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Have You Heard of the Medical Missionaries in New York?

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Archives / 1972 / June

 

 

Have You Heard of the Medical Missionaries in New York?

Dunbar W. Smith
-Secretary, Department of Health Trans-Africa Division, at the time this article was written

 

MEDICAL missionary work holds the key to the preparation for the final harvest. The devil has tried to discredit this ministry by associating almost every type of fanaticism and heretical offshoot with it.

In Preparation for the Time of Trouble

In the troublous times ahead, disease will increase--and at the same time there will be a tragic decrease of medical personnel. In time the disasters and epidemics will be attributed to Seventh-day Adventists. As a result, many will suffer exile, imprisonment, or slavery. (See The Great Controversy, pp. 590, 608.) In view of this coming situation we are warned that while we have opportunity we should receive some medical training so that we can continue to serve our fellow men. We are also advised that this will be the last type of ministry we will be permitted to do. (Counsels on Health, pp. 506, 533.) Further, that the time has come when every member should take hold of this work. (Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 62.)

How slow men are to understand Gd's preparation for the day of His power! God works today to reach hearts in the same way that He worked when Christ was upon this earth. In reading the word of God, we see that Christ brought medical missionary work into His ministry. Cannot our eyes be opened to discern Christ's methods? Cannot we understand the commission He gave to His disciples and to us? --Medical Ministry, p. 246.

This is a most significant statement. The success of an evangelistic program for our day depends to a large extent on a preparatory medical missionary work.

He designs that the medical missionary work shall prepare the way for the presentation of the saving truth for this time---the proclamation of the third angel's message. If this design is met, the message will not be eclipsed nor its progress hindered.---Counsels on Health, p. 518.

A Day of Opportunity

It is our opportunity now to train our people in medical missionary service. In the United States, Medicare legislation recognizes a new category of medical worker, the Home Health Aide. In New York sixty hours of instruction by a registered nurse (eighty hours in California) is required. Public Health Departments, Visiting Nurse Associations, and Home Care Agencies employ them at $2.50 per hour. Through the Greater New York Seventh-day Adventist Registry aides are employed on an eight-hour basis at $20 per day.

We now can easily train our laymen for this type of service. We have the qualified teachers. We should, as a church see that as many of our people as possible are trained.

This can be job insurance. It will resolve anticipated work problems at the time of oppressive Sabbath legislation. It will provide a livelihood when almost all other avenues for work are closed. They can continue to be a blessing to themselves as well as to those not of our faith and earn a living at the same time. This plan provides something for older members and those who have not had a formal education. It makes possible the preparation of our people to follow the Lord's directive in all taking hold of the medical missionary work. The Lord has opened a door for us. This is our golden opportunity. Soon it may be too late.

Nurse Registries

We not only should train our members as medical missionaries but also should organize nurse registries in every large population center. We have qualified nurses who can head the registries and nurses with public-health training to supervise. The registries should incorporate and, where possible, secure recognition as Home Care Agencies. This recognition would qualify them to receive payment under Medicare and Medicaid. A good name for the agency is Adventist Nurse Service Agency. Thus the high quality and unselfish care we could provide would mold a public image of Seventh-day Adventism that would indeed help "prepare the way for the presentation of the saving truth for this time."—Counsels on Health, p. 518.

Such an agency could offer services by registered nurses, physical therapists, practical nurses, baby nurses, nurse aides, Home Health Aides, companions, homemakers, baby-sitters, and others. Such a wide spectrum of service could afford opportunity in which almost every member of the church could participate.

It Does Work

Will such a registry work? Indeed it will! We have had one for more than seven years. In 1964 Carrie Carbone, R.N., B.S., who had retired recently from the directorship of a large Visiting Nurse Association, was asked to start such a registry. She had more than one hundred and thirty aides working at one time. More than 1,200 people already have been trained. Also, work has been provided by the agency for college students during summer vacations. Many times there are not enough aides on the registry to meet the demand.

A small advertisement was placed in the telephone classified pages, and as a result, not only did calls come from some of the finest homes but also as the hospital superintendents became acquainted with the ability and quality of our trainees there was a constant and increasing demand for their services. We estimated that those working, who were attached to the registry, had earned to date more than two million dollars. (This does not include the earnings of our trainees working elsewhere.)

The Home Health Aide Training School

The Home Health Aide training program began in the Greater New York Conference. Mrs. Carbone, Mrs. Rathryn Smith, and I visited many of the New york City Metropolitan churches. During the worship hour the Biblical doctrine of the medical-missionary ministry was presented and reasons were given why every one should prepare for a place in this work. Mrs. Carbone explained the details of the course. Those interested were given a mimeographed registration form. A $10 fee was charged. All students were required to secure The Red Crass Home Nursing Book, Counsels on Diet and Foods, Ministry of Healing, How to Become a Nurse Aide, A Call to Medical Evangelism, and our own special syllabus.

The course generally is covered in ten successive Sundays from ten o'clock in the morning to five o'clock in the after noon. Lectures and demonstrations are given by physicians, nurses, nutritionists, a social worker, and other workers. Instruction is given in physiology, nutrition, ethics, hygiene, sanitation and home nursing, and what it means to be a medical missionary. What aides cannot do is emphasized as much as what they can do. Teaching moving pictures covering the principles and practices of home nursing are shown. The remaining time is spent in supervised practice.

Classes have ranged in size from 30 to 280 enrollees. The finest church members, including men, take the class work. Some of the pastors and their wives have completed the course.

Putting More Health Into Health-and-Welfare Work

Theoretically, the registries should be in connection with our large health and welfare centers. This would put health into the health-and-welfare work. Consider the added influence of such a pro gram. We should like to see, and this is entirely possible, thousands in New York City working.

The servant of the Lord has said:

We have no time now to give our energies and talents to worldly enterprises. Shall we become absorbed in serving the world, serving ourselves, and lose eternal life and everlasting bliss of heaven? Oh, we cannot afford to do this! Let every talent be employed in the work of God. ---Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 104.

The work of those who are registered with the agency is not so much to preach the message as it is to witness by deeds of loving-kindness. It is a "soft sell" of the gospel in practice. One of the major problems of evangelizing the great cities is to gain entrance to the homes. Few will let a stranger in or even give him a chance to explain why he came to see them. How different it is when invited into the home to care for someone.

Not only the patient but other members of the family and friends become acquainted with the "medical missionary," and soon they begin asking questions: Why do you keep Saturday as the Sabbath? What do you believe about the state of the dead? Why don't eat pork? Why do you prefer vegetables? Why don't you drink coffee? In this way the tactful missionary can sow the seed that will produce an abundant harvest. There have been many experiences where those have been many experiences where those served and/or members of their family have altered their living habits. Some have asked to join the church.

Home Health Aides and a nurses' registry at-e but a part of the broad spectrum of medical-missionary work, but they can be an important part. This combination is truly one of the streams of medical missionary work that will help cover the earth "as the waters cover the sea." — Medical Ministry, p. 317.

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