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Geoff Samuel went from 290 pounds (131 kilograms), left, to 209 pounds (95 kilograms), center, over the 12 months of 2017. At the right, he is meeting with Adventist Mission in June 2018. (Left two photos: Herik Dun Siope; Right photo: Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

CEO Inspired by Fat-Burning Employee

He looked at his own belly and wondered, “Can I do the same?”

By Andrew McChesney

Geoff Samuel, chief executive of a housing construction company on the Solomon Islands, couldn’t believe his eyes when an employee lost 90 pounds (40 kilograms) in a year.

He looked at his own belly and wondered, “Can I do the same?”

Geoff weighed 290 pounds (131 kilograms). For 10 years, he had suffered high blood pressure and hypertension. He realized that he was on a path to destruction.

Geoff was fully aware of the Adventist health message, having been raised in an Adventist home and having attended church schools. But his body was the complete opposite of what he knew. He made the evening meal the largest of the day, just like many Solomon Islanders, including Adventists.

Before meals, he prayed, “God, thank You for the blessing of this food.” He never thought about praying, “God, give us strength to control our appetites.”

One day in early 2017, Geoff approached Herik, who worked for him as an architectural drafter.

“How did you manage to lose all that weight?” he asked.

Herik explained that he had followed a diet and exercise program inspired by Ellen White’s book “Counsels on Diet and Foods.”

“I can teach you what I did,” he said.

“When can I start?”

“If you want, we can start today.”

The two men left the office of Solomon Housing Limited and started some simple 45-minute exercises on the beach, under trees, and at other places. It was hard work for Geoff as he tackled various exercises in 20-second increments.

“When I started, I couldn’t complete 20 seconds,” he said. “I counted, and I was happy if I could reach five seconds. I tried every day to improve on that number.”

As he lost weight, other people joined them. Herik continued leading the group, and Geoff assumed the role of coordinator. Today, more than 200 people of various faiths gather to exercise four days a week in an Adventist-owned auditorium.

Each workout begins and ends with prayer. Once a week, time is set aside for personal testimonies, and Herik and Geoff stress the importance of diet. Their advice comes straight from Ellen White.

“If you feel good now, how about applying changes to your life spiritually?” Herik asks.

“Imagine how you would feel if you prayed every morning, too,” Geoff adds.

The cry, “Hem waka!” (It works!), often rings out around the auditorium as people see their bodies getting back into shape.

Herik and Geoff aren’t medical experts, but they have noticed that God helps the body heal itself when people treat their bodies as God intended.

Geoff still has a way to go to reach his ideal weight. But he has lost nearly 80 pounds (35 kilograms) in 18 months and feels better than ever.

“I can run, climb, and jump!” he said with a big smile. “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”

Geoffrey Samuel describes the struggle that he faced when he started working out. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

Obesity is a major problem in the Solomon Islands and contributes to a number of health ailments, including diabetes. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will support “Save 10,000 Toes,” a diabetes-fighting program in the Solomon Islands. “Save 10,000 Toes,” which was established in late 2017, finances Herik and Geoff’s community workout classes. Thank you for your Sabbath School mission offerings.