A Mission Lesson From Adventist Health

October 23, 2018 | John Freedman

Adventist Health leadership, staff and employees are ministers for Christ in our Seventh-day Adventist Church. Adventist Health, our partner in ministry, has committed and dedicated itself to be one of the best health care delivery systems in its territory. This lofty goal has pushed the organization to make many changes on its journey toward excellence.

Interestingly, this journey has required Adventist Health to further emphasize and clarify its mission, “Living God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope.” A mission integration committee was established to clearly define mission systemwide and create a strategy to provide spiritual care in all Adventist Health settings. Mission is very important to the leadership and success of Adventist Health. Read more about it in this issue’s feature.

Mission clarity is important to every entity of our church. The mission of the North Pacific Union is to “reach every person in the Pacific Northwest and the world with the distinctive, Christ-centered Seventh-day Adventist message of hope and wholeness.” A consistent focus on a clear mission is essential to the leadership and success of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Pacific Northwest.

Our mission reminds us why we exist as a church and motivates us to action — reaching out to those who are living without hope in Jesus. Collaborating helps multiply our resources of time, talent, finances and energy so we can offer wholeness to the broken and confused and hope to hurting people. This focus together on Christ’s mission will unify us in Him. Cooperating with Jesus, the Holy Spirit and heavenly angels to lead the hopeless into a personal relationship with the Savior — the Hope of the world — will provide the physical and spiritual growth we so desperately need.

This begins a dynamic circle of growth. Mission clarity is the first step. Living the mission is the second. Accepting the call from Christ to personally reach the people around us with the distinctive Christ-centered message of hope and wholeness — to go make disciples — puts good intentions into action. Then the Holy Spirit begins to create opportunities to cooperate with Jesus to bring hope to the hopeless and wholeness to the broken. The Holy Spirit gives us a passion for ministry, a yearning to be intentional about reaching out to those who are confused and hurting from the stings of a brutal world. 

The church is an oasis of God’s grace in a desert without hope. Christ, the Living Water, refreshes and gives life to those who are thirsty for a better life than what they have found in this world. God’s grace awakens spiritually empty hearts to new realities of being accepted, forgiven and loved now, just the way they are. This is the transformational power to make them like the One who accepts, forgives and loves.

Not long ago, while I was conducting a series of evangelistic meetings, a denominational leader and pastor from another faith attended regularly. He was very cautious. He studied, accepted every truth and warmed up over time. At the close of the meetings he told me, “John, I believe the biblical application of the prophecies you have presented, and they have created an urgency to be ready for the soon coming of Christ. But what has captured my heart is the Christ-filled messages of the gospel you have shared each night. I want to join this local church. I need a church that truly believes and lives the message you have presented.”

Thirsty people are still looking for an oasis of God’s grace in a desert without hope. We can take a lesson from our colleagues at Adventist Health, to be clear and certain of our mission. Successful churches will have mission clarity and personally accept the call to live out that mission in their communities.