North American Division event leads participants to reflection, training, and inspiration.
Around 200 Seventh-day Adventist health ministries leaders from across the North American Division (NAD) met in Lexington, Kentucky, United States, to reflect on best practices, get training and tips, and be inspired to action, from April 2 through 8.
The Power to Heal health summit connected leaders at local church, conference, and union levels, as well as lay members, who are using their expertise and knowledge to reach out to their communities wholistically for Jesus.
“God’s health laws and instructions originated in the environment and practices of Eden,” Adventist Health Ministries director Peter Landless reminded attendees in his opening-night keynote address. Also, “Jesus’ healing miracles included the spiritual, physical and mental dimensions,” he added. “Salvation and healing are inextricably linked in Jesus’ ministry.” This idea is the basis of the wholistic health model that the Adventist Church champions, Landless emphasized.
The Adventist wholistic message is also based on the counsel of church co-founder Ellen G. White, who repeatedly emphasized the key role of health ministries in the denomination’s evangelistic endeavors. Quoting from one of White’s letters, Landless read, “No line is to be drawn between the genuine medical missionary work and the gospel ministry. These two must blend.”
NAD health ministries director Angeline Brauer agreed. “Health works, because God works through healing,” she said as she discussed the role of health initiatives in bringing people to Christ.
Brauer and other attendees also celebrated the hands-on approach of the 2023 summit. “This event has been very functional,” one participant said. “We are receiving not only information but also extra help to implement what we learn. We are learning not only what must be done; we are being assisted to achieve those goals in our communities.”
The Power to Heal summit also served to highlight several ongoing programs and resources that align with the NAD theme of “Health Everlasting.” Continuing education credit was also included for those interested in specific training courses.
NAD Health Ministries offerings include community initiatives implemented at local and regional levels and membership in the Adventist Association of Faith Community Nursing (AAFCN) and the Adventist Association of Health and Wellness Coaching (AAHWC).
Carmelo Mercado, a general vice president of the Lake Union Conference of the Adventist Church, reviewed some of the latest health-related initiatives that involved local church pastors and members. Among them, the momentous Pathway to Health Indianapolis stands out. The event saw thousands of community residents receive free health care provided by hundreds of Adventist volunteers in April 2022. The initiative led to meaningful engagement with the community and ultimately brough new members to the Adventist Church.
AAFCN leaders, on the other hand, highlighted their role as part of a network of Adventist Faith Nurses (AFNs) and friends. The organization seeks to further the mission of these nurses as a vital part of a local church health-ministries program. AFNs serve a church or congregation to improve the health of their members. They work with the pastoral team, facilitating wholistic health for the congregation.
Finally, the AAHWC supports health coaching initiatives that seek to help individuals make healthy choices. According to its promoters, health and wellness coaching helps improve “overall quality of life, chronic conditions, pain and stress management, and mental wellness,” among others. The association offers resources and health partner training for those interested in coaching-related services.
The Power to Heal
Besides offering continuing education and training opportunities, the Power to Heal summit was a deeply spiritual event, which connected Bible principles with the practice of health-related initiatives in local churches and communities. Participants spent considerable daily time in Bible study, prayer, and worship.
International speaker Sebastien Braxton led the evening devotional messages, which focused on Bible-based principles to make health ministries initiatives more effective in reaching others for Christ.
In his April 3 presentation, Braxton explained that there is no question the Seventh-day Adventist Church has “unparalleled truth” as regards God-given health principles. “We are very good at having health knowledge and health truth,” Braxton said. But at the end of the day, people could potentially find that information anywhere, he said.
According to Braxton, what makes the Adventist health message different is to see it as a gift from the Holy Spirit, as detailed in 1 Corinthians 12 in the Bible. But then, he emphasized, in the last verse Paul tells us to “earnestly desire the best gifts.” And then, in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul makes very clear that without love, nothing has real value, Braxton said.
“The power to heal is in your love,” he told attendees interested in implementing health ministries initiatives in their communities. “Without love, you are going to attract a lot of attention, but its impact will not last.”
A day later, Braxton applied that love notion by reflecting on the power of words. “Our words can be candy for the soul,” he told summit participants. “They have the power to heal.”