January 22, 2019 |
By Ruby Leonor Camagay - Tangonan
during a frantic 20-minute transit to catch the next plane in Beijing International Airport. This disconcerting incident taught me what full surrender and complete dependence on God meant during the scheduled medical mission trip and when beckoned to be an impromptu messenger on several occasions. So when I victoriously reclaimed the laptop after persistently searching for it with His guidance, my response was, “God, how do You want me to repay Your loving kindness?” As perceived, the inner voice conveyed that I seek earnestly, just as I unrelentingly sought for the missing laptop, souls to be saved, using the health information stored in the reclaimed media tool. Consequently, I resolved to be sensitive to His leadings, and implored, “Where Lord, and to whom will I go for funding? I want to thank you in a big way!” The inner voice whispered, “Trust Me.”
I claimed the promise in John 14:13 that whatever I ask in Jesus’ name, He will do, “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Also, this passage inspired and gave me much meaning: “All the resources of heaven are at the command of those who are seeking to save the lost...And when one is brought back to God, all heaven is made glad....” (White, E.G., Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 197). Prayerfully, I asked, “How will this be fulfilled?”
Three weeks later in May, I met Pastor Carlos Martin in a convocation in Leoni Meadows, California. He highlighted the Holy Spirit’s outpouring evident globally in several locations, and the shortness of time to bring the gospel to many. This urgency to spread the gospel, led me to express to him how many city churches in third world countries, like the Philippines, lack resources and manpower. Concerned that my childhood hometown was challenged with the surge of immigrants, due to business investments of numerous non-nationals, I felt the church needed help to reach out to their community.
Later in November, when I visited my parents in the Philippines, what a surprise to hear Pastor Carlos Martin as divine worship speaker at Olongapo City SDA Church (OSDAC), my hometown church. He was planning a spiritual reaping seminar for May 2017 and assigned me to be the medical evangelist!
In answer to prayer, Emily Nimo- Garcia and Nena Teope consented to be part of the organizing team. As members of Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist Church for three and a half months we prayed together, mapped out plans, and prepared: wrote and mailed letters to friends, designed registration forms, assembled materials and supplies. We collaborated with OSDAC Pastor Marlon Sacdalan, Head Elder Daniel Miguel, and Adventist Health Ministry leader Fe Malit-Pineda. The city mayor, city health and local barangay affairs officers were visited a month before the event, to communicate the process planned.
Thus, on May 9 - 10, 2017, all 17 barangays of Olongapo City, Philippines, experienced a medical mission as a conclusion to lifestyle education plus lifestyle assessment of its beneficiaries on May 8 - 9. With the theme “Healthy Lifestyle for the Family: Strength, Peace, Intelligence, Spirituality”, the organizers matched these four facets of wholistic health with more than 750 free Care Packages consisting of the journal “Amazing Health” to provide instructions to attain “Strength”, the book Sweet Peace in Steps to Christ to impart “Peace”, the “Desire of Ages” to lead one to the source of wisdom for “Intelligence”, while “The Great Controversy” and “Sabbath Rest” magazine offered guidelines for “Redemption”. Not only hundreds of families among the beneficiaries received these literature for free; the mayor and hundreds of City Hall and Barangay Health Center employees received it as well. Furthermore, the beneficiaries enjoyed simply prepared whole plant-based food after each health education class in the Barangay Health Centers.
Below are some verbal and written feedbacks on what they thought about the health education classes:
“I learned a lot: for example I and my children need to spend less time with our cell phones so we could sleep early to become less grouchy.”
“I can read the Bible... Thank you for the free eyeglasses!”
“Now I know I need to eat more plant-based live foods and avoid eating dead foods that may cause death.”
“May this happen again next year...”
Amazingly, of the more than 1500 patients served, 443 received free reading glasses, 400 received toothbrushes and 170 obtained free prescriptive eyeglasses. About 180 tooth extractions were performed inside the Olongapo City Dental Bus, which was used for the first time! Other services offered were circumcision, minor surgery, adult and pediatric consultation. Spiritual counseling and prayers were an option from the area ministers and church elders.
The week following this event, presentations on “Health-link to Eternal Life” and “Health in the Three Angels’ Message” were part of the local church’s three-week spiritual seminar series. With God’s power working through the church members’ Integrated Evangelism Lifestyle (IEL), 16 people were baptized and more are being prepared for future baptism. Furthermore on December 4, 2017, to assist in sustaining interest in lifestyle change, copies of Natural Remedies Encyclopedia plus three medical bags with emergency supplies were rewarded to three barangays who registered the highest number of medically disadvantaged residents, the most attendees in the Lifestyle Education classes and the highest number of beneficiaries in the Medical Mission event. Lastly, a citywide Youth Alive follow-up program is underway to give health and endless hope to the challenged city, through the assistance of Pr. Arnel Gabin, Health Director of the North Philippine Union Conference.
The organizers credit the accomplished objectives to God Almighty, who provided supportive friends and family in the USA and the Philippines, whose prayers and financial support helped to educate people on healthy lifestyle for wellness, to provide services people cannot afford to better their health, to experience the joy of serving others while learning, to assess the lifestyle among the grassroots in Olongapo City essential for future needs- based health education. This experience of collaborating with the local church and Mayor Rolen Paulino and his staff humbly delights their hearts as they continue to praise God who used them to contribute in a goal to assist Olongapo City move towards being a healthy city and learning Truth. Finally, this experience reveals how God is faithful to answer a prayer to give back to Him “in a big way.” Indeed, God can be trusted!
Ruby Leonor C. Tangonan, a pediatrician in the Philippines and a registered nurse in California, was among the pool of instructors in the College of Medicine of the Adventist University of the Philippines in Silang, Cavite, that opened in August 2015.
Seventh-day Adventist beliefs are meant to permeate your whole life. Growing out of scriptures that paint a compelling portrait of God, you are invited to explore, experience and know the One who desires to make us whole.