[Ask a man to present this first-person report.]
I’m Rudy, and I love sharing God’s love with others. One day a member of my church asked me to help her. “My neighbor wants to know who Adventists are, but I’m not sure how to tell him. Can you come and talk to him?”
I agreed to go with the woman to talk to her neighbor. We made our way toward the village. Although it’s not far from Medan, a major city in western Indonesia, most of the people are poor farmers. They don’t have access to education or health care. Most of them worship spirits. I want to teach them how to live better through simple health habits. But even more, I want to tell them about Jesus.
We found Mardan, the woman’s neighbor, out in his field. He watched suspiciously as we approached. “People in the village hate Mardan because he threatens to curse them unless they give him money,” my friend whispered. “He’s probably surprised to see us here.”
When we introduced ourselves, Mardan relaxed. We chatted for a few minutes and asked if we could visit him the following week. He agreed. Then I invited him to church on Sabbath. He frowned. “I don’t have any nice clothes,” he said.
“You just come,” I said. “You’ll be welcome.” He came, and the church members welcomed him.
On Tuesday we visited Mardan in his humble home. The family lived in a poorly constructed house with a dirt floor and no electricity. His son had broken his leg, but without proper medical attention it had not healed properly. We began teaching the family about simple health practices that could improve their lives.
When it grew late, we promised to return the following week to share more. “May I invite others?” Mardan asked. We encouraged him to invite anyone he wished.
The next week many others came, eager to learn how to live healthier, more meaningful lives. Word spread that we were teaching about health and about God, and even more people asked to come. We divided into three small groups so everyone could learn.
After meeting together for several months, we held public meetings in the village center. After the meetings 24 people asked to be baptized.
Residents of nearby villages heard about the small-group meetings and asked us to come and teach them. Their urgent plea surprised us until we learned that people were dying under strange circumstances. They believed that someone in their village would die next.
When we arrived to hold a meeting, the host’s house was crowded. We met with the people for a week and then formed a small group of about 20 persons. No one in this village died that week, but the next week someone in a neighboring village died.
People living in two nearby villages begged for us to come and hold nights of prayer and Bible study to prevent the death of someone in their village. We agreed, and we began meeting weekly with people in each of these villages. We were running out of nights to meet with people!
Two months later we held evangelistic meetings in a central location and baptized nine more people. The villagers formed several small groups to meet and study the Bible.
The Adventist hospital holds as many as 30 charity clinics a year. Often these are held in connection with evangelism. We teach simple health practices such as teaching children how to brush their teeth, wash their hands, and bathe to prevent illness. Adults learn how a clean house and healthful food help keep a family healthy. After the seminars volunteers from the hospital offer medical and dental services and refer those in need of further medical care to the hospital.
We now have 33 members in this cluster of villages. This area is mostly non-Christian, with less than one Adventist for every 10,000 people. So we are grateful for each person who gives their life to Christ. We’re building a simple church in the central village that will serve this cluster of villages.
As local Adventists learn how effective health evangelism can be, they become excited to share in the work and the ministry of being God’s hands to people who have never met Him before.
This quarter part of your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help provide urgently needed medical equipment to upgrade the services offered at the Adventist hospital in Medan and expand the work in the villages and towns nearby.
Rudy Sitepu is vice president for medical services at Medan Adventist Hospital in Medan, Indonesia.