European Health Conference ‒ Sharing Health, Healing and Hope

25th April 2018

A group of the Galway and Cork Adventist church members, who are passionate about all matters relating to health, travelled to Romania for the second European Health Conference, held 17-21 April in Bucharest.

As they attended the various presentations at the conference, the experience of the Good Samaritan came to mind. Betty O'Rourke reflects: "The story seems particularly relevant for matters of health. We should ask ourselves a question, 'Who, today, is lying on the road?' And can we be of help?"

Every neighbourhood and community have people who have fallen on the side of the road, having been attacked by the diseases of modern living. Those suffering from lifestyle diseases need not only physical healing but also emotional and spiritual healing.

A large representation of renowned medical experts from around the world shared their expertise and research findings at the conference and, amazingly, verified the writings of E G White, whose advice and remedies, published more than 100 years before modern medical science even began to explore the underlying causes of cancer, diabetes and autoimmune diseases, seem up to date and relevant even today.

"It's all about choices", said Suelynn Oleye, a nurse from Galway church, who daily encounters patients who need to change their eating, exercise and lifestyle habits. But as another attender remarked "We the church members also need to lead in this regard and be an example to all we come in contact with, by living the health message ourselves."

A pertinent issue raised by the medical experts was the high rates of depression now seen in every country particularly here in Europe. Depression is set to affect up to 50% of the general population in the next decade. Studies have been carried out on the effectiveness of proper nutrition, combined with lifestyle changes which can improve or even eradicate mental illness.

Anna Boisko, who regularly runs lifestyle courses in the Galway church, felt inspired by a workshop given by Pastor Don Mackintosh who is both a nurse and pastor and currently serves as the director of NEWSTART Global Health Programme: "I was struck by his holistic approach to dealing with illness and his advice for us to be the hands and feet of Jesus." Anna is already planning a health programme to meet the needs of the local community residing in the Galway church area.

Joan Johnson of Cork Seventh-day Adventist church says she now has a new vision for health programmes. "What I gathered from the presentations is that consistency and perseverance is the key. This builds up trust in those who attend such programmes."

Some of the health priorities were summed up by Valerie Dufour, the main organiser of the conference: "Whole person care, lifestyle medicine, health education, behaviour change, compassion, service and prayer are all vital ingredients of wholesome lifestyle interventions. We can all play a role in some or all of these areas according to the talents given to us in order that we may serve others."

Let us look around us again and see if we can help those who have fallen on the road of modern living.

[Elizabeth O'Rourke, Irish Mission Health Sponsor]

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