appeal for a center in his country.

The prime minister of the Bahamas, Perry G. Christie, has asked the Adventist Church to open a health and wellness center in his Caribbean island nation after hearing a local church leader present a report on Adventist centers worldwide.

“You have an extraordinary history of commitment to best health practice. In this report, it speaks to the success of wellness programs that you have, but it also says we must move to create in the Bahamas a wellness center,” Christie told local church leaders in the Bahamian capital, Nassau.

Christie, speaking at the opening of a three-day quadrennial business meeting of the church’s South Bahamas Conference, pledged his government’s support in the opening of an Adventist wellness center.

“When you find a body like yours, that has an international reputation for its commitment to wellness and healthy lifestyle and you are prepared, and you do it in this country, then the government of the Bahamas will find a way to help you succeed at doing that,” he said to an audience that included Hubert Minnis, leader of the parliamentary opposition, in the Hillview Seventh-day Adventist Church on Nov. 2.

At least four community health centers owned by Adventist laypeople already operate on New Providence, the island where Bahama’s capital is located.

Leonard Johnson, president of the church’s Atlantic Caribbean Union, which includes the Bahamas, indicated at the business meeting that the church was considering the establishment of its own health outreach center on New Providence.

Christie’s call gives church leaders a new reason to review the possibility of setting up a wellness center in a country where the church does not operate any medical facilities. Wellness centers have opened in Indonesia, Kenya, Ukraine, and other countries as world church leaders prioritize plans to link every Adventist church building to a community health center that provides a Christ-modeled blend of physical and spiritual healing to local communities.

Over the years, Adventist members have actively promoted good health practices through various initiatives in the Bahamas, a fact recognized by the prime minister and opposition leader in separate speeches at the meeting.

Johnson said a new health initiative titled “I Want to Live Healthy” would be implemented throughout the territory of the Atlantic Caribbean Union in 2015. 

Johnson also reaffirmed the church’s commitment to continuously pray for Bahamian leaders.

“When we visit with leaders of our country, it is not just to solicit help from them or to deal with issues but, as spiritual leaders, it is to take time to pray for them,” he said.

Meanwhile, delegates at the business meeting re-elected the leadership of the South Bahamas Conference to new four-year terms: Paul Scavella as president, Peter Joseph as executive secretary, and Melvin Lewis as treasurer.

The South Bahamas Conference is the largest of the four fields within the Atlantic Caribbean Union territory with a membership of 21,000. It covers the central and southern islands of the Bahamas, including New Providence, the location of the country’s capital.