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Medical Evangelism-A Cooperative Program for Medical Evangelism

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Archives / 1954 / September

 

 

Medical Evangelism-A Cooperative Program for Medical Evangelism

 

Dentists and physicians are daily consulted by persons with physical com plaints. Frequently the cause of a distressing ailment may arise from failure to obey the laws of nature. Such a person may seek a pill as a panacea, when actually he needs to be taught how to live; how to maintain the proper balance between the physical, mental, and spiritual parts of his being.

The doctor may direct the mind of the patient to his need, but time is required for acceptance of the idea of the important relation ship of the body, mind, and soul. A prolonged period of instruction, study, and demonstration is required to produce a transformation in the person's life. Fortunately, the physician who recognizes the psychosomatic needs of his patient can recommend a program that brings into action the services of his office staff, case workers, the pastor, and the Dorcas Society in a coordinated effort that effectively displays the gospel in action. When such a plan is operated in conjunction with a sanitarium or hospital, additional benefits accrue. The eleven Seventh-day Adventist dentists and physicians of the Walla Walla Valley have been participating in such a program for the past five years. Amazing results have heartened workers. New methods have been added to spread the influence and make the plans more effective.

Irmin Burke first suggested the practicality of a plan whereby the services of a case worker would be utilized to tie together the activities of various Christian workers who often were overbusy in their specialized fields and had little time to devote to reaping the harvest of the seed being constantly sown. Such statements as the following indicated the surety of results: "The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice. Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, can not, be without fruit." The Ministry of Healing, pp. 143, 144.

After careful study the doctors proposed to pay to the conference for a six-month period the salary of one worker who would be associated with another worker already provided for the local field. This offer was accepted, and the conference continued to support both workers after the preliminary period was completed.

The group was then confronted with the problem of securing properly trained personnel for a work requiring a compassionate Christian disposition, yet strength for arduous and some times irregular hours, together with ability as a teacher, social worker, and Bible instructor. Prayer brought a happy solution when two young women employed in physicians' offices responded to the call and launched the case worker program, thus coordinating medical, Bible, and social work.

The services of these case workers were to be devoted half time to the patients of the doctors and half time to the regular duties of Bible instructors. It was their responsibility to be good neighbors to friends and strangers alike, to answer any call of need referred by the participating doctors, and to follow up interests elicited when patients were discharged from the hospital. Some time previously the Seventh-day Adventist dentists and physicians of the Walla Walla Valley had organized the Blalock Memorial Foundation. The operation of a nonprofit corporation by a group of professional persons was designed to achieve certain objectives with group participation that would be difficult or impossible for one person to accomplish. The State charter confers broad powers to carry on research projects, educational, agricultural, and missionary activities.

Since the activities of the Foundation in several fields have justified its existence, its connection with the case-worker project under discussion will be of interest to readers of THE MINISTRY.

A loan was made to one of the case workers for the purchase of a car at the beginning of the project, and at various times funds have been provided for the workers to give books, flowers, or other tokens of friendship to those with whom they were visiting. Aid has been given to provide a Sunday morning radio pro gram by the hospital chaplain to further the work of the group.

Several months ago it was proposed that the chaplain of the Walla Walla General Hospital and Sanitarium, C. C. Rouse, hold devotional and inspirational services weekly in the parlor of the nurses' home near the hospital. In addition to a personal recommendation by the doc tors and hospital personnel to patients to attend these services, a formal announcement and invitation is available at the hospital and at the various doctors' offices to give to patients, inviting them and their families to these meetings.

The Foundation purchased thirty-eight chairs for extra seating, thinking that this number would be more than adequate, but as interest developed the attendance increased until the capacity of the nurses' chapel required that the meeting be divided; therefore for a time two identical services were held weekly. Faith for Today telecasts, Voice of Prophecy sound films, and other religious motion pictures are used extensively in these services, together with illustrated filmstrips. Spiritual appeals are made by the chaplain. No offerings are taken, and a friendly, homelike atmosphere is maintained. Doctrinal subjects are presented largely by the chaplain and the case workers in home studies. An additional project that helps to round out the medical missionary activities of the group is a nutrition class that is being con ducted at the hospital. Since it is conservatively estimated that 50 per cent of the patients receiving medical care need nutritional instruction, the group has utilized the expert services of Dorcas-trained nutrition instructors, who, with the cooperation of the dietitian at the hospital, have completed one nutrition course. The course is comprised of seven two-hour lectures given at weekly intervals, with food demonstrations, and is climaxed by a banquet for students and instructors in which the food is prepared by the students. Another nutrition course is under way, with enrollees referred by the doctors and the case workers. The conference has supplied the material for the course, and no fee is charged to the enrollee.

