God is balanced and so is everything that comes from Him. But as fallen human beings, we have the tendency to go to extremes. And in the attempt to rescue the balance, the health talks and workshops at Big Camp this year brought the theme “Refocus” inspiring people to reconsider the Health Message and its truth.
Nearly every Seventh-day Adventist in the world recognizes the health message as a powerful tool to connect with people and share the Gospel. But a contributing factor to the lack of balance in this topic is that not all diligently study and understand its full context in the Spirit of Prophecy.
Camila Skaf, the Health Director for the NNSW Conference, explains that a typical example of that is the use of Ellen White’s texts and quotes that support one point of view while pointing fingers to people who don’t follow the advice given in those quotes. “So instead of bringing people together, the misuse of the health message can separate people. Ellen White wrote about that; if wrongly used, the health message can injure the ministry. So having a balanced view of health, and using the health message with an other-centred focus is essential for its success”, she adds.
Considering himself an enthusiast of the health message, Christopher Rantall who listened to the health talks, says that he has seen how the lack of balance in preaching to others can negatively impact its reach. “I’m quite involved with health back home, and in the past, we’ve done a lot of projects to meet people where they’re at. We used to do a lot of cooking demonstrations and health presentations, and I found that when we started stepping off the health principles, within what Ellen White and the Bible teach, people started to drift and not attend”.
“So we need to have that balance where we present the truth of health and don’t go overboard”, he acknowledges, adding about the Big Camp health workshops, “it’s amazing that that’s exactly what was presented here”.
The start of a movement
One positively surprising element was the engagement with the health activities during Big Camp. Mrs Skaf points out that the team expected around 20 to 50 people to attend the talks and workshops. “I remember entering the first talk and it being pretty empty. It was on a Monday at 9 am, and during the worship, there were less than 30 people in the audience. But 15 minutes later, right before the start of the talk, I looked back, and there were more than 400 people!” She explains that the numbers only increased during the other talks and workshops, “so we clearly saw the beginning of a movement!”
And to be a whole movement, the health department also brought the focus to children with the launch of the Kids Health Expo and kids cooking class. Through games, music and fun they learned the core values of the health message and the eight natural remedies given by God. “It was inspiring to see that nearly half of the children registered at Big Camp attended the expo”, says Mrs Skaf.
“Parents were telling me that on the way back from camp, on the four-hour drive the kids were teaching them all about what they had learned. So we want to include whole families to be part of this health movement”.
She also explains that this movement is not only about having healthy bodies or even healthy people, but it’s also about healthy hope. “When you minister to people, and you help with their needs, their physical needs, the spirit of prophecy tells us that they will be open to their spiritual needs. So this movement is not only about bringing physical wellness; it’s about bringing salvation and eternal life”.