In our previous article we noted the place which health education was to occupy in the home circle, but we must not stop there. The following call to service comes to all members of the church. "We have come to a time when every member of the church should take hold of medical missionary work. The world is a lazar house filled with victims of both physical and spiritual disease. Everywhere people are perishing for lack of a knowledge of the truths that have been committed to us. The members of the church are in need of an awakening, that they may realize their responsibility to impart these truths. Those who have been enlightened by the truth are to be light bearers to the world. To hide our light at this time is to make a terrible mistake. The message to God's people today is, 'Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.' "—"Counsels on Health," p. 425.
These are days of preparation, yes, even more than that, days when we should be prepared for conditions that are right upon us. Our church members should avail themselves of the opportunities offered by health-preservation-and-home-nursing classes, also cooking classes. It is their privilege to call upon their conference officials to make this instruction possible. If there are Seventh-day Adventist physicians, nurses, or dietitians in the community, they may be called upon to organize classes. They have a responsibility and duty to do their part. What we do must be done quickly, for the Lord has said, through His messenger, "I wish to tell you that soon there will be no work done in ministerial lines but medical missionary work. The work of a minister is to minister. Our ministers are to work on the gospel plan of ministering."—Id., p. 533.
There are two conditions which will bring this about. The first is loss of religious freedom. This is brought out in "Counsels on Health," page 506: "As religious aggression subverts the liberties of our nation, those who would stand for freedom of conscience will be placed in unfavorable positions. For their own sake, they should, while they have opportunity, become intelligent in regard to disease, its causes, prevention, and cure. And those who do this will find a field of labor anywhere. There will be suffering ones, plenty of them, who will need help, not only among those of our own faith, but largely among those who know not the truth." Already we see evidence of curtailment of liberties in many lands.
The other condition is epidemics of disease. The terrible, devastating war, with all its hardships and deprivations, is bringing about physical conditions among the inhabitants of a large part of the earth which are paving the way for epidemics. Public-health authorities are warning us that we may expect such epidemics any time, and even now they are prevalent in certain parts of the world. But we have a more sure word of prophecy which warns us that "Satan works through the elements also to garner his harvest of unprepared souls. He has studied the secrets of the laboratories of nature, and he uses all his power to control the elements as far as God allows. . . . He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous."—/d., pp. 460, 461.
Since we are told that the time will come when no more work will be done in ministerial lines except medical missionary work, and today we have evidence that this situation is right upon us, has not the time come for us to put forth every effort to prepare every member of the church for such an hour as this? The repeated fulfillment of prophecy is a clarion call to the leadership of this denomination to put on a program of health education which will fit all gospel workers to give the right arm of this message its rightful place, so that it will both serve and protect the body.
Our Schools to Provide Courses
The call comes to our schools, from the primary grades up through the college, to strengthen their stakes and lengthen their cords by putting greater emphasis on the work of health education, by providing courses so that the graduates of our schools will be prepared to teach the third angel's message in its fullness. This includes all gospel workers—teachers, Bible workers, canvassers, ministers, physicians, nurses, and dietitians.
This very definite instruction comes to us as ministers: "The minister will often be called upon to act the part of a physician. He should have a training that will enable him to administer the simpler remedies for the relief of suffering. Ministers and Bible workers should prepare themselves for this line of work; for in doing it, they are following the example of Christ. They should be as well prepared by education and practice to combat disease of the body as they are to heal the sin-sick soul by pointing to the Great Physician."—"Medical Ministry," p. 253.
At the same time we are counseled: "Every medical practitioner, whether he acknowledges it or not, is responsible for the souls as well as the bodies of his patients. The Lord expects of us much more than we often do for Him. Every physician should be a devoted, intelligent, gospel medical missionary, familiar with Heaven's remedy for the sin-sick soul as well as with the science of healing bodily disease." p. 31.
