The great object of this institution should be to improve the health of the body, that the afflicted may more highly appreciate eternal things." Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 564.
If this object is not continually set before the mind, and efforts made to this end, it will prove a curse instead of a blessing. Spirituality will be regarded as a secondary thing, and the health of the body and diversion will be made primary.
"If the spiritual work is left undone, there is no necessity of calling upon our people to build these institutions." Medical Ministry, p. 191.
Real success, then, depends in a large measure on the spiritual help we give our patients as well as on the building of physical health. Last year 321 patients were admitted to the Fuller Sanitarium, a self-supporting institution near South Attleboro, Massachusetts. Of these, 159 were of the Roman Catholic faith, 133 were Protestants (including 13 Seventh-day Adventists), 17 were Jewish, 11 were Greek Orthodox, and 9 had no definite church affiliations.
Our policy has been to promote the spiritual work here in such a way that prejudices will be broken down. We want all our guests to know that we are their friends, and that we are first of all interested in seeing them happy and enjoying spiritual fellowship with God. No pressure is put upon anyone to attend the services or listen to our message or read our literature while here. We endeavor to stimulate interest and arouse a desire in the hearts of all to know- more of our truth, and we do encourage them to become acquainted with God. But we feel that practical Christianity lived out in our lives will do much to win others to our faith.
The Spiritual Work Outlined
1. Parlor Services. A morning devotional service is conducted daily in the parlor by the chaplain (a retired minister) or by some of the workers. From twenty to thirty persons are usually present, and we try to make the service inspirational. Many patients have spoken to us of the help and comfort this morning service brings to them. At this time we announce our program and plans for the day.
2. Health Lectures and Instruction. From time to time we ask our doctors to lecture on some phase of our health message. Disregard of the physical laws of the body is often the cause of illness. We feel that it is imperative not only to get our patients well but to show the well ones while here how to build strong bodies and avoid future troubles by learning to obey the laws of good health. It is important, therefore, that we emphasize more and more this health instruction at this institution. Our present plan is to promote a nutrition class, using simple printed lessons that we give away. Frequently we secure health films and also show filmstrips on health subjects.
3. Friday Night Program by Workers. The nurses and workers present varied inspirational programs on Friday nights for our guests. Special music and readings are given, which are much appreciated by all.
4. Monday Workers' Prayer Circle. The workers gather for a brief time on Monday morning to discuss the spiritual interests and pray for special needs of patients and to consider the progress made.
5. Books and Literature. Our literature is quite popular. Many tracts and books on all subjects of our message are being read by both patients and their visiting friends. We keep our literature and books in plain view in several attractive racks about the institution and also see that books are placed in all the rooms. Your Friends the Adventists has been placed in all the rooms and has been read by many. Other inspirational books can also be found in our new bookcases in the parlor.
6. Bible Instruction. Patients often ask questions on the Bible or on our belief, and it is always a pleasure to study the Bible with all who become interested. We try to take every opportunity to give a Bible study on our special message as the way opens up. The printed Bible lessons are also used. Where any interest is manifested, patients are encouraged to study these lessons. A group of the nurses are being prepared as special instructors and are being trained in the use of the filmstrip projector. This is used in showing colored Bible pictures to patients in their rooms.
7. Following Up Interests. Following up any interests developed at the sanitarium has always been a problem. We follow the plan of sending Present Truth to all those who appear somewhat responsive. Last year we sent Present Truth to forty-two patients. Another plan we are developing is to call personally on our interested patients after they return home and try to make appointments for Bible studies or enroll them in the 20th Century Bible Course. The chaplain has already made many calls and offered to give Bible studies.
8. Other Spiritual Help and Church Attendance. Transportation is provided for patients who wish to attend the Pawtucket, Rhode Island, church, and a number usually attend.
9. Visiting and Prayers. Soon after the arrival of a patient the chaplain-calls and becomes acquainted with him. Often a little book is left or a promise card given. The chaplain in some cases makes daily visits, offering prayer and counsel where help is needed.
One man after spending some time with us said, "I have been reading my Bible, and now I can see that the only true Sabbath is Saturday." He also admitted to the chaplain that if he ever joined any church, it was going to be the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Since returning to his home in another city, I believe he has attended our church there. We are sending him the Signs of the Times.
The wife of a prominent Providence business man has spent several weeks with us. She states that she is in love with the place, the people, and the food.
A Catholic young woman who came to us for treatment remarked to a worker, "I always thought that my church was right, but now I am not so sure. It seems that the Adventist religion is the right one."
One of our patients, a beauty parlor operator, said before leaving, "I believe that the Adventist Church is teaching the truth. Someday I hope to be an Adventist." Naturally we are following up these interests.
A few weeks ago the sister of a woman who was here for rest was baptized and joined the Pawtucket church. The woman herself and her two grown children are taking studies and plan to join with us.
Just a day or two ago one of our older patients, who is eighty-four years old and here with a broken hip, said she was greatly impressed with the kindness shown to her. I began talking to her a bit about religion and happened to ask her about her church affiliations. She said, "I'm an Episcopalian, but am planning on changing."
"And what group are you thinking of joining?" I asked.
"The Seventh-day Adventists," she answered. Of course that was thrilling news and reward enough for anything we had done.
It is our constant prayer that we may more and more meet God's ideal and that the light of this institution may truly be a beacon of hope and courage to many in this area.