The value of medical missionary work in connection with evangelism is apparent when we consider the fact that it accomplishes, as nothing else can, two great purposes. The first of these is the revelation of God's love in practical ministry to the needs of humanity. The second is the preparation of the mind for the understanding and appreciation of gospel truth by bringing the physical habits into harmony with the laws of life. (See "Medical Ministry," p. 20; "Testimonies," Vol. IX, p. 127; Vol. VI, pp. 487, 488; and Vol. III, pp. 161, 162.)
We are happy to give a brief report of some of the methods followed in our medical evangelistic campaigns, and the results obtained under the blessing of God.
1. Preliminary Work.—As soon as we enter a city, contacts are made with various clubs, schools, lodges, and other organizations, and appointments are arranged for health lectures. The three lectures we have found most useful for these groups are "Food and Efficiency," "Alcohol and Efficiency," and "Tobacco and Efficiency." Where possible we illustrate these lectures with stereopticon slides. A blackboard is our helper in other cases. It is surprising what a few lines that catch the eye will do in holding an audience, and making the message presented stand out in the memory.
Through these health lectures many friends are made and a following of honest seekers after truth is gathered. We have been able to trace in the experience of some converts a direct connection between these health lectures and their attendance at the evangelistic meetings, resulting in the acceptance of the full message. One young man contacted at an antitobacco lecture in a large city high school was baptized a few months later, together with four other members of his family. After a period of preparation in our schools, he was -called to the mission field, and is now occupying a position of responsibility. In another city, five adults from one family were baptized as the result of a medical evangelistic campaign. Their first contact was the temperance lecture in the local high school which the son attended. The father of this family later became the elder of the church in that place.
While these health lectures are being given -throughout the city, we seek to carry on a -training program for the church members in medical missionary service. Rather than emphasize a negative attitude in health reform, it is our plan to stress the positive, practical side. Cooking classes are conducted, and other phases of health instruction presented.
As a result of a better knowledge of the laws -of health and obedience, many of the church members experience a decided improvement in health. As they testify to this in the church and among their friends, a spirit of genuine interest is aroused, and a desire to know more of these health principles is manifested. Thus an appetite for further instruction is awakened, and health reform comes to be appreciated as the elixir of life instead of being considered a bitter cup.
Nurse-Bible workers, connected with our company, work with the church members in visiting their friends and neighbors, especially those who have asked for physical help. Thus the church and the medical evangelistic company are fused together, and made ready for a united effort in soul winning.
2. The Public Effort.—As a part of the series of evangelistic meetings in tabernacle or hall, health lectures are given from the first. We have used two different plans in our program, and have found advantages in each. Sometimes we advertise certain nights as "Health Night," and devote one or two evenings a week to health subjects. We have also used the plan of short health lectures or demonstrations as a part of the preliminary program preceding the sermon each evening.
Whichever plan is used, we seek to present throughout the series of meetings a broad, well-balanced program of health, based on a knowledge of the human body. Physiology is made the basis of every lecture, and the audience is taught that the laws of the body are as truly divine as are the precepts of the decalogue. The thought that the Creator has made us for health and happiness, not for disease and misery, is kept before the people. (This lays a strong foundation for an appreciation of the-moral law.)
Visual material is valuable in helping the people to become acquainted with the wonders of the human body. Slides, charts, blackboard illustrations, demonstrations of simple treatments and of healthful cookery—all these are utilized in an endeavor to make the instruction interesting and practical.
As those attending the meetings change their habits of life, they begin to experience an improvement in health which makes them very thankful for the instruction received. In many cases liquor, tobacco, tea, coffee, and other poisons are abandoned before we reach the testing truth of the Sabbath. When the blood has been cleansed from these poisons and filled with life-giving minerals and vitamins by a daily program of eating the natural foods, the result is just what the Spirit of prophecy has said. The minds of the people are in much better condition to weigh and appreciate the special message for this time. Having experienced the blessed results of obedience to natural law, they are prepared to see the importance of obedience to every command of the moral law.
