Adventist pastors and healthcare practitioners teamed up for mission in Kenya, in an initiative that resulted in 419 direct baptisms in the western part of that African nation earlier this month. Church leaders and lay members set up “health camps” on the sidelines of evangelistic meetings across the country, where they offered free check-ups and basic treatments. The project combined what is known as Total Member Involvement (TMI) evangelistic meetings with Comprehensive Health Ministry Initiatives (CHM) from March 3-18, 2017.
“We give glory and honor to God for these successful TMI and CHM events in Kenya,” said Fesaha Tsegaye, health ministries director in the East Central African Division (ECD), a church region that includes Kenya. TMI, or Total Member Involvement, is an initiative of the world church that encourages every church member to get involved in sharing the gospel. Likewise, CHM, or Comprehensive Health Ministry, seeks to use healthcare and health education as “the right arm of the gospel,” as Ellen G. White, a co-founder of the denomination, first described them over a century ago.
In Kenya, 19,248 people received free medical treatments in 59 sites in both regions during the two weeks of TMI evangelistic meetings, reported Tsegaye, who was personally involved in six medical camps in Kisumu, in Western Kenya. The 419-baptism figure is not the total number of people baptized after the meetings, but the number of people who were baptized after reporting coming to the meetings because they were inspired by the free medical service they had received.
Tsegaye also reported that more than 200 health practitioners, including physicians and nurses, staffed the 59 sites every day during the two weeks. Kendu Adventist Hospital, a church-operated healthcare institution in Western Kenya, was responsible for six health camps where 1,064 people were offered free check-ups and various treatments.
Kenya Ministry of Health supported the initiative wholeheartedly, providing counseling and screening services for cervix and breast cancer. Government officials also distributed free medicine among the people stopping by at the Adventist health camps.
“Our goal was to bring physical, social, and spiritual healing to the people who desperately need it.”
Some health camps also offered health expos and health education options, reported Tsegaye. In some places, they set up a tent where an elder or pastor invited people to register for Bible study classes.
“Our goal was to bring physical, social, and spiritual healing to the people who desperately need it,” said Tsegaye. He added that the church can only achieve it when health professionals and pastors work together. “In team working, we can blend and balance each other so that we meet the needs of the people more effectively,” he explained.
In an email to the regional church leadership, health ministries director for the world church Peter Landless commended what he called the “wonderful report” about the efforts of church leaders and members in East Central Africa. “Thank you for your…commitment to the message, commission, and mission of the Lord we love and serve,” he wrote.
Landless promised to add his efforts to those praying “for ongoing divine wisdom, guidance, energy and resources” for the region.