We are given definite instruction in the writings of the Spirit of prophecy regarding the emphasis which should be placed on medical missionary work. Following this instruction in the field, we have found that the "right arm" has opened closed doors and broken down prevailing prejudice. In one county seat here in Arkansas in which the population was reputed to be 98 percent Roman Catholic, encouraging results followed the effort we made in medical evangelism. At that time we did not have a physician associated with our group. The county medical society gave approval of a plan for the physicians of the city to rotate in giving us fifteen minutes each evening, either to answer questions from our question box, or to present a topic of some practical importance. A number of the physicians took part and presented some very helpful things.
The meetings were held in the women's clubhouse, and, with the influence of the well-known local doctors, whose names we advertised, we were able to get conservative people to attend. A prestige was lent to our health educational program that became an effectual basis for the more pointed truths which followed. The physicians seemed appreciative of our effort as a religious body in what they called "preventive medicine." Our own people were surprised and helped when they saw the interest manifested in health by people not of our faith, and the experience heightened their respect for this phase of our message. The substantial results that followed seemed to amply justify the effort made.
Seeking to avoid the "great mistake" that is being made by workers who think that the health message is not of sufficient importance to be included in evangelistic efforts ("Counsels on Health," p. 443), we have used some type of health-education program in every effort. Illustrated talks, with demonstrations of simple treatments and a discussion of healthful diet, are usually employed preliminary to the spiritual message of the evening. Sometimes it has seemed best to use one or two nights a week as "health nights." The talent available for assisting us is a major factor in determining the type of program to be put on. After the interest has been developed, health-preservation and home-nursing classes can be carried on.
In one of our large city efforts we used a tent for the auditorium, and pitched and furnished a "medical tent" very much like those we have at our camp meetings. Before and after the meetings, people were invited to consult with our doctor and nurses in the medical tent, and to hear them speak from time to time in the main pavilion. A great deal of interest was developed and strengthened in this way, and we could plainly trace the influence of the medical work as people came into the truth. As the handrail serves as a support in the ascent of steep stairs, so the medical missionary work in evangelism gives an extra hold, helping souls to take the steps required to come fully into this message.
A small town has its advantages. In one such place where there was no Seventh-day Adventist church, we were able to put on a "Community School of Health," using the name of the Chamber of Commerce as a sponsor. This was held in the leading clubhouse, with a very good response. A church of about fifty members was organized there that year.
Some of the most gratifying experiences we have had as medical evangelists have come from our work for the poor and needy. Both direct and indirect influences have brought marked results. The Gentiles are quick to see and respond to this kind of light. (Isa. 60:3-5.)
"Many have no faith in God and have lost confidence in man. But they appreciate acts of sympathy and helpfulness. As they see one with no inducement of earthly praise or compensation come into their homes, ministering to the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sad, and tenderly pointing all to Him of whose love and pity the human worker is but the messenger,—as they see this, their hearts are touched. Gratitude springs up. Faith is kindled."—"Ministry of Healing," p. 145.
In three major church-building projects for which we have had the responsibility, the pace for giving among unbelievers was set by men whose lives had been touched by our medical missionary efforts, and this included what they saw accomplished in behalf of the poor. In each case their gift represented more than a thousand dollars, and these men were willing to use their influence in helping to further our work, in addition to their personal contributions. One of the benefactors was a charter member of the Rotary Club in a prominent American city. Having retired from active business, he had time and inclination to go with us to brother Rotarians who had materials we needed in our building. As we sat in the office of the president of a large cement-manufacturing company, our elderly friend told his fellow Rotarian that Seventh-day Adventists are doing more practical good in the world than any religious body he knew of. Our contact there resulted in a gift of five hundred sacks of cement.
Our friend's conviction about the good that Seventh-day Adventists are doing was based on his knowledge of our work for the poor, including a case in which he participated. Briefly told, it was this. During Harvest Ingathering a house was visited in which two sickly women were struggling to exist. The aged mother had been rendered helpless by paralysis. The middle-aged daughter had never fully recovered from a severe case of typhoid fever. They had known better days, but long illnesses and financial reverses had reduced them to a pitiful state of need. Their home and five acres of land, which had been stocked with chickens, trees, flowers, and a good well of water, had all gone to ruin. The water they used had to be carried by the sick daughter for a quarter of a mile. It is difficult to imagine the unhygienic conditions which existed under such dire restrictions in the use of water.
These dear souls had heard stories which had discouraged their seeking financial help from the county, and very reluctantly they yielded to our proffered help. When finally their confidence was fully gained, a marvelous transformation took place. The grief and despair which had been written in their countenances changed to joy and hope.
Water was piped several hundred feet to the house, a meter was installed, and the neighbors subscribed to pay the monthly water bill. In order to make their property saleable, more than thirty church members responded with scrub brushes, rakes, hoes, pruning knives, and whitewash equipment. The place was transformed inside and out. Treatments and Bible studies followed, with encouraging response.
Our elderly friend directed his chauffeur to take him and a carload of tools to the scene of activity three successive Sundays. He also had his wife fix up a large box of clothing and household necessities, and they delivered them in person, amid tears of gratitude. He was duly impressed, and so were the neighbors and our own church membership.
Truly the dividends paid for stock taken in Spirit of prophecy counsel on medical missionary evangelism have been very large.