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Jay M. Tombokan says, “We need unity before we treat the outside world, and we become united in our vision when we participate in public evangelism.” (Photos: Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

​In Indonesia, Doctors Leave Hospital to Lead Evangelistic Series

“Evangelism is my breakfast and my lunch,” says Manado Adventist Hospital’s president.

By Andrew McChesney,

Every year, Jay M. Tombokan takes several weeks from his busy schedule as a physician and the president of a Seventh-day Adventist hospital in Indonesia to lead an evangelistic series.

He encourages the hospital staff to do the same.

Tombokan has found that public evangelism keeps both him and his coworkers united in their mission of treating patients and preparing them for Jesus’ soon return.

“Evangelism is my breakfast and my lunch,” Tombokan said in an interview in his office at Manado Adventist Hospital, a 150-bed facility on the island of Sulawesi that received part of a 2012 Thirteenth Sabbath Offering.

The hospital’s 2017 evangelistic campaign, organized in cooperation with the local conference, resulted in 69 baptisms. Another 53 people were baptized in 2016. Only doctors preached at those two series of meetings.

That is changing in 2018, with the hospital expanding to three campaigns: one led by doctors, a second led by nurses, and a third led by hospital administrators.

“We need unity before we treat the outside world, and we become united in our vision when we participate in public evangelism,” Tombokan said.

  • Manado Adventist Hospital, whose expansion was funded by a 2012 Thirteenth Sabbath Offering.

  • A hospital chaplain welcoming visitors through a door with the sign, “God heals, we help.”

  • A hospital worker watching over patients in a ward. Her shirt reads, “God heals, we help.”

Past Experience

That was his experience as president of Bandung Adventist Hospital on the Indonesian island of West Java. In five years, 4,000 people were baptized through that hospital’s evangelistic meetings, he said. The Adventist Church operates four hospitals in Indonesia; the other two are Bandar Lampung Adventist Hospital and Medan Adventist Hospital, both on the island of Sumatra.

Manado Adventist Hospital had 50 beds when it opened in the church union’s former headquarters in December 2007. With the help of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offeringcollected in 2012, the hospital expanded to 150 beds in 2013.

Tombokan said the hospital faces a serious shortage of qualified full-time specialists, particularly doctors. It has 384 staff members, 90 percent of whom are Adventist, and cared for 700,000 patients in 2016.

Tombokan, who moved to the Manado hospital in 2015, never expected to work for the Adventist health system. An OB/GYN doctor, he worked for seven years for the government but then faced a Sabbath conflict. He left his job and was soon hired to work at Bandung Adventist Hospital, where he made public evangelism a major part of its outreach efforts.

Benefiting Hospital Staff

Tombokan praised public evangelism as a way to not only share the gospel but also to strengthen the faith of hospital workers, who preach and participate in free medical clinics and health seminars offered simultaneously with the meetings.

“When we go outside and strengthen others, the benefit comes directly back to us,” he said.

The Manado hospital itself has four chaplains, and they oversee a dynamic spiritual program, including two Weeks of Prayer every year, a 10-days-of-prayer initiative, and daily morning worship in every department. Nine patients were baptized in 2016, and two more were baptized in 2017.

“Matthew 28:19-20 is our priority,” Tombokan said, referring to Jesus’ command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (NKJV).

“We recognize that Jesus is coming soon,” he added, softly. “Jesus is coming soon.”

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