Results of This Plan

As Jesus dispatched the seventy on their mission of ministry two by two, so the case workers have been sent out together. Their work has been strengthened as they have labored side by side. In some instances their safety has been guarded by being together. Their mission has kindled hope in the hearts of the despairing, brought cheer to the discouraged, and provided food for the hungry. The friendships thus created have ripened into fellowship, and as a result scores of baptisms have occurred. It is conservatively estimated that more than two hundred have accepted the gospel offer of salvation as a result of this cooperative group plan participated in by ministers, nurses, hospital workers, pastors, dietitians, Dorcas workers, dentists, and physicians.

Though the sponsors of this project realize that it is by no means the only way of carrying on a medical missionary program, they are convinced that it does furnish a helpful adjunct in the process of sowing and reaping together. Such a program may be sponsored by a medical group or .by individual dentists and physicians, or one or more doctors may initiate a single phase and add others later. The follow-up is the important part and may be carried out by a volunteer part-time worker or by full-time personnel. The plan works, but someone must work the plan.

Medical Evangelism at Walla Walla

L. E. HUBBS Administrator, Walla Walla General Hospital and Sanitarium

A program of evangelism is being carried on in a remarkable way here at the Walla Walla General Hospital and Sanitarium. The ministerial and medical professions have been organized into a fine working unit that is having its effect over a wide area. We have been amazed at the results brought about by these two teams working arm in arm. At the present time our chaplain, C. C. Rouse, has a group of sixty-four studying this wonderful message as a direct result of the groundwork laid by our sincere physicians and dentists. A number of these have requested baptism and will be baptized in the very near future. Among them is the widow of a prominent attorney in this city. Literally hundreds of patients and their relatives say to us after they have been hospitalized for a few days, "You people have something."

The nurses always pray with the patients in the Walla Walla General Hospital, and from these prayers many interests arise. The chaplain of the hospital holds evangelistic meetings every Monday night in the chapel of the nurses' home, which is just across the street from the hospital. There is a good attendance from week to week, and a number of baptisms have resulted. Our two faithful case workers, Mrs. Teresa Potter and Mrs. Cleve Hixson, are busy all day and sometimes far into the night trying to keep in contact with the interested ones who have been interested in the truth by our godly physicians and dentists. [See the article on page 45 of the July issue of THE MINISTRY, "Doctors, Pastors, and Bible Instructors Cooperate." EDITORS.]

Shortly after the patient who has shown an interest in religious things has been discharged, he receives from the hospital or the doctor's office a beautiful printed invitation to attend these Monday night meetings. The invitation is of the folder type, and has the chaplain's picture on the inside, with the name and street number of the nurses' chapel on the opposite page. Men and women are interested in this little added touch of personal attention, and the results from it are surprising. Many who are suffering from alcoholism and the tobacco habit express their deep appreciation for the interest shown in them by our Adventist doctors. And often upon their first visit to the doctor's office downtown, they are invited personally by the doctor to attend these meetings. Many of them find the Master for the first time as a result of this medical-ministry combination. A number of months ago an alcoholic who had "wasted his substance with riotous living" went to one of our physicians for help. He was admitted to our hospital; he had no money, but promised to pay when he was able to work. We treated him and prayed with him. Later he brought another alcoholic with him and said, "I want you people to do for him what you did for me. I have never touched a drop of liquor or tobacco since I left the hospital." This man is attending our meetings and is paying regularly on his account. Just a few months ago we admitted a patient who had tried to take his own life. Discouraged with life in general, he felt there was nothing to live for. He was attended by two of our physicians and his life hung in the balance for several days. He gradually gained his strength back, and then, through" the doctors, the nurses, and the chaplain working almost as one, he found the Great Healer, Jesus Christ. He accepted Him as his personal Saviour. Today not only has he asked for baptism, but three of his sons and one daughter are in the baptismal class with him. This is but the fulfillment of the precious promise brought to us by the pen of inspiration: "Christ feels the woes of every sufferer. When evil spirits rend a human frame, Christ feels the curse. When fever is burning up the life current, He feels the agony. And He is just as willing to heal the sick now as when He was personally on earth. Christ's servants are His representatives, the channels for His working. He desires through them to exercise His healing power." The Desire of Ages, pp. 823, 824. In workers' worship periods, nurses and other employees are counseled to be alert to the spiritual needs of the patients as well as their physical needs. Under the direction of our chaplain, attendants conduct inspirational pro grams over the public-address system twice daily and study in the homes of interested patients. The hospital Bible instructors invite nurses and nurse aids to accompany them on home visits. Ofttimes needy families are thus found, and then the Dorcas Society is called to assist them with food and clothing.

