February 18, 2017

South Pacific Adventists Learn How Forgiveness Relates to Better Health

LINDEN CHUANG, Adventist Record

A new program demonstrating the life-changing power of forgiveness was launched at health summits in New Zealand and Australia over the past two weekends.

“Forgive to Live” was introduced to a group of 115 delegates at the Be More: Adventist Health Summit, held at the Holiday Inn in Auckland from February 3-5.

More than 80 people took part in the workshops hosted by psychotherapist Dr. Dick Tibbits, author of the book on which the program is based.

Tibbits, from Florida in the United States, challenged the group of church and community members to rethink their concept of forgiveness by suggesting that “forgiveness is not forgetting. It’s remembering things in a different way.” He went on to explain how practicing forgiveness can reduce anger and blood pressure levels.

The presentations were well-received by participants, with one woman saying the training helped her answer questions on how to forgive those who have hurt her. Many other delegates expressed their desire to take the Forgive to Live program back to their churches and communities.

“The Forgive to Live program, produced by Dr. Paul Rankin [associate health ministries director] at the South Pacific Division, reaches into the very depth of humanness and offers a way out for many people fighting with memories that limit their ability to thrive,” said Adrielle Carrasco, Health Ministries director of the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference. “We see it as having great potential, not just as a stand-alone program, but also as a follow-up to other community-run events within all our territory.”

The Forgive to Live program was launched in Australia a week later during the biennial Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) Summit, held at Avondale College of Higher Education in Cooranbong (NSW) from February 10-12.

The gathering of more than 120 people also included visitors from New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Solomon Islands.

Speaking on Sabbath afternoon, Tibbits highlighted the logical union between CHIP and the Forgive to Live program, saying “Christ brought forgiveness as a critical part of the healing component.

“When you’re doing health ministry, do CHIP programs, but also, like Jesus, teach and show forgiveness.”

The launch of Forgive to Live in New Zealand and Australia highlights the ongoing commitment of Adventist Health Ministries leaders to providing holistic programs and resources to churches and communities.

“The time for lifestyle medicine is now.”

Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program training was offered at the Be More: Adventist Health Summit in Auckland, with program founder Dr Neil Nedley—on hand as part of his first ever trip to New Zealand—helping 34 people complete facilitator training. The highly-acclaimed program was added to the CHIP package two years ago in Australia, with training offered again at the recent summit.

The recently-launched CHIP online is also making an impact. Twenty people are currently enrolled in the course, with the program’s next round of intakes open until February 27.

Speaking to CHIP Summit attendees on Friday night, Avondale College senior lecturer and Lifestyle Research Centre director, Dr Darren Morton, said the continual development of CHIP and other lifestyle programs is essential as the “lifestyle medicine movement” gains momentum in the South Pacific and around the world.

“The time for lifestyle medicine is now,” he said. “It has incredible potential to change the face of the wellbeing of our communities and our countries.”