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The Bottom Line

God Comes First in the Business of Life

Patricia LaVanture


The first time we met him, we had no idea he was on a heart transplant waiting list. It was Robert’s first cooking class, and it was all so new to him. Vocal about his perplexity, he cornered the instructor with a series of questions.

After a few more classes, the unexpected happened: he and his wife registered for our type 2 diabetes prevention program. As the classes progressed, he became strangely quiet. Something was happening…

From its inception nearly 55 years ago, Oak Haven’s mission of spreading the gospel combined with the health message has continued to expand through ever-widening doors. Stories like Robert’s have strewn the pages of its history.

Today, Oak Haven includes Country Life Natural Foods, which reaches thousands of people each year through health programs and outreach, a retail store, and wholesale health food distribution (truck deliveries, distributorships, mail order sales, and exports). In partnership with the Michigan Conference, Oak Haven is also home to Emmanuel Institute of Evangelism.

At Oak Haven, business and ministry go hand-inhand. Since its humble beginnings in 1961, witnessing for Christ in practical ways has been a way of life at Oak Haven. The Bible and writings of Ellen White have provided our motivation and assurance of success: “It requires much more grace . . . to work for God in the capacity of mechanic, merchant, lawyer, or farmer, carrying the precepts of Christianity into the ordinary business of life than to labor as an acknowledged missionary in the open field” (Child Guidance, p. 358).

inside-asi-summer-fall-2014_page_05_image_0002Each day begins with staff worship, for “prayer and faith will do what no power on earth can accomplish;… we must have the continual light that comes from God” (Ministry of Healing, p. 509).

Whether taking orders, praying with customers, delivering products, placing tracts in packages, teaching health classes, or maintaining facilities, staff members are encouraged to use their talents and influence to share the love of God. “Religion and business are not two separate things; they are one. Bible religion is to be interwoven with all we do or say” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 349).

… As our guest Robert continued to attend diabetes classes, his wife shared how their lives were improving. Robert admitted that he had struggled with the new dietary and lifestyle information, but was beginning to see results.

He lost more than 50 pounds and was sleeping better. As his blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides dropped, his doctor began to reduce and then eliminate medications. And finally— good news! Robert no longer needed a heart transplant! In fact, Robert’s cardiologist was so amazed at the improvements brought about by lifestyle changes that he left his cardiology practice to pursue preventive medicine.

That wasn’t the end of the story: Robert and his wife attended evangelistic meetings, were baptized, and are now active members of their local church. May the end of our story include many souls in the kingdom as we keep God first in the business of life.