"I know that an intimate relationship should ever exist between the medical missionary work and the gospel ministry. They are bound together in sacred union as one work, and are never to be divorced." 1
No doubt most of us have grown up and worked in the church under conditions similar to those of a divided home. We never knew that a sacred, indissoluble union should exist between the medical and ministerial work and workers. The divorce took place before the majority of us were born!
In my own case (J. R. S.) it has been only in the past several years that I have begun to understand faintly what God has in mind for this church relative to our entire health program. How I overlooked it all these years constitutes a mystery. Frankly, it is time for some marriages and remarriages to take place! It is for the purpose of encouraging these unions that The Ministry is being enlarged. Each month twelve pages will be dedicated to health evangelism.
Wedding No. 1
Two groups of extremists exist in our movement. Both groups need our earnest prayers, not our condemnation. Unfortunately, one is a rather large segment of the church membership. They are the uninformed (which includes many who are willfully ignorant) and the rebellious (which includes many who are weak in the flesh). A much smaller but vociferous group that have succeeded in casting a shadow over our entire health program by their erroneous and/or narrow-minded practices and methods of persuasion are the fanatical health faddists.
We are fully aware that what we are beginning in our newly enlarged magazine can cause some to put the whip to their health hobbyhorses and turn more people than they already have against our sensible, well-balanced message of better living.
What excuse is there for not having a balanced view and practice of our health message? Those who trample health principles underfoot have no greater reason for doing so than personal tastes and desires. These people manifest a "wonderful indifference" to the basic principles underlying our entire health program.2 If there were no conferring with taste buds but rather with unchangeable principles, what a difference would be found in the attitudes and lives of church members! We appeal to this group to take a close look at our health message and its relationship to the gospel. To live in accordance with God's entire message brings definite blessings.
Now a word to the health fanatics who have so ingloriously stained the church's reputation. A true reformer is unselfish and teachable. Reformers must be the kindest and most lovable people on earth. God has no place in the church for those who have unsubduable wills and uncontrollable zeal. We appeal for the generous use of plain good common sense. Pray for balance in both thinking and action.
Reaching for a higher standard in the area of healthful living should be the goal for all of us. Is there any one among us who could not stand some improvement in obeying the laws of health? One of the first places to begin making progress is at the dinner table. "While sitting at the table we may do medical missionary work by eating and drinking to the glory of God." 3 Part of the first angel's message is to give glory to God. What better way can we glorify Him than in properly caring for our body temples? Let everyone be joined to proper, well-balanced physical habits. "What . . . God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
Wedding No. 2
Our health principles are an integral part of our message. To divorce the health plan from our other doctrines is the same as separating our right arm from our bodies. We are told that "health reform is an important part of the third angel's message." 4 Further, "present truth lies in the work of health reform as verily as in other features of the gospel work." 5 Furthermore, "true conversion to the message of present truth embraces conversion to the principles of health reform." 6
"The principles of health reform are found in the word of God. The gospel of health is to be firmly linked with the ministry of the word." 7 Ellen White couldn't have made it stronger even if she had used the word married instead of linked. Again she states, "In perfect and complete unity with the gospel ministry, the work of health reform will reveal its God-given power. Under the influence of the gospel, great reforms will be made by medical missionary work. But separate medical missionary work from the gospel, and the work will be crippled." 8
For years in my own evangelistic program there was courting but never marriage between our health message and other Biblical doctrines. Now and then I would have a five- or ten-minute health talk tacked on to the evening program, usually before the offering and special music. If a doctor was around, I would feature him as a special attraction but never as an integral part of the program. Furthermore, the health talks centered mainly on tobacco, alcohol, and unclean meats, but nothing more.
What are we to do with the following message? "Combine the medical missionary work with the proclamation of the third angel's message. . . . Send into the churches workers who will set the principles of health reform in their connection with the third angel's message before every family and individual. Encourage all to take a part in work for their fellow men, and see if the breath of life will not quickly re turn to these churches." 9
Could it be that our churches and evangelistic programs are suffering a degree of paralysis that results when health principles are divorced from the message of Revelation 14? "What... God hath joined together, let not man put asunder"!
Wedding No. 3
There is to be a uniting of doctors and other medical personnel with ministers in the grand work of soul winning. It was God's plan that a doctor should be a soul winner just as the minister is. The only difference between a doctor's and a minister's work was to be in methods. Writing to one doctor, Ellen White declared, "You are a shepherd of the soul as well as a physician of the body." 10 In another place she states, "The work which He gave to our physicians was to symbolize to the world the ministry of the gospel in medical missionary work." 11 "By public and private effort the physician should seek to win souls to Christ." 12
It stands to reason that if the objectives of a doctor's work are the same as those of a minister's, the two people should be working closely together as a team. And that is exactly what the Lord said.
"Ministers and physicians are to work harmoniously with earnestness to save souls that are becoming entangled in Satan's snares. They are to point men and women to Jesus, their righteousness, their strength, and the health of their countenance. Continually they are to watch for souls." 13 One of the greatest untapped potentials in this denomination for soul winning lies in the combination of doctor-minister teams for God.
The apostle Paul and Dr. Luke, the beloved physician, are a wonderful example of what can happen when medicine and ministry combine.
What an evangelistic team that must have been! Asia Minor shook from the impact of these two stalwarts. What a blessing their ministry was to the newly converted men and women of every walk of life. An interesting facet of this medical evangelistic group may have escaped your notice.
There was a team that carried this message to the cities of Asia and then on to Europe. And none other than Luke tells of the circumstances involved, in Acts 16:7-40. This text, of course, refers to the vision Paul had at Troas, on the borders of the Mediterranean Sea. Paul had heard the cry of a man from Macedonia saying, "Come over . . . , and help us." " 'After he had seen the vision/ declares Luke, who accompanied Paul and Silas and Timothy on the journey across to Europe, 'immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.' " 14
Note who were members of this medical evangelistic team Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke. No wonder people stopped, listened, and were convicted and baptized. No wonder prisons crumbled, evil spirits were cast out, and miracles of God's grace followed this team wherever they went.
What would have happened to this movement had every graduate of Loma Linda University teamed up with a minister? Highly idealistic, you say? But this was God's plan. God is an idealist. We appeal for a uniting of doctors and ministers in the greatest, grandest, noblest work ever given to man the leading of souls to Jesus Christ.
"What . . . God hath joined together, let not man put asunder"!
1. Counsels on Health, p. 528.
2. Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 487.
3. Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 111.
4. Counsels on Health, p. 49.
5. Counsels on Diet, and Foods, p. 72.
6. Ellen G. White letter 62, 1909.
7. Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 75.
9. Testimonies to Ministers, p. 416.
10. Medical Ministry, p. 50.
11. Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 246.
12. Counsels on Health, p. 336.
14. The Acts of the Apostles, p. 211.