Living a healthy lifestyle not only benefits individuals, but also those who may be within their sphere of influence. As we get older, our bodies are subject to more and more diseases that can cause devastating impacts on our lives and the lives of our families. It is, therefore, very important that we pay more attention to our health as we age and do whatever we can to improve it. The Apostle John greeted Gaius saying, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers”—3 John 2, NKJV.
We are privileged to be members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, an institution that promotes healthy habits and lifestyles. Unfortunately, a large percentage of our membership does not put these healthy habits into practice. Yes, a vast majority of our membership does not eat unclean meats, drink alcoholic beverages, or practice any of the prohibitions listed in Leviticus 11. Nonetheless, we do not pay enough attention to the other aspects of healthy living. We have excellent medical institutions, where thousands of medical professionals are trained, yet we still fall short of having the majority of our membership follow a healthy lifestyle.
In recent years, many of us have been more inclined to follow a plant-based diet. In many studies, Seventh-day Adventists have been found to be some of the healthiest people in the world. Yet, we can do so much more by using our health message to engage and have a greater impact on our members and our community.
Many of our members, pastors, and church leaders alike are experiencing chronic and devastating diseases, such as heart attacks, cancer, and strokes, to name a few. Being affected myself by one of these illnesses was a wake-up call for me. I was forced to examine my own lifestyle and made some drastic changes in my everyday life. I would like to say thank you to my family, fellow administrators, departmental directors, staff, friends, and the members of the Atlantic Union Conference, and those from other parts of the world, for their prayers and support.
My wife, Yvonne, and I were blessed with the opportunity to be guests at the Wildwood Lifestyle Center in Wildwood, Georgia. It is a supporting ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that provides educational, health, and evangelistic services to our local and worldwide communities. They are well known for their care and attention, particularly in reshaping lifestyles.
Great emphasis is given to the eight laws of health—NEWSTART®: Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunshine, Temperance, Air, Rest, and Trust in God. The treatments and benefits we received included hydrotherapy, massage, natural remedies, and nutritional education as it applies to adhering to a plant-based diet. It was also a good place to relax, recharge, and reshape my routine. As a result of our time spent there, we are giving greater attention to our health than ever before.
Given the many instances of sickness that are occurring among our laity and minsters alike, we need to place more importance on the subject of health. The public has a good impression of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s health practices. However, we can do much better in educating our members and the wider community on how to implement these ideas in their daily lives. This will help to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As it has been said by Ellen G. White, “Thousands, yes, millions, who walk the earth, are suffering from their own wrong course of action. Should not those for whom Christ has given His life place a value upon their own happiness, peace, and healthfulness by obeying nature’s laws? We are the Lord’s property by creation and by redemption, and He requires that we study how to care for our bodies, observing carefully the laws of life, health, and purity”—This Day With God, p. 123.
G. Earl Knight is president of the Atlantic Union Conference and chairman of the Atlantic Union College Corporation.
This editorial first appeared in the August 2019 issue of The Atlantic Union Gleaner magazine, page 3.