3. Work in the Homes.—AS a result of the public health lectures, many desire further instruction in these studies, and thus the way is opened for personal interviews in the homes of the people. Classes in cooking and in other phases-of health are also held, using "Ministry of Healing" and the little twenty-five-cent books as texts. We like the plan of holding some of these classes in the homes. Sometimes we have as many as six classes at the same time in various sections of the city. This gives our workers close contact with the people, and affords precious opportunities to help them personally.
It is rare today to find a home without sickness. Many cases of acute or chronic illness furnish opportunities for simple treatments which are given by our nurses or other trained workers. Many times we have seen one treatment in the home do more to break down prejudice than any number of public lectures or sermons could do. As ministers and Bible workers, we are usually thankful if we can get into one room of the house and sit down with the people to study. As medical missionaries it is our privilege to enter every room as we give treatments and demonstrate healthful cookery, and thus enter into the very lives of the people. The principles of practical Christian living, Bible study, personal devotion, and family worship mean much when taught in such an atmosphere.
4. Christian Help Work.--The Saviour spent much of His time among the poor, ministering to their physical and spiritual necessities. It our large cities today, there are thousands Of poor people. They greatly need health insthiction, but they need more than this. In many cases, food and clothing must be provided. To do this is an essential part of medical missionary work—a phase that every church member can share in.
The great medical missionary chapter, Isaiah 58, is very practical in its instruction. "Deal thy bread to the hungry," clothe the naked, "bring the poor that are cast out to thy house"—these are the commands of our heavenly Father.
There are many disappointments in this work, as we see those for whom we have labored fail to appreciate the efforts made to lift them to a higher plane, and yet there are also precious experiences that thrill our hearts. Not alone among the heathen tribes of foreign lands is manifested the power of the gospel to transform human lives. In the great cities of civilization there is equal need for this demonstration, and we thank God for what we have seen.
5. Reaching the Higher Classes.—In the cities are many who can never be reached by meetings. Occupied as they are with business and social life, they must be reached by special efforts. We have found that health lectures given before their business or social groups are a means of contact with some. Most important of all for this class is personal ministry in the home.
We think of one case in which a few treatments that were given by one of our nurses resulted in the conversion of several members of a prominent family, with a resulting inflow of means which amounted to more than the cost of the entire campaign. Efforts to help these neglected classes build good will for Seventh-day Adventists, even among many who do not accept the full message. It is worth a great deal for us to be known as a medical missionary people by judges, legislators, physicians, and ministers of other denominations.
6. The Medical Evangelistic Company.—To carry on the medical evangelistic program outlined in the Spirit of prophecy writings, we have found it necessary to have a company made up of workers with varied talents and training. The instruction upon this matter is clear : "'There should be companies organized and educated most thoroughly to work as nurses, as evangelists, as ministers, as canvassers, as gospel students, to perfect a character after the divine similitude.' "—"Counsels' on Health," p. 541.
Few conference budgets can provide for all the necessary workers in a city evangelistic effort, but we have found that in answer to prayer, God will send efficient helpers who are willing to work on a sacrificial, self-supporting basis. For a number of years we have had graduate nurses and other trained workers associated with us in every effort we have held. These workers always testify to the great blessing they receive in having a part in the company and the joy that is theirs as the people for whom they labor accept the message and are baptized into the church.
In order to secure the best results in soul winning, it is essential that we do more than, put together the minister and the physician, the nurse and the Bible worker, and call the group a medical missionary company. In the ideal program, as revealed through inspiration. every evangelistic worker is to be a medical missionary and every health worker must be a soul winner.
In our medical evangelistic company we have had the joy of training a number of doctors and nurses in that greatest of all sciences—the science of personal soul winning. What a wonderful thing it is when the worker who wins the hearts of the people by personal ministry to their physical needs can, also win their souls for Christ.
Have we not reached the hour when hundreds of our medical missionary workers should be linked with the ministry in aggressive, soul-winning effort? We have been told' that "it is as these lines of work are united' that we may expect to gather' the most precious fruit for the Lord."—"Medical Ministry," p. 27.