How can one union health director cover a large territory? This is a challenge not just for the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference (NZPUC), but for most conferences and missions across our Division.
In 2018, NZPUC’s Adventist Health Ministries supported the employment of two health Bible workers in New Zealand. The purpose of this trial initiative was to have Bible workers who were passionate about health evangelism working at local churches and schools. These health Bible workers would encourage and support churches and schools and help them to plan and run health programs in the community.
Katie Snyder and Kerry Gosset have done a wonderful work in filling this role across New Zealand. They have used their passion and experience in supporting churches to build strong health teams which can run the Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program (DARP), Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP), vegetarian cooking classes or any other health initiative they are passionate about.
Since they started working in this capacity, we have seen a 100 per cent increase in the number of churches across New Zealand running DARP. We have also seen the development of children’s and adults’ health resources that have been used during Health Week each year. In doing this, they are highlighting the importance of good health in keeping type 2 diabetes away.
I believe wholeheartedly that the way forward for our Church in supporting more health initiatives for the community is through the upskilling and education of Bible workers to become health Bible workers at the local church and school level. In this way health evangelism will become the powerful “entering wedge” it was destined to be.