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ASI Abroad

Finding Peace on the Journey Home

Viriato Ferreira


John* arrived late. The 10-day residential Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program had already started a few days earlier, but running a 600-employee company was often filled with last-minute issues that needed immediate attention. Suffering from burnout didn’t help. He had gotten to the point where he wasn’t able to cope with even the smaller pressures of life when some friends told him about the VitaSalus Lifestyle Center, a place where he would find help.

When John signed up for the program, he had little idea about what to expect, neither did he know that the Center was run by Adventists. On his first evening he listened to a short spiritual message presented by the chaplain. It gave him hope, and at the end of the meeting he asked if they could hear more on the following day.

On Friday night John noticed some differences in the evening meeting. Staff members joined the group and they dressed differently. “Why these differences?” asked John. “The Sabbath has started, a special time God gave us to rest,” replied the chaplain. John was very curious and wanted to know more. Other patients joined the conversation. Amongst those listening was a woman who had been raised as an Adventist but had left the church many years before. To the chaplain´s surprise, this woman helped John see the beauty of the Sabbath and identified herself as an Adventist.

John´s life changed for the better. Peace filled his heart in spite of the many challenges he still had to face in his business. A few weeks later he returned for a follow-up appointment. During the visit he told us that he had discovered he had a “knee problem.” How? He had started to pray, and when he knelt down he noted this problem! We praised God for what was happening in his life.

John is one of many people who have been helped at the VitaSalus Lifestyle Center in Penela, Portugal. VitaSalus is a start-up project that has opened to the public, even though the buildings are yet to be completed. Nevertheless, patients keep coming. Many of them suffer from depression, an incapacitating illness that steals away their joy and health. The center’s nine bedrooms are not sufficient to house all those seeking help. “Our priority is to help people; that’s why we are here. We have not waited to have all the rooms ready before we started; patients were calling and we needed to do something,” says Marianne Ferreira, a medical doctor who co-founded VitaSalus. “At the center, atheists and agnostics start believing in a loving God; they find a home for their troubled hearts,” adds Viriato Ferreira, president of the institution.

Medical missionary work is the right hand of the gospel and is not limited to time or space. We do not have to travel to faraway places to find people in need. Like John, they could be right where you are, even in your own home. Is God calling you to minister to those in need? Seek God in earnest prayer and He will tell you how you can best help them.

* The name has been changed to protect the person´s identity and privacy.