The Hayden Lake Church in Hayden, Idaho, has been using health ministries as a bridging activity to reach the community before their fall evangelistic meetings. It started last April with a four-session event, 7+ Investments for Healthy Lifestyle. Midsummer saw a one-day presentation, Meal With a Message by Chef Mark Anthony, very well-received, with about 80 people from the community attending. At the close of the day each attendee received an invitation to the next program, Diabetes Undone, an eight-week interactive workshop.
The church worked with Life and Health materials, adapting them for use with live presenters, broadening the original scope from reversing diabetes to include weight management and making overall lifestyle changes. Organizers added a spiritual dimension to the program and included a copy of The Ministry of Healing in the registration packet. One person reported reading that book immediately and starting to sleep better at night. Another found spiritual answers she had been looking for all her life.
Good food was an important feature of the program. Participants received From Plant to Plate and the Diabetes Undone recipe book in their registration packets. At the end of each session, they watched a brief food demo with a take-home food sample of the recipe. The final session featured a dinner before the lecture, with live violin and piano music provided by one of the presenters, family medicine physician Andrew Roquiz, and his wife, Melanie.
About 42 people were eagerly and actively engaged in changing their paradigm — making a shift from their usual way of thinking about their health. Coming back each week felt like being with family, one couple reported. The program received an overwhelming positive response from the community. Some people said they wanted to go back to church, others that they had gained hope again in their life. One person totally changed her lifestyle. Many lost weight — one person lost 20 pounds — and many praised God and received encouragement for their lives.
Our first follow-up activity was to bring Sally Christensen, former healthy-cooking instructor for Weimar Institute's NEWSTART program, for a one-day seminar to help with meal planning made simple and how to dine out while keeping a healthy lifestyle.
In our work for others, we have been counseled by Ellen White as a people to show that the laws of nature are God's laws and designed for our good, that obedience to them promotes happiness in this life and also helps us prepare for the life to come (Evangelism, p. 526). We have been encouraged to see how God is blessing our efforts as we follow His method: “As the right hand of the third angel's message, God's methods of treating disease will open doors for the entrance of present truth” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 59).