The Health Ministry team at North Shore (from left to right) Carina To, Jaja Habla, Janet Rondina, and Evangeline Biglang-awa, together with the weekend guest speakers Dr. Joyce Choe, and Mercy Ballard, RN. [Photo credit: Jonathan Burnett]
The North Shore Adventist church, lying just north of the heart of Chicago, has for almost 70 years provided a prime location for inner-city ministry. In addition to their vibrant food pantry and clothing closet, their church school and gymnasium provide multiple avenues for outreach. Recently, the church coordinated a weekend focused on yet another increasingly relevant need—health ministry.
Janet Rondina, a North Shore member and registered nurse, serves as the newly appointed health ministry coordinator for the church. Rondina’s passion for helping others find health and healing inspired her to take an online, six-week medical missionary course through a program called MedMissionary. She then looked for ways to share practical and helpful information with her local church and community. With the support of North Shore’s pastor, Jonathan Burnett, a path was paved to host a Health Ministry Weekend in which Med Missionary’s founders were invited to give talks on health and a food demonstration.
“I wanted the church and the community to be blessed by the simple recipes and lifestyle changes that help our health,” Rondina says.
North Shore’s Health Ministry Weekend focused on natural remedies and anti-inflammatory eating. On Sabbath, Mercy Ballard, retired RN and co-founder of Med Missionary, shared about her journey of trusting God through her own health crisis and how she started a lifestyle center at her home. Dr. Joyce Choe, MD, MPH and co-founder of Med Missionary, explored the question, “What is true medical missionary work?” and presented on natural therapies for colds and flus.
Sunday’s presentations included a combination of lectures and interactive food demonstrations, where approximately 40 attendees learned how soaking and sprouting foods increases nutrient availability and ease of digestion. Participants also learned about how modern agricultural and even health practices might be affecting health. Case studies of recovery using a more therapeutic and anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle were shared, followed by a demonstration on how to make soy-free tofu, a granola with amaranth and gluten-free bread using black beans.
“We are fearfully and wonderfully made,” Dr. Choe shared with weekend participants. “I believe that a loving God has given us principles in His Word for improving the quality of our lives.”
Throughout the weekend, the North Shore church members and guests learned about ways to use diet and lifestyle, as well as natural therapies, to bring the body into a more healthful state. Each of the presentations called for those attending to have faith in the Word of God to have courage to move forward in obedience to what they see God calling them to.
“The response and turnout was strong,” Burnett said, reflecting on the positive response from attendees of the Health Ministry Weekend. “I could tell that for Dr. Joyce and for Mercy, this is what they have a real sense of calling for, and their personal testimonies of their own health journeys helped back it up. It reaffirms to me that the health message, when done well, really has universal appeal.”
Burnett noted the hunger from those who attended for more on these topics. Many resolved to make choices that glorify God in their body and mind.
Over the course of the weekend, the presentations on healthful dietary principles segued to the principles associated with lifestyle, inspiring dialogue on growing food and country living. Though surrounded by the city, the congregation identified ways they could engage more in agriculture.
“Growing your own food in the city is more challenging, but people are interested in collaborating, finding land, and finding space to grow food,” Burnett shared. “It’s a dream I’ve had since coming here, to have a North Shore Farm. As a church community, it got us thinking about how we can be more holistic in our health, while having an awesome ministry outpost here in the city.”
Both Burnett and Rondina see an opportunity in the deep interest from attendees to learn more.
“During weekends like these, we’re learning together as a church, and through these we'll be able to bless the community, especially in the last days,” Rondina said.
A seed was planted, and they want to see it grow.
Faith LaCelle, freelance writer