As Christians, we know the Lord desires us to enjoy a cheerful, whole-person health experience. Yet in today’s world that is an increasing challenge, despite the many health initiatives in our society.

Health programs come through a variety of packages—from government agencies to non-profits to church led ministries. Some are fighting to make disease prevention a national priority. For school lunches subsidized by the federal government, the U.S. Department of Agriculture now requires that children select either a fruit or vegetable. However, as nationally publicized and locally noted by North Dakota public school teachers, children are taking the fruit and vegetables and throwing them into the garbage untouched. [1]

The goal of some organizations to “move people from apathy to alarm and from alarm into action” [2] does not seem to be working either. According to The Wall Street Journal, 60 percent of American consumers are “obese or overweight, but only about a third are actively trying to stop getting heavier.” [3] The Center for Disease Control reports that obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. [4]

Also of concern is the rising cost of healthcare. A recent article in USA Today states, “The average amount workers have to contribute toward their healthcare is up more than 134 percent over the past decade, and that trend will accelerate.” Mike Morrow, senior vice president of Aon’s health practice said, “We need to do what we can to drive the right behavior so employees are making good decisions when costs increase as they inevitably will.” [5]

History and goals of Adventist Health Ministries

As the world faces a health and economic crisis, the Adventist Church has much to offer suffering humanity. The healthful self-restraint of temperance was on the docket even before the Adventist Church was officially organized in the 1860s. As early as 1827 Joseph Bates was promoting temperance and by 1866 the church was publishing the Health Reformer.

Adventists have a rich heritage of healthful information to share. But is the goal of our health ministries to “move people from apathy to alarm into action”? Is the purpose “to do what we can to drive the right behavior” or mandate what children eat? Is our goal to help lower healthcare costs?

The current mission statement of Adventist Health Ministries reads in part, “Health Ministry is the gospel of Christ illustrated, the message of God practiced.” Of the many current health ministries—whether it is Weimar’s NEWSTART program, CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program), the eight professional schools of Loma Linda University, Andrews University’s Health and Wellness Initiative, Adventists InStep for Life, or Florida Hospital’s CREATION Health program—we have the blueprint of Christ to follow.

Christ’s love may move them to action, it may change their behavior, and yes, it may lower their out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Yet those are but residual benefits of choosing healthy living by getting adequate rest and exercise, and maintaining a healthy environment with a positive outlook on life.

We have been blessed with historically healthful practices. Has our neglect to share them contributed to America’s current health crisis and multitude of government “health” agencies?

As Seventh-day Adventists we are equipped to share abundant life to the fullest in Christ. The crisis is here. The need is urgent. The time to act is now.

3. The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, November 12, 2015, p. B8
4. “Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States 2011-2012,” Journal of the American Medical Association 2014; 311(8):806-814
5. “Companies Chip Away at Health Benefits,” USA Today, Thursday, November 12, 2015, Money, p. 3B