Fifty years ago our denomination founded the Skodsborg Badesanatorium, the leader of which was Dr. Carl Ottosen. He was a man of firm belief and ability, and knew how to spread the teaching of health to the public in a practical way in speech and writings, and by transferring the principles of treatment he had learned in the United States to the conditions in our country.
The activity grew with the years. Six hundred disciples have in the course of the years left the Skodsborg Sanitarium fully trained in nursing and massage. Through their initiative and by the growth of the denomination there are now in the Scandinavian countries eight sanitariums and about one hundred treatment rooms for light cures and massage, also several vegetarian restaurants and food factories.
Most of the institutions are carried on as self-supporting Seventh-day Adventist health activities, through which thousands of people have received assistance during illness and have gained a favorable impression of the members of our church and our doctrine. Not a few have been won to our belief. Still more are our faithful friends, and by their influence they open the road for our preachers, books, and periodicals.
Our publishers issue the Sundhedsbladet, which in Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark has a total circulation of 120,000 copies each month. They also publish a substantial amount of literature on health and illness, and cookery books on vegetarian cooking. Meetings and courses are held at intervals for our workers and those adhering to our belief.
In April, 1947, an inter-Scandinavian meeting for those working in our health institutions was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was attended by two hundred people—three from Finland, one from Iceland, thirty from Norway, forty-three from Sweden, and 123 from Denmark. In five days, addresses were delivered on medical and practical subjects, and in special meetings stress was laid on the spiritual work. It is intended to hold the next meeting in Sweden in 1949.
In August, 1947, a meeting was held for Seventh-day Adventist housewives at the Norwegian missionary school, with demonstration of healthful vegetarian cooking and addresses on our views of the science of nutrition. One hundred housewives attended, and now throughout the winter small courses for the members are held. A similar meeting is planned for 1948 in the Danish missionary school.
June 8, 1948, the Skodsborg Sanitarium, which is the mother institution of the far-reaching activity, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. During the years not less than 83,000 people from many parts of Europe have benefited from the nursing, medical treatment, and Christian influence of this place. Mrs. White wrote that she saw angels go from bed to bed laying their hands on the sick. More than two million kroner have been used through these years in giving discounts, and for free treatment of poor patients.
In order to increase the efficiency of our work, and to create a uniform Adventist spirit among the workers in our health institutions, the division for Northern Europe has decided to recommend the issuance of a monthly periodical, called the Sundhedsevangelisten.
Spiritual Influence of Health Institutions
No statistics are available stating how many have been won for the truth through our health work in Scandinavia, but wherever our treatment rooms, sanitariums, and health periodicals come into the hands of the public, respect for and appreciation of our denomination are created, and the work of our missionaries is facilitated.
Recently two of our youth leaders in Norway came to a clergyman of the state church in the mountains to ask whether they might have the use of a certain piece of land and buildings for a summer holiday camp for our young people. When the leaders told that they were Seventh-day Adventists, the clergymen became very friendly and obliging. He stated, "I do not know more excellent young people than those of the Adventists, and I have a good knowledge of them from my stay, at the Skodsborg Bade-sanatorium, where their beautiful behavior, devotion to duty, and piety attracted me."
The individual work carried out by doctors, nurses, and masseurs of the health mission is greatly appreciated. At the northern meeting for the health workers, in 1947, a testimony meeting was held, which revealed striking examples of this side of the activity. Among others, the chief clerk of the health resort in Oslo rose and told that he himself many years ago came to our institution as a patient, and was there acquainted with the doctrine of Adventism. Later he was baptized, and is now in the management of the same institution.