“I think I need to be baptized,” Susan whispered.
I could hardly believe her words. “Why?” I asked. (I was her medical doctor. She was sitting with my family in church watching a baptism.)
“I have been with your people for some time now,” she explained, “and the way they have loved me … it can’t be wrong.”
Susan knew very little about the teachings of the church. But she was loved into God’s family through Christ’s method of evangelism. Jesus focused on the whole person—the body and the heart—and He powerfully changed lives … like Susan’s.
Dawn of Gospel Medical Evangelism
Too often we separate evangelism from health outreach. We give lip service to cooking classes and stop smoking clinics, but they are not bonded tightly with Bible teaching. The pastor and physician have not stood together. Medical work and evangelistic work must be united.
Ellen White recognized the need for a new approach to reach people—especially those in the cities. God told her “that companies be organized and diligently trained to labor in our important cities.”
About this time (1910), a young graduate from Loma Linda College of Medical Evangelists named John Tindall, was commissioned to pioneer this work. Tindall equipped “companies” of workers to provide in-home medical and domestic help. They taught practical health principles and showed people how to cook. At the same time Tindall held evangelistic meetings.
As the community experienced the genuine love from these workers, hundreds committed their lives to the Lord in baptism. Decisions were not superficial. Retention rates reached 75 to 90 percent—unheard of today! But sadly, the Tindall program fell by the wayside.
Experiment in Hayden, Idaho
Now let’s fast forward to 2014. Six young people sacrificially committed seven weeks to participate in an intensive health initiative in Hayden, Idaho. Inspired by Tindall’s work, they became health evangelists. Twenty-four patients were selected from my office. Each worker was assigned four patients. They teamed up with local church members and conducted an in-home lifestyle change program with a religious foundation.
These energetic medical ministers showed these patients how to cook healthfully. They exercised with them, took them shopping, and prayed with them. The work was done under the guidance of a physician and the spiritual direction of a pastor.
All the while, local church members joined in the visits and built relationships. At the end of just seven weeks, six of the patients made a commitment to the Sabbath truth … including Susan. It was truly a revolutionary experience for everyone involved.
A Vision Born
God worked mightily in Hayden. The positive results have led us to step out in faith and develop a much larger health evangelism initiative in nearby Spokane, Washington. With strong support from the North View Seventh-day Adventist Church, we have laid groundwork for a 2-year gospel medical ministry outreach.
From the fall of 2017 to the winter of 2019, we will work with 20 self-supporting volunteers who will practice health outreach similar to the work in Hayden.
At the same time guest physicians and health ministry leaders will train the volunteers, church members, local pastors, and rotating medical students from Loma Linda University. Special emphasis will be given to the pastor-physician working model. We will hold four AMEN clinics in Spokane. This will help guide community members to the Total Health Spokane program.
By faith Dr. John Torquato will step aside from his practice to co-direct this intensive outreach while Pastor Wayne Kablanow coordinates church member’s involvement. We will also be blessed with the assistance of Amazing Facts evangelist Darrin Bartell in teaching evangelism principles and how to give Bible studies.
Our goal is to lead 120 community members to a full commitment to Jesus through baptism into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. New members will be organized into home small groups. They will be trained to reach out in the same way they were reached.
Coming Close to People
I wish you could have seen Susan the day she was baptized. She had experienced the life-changing principles of health. She had felt the loving support of a caring group. She sensed the movement of the Holy Spirit on her heart. Finally, Susan went through Bible studies and gave her heart fully to God. Now she is an active (and healthy) Seventh-day Adventist Christian—a living testimony to Christ’s method, which alone gives “true success in reaching the people.”
Try it out in your circle of influence. Together, let’s come close to the people and lead them Home! If you would like to support this new endeavor, learn more at www.TotalHealthSpokane.com.