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. This statement is a challenge, not only to the physicians and nurses, but to the ministers and laymen.
Twenty-nine years ago, while on the staff of the Washington Sanitarium, I accepted this challenge to open up medical work in new territory. The opportunity that seemed best suited for this type of work was a small city of about 7,000 population in the mountain district of east Tennessee. There was a very small church but no Seventh-day Adventist medical work in this section of the country. A private residence was rented, and with five rooms for patients we began work. The Lord blessed our small beginning and we were able to operate from the first without a deficit.
Two years later, when we had outgrown our facilities, some of our business friends helped to promote a new institution outside the city limits. We have never received any gifts except three acres of land; but with careful financial management and the Lord's blessing, we now have developed a sixty-five-bed institution that is fully approved by the American College of Surgeons. We are glad to meet the world's standards and be approved, but this is not the most important accreditation. When we follow the plan outlined by the Spirit of prophecy, maintaining the standards, then we can have Heaven's approval. This is the accreditation that every true Seventh-day Adventist institution should have. We are repeatedly warned that this is our only reason for existing. Since the medical missionary work is the entering wedge, there is no substitute for efficient, kind medical service.
This point cannot be too strongly emphasized. Unless medical workers are willing to meet this standard, all their evangelistic work will be worse than wasted. After the physical needs have been relieved, then the opportunities appear for presenting the gospel. The ways are too numerous to mention. Accomplishments What have we accomplished in twenty-eight years? I feel very strongly that we have failed to measure up to the opportunities. Probably others could better answer this question. When we came here our church was very small and did not even have a local elder. Today we have about 140 members. Our medical work has exerted a favorable influence over a radius of at least 75 miles. Within the institution we have a daily public broadcast of a spiritual nature in all the rooms. Many of our workers are following up the openings for Bible studies. Our literature is available everywhere, in the waiting rooms, parlors, halls, and patients' rooms. One of our workers has for years presented a Bible verse each morning to every patient who is able to receive it.
The response to this program has been very favorable. Some take the verses home for permanent reference. The institution has financed the Voice of Prophecy on a nearby radio station. At present one of our nurses presents a weekly radio program on Sunday morning. We have completed a new welfare and outpatient building, and in the near future we plan to open an active clinic for the needy. I had the privilege of attending Loma Linda in the early days when there were two courses available, the regular medical course and the medical evangelistic course. Unfortunately, it was apparently not possible to continue this evangelistic program.
From the study of the divine instruction, it appears that our work has thus sustained a great loss. If that program could have been continued, our evangelists would have had a better knowledge of medical work. It would have been easy for them to spearhead their evangelistic work by health schools, following them with the regular preaching meetings. Then, with small sanitariums outside the cities, the evangelists would direct those interested to our sanitariums for medical care. Our sanitariums are really special institutions to treat the class of people who are interested in restoring their health by conforming to correct habits of living. I am convinced that our own institution is larger than is really needed to carry on such a program.
For our physicians and nurses the opportunities are unlimited to develop small, real Seventh-day Adventist institutions, using all the physical medicine possible and educating the people away from drugs and harmful habits that are health destroying. When this program can be combined with the work of real medical evangelists in the cities, I believe we shall see the medical work develop into its right relation to the whole program and the work will be finished.