That health education should be part of the program of every evangelistic campaign is now recognized by the majority of our successful evangelists. Many ministers, however, having brought large numbers into the spiritual phase of our message, are still at a loss to know how these new recruits to the faith are to receive a balanced presentation of our health truths. Some, in an attempt to make the medical work a part of the message, place such emphasis on a few items that they give an unbalanced program of living, which produces sickness and not health. And occasionally, in the conduct of evangelistic efforts, the health phase is so presented as to bring all our work into question by thoughtful, informed observers.
Such a plan was followed some years ago in a city I shall not name. An evangelist, imbued with the idea that the health message should be made a prominent part of an evangelistic campaign, posed as having the knowledge of a physician. He was thereby able to captivate certain people who came to him with their various maladies. But that very achievement was based on the dangerous principle of deception, which should ever be avoided. Deception in any form is wrong; and while to human eyes there may appear external evidence of success, God's message must be founded upon truth, sincerity, honesty, and genuineness in all its phases, if it is to bear fruit for the kingdom of heaven.
This incident is no doubt an extreme example of a situation where sound principles were submerged to meet a desired end. But it does bring us to these questions: What should be the relationship of the evangelist to the health message? What is his part in this program of reform of physical habits? Where does the work of the nurse, the dietitian, and the physician blend with the work of the evangelist?
Through Inspiration we know that we are to present our bodies to our Creator "a living sacrifice," and that we are "not our own," but are "bought with a price;" therefore, we are to "glorify God" by caring for these bodies, that we may serve Him better. This is the basis on which all health principles should be taught. Irregular eating by the worker, for example, is not a sin per se, but it is unjust to our Creator to treat this human machine in such a way that we cannot serve Him with a quality and quantity of service worthy of the work represented.
The people accepting our message need education in health principles. "To make natural law plain, and to urge obedience to it, is a work that accompanies the third angel's message."—"Counsels on Health," p. 21. The educated and informed evangelist can do much "to make natural law plain" to the people. There is a wide field to be covered in a constructive program before we reach the problems outside the scope of the layman.
A presentation of the important subject of cleanliness, based on the principles governing the camp of Israel, would make many Adventist homes better examples of the Christian home.
Regularity in eating can be given a definitely spiritual setting when emphasis is given to the family worship and other devotional exercises which comprise the morning program of a well-ordered Christian home.
The question of clean and unclean foods, with emphasis on those principles of vegetarian dietary as given in the book "Ministry of Healing," should be within the compass of any well-prepared evangelist.
It is a fact that wherever such instruction is given there will be innumerable questions from those in the audience desiring counsel and help for their maladies. The evangelist must remember that many of these are suffering as a result of well-known physical transgressions of natural law, and he should more persistently teach right principles to his hearers.
Those who come to him for personal help can also be exhorted to correct obviously wrong habits of eating, drinking, dressing, resting, etc.; but when we enter the field of-disease, we enter a domain where only the physician, after careful study, can ascertain the true condition. The well-trained nurse can technically ascertain the lack of balance in the diet, but in diseases where dietary adjustments are the chief remedy, it will need those trained in the technical measurement of foods to deal judiciously with the treatment of the disease.
In other words, the doctor is equipped with laboratory help to ascertain the nature and scope of the disease, which in turn enables him to prescribe the general care and treatment required for recovery. The nurse is qualified to interpret and apply the details of this care and the general aspects of diet. If, however, the patient is in such a condition that foods are to be graduated far from the normal, a dietitian's knowledge of food measurements in pathological conditions is necessary.
The work of the doctor and nurse may be more spectacular than that of the evangelist; but a positive, constructive program of simple health teaching for those who join the advent movement will be productive of far greater results than that carried on by the medical worker for those already suffering from disease. One noted health worker has said, "It takes a higher type of intelligence, a greater faith, a truer sense of perspective, to foresee the approach of disease and protect against it, to believe in the possibility of acquiring health and promote it, to see the enemies of health from afar, go out to meet them, outmaneuver them, outflank them, and down them by counter attack, than to heal or tend existing disease."
Happy is the group of new converts to this truth who have had the ministry of an evangelist with such a vision, and who, in connection with the truth-filled message, have had a series of practical lessons by a well-informed medical worker, so that every aspect of the reform in living has been presented in accord with right principles. Not subtraction but substitution should be the instruction given such people.
In numerous efforts there has been a fine blending of health instruction with the evangelist's message by preceding each evening's service with a well-prepared talk or demonstration on some practical phase of healthful living. Not long ago a group of forty people in a new community accepted this truth. In connection with this effort a trained nurse had preceded each evening's address with a twenty-minute talk and demonstration on healthful living. These short lectures had been simple, direct, and comprehensive. They had been prepared to meet the practical needs of that particular community. When the new church was organized, every home represented was able to prepare nourishing, hygienic meals. Soon these people had better health than when they began attending the meetings. They realized the practical value of the instruction; and the spiritual setting in which these natural laws had been made plain to them gave them a deeper appreciation of the love of God, who created them with minds and wills to do His bidding and receive His abundant blessings. Such a program not only counts in public evangelism, but will bring results in strength of service throughout the years these members serve the cause of God.
Washington, D. C.