April 20, 2022 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America recently organized a virtual health symposium for more than 2,500 health professionals and healthcare workers serving in the network of 14 hospitals and 21 clinics throughout the territory. The symposium became the first territory-wide event meant to help healthcare professionals understand the philosophy, history, and particularities of the Adventist comprehensive health ministry, as well as present an overview of healthcare institutions throughout Inter-America.

It’s important to maintain the culture of promoting health and wellbeing on a systematic basis as an essential part of our beliefs as Seventh-day Adventists  said Franck Généus, M.D., health ministries director for the church in Inter-America, and president of Adventist Healthcare Services Inter-America (AHS-IA), and main organizer of the symposium.

The virtual symposium was also geared towards Adventist health professionals and their colleagues who work outside the church, teaching them practical ways to share the Adventist health message where they work.

Franck Généus, M.D., health ministries director for the church in Inter-America, leads the first virtual territory-wide symposium for health professionals employed at Adventist hospitals and clinics across Inter-America, Apr. 7-8, 2022. [Photo: IAD Screenshot]

Themed “Achieving God’s Mission Through the Comprehensive Health Ministry,” held Apr. 7-8, 2022, the event challenged health professionals, church leaders and members in general to be instrumental in their individual ministry as they demonstrate practical ways of sharing the health message through community impact activities as well.

Global impact of the health ministry

Peter Landless, M.D., health ministries director for the Adventist world church, highlighted that the scope of the Adventist health message is global, and that the church has been recognized as the leading faith-based network in the protestant world. The church owns and operates 1,000 healthcare institutions with over 36,000 beds and 78,000 employees, and sees 1.5 million admissions and 20 million outpatients each year, as well as providing a billion dollars of charity health work every year. “This is not insignificant,” said Dr. Landless, and has revolutionized the world.

Dr. Landless pointed out to the attendees that they should not only be medical missionaries in the hospitals and clinics, but also in the home and community.

“Let’s never forget that there’s a link between healing and salvation, and God’s Spirit uses healing of meeting people’s heart to reveal his love and salvation,” said Dr. Landless. It’s a blended ministry, he said of the comprehensive health ministry the church follows. “We must reach out to men and women and help wherever is needed to minister to the sick and the suffering, physically as well as spiritually. It’s about meeting people’s needs while revealing to them the love of God. “We have a [health] message, we have a mandate, we have a method, and it’s important that we have a ministry and a mission,” said Landless.

Peter Landless, M.D., health ministries director for the Adventist world church, speaks to the hundreds of health professionals on the comprehensive health ministries led by the church for nearly 150 years, on Apr. 7, 2022. [Photo: IAD Screenshot]

Every member becomes a health minister 

Every church member becomes a health minister or a medical missionary, sharing hope and health and healing—a wholistic approach, he said. Every church must be a center to provide useful health information beyond stress recovery, healthful cooking, exercise, addiction recovery, and more, added Landless. “We have a message, we have an option, we have a tool, we have a ministry,” he said.

Landless appealed to the health professionals to live a healthy lifestyle to better witness to those around them. “The more perfect our health, the more perfect our labor,” he said. “If you don’t have time to be well, you must make the time.”

Pastor Lowell Cooper, former general vice president of the Adventist world church, reflected on the comprehensive health ministry and its role in the mission of God.

Devoted to Christ-like healing and serving

Cooper reviewed two of the six methodologies the church has defined for its work in the world: Christ-like living, Christ-like communicating, Christ-like discipling, Christ-like teaching, Christ-like healing, and Christ-like serving.

Pastor Lowell Cooper, former general vice president for the Adventist world church speaks on the comprehensive health ministry and its role in the mission of God. [Photo: IAD Screenshot]

In Christ-like healing, it’s important to affirm the biblical principles of the well-being of the whole person, making healthful living and the healing of the sick, the poor and the oppressed a priority in cooperation with the Creator in his compassionate work of restoration, he read.

Just as in the bible times, there are people marginalized in our society, suffering from poverty, war, natural calamities, from abuse, brokenness, failure, fear of isolation, disease, pestilence and hopeless, added Cooper. “Our ministry in this work is not just in the realm of ideas and doctrines, it is also demonstrated in acts, acts of mercy, healing, justice, fairness, forgiveness and compassion.”

“In following the example of Jesus, we commit ourselves to humble service, ministering to individuals and populations more affected by poverty, tragedy, hopelessness and disease,” he added.

The church for God’s mission

Cooper challenged health professionals to think more about the mission as being God’s mission.  “I firmly believe that God does not have a mission for the church as much as He has a church for His mission,” he said. Achieving God’s mission through comprehensive health ministries is about the whole person care, it’s about a ministry not simply a methodology, is concerned with wellness not just disease treatment, about continuum of care for physical, social, spiritual and mental well-being, and is a collaborate ministry not only inside the church but with other organizations committed to community development, he explained.

Elie Honore, M.D., former health ministries director for the church in Inter-America reviews the history of the Adventist philosophy of health and healthcare throughout the years. [Photo: IAD Screenshot]

Let’s live the health message we have received, think carefully and thoughtfully about a theology of suffering and grow in the practice of neighborliness—getting out into the community,” Cooper challenged.

Inter-American Division President Pastor Elie Henry thanked the hundreds of health professionals serving the territory’s hospitals and clinics for their crucial role in providing care and ministering to patients and the community around them. “It’s important for us to come together and see how we can improve our service to God and influence people to understand that God has a special interest for us, for our health,” he said.

A brief historical overview of the comprehensive health ministry during the last 74 years was presented by Elie Honore, M.D., as well as a special segment honoring him for his more than 30 years of dedicated service to health ministries in Inter-America. In addition, the online program featured a Q&A session.

The symposium was the first in a string of specialized training meetings that will follow to address nurses, physicians, therapists, psychologists, pharmacists, and lab technicians, in the coming months and year.

To watch Inter-America’s Health Ministry Symposium for Healthcare Professionals:

 

For English:

May 7, HERE

May 8, HERE

 

For Spanish:

May 7, HERE

May 8, HERE

 

For French:

May 7, HERE

May 8, HERE

 

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