Thousands of Seventh-day Adventists recently gathered to run or walk along the streets of Caracas and other cities in the eastern part of Venezuela to promote a healthy lifestyle.
The event was the first territory-wide 5K walk led by the church in the East Venezuela Union and engaged more than 5,400 church members and their friends to highlight the church’s banner program, “I Want to Live Healthy.”
“The health of the people of God is more important for this time because we should preach with the Word and our testimony, and what better testimony than a healthy lifestyle?” Zoila Atalido, health ministries director for the East Venezuela Union, said.
The 5K walk took place on January 22 and was preceded by eight days of healthy living promotion on the church’s social media platforms. The social media posts challenged readers to walk, do outdoor chores, and plant a tree, as well as doing aerobic and strength exercises. These activities and more highlight the eight natural remedies promoted by the “I Want to Live Healthy” initiative.
“Walking at a fast pace, talking to people, enjoying the fresh air and pleasant weather, without a doubt renewed my body and spirit,” Atalido said. “I could see that same joy among so many of the participants on the walk.” Little by little, people can overcome small health challenges and acquire new healthy habits, she added.
Government officials from the city of Maturin and the state of Monagas joined in the 5K regional city event with more than 1,500 church leaders and members from the East Venezuela Conference.
In Luis del Valle Garcia, in the city of Barcelona, in the state of Anzoategui, Master Guide Gabriel Moncada joined 200 of his fellow church members from throughout the region to walk and run. At the end of the event, participants gathered at the local military base in Barcelona to view a presentation on aviation put on by members of the base. “We were able to distribute Christian literature to the members of the military base there,” García said.
The “I Want to Live Healthy” events across the eight conferences and missions in the union territory culminated their walks with a special gathering to stretch, distribute literature, and talk to onlookers, organizers said.
Seventeen-year-old Gregorio Ramirez, a new member of Marichal Adventist church, was ecstatic to have won the 5K run in Chacao, a subdivision of Caracas. Participating in the event meant so much to Ramirez because he had been sick two days before the event.
“I prayed to God to heal me so I could be part of the event, and the morning of the event I felt better. It was such a great experience,” Ramirez said. He recently joined the church thanks to the health message and the assistance of many who had been physically active.
“My goal was to win some kind of race or marathon, and when I learned about this activity at church, I started training, and that paid off today,” Ramirez said. “I would love for the church to organize this type of activity two or three times a year.”
The impact of the event drew so many to register and wear their numbers and shirts that leaders are planning to make it an annual event, hoping to lead more church members and their friends to join the “I Want to Live Healthy” initiative.