The Health Ministries department of Japan Union Conference (JUC) conducted an experimental five-day NEWSTART health program for JUC office workers from September 28 to October 2, 2020, to improve health physically, mentally, and above all, spiritually. Twelve JUC workers participated in the trial program.
Typically, the JUC health department organizes a short live-in NEWSTART program at this time of the year but had to cancel it this year due to COVID-19. There have also been many limitations in organizing evangelistic meetings and outreach activities at church since the beginning of this year. Churches have been struggling to find some way to reach out to their communities in this difficult time. People in Japan and all over the world are afraid of the new virus, trying to find a way to prevent getting the virus and looking for health information.
Health leaders in Japan were interested in experiencing the power of Adventist health methods. Rather than going out to a special place and staying in nature as they have in the past, they continued to work at the office as usual. Their goal was to pay attention to all of the NEWSTART principles. “These are precious health messages that God has given us through the Bible and Ellen White’s writings,” leaders said. “ ‘Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power — these are the true remedies. Every person should know nature’s remedial agencies and how to apply them.’* These are remedies God has given us to maintain our health and for our restoration.” The principles are known by the easy-to-remember acronym NEWSTART: Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunlight, Temperance, Air, Rest, and Trust in Divine Power.
Although Seventh-day Adventists are familiar with these health messages, some church members do not practice all the health principles. Changing the lifestyle is not easy, but, as leaders noted, through Christ nothing is impossible. The workers wanted to be victorious over indulgences that tend to weaken physical and spiritual powers.
During the program, volunteer staff members provided participants with plant-based whole foods for breakfast and lunch and freshly squeezed juice in place of dinner to rest the digestive system and to promote healing during sleep. Each day began with spending time with God, being empowered by Him, drinking a few cups of warm water to flush out toxins, walking in the sunshine, doing deep-breathing exercises outdoors, and eating a hearty, wholesome breakfast.
Between meals, participants were encouraged to drink lots of water, stand up every hour, and open the windows to get fresh air for good blood circulation. Usually, workers seldom get out of the office during the day, so the group went out for a walk after lunch for about 20 minutes to get sunlight. They were blessed with beautiful weather during the program. After work, the same group got together for evening worship and a short health lecture before drinking fresh juice for dinner. The next day’s breakfast was provided after the lecture, and all went home, intending to go to sleep before 10:00 p.m. During the program, no snacking was allowed. Participants ate only what was provided and drank only water and herbal teas, avoiding any sugary, carbonated, and caffeinated drinks.
After the program, participants reported positive results. Even though some had suffered from symptoms such as headache, fatigue, and drowsiness in the first few days, all reported some improvements in just five days.
Participants were checked for body weight, body fat, visceral fat, body water, Body Mass Index (BMI), Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), body age, and other measurements before and after the program. On average, members of the group lost 1.4 percent body weight and 5.9 percent body fat; the best score was 2.6 percent weight loss and 17.3 percent fat loss.
JUC office employees also reported improved quality of sleep and other improvements in bowel functions and concentration levels. Some even reported less stiffness in the neck and shoulders, lighter menopause symptoms, and less sleepiness during the afternoon.
“Participants realized how powerful God’s methods are,” church health leaders emphasized. “Most of them said they are making efforts to maintain their new lifestyle for better health.” Now health ministries leaders say they are thinking of ways this program could be implemented in churches around the country.
*Quoting from Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, 127.