by Lynell LaMountain, sales and marketing manager for CREATION Health, Florida Hospital
During the 10+ years he has served as the senior pastor of his church, he has intentionally and strategically reached out to the people in his community, and it hasn’t been with the intention of increasing church attendance. His motivation? Service. Disinterested benevolence.
So, he has worked hard to forge productive relationships with the key leaders of his city. For instance, the local hospital administrator (not an Adventist hospital) offered him a partnership opportunity. The pastor and his church were invited to conduct health and wellness seminars for the community, and the hospital would provide the space and the advertising. It proved to be a win–win situation for everyone involved.
Pastor Shares With the Sheriff
For many years, this same pastor has served as a volunteer chaplain in the county Sheriff’s department. One day, while he was walking down the hallway holding the CREATION Health Seminar Personal Study Guide, the Sheriff asked him, “What are you reading?” The pastor handed it to him and said, “It’s just a book on whole person health.”
The Sheriff thumbed through the 300+ pages and seemed lost in thought. Without being prompted, he said, “This looks so much better than what we just did. The wellness program we just bought and conducted among our employees only dealt with exercise and nutrition. But this—this seems to be so much more.”
The pastor shared more about CREATION Health. As a result, the Sheriff said, “If you’re willing, I would like for you to teach this to all of our deputies and support staff throughout the county.” The pastor gladly accepted and is now teaching the CREATION Health lifestyle—God’s original plan for having a life of health, happiness and abundance—to more than 350 employees in the Sheriff’s department.
Palm Coast Church
The stories keep coming. Take what’s happening in Flagler County where God continues to bless Palm Coast Church. Pastor Robert Hayes has been teaching CREATION Health for more than two years, and now his church has the reputation in the community for being a center of hope and healing.
Through his church’s partnership with Florida Hospital Flagler, county leaders have extended the invitation to bring CREATION Health to its citizens and students throughout the region.
As a result of disinterested benevolence, Pastor Hayes just had a rather large baptism at his church, and more than half were people from the community.
Port Charlotte Church
Here’s another story. When CREATION Health first started at Port Charlotte, there was a man who told the presenter, “I don’t know what your church believes, but after what I heard tonight, I want to be a part of this family.”
Orange Cove Church
Then there’s the story I just heard about Pastor André Van Heerden of Orange Cove Church in Orange Park. Because of his leadership in health ministry, he was asked recently to chair the county-wide committee that represents and organizes health-related initiatives for the nonprofit sector. Because of his influence, the largest Catholic church in Clay County has started teaching CREATION Health to its parish.
A Doctor’s Life Is Changed
The stories keep rolling in. Todd Lang, O.D., (a member of Port Charlotte Church) told me recently, “CREATION Health changed my life and continues to help me effectively manage and simplify the myriad of choices I encounter each day.”
Here’s his testimony: “Many of the choices made by society today are diluting the quality of daily living and shortening lives by many years. CREATION Health’s eight principles teach the answers for the delicate balance of everyday life. Complete health is a combination of physical, mental, and spiritual fitness. Interdependence among these three is the key to an extraordinary quality of life. It is a wonderful witnessing tool paired with the latest medical research. CREATION Health offers practical solutions to encourage and equip all who desire lasting lifestyle changes now and for eternity!”
Florida Conference and Florida Hospital Collaborate To Transform Lives
Two years ago, Florida Conference President Mike Cauley approached Florida Hospital leadership to explore a vision that God had placed in his heart. He envisioned a partnership where the Hospital and the Church worked together to transform lives throughout the state of Florida and beyond. With Florida Hospital’s expertise to treat people’s physical pain, and with God’s blessing on Florida Conference churches to heal people’s spiritual pain, the partnership seemed like a match made in heaven.
It was a relationship that Florida Hospital was eager, and felt privileged, to enter upon, and the response has been incredible. Pastors, church members, and people in our communities are saying that CREATION Health is so positive and uplifting. They talk about how refreshing it is to be told what they can do instead of what they can’t do. They also realize, some for the first time, there is much more to wellness than just eating right and exercising.
The vision we have for this relationship between the Church and the Hospital is for our churches to become centers of hope and healing—to intentionally mingle with and serve people’s needs just like Jesus did. Inspiration tells us that He moved among the people as One who had their best interests at heart.
I want to repeat that last statement: He moved among the people as One who had their best interests at heart. Jesus served without an ulterior motive. And guess what? His method opened hearts to the gospel message. People found hope and healing in His presence. As a result, they followed Him and their lives were transformed.
The ultimate hope of the vision Florida Conference and Florida Hospital share and steward together is to transform lives.
It is so exciting to minister together to reach people at the point of their deepest need as they actively seek and respond to this method and message. This is a point worth emphasizing because there are times when we come to share a message with people that we know they need, but they are not ready to hear. So, they close their ears and raise their defenses, and the opportunity to minister is lost.
Here in Florida Conference, we have an opportunity to do something that can’t be done anywhere else. We have 23 hospitals and more than 200 churches in our territory. This is unique within Adventism where no other region has such a high number of churches and hospitals.
This should be the epicenter of hope and healing. It should be a place where people from around the world come to learn how churches and hospitals can work together to extend Christ’s healing ministry and grace. We are privileged, but with privilege comes responsibility. Let’s continue working together to be catalysts of hope and healing in our hospitals and churches until Jesus returns.
Florida Conference pastors are using the eight principles of CREATION Health to encourage people in the community to make a difference in their lives through: Choice, Rest, Environment, Activity, Trust, Interpersonal Relationships, Outlook, and Nutrition.
Following are a sample of seminars being held throughout Florida with others being planned for the fall:
Twenty-three of the 25 attendees at CREATION Health seminars at Florida Hospital Flagler were nonAdventist. Testimonies of weight loss, reduced medications, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower blood sugar levels have participants excitedly sharing what they have learned, reports Pastor Bob Hayes. A continuing education process is incorporated into CREATION Health Alumni meetings and through e-mail.
People started changing their lifestyle habits after two lessons. An average of 25 members and nonmembers are attending each session.
Two members of the church health team served as guest lecturers for a CREATION Health event at Florida Hospital Waterman. The team has also conducted a follow-up cooking class for previous seminar attendees.
Sabbath School attendees have had a choice to attend a CREATION Health class during this time slot. The seminar was also offered to bariatric patients as an online support group at Florida Hospital Celebration Health. Pastor Joseph Wamack has taught a Study Guide on Trust to a group in the Town Hall.
Members teamed up with local organizations to help sponsor a fundraiser for cancer research as a first step to launching a CREATION Health program.
Nine other Florida Conference pastors have reported their plans to start up CREATION Health seminars in their congregations this fall.