Reasons for health

Pastor Glenn Townend reflects on the past and present impact of the Adventist health message.

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(Credit: Getty Images)

When Adventist pioneer Ellen White received her first health vision on June 6, 1863, the leaders of the small Seventh-day Adventist Church were not in good shape. Her husband James was exhausted from overwork. John Andrews was continually distressed and anxious.

The health reform movement started in the US in the 1830s, but Adventists were not a part of it until Ellen White’s vision. Ellen White steered the Adventists past crazy ideas to accept the principles we can now, in the 21st century, say are scientifically valid. The health message was given so Adventists could have the energy and longevity to present God’s last day message.

A group of 25 of us recently walked the Kokoda Track with ADRA to raise funds for the 10,000 Toes campaign. Type 2 diabetes is ravaging the South Pacific, with an amputation every 20 minutes. Adventists know a lifestyle that can prevent much of type 2 diabetes. During our trip, PNGUM health director Gad Koito presented health talks at each village and provided early detection kits to clinics along the Track. ADRA health workers will follow up with health training at a later stage.

The Church’s Global Health Summit was held at Loma Linda University in July. Numerous health professionals from the South Pacific attended and presented research from Avondale College, Australasian Research Institute, SPD and Sanitarium.

David Williams, a Harvard academic, shared research on lifestyle intervention activities in dealing with the Western world’s latest health challenge—Alzheimer’s. Exercise, plant-based nutrition and gratitude were shown to be more effective than pharmaceutical products in reducing the effects and improving lifestyle.

If we all followed these health principles we would bring newness to the disciple-making movement we dream of—a healthy one at that.