Guests, trainees, and staff gather after celebrating the close of the Health Immersion program. Photographer: Kelsey Weber
Just a few days into the program, a guest eagerly entered the kitchen and announced that their blood sugar levels were usually 300 mg/dL at that point in the day, but now they had dropped to a much healthier level of 100.
Fifteen guests and twelve trainees joined the program to learn and apply natural remedies and lifestyle medicine. One guest reported that their blood pressure was normal for the first time in a year. Another said their acid reflux disappeared and they lost 11 pounds. Still another participant dropped their C-reactive protein level, an inflammation measure that helps predict risk of heart and autoimmune disease, by 13.5 points. And cholesterol levels dropped by 48 points for someone else. The blood tests to measure these changes were taken only 7 days apart, and even the medical director was amazed.
One particularly striking response to God’s simple remedies is the story of Suzi Woods. She was going to come as a volunteer nurse but switched to being a guest because she was facing a great deal of pain. One month before the program Suzi broke her hip. After going through the program, her pain dropped from 7.5/10 to 0/10. The dramatic change came largely from the application of hot and cold fomentations and charcoal poultices. Suzi recently completed a lap around the lake at Camp Au Sable without assistance or sitting for a rest, something not possible with her health status prior to the program. As a program bonus, she lost approximately 2 inches off her waste.
The blessings that God gave to those in need flowed through a wide variety of hands. Dr. John Kelly and his wife Sally were responsible for the medical program and kitchen respectively. Dr. Kelly and Pastor Ron Kelly envisioned this program as a fulfillment of Christ’s commission to heal as well as an example of bringing the health ministry to the heart of the church. The hope was to heal, inspire, and train others to do similar work. Indeed, the inspiration is catching on, as several of the participants in the program, the third thus far at Village church, came to learn how to duplicate the program in their own congregations.
The church building was transformed into a health retreat. Classrooms morphed into places for hydrotherapy, the fellowship hall was turned into a lecture hall, and staff offices transitioned into doctor’s offices.
Many church members helped by giving hydrotherapy and poultice applications, preparing supplies, setting up rooms, dicing salads, cleaning laundry, etc. Linda Pellandini, the hydrotherapy leader, and other helpers created beautiful guest rooms. Pastor Michael Kusarawana directed the program, and other pastors such as Dennis Page (Village) and Bryce Bowman (Stevensville Adventist Church) blessed by providing spiritual counseling to guests.
Melanie Quion, Nursing Professor at Andrews University, brought a group of nursing students to help. The students were deterred from traveling internationally this year, so they rotated through the immersion program schedule as part of a local mission service project. Dr. Kim Ferreira, Chair of the Physical Therapy Department at Andrews, brought students to help with physical assessments and lead group exercises for guests. In total, over 100 people combined their efforts in the work of the Lord.
Volunteers, trainees, and guests were already contacting the church to inquire about the next program before it was announced. If you would like to know more about the program, what is involved, how health has been transformed as a result, or to savor the health outreach experience, please visit the health immersion page on the Village Seventh-day Adventist Church website or look for the “Health Immersion Program” playlist on the Village YouTube channel.
During the afterglow session, one of the guests tearfully remarked that they had never had so many Christian people put a caring hand on their shoulder or offer a prayer on their behalf. That is the mission of the program, to give the touch of Christ and the hope of eternal salvation.
Robert Rice, Bible Worker, Village Seventh-day Adventist Church