Is this the time for medical missionary work? We have some definite instruction on this point in "Counsels on Health :" "We have come to a time when every member of the church should take hold of medical missionary work."—Page 425. If this statement was true when it was penned by God's messenger many years ago, how much more so is it today. What are we doing to meet the challenge of this statement? What are we doing to answer the many questions relating to healthful cookery that our neighbors are asking on every side? Can we face the critical shortage of skilled medical care and know we are prepared? Is this the time for medical missionary work in the church ?
We believe the answers to these questions are vital to the Seventh-day Adventist Church today. We can best answer by again referring to the pen of inspiration :
"Nothing will help us more at this stage of our work than to understand and to fulfill the mission of the greatest Medical Missionary that ever trod the earth ; nothing will help us more than to realize how sacred is this kind of work, and how perfectly it corresponds with the lifework of the Great Missionary. The object of our mission is the same as the object of Christ's mission."—"Medical Ministry," P. 24.
We feel certain that now is one of the most opportune times to present our health message. People are eager to know what to do in the present emergency. We have "come to the kingdom for such a time as this." How shall we make the most of the opportunity?
Any program, to be successful, must be organized and have the whole-hearted support of each church member. This is especially true of a health program in the church. We have inaugurated a program in our churches in the Southern California Conference. In each church a health leader or secretary is appointed. If there is a physician, trained nurse, or dietitian in the church who will take the responsibility of conducting the health program, that is ideal. However, if no such talent is available, then a layman is selected for this duty. Many times the home missionary leader of the church is able to do this work.
Programs and material are furnished the health leader, and once every two months the home missionary period between Sabbath school and the church service is devoted to medical missionary work. On that Sabbath both the home missionary leader and the medical secretary are up in front, as we firmly believe the two should unite in stimulating our health program. At present we are especially stimulating the interest of our people in the Missions Extension program, and pointing out that the book "Better Meals for Less" is the answer to their neighbors' problems on meat rationing.
In our field we have an army of colporteurs whose experiences in selling our health literature are truly phenomenal. To help them, and help the people in time of illness, they have been given instruction in the use of simple remedies. This has indeed been a real blessing to strengthen the hands of our colporteurs.
Believing that cooking schools are a vital part of the church program, we have inaugurated such schools in our conference. "In every place where there is a church, instruction should be given in regard to the preparation of simple, healthful foods for the use of those who wish to live in accordance with the principles of health reform. And the church members should impart to the people of their neighborhood the light they receive on this subject."—"Testimonies," Vol. VII, pp. 112, 113.
We are fostering such work in this field. Each week at the Conference Welfare Headquarters, a cooking school for leaders is held. We have asked each church to select from its congregation two sisters who will serve as leaders of a Community Cooking School. This will be open not only to our own church members but to those not of our own faith. Six well-planned lessons will be given in each school. The first two are on meatless dishes ; then follow sugarless recipes, cooking to save vitamins and minerals, and finally lunches and the lunch box. The churches are entering into this program most heartily, and we feel that many doors will be open to us that have been closed before.
Upon completion of the cooking schools, we plan to concentrate on home nursing courses. Soon the shortage of skilled medical attention will be felt, and surely this is the time to prepare ourselves for the emergency which now exists and is becoming more acute.
There is one angle to the question of home nursing classes which we sometimes forget. Religious liberty in the not too distant future will be encroached upon. We can already see events shaping themselves to this end. Soon we will be unable to carry on our large evangelistic efforts, save as we make them strong medical evangelistic programs. "I wish to tell you that soon there will be no work done in ministerial lines but medical missionary work." —"Counsels on Health," p. 533.
Is this the time for medical missionary work? We would answer, Yes, indeed! We are now facing a most crucial hour ! What we fail to do now, we will have to do in most unfavorable and foreboding times. "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." —Id., p. 506.
The Pacific Union Conference, of which our local Southern California Conference is a part, is launching a strong effort to help our young ministers and their wives to carry on this medical missionary program. Following the instruction of God's messenger, they are conducting a short intensive course in medical evangelism at Loma Linda. Here the ministers learn the basic fundamentals of physiology, health, and hygiene, as well as how to conduct cooking schools and home nursing classes along with their evangelistic efforts. This work has . long been needed, and it is progressing under God's leading in a remarkable way. It is gratifying to be connected with such a plan, for we are then carrying out the following injunction from the Spirit of prophecy as found in two of Mrs. White's books :
"In every place the sick may be found, and those who go forth as workers for Christ should be true health reformers, prepared to give those who are sick the simple treatments that will relieve them, and then pray with them."—"Medical Ministry," p. 320. "It is the divine plan that we shall work as the disciples worked. Physical healing is bound up with the gospel commission. In the work of the gospel, teaching and healing are never to be separated."— "Ministry of Healing," p. 141.
Now is the time to begin, in a wholehearted way, the work of Christ, the work of His disciples, the work for each one of us. Our opening question asks, "Is this the time for medical missionary work ?" The answer unequivocally should be, "This is the time for medical missionary work." We conclude this article with the remainder of the quotation we used at its beginning.
"We have come to a time when every member of the church should take hold of medical missionary work. . . . Everywhere people are perishing for lack of a knowledge of the truths that have been committed to us. . . . 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.