Should We Enlarge Our Sanitariums and Hospitals?

Should We Enlarge Our Sanitariums and Hospitals? (Part 2)

The second installment of this series.

WADIE FARAG Minister, Pennsylvania Conference

Viewpoint: Note: Your comments and constructive criticisms are invited. Whether it be praise or disapproval, our only requirement is that it be done in the framework of a Chris­tian spirit. All items under this heading reflect the per­sonal views of the respective writers and not necessarily those of this journal or the denomination at large.—Editors.

The Type of Worker  the Sanitarium Should Employ

Before enlarging certain sanitariums,  two more points must be considered. The first has to do with the prospective worker the sanitarium should employ. The second is with reference to the prospective church the sanitarium should erect. Let us consider each separately.

Employing Non-Adventist Help

All pastors are aware of the fact that not all our sanitarium workers are of our faith. At times the pastors are requested to help recruit from their churches faithful mem­bers who could serve in our hospitals. I do not intend here to discuss the subject of "Sanitariums versus Hospitals." This sub­ject has been ably handled before. (See ar­ticles by Herschel C. Lamp, M.D., in THE MINISTRY, June, 1966, also of February and March, 1967, and the series of five articles by F. D. Nichol in the Review and Her­ald, beginning January 9, 1964, and ending February 6, 1964, entitled "A Century of Our Health Message.") I do want, how­ever, to quote a thought that appeared in the Review a little prior to the publication of these articles. The writer said:

I cannot believe that God raised us up simply to run community hospitals, for example. Nor can I believe that we should build additions to sanitari­ums merely because more bed capacity is profitable, when we know that we must employ a substantial number of non-Adventists in order to staff the in­stitution. Let us never forget that it is the radiant lives of a devoted, devout staff, and not the pun­gent odors of strong medications, that should be the distinctive atmosphere of our medical institutions. Because these institutions are not an end in themselves, but only a means toward the end of bringing men into harmony with God in both spirit and body, we must constantly guard against anything that would deflect us from that heavenly end.—F. D. NicnoL, in Review and Herald, Oct. 5, 1961, p. 6.

Employing men or women not of our faith, whether Protestants or non-Protes­tants (for both are employed in our sanitariums), is a major point to be considered before planning an expansion. The type of worker is a major factor when planning. On this subject God gave us this counsel:

I am very anxious that all those connected with our sanitariums shall be men whose lives are wholly devoted to God, free from all evil works. There are some who seem to have lost all sense of the sacred character of our institutions and the purpose for which they were established. . . . Great care should be shown in choosing young people to connect with our sanitariums. Those who have not the love of the truth in the soul should not be chosen.—Medical Ministry, p. 174.

In the light of this statement alone how can we plan further expansion when we already are unable to staff our sanitariums with those who have "the love of the truth"? Could it be that another counsel is appli­cable? The counsel that instead of advising us to expand says, "Break up the large centers"? Indeed, this point demands our serious consideration. 

The Lord makes His counsel clear on this issue. He says:

Better for the work to go crippled than for the workers who are not fully devoted to be employed. It is unconsecrated, unconverted men who have been spoiling the work of God. The Lord has no use whatever for men who are not wholly conse­crated to His service.—Ibid., p. 207. (Italics sup­plied.)

If, then, with some nine hundred work­ers we have to employ those not of our faith, could we be justified to think of an expansion?

The Sanitarium Church

In planning expansion we should cer­tainly plan for a house of worship for the sanitarium workers. Here we are confronted with another problem. If all the workers will have "the love of the truth" in their hearts, then they will not forsake the as­sembling of themselves together "as the manner of some is" (Heb. 10:25). They must have a church, a bigger church. This is another serious step. The Lord gave a great deal of counsel concerning it. He says:

The plan of gathering together in large numbers, to compose a large church, has contracted their [God's people] influence, and narrowed down their sphere of usefulness, and is literally putting their light under a bushel.—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 633.

Many of the members of our large churches are doing comparatively nothing. . . . Trees that are planted too thickly do not flourish.. .. It is not the purpose of God that His people should colonize or settle together in large communities.—Ibid., vol. 8, p. 244. (Italics supplied.)

Let those who have lived so long in places where there are large churches of believers go out into the harvest field to sow and reap for the Master. . . Bringing so many believers together in one place tends to encourage evil surmising and evil-speaking. Many become absorbed in looking and listening for evil.—Ibid., p. 83.

Here then is another danger. Those who do not have "the love of the truth" should not be employed. But the employment of only those who are "fully devoted" to the cause will bring "so many believers to­gether in one place," and thus their spir­itual growth will be endangered. The other alternative would be to follow the Lord's counsel who said, "Let these institu­tions be small, and let there be more of them" (Medical Ministry, p. 323). For, "Thus saith the Lord: 'Buildings will give character to My work only when those who erect them follow My instruction in regard to the establishment of institutions.".Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 101. (Italics sup­plied.) Did not the Lord tell us, "Never are we, in the establishment of institutions, to try to compete with worldly institutions in size or splendor"?—Ibid., p. 100. Our work is indeed of a different nature.

Concepts to Guard Against

Surprising as it may be, it is easy for us, as a people, to be in danger of being led astray, at least in our thinking, when it comes to matters that have to do with work that entails doing good to others. We should guard against thinking that we are commanded to do every kind of good work that has to be done, whether it be uplift work, care for the orphans, or care for the sick. The Lord did not instruct us to have a monopoly on all such good deeds.

When it comes to taking care of orphans, for example, it is one thing to take care of those orphans that are "among us," and it is a totally different thing to think that we are to do every possible thing to provide for every orphan that we can possibly reach. This work, though good in itself, has not been given to us. The Lord wants other de­nominations to support that kind of work. We have been given a different work that is to occupy the major portion of our energies. The counsel is:

Let the people of the world be aroused, let the denominational churches be canvassed by men who feel the necessity that something be done in be­half of the poor and orphans. In every church there are those who fear God. Let these be ap­pealed to, for to them God has given this work.­Ibid., vol. 6, p. 286. (Italics supplied.)

Taking care of every orphan that we could possibly reach, and we are here only citing an example, is good work but it is not necessarily our work. Similarly, providing for every kind of sick person is certainly good work but not necessarily our work. God did not assign us this task, good as it may be. "The purpose of our health insti­tutions is not first and foremost to be that of hospitals."—Medical Ministry, p. 27. Our purpose is not merely to help people physically but to help them accept Christ.

Our sanitariums are to be established for one object—the proclamation of the truth for this time. . . The conduct of each worker is to tell on the side of right. We have a warning message to bear to the world.—Counsels on Health, p. 343.

One of our late brothers stated it well when he said, "God did not assign us the task of providing every kind of hospital facility for every kind of sick person in the country."—F. D. NICHOL, in Review and Herald, Jan. 30, 1964, p. 2.

It is vital then to guard against being subtly led to go contrary to God's divine counsel (with reference to the size of our institutions) because of the fact that we are endeavoring to do a good work—a work that may not be our assignment in the first place.

(To be continued) 

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WADIE FARAG Minister, Pennsylvania Conference

May 1968

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