Just a short time ago a fine young woman was baptized by our chaplain. Her first contact with Seventh-day Adventists was through our Dorcas Society. One Sabbath a dear soul who had been a patient in our hospital was baptized in the bathtub in her modest little home. After returning to her home she was advised by her doctor not to attempt the journey of several blocks to our church. But she had requested baptism, and rejoiced when she learned that the chaplain would come to her home and baptize her. "This work, properly conducted, will save many a poor sinner who has been neglected by the churches.

Many not of our faith are longing for the very help that Christians are in duty bound to give. If God's people would show a genuine interest in their neighbors, many would be reached by the special truths for this time. Nothing will or ever can give character to the work like helping the people just where they are. Thousands might today be rejoicing in the message if those who claim to love God and keep His commandments would work as Christ worked. "When the medical missionary work thus wins men and women to a saving knowledge of Christ and His truth, money and earnest labor may safely be invested in it, for it is a work that will endure." Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 280. "I have been instructed that the medical missionary work will discover, in the very depths of degradation, men who, though they have given themselves up to intemperate, dissolute habits, will respond to the right kind o£ labor. But they need to be recognized and encouraged. Firm, patient, earnest effort will be required in order to lift them up. They cannot restore themselves. They may hear Christ's call, but their ears are too dull to take in its meaning; their eyes are too blind to see anything good in store for them. They are dead in trespasses and sins. Yet even these are not to be excluded from the gospel feast. They are to receive the invitation, 'Come.' Though they may feel unworthy, the Lord says, 'Compel them to come in.' Listen to no excuse. By love and kindness lay right hold of them."—Ibid., pp. 279, 280. He whose trust is in God will with Paul be able to say, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthened! me."

Parasitology Course for Missionaries

CARRIE E. TICHENOR Loma Linda.,California

Loma Linda is to be not only a sanitarium, but an educational center. ... In Loma Linda we have an advantageous center for the carrying on of various missionary enterprises. . . . Everywhere workers are needed to know how to combat disease and give skillful care to the sick and suffering." Medical Ministry, pp. 56, 57.

To aid missionaries to more skillfully combat the diseases of the tropics, and to successfully cope with the health hazards of warm climates, the School of Tropical and Preventive Medicine conducts annually a course in para sitology and tropical hygiene. The fourth such course was conducted March 31 to April 28, 1954, on the Loma Linda campus of the College of Medical Evangelists. In this class emphasis is always placed upon the prevention of tropical diseases, the ability and skill in recognizing the common parasites, and the latest medical pro cedures in combating these diseases. Also, study is given to the importance of nutrition.

This annual course numbers among its students not only mission appointees from our own mission board but missionaries from other denominations as well. This is in harmony with the advice given us by inspiration, for we read: "If unbelievers desire to join your classes for the training of medical missionaries, and you think that "they would not exert an influence that would draw other students away from the truth, give them a chance." Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 156.

This year six denominations were repre sented in our classes. We greatly appreciated the interest and cooperation manifested by all who attended the classes. One of our own missionaries, who will soon be returning to her field of labor, expressed 'her reactions to the course thus: "I feel that every new recruit being sent to our division should be required to take the course."

A young woman from one of the non-Seventh-day Adventist mission boards, upon completion of her classes, wrote:

"It has been a real privilege to be one of the students of C.M.E., first of all because of the spiritual emphasis maintained by everyone with whom we have had contact. "I feel that this course has been very beneficial. I wish it could have been longer, but undoubtedly making the course longer would of necessity eliminate it from the schedule of most missionaries on furlough. "Coming here was an answer to my prayers. So I thank the Lord, and thank you for giving this course. It is my prayer that I may be able to serve Him better because I have been here. So I covet your prayers on our behalf, too."

All those connected with the work at the School of Tropical and Preventive Medicine are very happy to have contributed even in a small way to the needs of our mission lands. And it is the expressed desire of all to go for ward with faith and courage to do our part to help finish the work of God in this generation.

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