village marketplace in San Pedro, California, United States, had an additional visitor one recent Sabbath afternoon. A missionary van from the nearby San Pedro Lighthouse Seventh-day Adventist Church arrived at the Marina seafood restaurant’s side parking lot just before 3:00 p.m.
A group of volunteers was waiting. They were church members with the vision of serving the San Pedrocommunity by creating health awareness and promoting free screening services. And without further ado, they invited people to explore the services offered by the van.
“I will do whatever it takes to keep this van ministry alive”
“We checked blood pressure and blood sugar levels, as well as Body Mass Index,” said volunteer Maricarmen Vega. “And [we] checked people’s vision and weight,” she added.
Vega recalled how volunteers were all smiles as they talked to visitors. The village marketplace was buzzing with people coming and going, and Lighthouse volunteers mingled and directed people’s attention to “the van where health begins,” as they advertised it. “The screening results helped unlock a door to visitors’ health status,” said Vega. “Twenty relationships were made with both physical and spiritual blessings.”
One nurse was busy educating and encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Another served as her assistant, reading weight and body-fat levels. A third called out to people, inviting them to the van with her gracious smile. An improvised waiting room just outside the van was full at times, with people laughing and chatting. “The Spirit of God was most certainly in our midst,” noted Vega, “directing the traffic toward the little missionary post that appeared so simple and unassuming!”
“It was a blessing to be able to share my testimony,” said Todd Ho, another volunteer. “I was diagnosed as diabetic in 2013. Changing my diet to lose weight and get off medication has changed my life for the better.”
Ho said that he was able to share his experience with those who are heading down the path of being diabetic. “I was able to give personal-experience input into the importance of a healthy diet and getting their vision checked,” he said, “because of the effects that diabetes can have on vision.”
Ho explained that the van ministry is so important to the community because many whom they assisted don’t have insurance and may not have ever known that they are on their way to having health problems. “Like many whom we served, I too am looking forward to this event happening more often,” said Ho.
Pati Lawrence, who served as the assistant nurse, agreed. “It was awesome to see our Lord’s blessing on our health ministry and His blessing on those tested,” she said. “[They] are now aware of important lifestyle changes [they need] to make to keep them healthy.”
Didier Gonzalez, the lead driver of the van ministry is the glue that brought everything together. He purchased the van from a Hispanic man named Jesus, and out of his own pocket, detailed and beautified it with inspirational images. “I will do whatever it takes to keep this van ministry alive,” said Gonzalez.
Lighthouse members feel their van ministry may be only a drop in the ocean, but they say that if each person contributes with one drop—expressed in an act of kindness—a mighty ocean would soon follow. “We must strive to soak people in God’s love,” they said. “And it all starts with a single drop.”