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Courtesy Joseph Simpson

January 5, 2020

A Modern Day Joseph

The Bible is replete with stories of divinely chosen examples of ordinary people who worked in modest positions in society whom  God used for His glory, people who saw themselves too small to be used by God.

Yet God also uses people in high places, too! For instance, Joseph, Esther, Daniel and Nehemiah, just to name a few — people whom God strategically placed in high positions of responsibility to be a blessing to others. Recently I had the privilege to meet such a person. His name is Joe Simpson. But more about the exciting things God accomplished through Joe in just a bit. 

The Lake Union Conference is working closely with the Indiana and Lake Region conferences to prepare to host the General Conference Session in Indianapolis this year. Therefore, last year we convened a meeting of as many key leaders in the Indianapolis area as our local conferences could suggest to receive their counsel as to whether having a “Your Best Pathway to Health” (Pathway) event in Indianapolis would be of value to their city. Moreover, if so, would they support by assisting with raising funds for the event. When the committee of roughly 15 people met in Indianapolis, they did indeed give great counsel and at the close of the meeting after viewing a video on Pathway and what it has done through the years to bless those who are less fortunate, the 15 expressed strong support for an effort to raise funds to support a Pathway initiative in Indianapolis.  

If you are not familiar with Pathway, they conduct citywide medical and dental screenings and procedures for underserved communities across the nation for upwards of 5,000 to 7,000 people over two or three days, typically held in a stadium. Dr. Randy Griffin, who hosts a smaller mobile dental clinic across the Lake Union stated that the people served at our LUC dental clinics often ask, “What’s the catch? Is this really free?” to which his team replies, “Yes, it’s absolutely free!”  

After the exploratory meeting concluded, City Councilman Joe Simpson sprang to his feet. I’ll never forget his big smile and great enthusiasm for the Pathway project. He stated, “This is just what our city needs and I’m going to get you in to see the mayor!” 

Councilman Simpson did not disappoint. Within months a select group of the Pathway leadership team met with Mayor Joe Hogsett, mayor of Indianapolis where the same video was shown. I’m told the mayor was moved and became a strong advocate for the Pathway endeavor. Subsequently, the mayor requested that the Lucas Oil Stadium, (the same place where the Indianapolis Colts play and the General Conference Session will be held) be provided to Pathway free of charge. Do you have any idea as to how much a stadium of that size and importance would typically cost for three days? Suffice it to say, it’s not a small figure. 

After the request was made, several months passed with no answer. However, midyear, I was in a convention center for meetings when two representatives from Pathway darted toward me as they excitedly said, “Have you heard the news?!” They were elated because the request to use the stadium for free was granted. Needless to say, I was grateful for God’s approbative smile on our meager effort to serve those who can’t afford the services Pathway provides. I’m excited that God still places His people in high places to bless His people. Now, when I say bless “His people,” I’m not just speaking of us. I am fortunate to have both medical and dental coverage. However, I’m speaking of the man who rides the bus every day to work because he can’t afford a car on his multiple part-time salaries, or the woman who works three part-time jobs, yet still can’t afford health coverage; or the retiree who has no dental coverage. 

Today our young adults are focused on social justice. Thank God that our beginnings as a church are deeply rooted in wholistic care, meeting the needs of the masses — much like Jesus who spent more time healing than preaching or teaching. We are treading in His footsteps whenever we champion the cause of the less fortunate and serve their needs socially, physically, educationally and, yes, spiritually, as the greatest need of all is to know Jesus 

Our history solidly demonstrates that we have been there to meet the needs of the underserved communities of the world through our hospitals, dispensaries and clinics, or through wells dug in parched lands. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the many schools and churches erected around the globe by people young, and young at heart, who have gone abroad as missionaries to places where the name of Jesus Christ had never been heard. Thank God for our healthcare systems around the globe that began right here, in the Lake Union. And what about our medical missionaries who have gone overseas to serve people much less fortunate: to restore sight to the blind by removing cataracts, reconstructing cleft palates so children can smile from ear to ear, and preaching the gospel of liberty to all who are bound by sin and shame.  

And what about missions right here at home? There are people in our communities who can’t read, don’t speak our native tongue, don’t know how to use a computer, don’t have enough money to get a professional haircut, still need basic clothing or suits for which to go on job interviews, or just go to church!  Maybe you can’t go abroad, but what can you sacrifice for Jesus’ cause right here at home? Can you volunteer to teach a computer class at one of our schools? Do you have a favorite sport coat or purse you could part with for the sake of someone else’s well-being? Do you have a smile or a word of encouragement that can brighten someone’s day?  Can you advocate for others who don’t know how to speak up for themselves?  

Historically, we have been a very socially-conscious people, teaching former slaves how to read just after their emancipation. And still today, our services that provide nationally recognized disaster relief services right here at home. Yet, maybe we’re not as engaged with the disadvantaged or disenfranchised as we used to be. Does anyone remember Ingathering in the cold of winter, all for the less fortunate? These are the experiences I loved as a young person in the church. Each time we left the four walls of our church, it was an adventure in faith that lessened my focus on self and helped me to be aware of others. 

Three thousand volunteers are needed for Pathway, the majority of which are not healthcare professionals, although they are critical to its success. Remember, God uses ordinary people, too! Would you prayerfully consider joining me as a volunteer for the Pathway event at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on April 8 to 10? You can register by going to: pathwaytohealthvolunteer.org. At this website, former Pathway volunteers, both medical and non-medical, give testimonials saying it is the best experience they have ever had in life! 

As we prepare to welcome the World Church to the Union where the Seventh-day Adventist Church was birthed, join me in reading our book of the year for 2020 — The Great Controversy

 

Maurice Valentine is president of the Lake Union Conference