"The physician who understands the responsibility and accountability of his position will feel the necessity of Christ's presence with him in his work for those for whom such a sacrifice has been made. He will subordinate everything to the higher interests which concern the life that may be saved unto life eternal. He will do all in his power to save both the body and the soul. He will try to do the very work that Christ would do were He in his place. The physician who loves Christ and the souls for whom Christ died will seek earnestly to bring into the sickroom a leaf from the tree of life. He will try to break the bread of life to the sufferer. Notwithstanding the obstacles and difficulties to be met, this is the solemn, sacred work of the medical profession."--"Counsels on Health," pp. 331, 332.
Likewise our nurses are admonished: "The nurses who are trained in our institutions are to be fitted up to go out as medical missionary evangelists, uniting the ministry of the woyd with that of physical healing."—Id., p. 396.
Quoting again, "All gospel workers should know how to give the simple treatments that do so much to relieve pain and remove disease. Gospel workers should be able also to give instruction in the principles of healthful living. There is sickness everywhere, and much of it might be prevented by attention to the laws of health. The people need to see the bearing of health principles upon their well-being, both for this life and for the life to come. . . Every gospel worker should feel that to teach the principles of healthful living is a part of his appointed work. Of this work there is great need, and the world is open for it."—/d., pp. 389, 390.
We have come to a new era in our work. We can see the fulfillment of that statement in "Testimonies," Volume V, page 463: "The work which the church has failed to do in a time of peace and prosperity, she will have to do in a terrible crisis, under most discouraging, forbidding circumstances." Earnest study must be given to how we can best meet conditions as they arise.
Definite Plans Laid by Pacific Union
Because of the urgency of the situation, the Pacific Union Conference Committee a short time ago spent an entire day giving study to the promotion of medical missionary work and considering how all our workers, including the lay members, may best be prepared for this work. In harmony with the instruction of the Spirit of prophecy, the faculty of Pacific Union College has voted to include in its program of study a strong course in health education—a course which will prepare all its graduates to go out and carry on gospel medical missionary work as called for by the Spirit of prophecy in order to meet the demands of the hour.
Plans are also being considered for the organizing of a short, practical course for our evangelists and Bible workers who are already in the field, but who desire to better equip themselves to teach our health principles in connection with their evangelistic work. Such a course will be made very practical and will be given at the center where our medical facilities and competent teachers are available. At the same time plans are being carried out to give all our church members an opportunity to obtain the benefits of home-nursing and cooking classes.
Public-school authorities 'are stressing the work of health education. In the May number of the Hygeia magazine there appeared an interesting and timely article on this important subject. We quote three paragraphs from this article:
"Colleges and departments of education must make health the first objective of education by constructing professional curriculums and organizing personnel services which embrace something more than a short course in hygiene for freshmen,
'"Obviously, then, the teacher-training institution must offer courses in health education—not a one-hour course in personal health, but a five-hour course, to be supplemented by another five-hour course in the health of the school child and school health problems, followed by a shorter course in administration for those who will execute school programs later as principals and superintendents. . . .
"All teachers need some health education, but physical-education teachers and science teachers, for example, will need much more instruction in this field if they are going to teach health, or serve as co-ordinator or chairman of faculty health committees. A teacher who is assigned to offer instruction in healthful living must have thorough training."
Again, the "more sure word of prophecy" speaks to the church : "Those who act as teachers are to be intelligent in regard to disease and its causes, understanding that every action of the human agent should be in perfect harmony with the laws of life."—"Counsels on Health," p. 446.
For teachers and ministers to be informed regarding disease and its cause does not imply ability to make diagnoses, but the knowledge that will enable them to recognize signs of good health, as well as abnormal behavior that may be related to glandular imbalance, and also symptoms of dietetic deficiencies and other common disorders. They should also be able to recognize symptoms of acute infectious diseases. Such an understanding of the nature and cause of disease will enable one to do much by way of prevention of disease, and also to know how to co-operate with the physician and other health authorities.
Public-school educators of today are thinking in terms of physical and mental benefits to be derived from courses in health education, but in our work we have a far greater urge. For to us is given the work of giving to all the world the everlasting gospel, the gospel which is to bring salvation to body, mind, and soul.