A senior government official in the South American country of Colombia has commended the Seventh-day Adventist Church for promoting good health and appealed to other religious denominations to follow its lead.
With the support of Colombia’s North Santander state, church members distributed more than 20,000 books on health and hope, conducted a health expo on the eight natural remedies, and organized a race in which dozens of disabled people raced on wheelchairs during a two-day event in the city of Cúcuta.
“I want to thank you immensely,” said North Santander Governor Edgar Jesús Díaz. “What we seek is to take a solution to the most needy communities, and today we have seen the hand of the Adventist Church taking hope and better health to the citizens of North Santander through exercise habits and healthy foods.”
Díaz said it was the second time that the government had joined an Adventist Church initiative in benefiting communities across the state.
“There are many people in jail who need psycho-social support, and health and physical activities, and we have been able to, with the Adventist Church, aid the most needy in communities like single mothers and children,” he said.
The governor invited other churches to participate in similar activities.
“We are calling all the churches, from whichever religious background, to support and be witnesses of the results of these actions expressed in the visible joy and gratitude of those benefited,” he said.
More than 200 people engaged in the health expo, which featured eight main stations on the eight natural remedies “I Want to Be Healthy” initiative led by the church throughout the Adventist Church’s Inter-American Division, which includes Colombia.
The church teamed up with Jesus Romero, a Colombian Paralympic champion and former national gymnastic champion in the 1990s and early 2000s. Romero, who uses a wheelchair since an accident in 2002, led dozens of people in a wheelchair race at Cúcuta’s Patinodromo track. Winners received a medal, a cash prize, and a bag of goodies from the Adventist Church.
The Cúcuta event aimed to share Jesus in a personal and practical way, said Joel Jaimes, president of the church in the Northeast Conference and organizer of the event last month.
“I am so glad because the church is understanding that we need to get out of our four walls and head to the streets to share the message of hope we have,” Jaimes said.
One of the days of the event fell on a Sabbath. Church members went early to church and left their pews at 10 a.m. to distribute the 20,000 books titled “Health and Wellness,” edited by Mark Finley and Peter Landless, the Adventist Church’s sharing book of the year.
Manuel Hernan Cuevas, who visited the health expo, said more health activities needed to take place in Cúcuta “so that we can be conscious of what health really means in our lives.”
Two other participants, Alexander Mendoza and Beatriz Silva, said they enjoyed receiving massages at the health expo and expressed a desire for additional events.
The event in Cúcuta, which borders Venezuela, was the fourth citywide health initiative organized by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North Colombia in three years. The other cities include Bucaramanga and, most recently, Medellin earlier this year.
Church leaders said the event not only benefited the public but church members as well.
“My heart is filled by helping people and teaching them about health,” said Sandra Ropero, who joined the church a year ago and participated in the event.
Iris Maya, a church member, was also excited to take part.
“The Lord really used us as instruments so that others could learn of the eight natural remedies and make the right changes and choices for a healthy lifestyle,” she said.