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Feature

Lighting the World

James Hartley

01/20/2010

It all started when Delsin, a friend of mine, entered a Country Life Vegetarian Restaurant in Basil, Switzerland. We were both hippies, and Delsin was following a popular jam band around Europe.

winter2010insideasi_page_17_image_0002After visiting Country Life, Delsin was diverted to an organic farm in Italy that was owned by an Adventist family. They used their property to teach country living, healthy lifestyle principles, and a connection with the true God. I, too, visited the farm for three months. To make a long story short, our lives were changed, and we were baptized into the Seventhday Adventist Church.

After taking a short lay training course in health evangelism at Wildwood Lifestyle Center, I was committed to advancing the three angels’ messages anywhere God called, using the right arm of the gospel—the health message. After a couple of years of experience and increased responsibilities, I became director for Wildwood’s College of Health Evangelism in 2002, and continued in that position full-time until a little over a year ago.

My calling began turning a corner two years ago when ASI ministry leaders asked whether I’d be interested in directing a new ministry called the Lay Institute for Global Health Training, or LIGHT. The ministry goal was to provide short health evangelism training programs in every union worldwide. I was definitely interested and am still transitioning between my responsibilities at Wildwood and my new role as director of LIGHT.

winter2010insideasi_page_18_image_0002Over the years, I’ve come to see more clearly how integrated the health message is to the gospel. Through the sacrifice of Jesus and through living according to His will, the effects of sin are reversed to bring us back to health and happiness in our Lord. One day we will have new bodies, but even now God’s desire is that we “prosper in all things and be in health, even as [our] soul prospers” (3 John 2, NKJV).

winter2010insideasi_page_18_image_0003As we help people in this path of restoration by ministering to their physical and emotional needs, the way is prepared for their souls to be healed as well. And there is no better way to reveal the loving character of God than through reaching out a helping hand—loving, caring, teaching, and ministering to those in need. That was how Jesus worked, and it’s how He wants to work through His remnant church. “We have come to a time when every member of the church should take hold of medical missionary work” (7 Testimonies for the Church, 62).

During the last ten years, I’ve traveled to over 35 different countries and have personally seen the condition of our church worldwide. Not many of our own people really understand the health message and how it is to be used to share the gospel. Very few lay training courses are available to teach our people this work. How can every church member take hold of something they don’t know much about? How can we make this training available so that each one can shine as a light in the world?

winter2010insideasi_page_19_image_0002Many overseas mission trips involve public evangelism and church building, which are essential parts of our mission. Meanwhile, those already in the church are often neglected and lack the local spiritual support they need to grow in their faith. Many eventually stop going to church altogether. They need to be nurtured, educated, and grounded in the truth so they can be effective missionaries themselves and leaders in their local churches.

That’s where LIGHT comes into the picture. Our goal is to educate and mobilize the lay members of our church to work as active soul-winners who effectively use the right arm of the gospel. To reach this goal, we follow a simple three-step plan. First, we offer four-week training programs that introduce the fundamentals of the health and gospel message, teaching our graduates how to become active in their communities through health expos, cooking schools, door-to-door, and personal ministry.

winter2010insideasi_page_19_image_0004Second, after presenting several of these courses in any given union, we try to offer a six-month training course, inviting the most serious students from the four-week courses to attend. We only work under the invitation of local church leadership.

Third, wherever possible, we assist our LIGHT graduates in establishing permanent centers for training and healing. During this phase, we search for rural properties with easy access to nearby cities, maintain a consistent six-month course, provide leadership training, and help develop industries so that each ministry is not dependant on continual donations.

Where do we find all of our missionary teachers? By putting graduates from our six-month LIGHT schools to work in teaching teams with staff leaders. We are also enlisting graduates from several LIGHT affiliate schools, such as Wildwood’s College of Health Evangelism, Lay Institute for Evangelism (LIFE), Uchee Pines, and several other Outpost Centers International ministries around the world that offer this type of training. Each LIGHT training course uses a set curriculum developed from the best teaching materials of each of these schools. Our curriculum has also been translated into five languages so far. In the past year, we have conducted training in over 20 countries, including difficult ones like Japan, Italy, England, and Ireland.

LIGHT schools are changing individual lives. In Italy, an Adventist young man who attended our training hadn’t had a real experience with God before. He spent his time playing video games, listening to worldly music, watching movies, and painting little figures of witches, warriors, and goblins that he posted in his room. But somehow he felt called to attend our training program.

After attending the LIGHT course, his whole life changed. He has removed the pictures, movies, and music from his room. He’s now a vegetarian and is sharing his new experience with God with his fellow Adventist church members in Rome. He says, “I feel like I never knew what it really meant to be a Seventh-day Adventist until I attended the LIGHT course. Now I just want to work for God.”

In Kenya, Jellia left her six children with her husband every day and walked seven miles each way to attend LIGHT training—for six full months! Her non-Adventist village members paid for her to take the training course so she could help them when she was done. Now she is presenting health talks and making house visits in her village—praying, comforting, counseling, and applying simple water treatments.

In Honduras, a group of young people (the oldest is 24) who had previously trained in Norway had been given a large piece of property to begin a ministry. LIGHT stepped in to help them start their project by conducting a four-week school on the property.

While preaching in a local church on the prophecies of Daniel, I was invited to speak several months later at a nearby non-denominational pastor’s retreat. We prepared a 24-page Spanish syllabus on the book of Daniel for each of the 140 pastors attending from different denominations.

During the intense, two-day seminar, I was amazed at how readily the pastors accepted the truths of the judgment, 1844, and the last great deception. Their prayer for me at the end almost raised the roof off the place! Many said they would preach these messages in their churches.

Meanwhile, our six-month training course was in session. Two months later, I received word that several of our students doing door-to-door health and Bible work had discovered copies of the Daniel syllabus in the homes they’d visited. Apparently, the local pastor was selling the syllabus for one dollar. I was thankful that the Lord led our students to those homes to help the people understand the material.

I am continually amazed at how God works! Just as my own journey began when I learned about healthy lifestyle principles, I see those same principles change the lives of others every day, all over the world. Please pray for LIGHT, and consider training at one of our schools.