In the Marketplace
Now They Smile
Last fall, seven students from Portugal committed a year of their lives to serve with our team at the Portuguese Association of Preventive Medicine, perhaps better known to ASI members as VitaSalus.
Each morning after breakfast, the seven students’ workday began with an hour of Bible study and prayer. Then came practical education in a wide variety of work activities related to pioneering a new mission project: demolition, construction, tilling, planting, weeding, cooking, cleaning, clearing land and many other productive pastimes. In the afternoon, they learned about nutrition and health, as well as how to conduct health expos and establish health clubs.
The group started planning two health clubs—one in Pedrogão Grande, a large town 40 minutes away, and the other in Espinhal, the small town closest to VitaSalus. The local government agreed to let us use their main office facilities in the center of town for the Espinhal club, and even provided transportation for people living in surrounding mountain villages. The students began going door-to-door, taking health surveys and inviting people to attend the club.
For seven months, the team presented health lectures, shared nutritious recipes, demonstrated how to cook them, taught practical exercises designed to relieve muscle and bone problems, and administered hydrotherapy treatments. Of the 27 people who attended most regularly, 14 showed significant improvement in their health indicators, including cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, body mass index, body fat percentage and weight.
One faithful attendee was discouraged when her weight increased rather than decreased, despite the fact that she exercised and carefully followed the program. She shared with a team member that she had started taking medication to help her sleep after a strange occurrence in her home connected to the occult. That conversation led to a Bible study. In the end, seven health club attendees began seeking to know and follow the Lord through Bible study.
Now as we pass through these villages, people smile at us and are friendlier than before. Neighbors drop in to visit our property and see how the project is progressing. They’re interested in knowing when our medical and dental clinics will start serving patients. Most importantly, they’re attracted to us and feel welcome.
That is how it was with the Savior. He “mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me’” (Ministry of Healing, p. 143).
Seven students, seven months, seven friendly souls willing to study the Bible—777. Coincidence? Maybe. But we think not.