Christ’s Method Alone ...
A five-day free health seminar, entitled “From Sickness to Health,” featuring Rico Hill as presenter and Calvin Howell and Elicia Kalua as food sample chefs and vegan banquet preparers, was held April 8–12 at Adventist Medical Center (AMC) in Portland, Ore., and at the adjacent Sunnyside Church. Although various circumstances worked against the effective presentation of the health seminar, through the coming together of many people from many churches, the seminar succeeded in becoming a vehicle for the participants’ improved health and for their potential candidacy for church membership through the implementation of “Christ’s method alone” for winning souls.
From the outset, circumstances worked against the five-day health seminar ever taking place. Tom Hall, Portland's Your Bible Speaks Community Church (YBS) elder, met with Carl Parker of the Stone Tower Church, also in Portland. They both envisioned sponsoring a health seminar that would reach the unchurched. It was noted that Rico Hill, health evangelist, had such a program, designed to reach the unchurched.
Hall sought to implement the health seminar as a follow-up to the Breath of Life Evangelistic Crusade held in Portland in September 2014. Unfortunately, follow-up activities were already in place for the crusade, so the health seminar could not be held at that time. Hall again tried to hold the health seminar in November 2014, but the seminar conflicted with an elders' retreat sponsored by the Northwest Adventist African American Local Elders Federation (NAAALEF).
Planners of the health seminar also had problems finding a venue for the event. Hall sought out many locations, from local hotels to conference centers, to no avail. The idea was conceived that the health seminar be held at AMC. AMC offered the use of its amphitheater at no cost. Scheduling conflicts prevented AMC from hosting the fifth day of the seminar at the hospital. The fifth day was to include a lecture, followed by a vegan banquet, demonstrating some of the food products sampled during the first four days of the seminar.
Fortunately, Sunnyside Church offered their facility for the final day of the seminar, with access to the church's chef’s kitchen and the multipurpose room for the banquet. The problems that initially prevented the heath seminar from happening started to disappear through the working of God’s providential action.
Six Portland-area Adventist churches came together in order to make the five-day health seminar a success: leading sponsor YBS plus Sunnyside, Tabernacle, Mount Tabor, Sharon and Stone Tower churches. Early on, Parker notified Hall that innovative evangelism funds from the Oregon Conference could be accessed for the event. Hall applied for and received a grant of those funds from the conference. These funds coupled with contributions from all six churches funded the health seminar.
Specific individuals from the six churches and AMC were members of the steering committee that came together to make the health seminar a success: Ed Hoover from AMC; Julie McAdams from Tabernacle; Barbara Harrison from Sharon; Doug Schippmann from Mount Tabor; Lloyd Westcott from Sunnyside; Carl and Audre Parker, Jeanine Goodwin, and Tom Limnell from Stone Tower; and Tom and Sandraneta Hall, Paula and Saffa Rogers, Pattric Parris, and Jan and Mike Bishop from YBS. Shannon Jones from Sharon Church served on the steering committee and functioned as the master of ceremonies for the seminar. These people and others from contributing churches worked to make the seminar successful.
The health seminar statistics reveal the success of the enterprise. Press releases and posters advertising the event were sent out over multiple weeks prior to the seminar to almost every Portland-area newspaper, radio and television station. As a result, more than 200 people attended on each of the five days of the health seminar. Food samples were offered nightly. The chefs gave a food preparation demonstration each night, often related to the food sample prepared for each evening.
Statistics on the seminar's follow-up programs also reveal the seminar’s success. The Cast, a 10-week follow-up program to the health seminar, gives its participants an opportunity to put into practice the health principles learned at the health seminar. More than 56 people have signed up to participate in this program. Follow-up meetings held at the six churches involved, ranging from organic garden tours and healthy seminar follow-up classes to plant-based cooking classes and essential oils education, are giving health seminar participants an opportunity to further improve their health.
The concept behind the seminar is taken from an Ellen G. White quotation found in her book The Ministry of Healing, p. 143, concerning Christ’s method for winning souls: "Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, 'Follow Me.'"
The unchurched came out to the seminar out of a desire to improve their health, while the church members came out to meet and greet the people at the beginning of the nightly presentations, and, after the nightly presentations were over, to taste the food samples and to mingle with the people. According to Hall, one of the goals of the seminar was to have people say, “Those are the nicest people I’ve ever met.” That is exactly what church participants heard people say about them by the end of the seminar.
The follow-up activities, as sponsored by the churches, were designed to help establish a further connection with the people. As people discover how to maintain health, they will be led to ask, “What else do these people know?” and they will discover the truths of the Sabbath and the Three Angels’ Messages.
Despite the challenges, From Sickness to Health was highly successful, thanks to the coordinated efforts of six Portland-area Adventist churches. What remains to be seen is the harvest of souls to be won, as a result of the churches’ efforts, and the improved health to be experienced by the participants of the seminar. When all is said and done, the satisfaction to be experienced in health benefits received and souls won will be worthy of heaven’s highest commendations, coming about as a result of using “Christ’s method alone” in winning souls.