Are there opportunities for health professionals not employed by the Adventist Church to engage in real mission for the church? My personal circumstances and commitments preclude overseas service.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has had a strong emphasis on health and health ministry from its earliest days. The health work and our health message are broadly termed the right arm of the gospel.
Jesus set the example in His own ministry. We’re told that He spent more time healing than preaching. Much of His work revolved around healing and caring for people’s needs. As He did so, He gained their confidence and invited those He served to follow Him.*
Caring, service, and wholistic healing were modeled in Jesus’ day-to-day ministry. He would address the issues of physical illness and also urge those He healed to sin no more. He addressed the problems of guilt and shame. He touched the untouchables, fed the hungry, and met people just where they were.
As physicians, we both have spent our entire careers in service and mission, and it’s important to state up front that health evangelism and health ministry are not just for medical doctors. Nurses, dental professionals, physical therapists, occupational therapists, administrators—all those engaged in some aspect of the health work—are key to mission and called to extend the healing ministry of Jesus in whatever discipline they may be qualified. We’re all a part of this blended ministry, caring for the physical as well as the spiritual needs of those we serve.
One does not need to be on the payroll of the church to be part of its mission. Work with the church in supporting its community outreach programs as well as teaching, leading, and guiding, using the expertise and learning with which God has equipped, entrusted, and commissioned you. Service in the ministry of healing is a wonderful privilege.
We’ve had the sacred opportunity to minister both physically and spiritually to world leaders, speak in parliaments and legislative assemblies, lead in academic settings, teach students and residents, plant congregations, establish and administer lifestyle programs, share the good news of Jesus, preach, teach, and baptize. We have the sacred responsibility to be always ethically conscious and sensitive and never to abuse the trust and vulnerability of those we serve. Never should we take advantage of those seeking or needing our services; we must model Christlike compassion and respect individual choices and decisions.
By God’s grace we’ve seen atheists embrace Jesus as Lord, the sick miraculously healed, and the reversal of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) through balanced application of the principles God has given us for wellness and for the prevention and even healing of common diseases. We’ve had the sacred privilege of walking with those who have now tasted the first death, sharing the blessed hope!
The harvest is plentiful; the workers few. You can be the difference serving just where you are. Ask Him daily for at least one opportunity to be His heart and hands. He will not disappoint you!
* See Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), p. 143.
Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.
Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.