Financing the Church
Do you remember being taught as a child to include the missionaries, colporteurs, doctors and nurses and still others in your prayers? Many of the mission stories that we heard were about missionary doctors and nurses confronting horrible diseases in
their patients or performing surgery under very primitive conditions. Given the
general improvement of basic medical conditions around the world, does the
Adventist Church still have a role in healthcare? If so, how does the church
Adventist hospitals and sanitariums around the world had an average daily inpatient census of 15,672 and a total of more than 14,196,000 outpatient visits for that year.
of the Healthcare Work
the “Annual Statistical Report
2013” (reporting statistics as of
the end of 2011), Adventist hospitals and sanitariums around the world had an
average daily inpatient census of 15,672 and a total of more than 14,196,000
outpatient visits for that year. This represents a large number of people
(especially when considering the entire family of the patient) that have the
potential to be exposed to Jesus’ message of healing for body, mind and spirit!
In addition, the total number of employees at Adventist healthcare-related
facilities was more than 107,000 people worldwide. The growth in number of
institutions can be seen in the chart.
and clinics are typically considered to be either self-funded or
mission-funded. Of the latter type of institution, many were established in
locations based on the level of need in the local population rather than places
where the local community could afford to pay appropriate fees for their
healthcare. Therefore, these institutions rely on varying types of support for
their continued operation.
Some of these
mission-funded institutions receive outright subsidies from their local mission
or union organization in order to carry on their service to humanity in the
name of Jesus. Another important type of care may come in the form of medical
and dental personnel classified as interdivision missionaries if personnel with
the necessary skills are not available locally.
“If ever the Lord has spoken by me, He speaks when I say that the workers engaged in educational lines, in ministerial lines, and in medical-missionary lines must stand as a unit, all laboring under the supervision of God, one helping the other, each blessing each”
Conference and division-secretariat personnel recruit and send these church
employees to their various assignments around the world. Currently, there are
101 healthcare personnel serving in this capacity. While 38 of these are paid
completely from the patient revenue of their institution, 63 are funded
primarily from world mission offerings collected by the General Conference (GC Interdivision Personnel Resources & Services, Sept. 22, 2013).
From our early days
as a Church, we embraced the health message as an important part of our
mission. Later on, in 1909 Ellen G. White presented an urgent reminder to the
General Conference: “If ever the Lord has spoken by me, He speaks when I say
that the workers engaged in educational lines, in ministerial lines, and in
medical-missionary lines must stand as a unit, all laboring under the
supervision of God, one helping the other, each blessing each” (Testimonies to the Church, Vol.9, p. 169).
Although that message was presented more
than one hundred years ago, today the General Conference is once again issuing
a plea for comprehensive health evangelism in the ministry of the Church as we
seek to bring healing to our communities both physically and spiritually. While
traditional mission-funded healthcare structures will continue to play a role
in the outreach of the church, the call for comprehensive health evangelism
will provide new avenues for church members to demonstrate holistic stewardship
principles by contributing their time and God-given abilities to