Under the theme, “Rise Up and Shine,” the Dominican Republic Association of Adventist Health Professionals (ADOPAS) held its ninth biennial conference at Najayo Beach on January 27–29, 2023. The event focused on the Seventh-day Adventist health principles known as the health reform message, organizers said.
More than 100 physicians, bioanalysts, nurses, psychologists, physical therapists, pharmacologists, nutritionists, and other health professionals networked, enjoyed various learning experiences, took part in spiritual reflections, and impacted the community.
The event included specialized topic presentations by Frank Géneus, M.D., Inter-American Division Health Ministries director; Faustino de los Santos, Health Ministries director for the Chiapas Mexican Union; and Roel Cea, Health Ministries director for the North Mexican Union and Montemorelos University. In their presentations, they shared cognitive and technological tools with participants. They can be used for comprehensive care of each person’s own health and the health of the family, church, and community, fostering international networks of partnerships and research the Adventist Church has for its health professionals.
Pastor Paulino Puello, president of the Dominican Union, encouraged Adventist health professionals to deepen their personal relationship with God in order to take care of their personal needs. “In that way, you will be able to be in [an] optimal state and give your best to also assist those who come in search of health services at the places where you serve,” Puello said.
The three-day event closed with words of encouragement by Dr. Maricela Ramírez, Health Ministries director for the church on the island. Ramírez challenged Adventist health professionals to fulfill their mission of healing and saving. “Make a commitment with God to be a light amid the darkness of disease.”
The Voice of Attendees
Several attendees of the ADOPAS Congress highlighted the spiritual blessings they feel they received by participating in this year’s event.
“I think this event was a great blessing because leaders highlighted the wonderful work we are called as Adventist health professionals to accomplish and the great field where we can serve,” said Marleny Tavarez. “When we are willing to let Jesus shine through our service in the area of health, the Holy Spirit will touch many souls,” she said.
For Raysa Feliz, the ADOPAS Congress was a spiritually enriching experience. “We were shown which focus we should have as health professionals who serve God,” she said. “We were reminded that we are not alone in our work, because God has workers all across Inter-America and around the world who are devoted to preserve everyone’s health, heal, and save. Even God Himself is interested we are healed and saved.”
A Leader’s Appraisal
In assessing the event’s impact, Dr. Géneus said it moved Adventist healthcare professionals to renew their determination to help advance the church’s mission as they serve the community and make personal commitments to improve their health outcomes.
Dr. Géneus also highlighted how meaningful the 2023 event was. “This annual convention of ADOPAS in [the] Dominican Republic marked the rebirth of a movement halted by COVID-19 and other challenges,” he said. “More than 500 healthcare professionals in the region are looking forward to proactively contribute to sharing the gospel via the comprehensive health ministry movement.”
Géneus praised their collaboration in projects and their service as health professionals to the church. “This association is a mature organization with solid support for the leaders of the church and a strong leadership structure,” he emphasized.
Advocating a Paradigm Shift
In his message to all those present, Géneus recommended a paradigm change in the role of Adventist healthcare professionals in the fulfillment of the mission of the church. Leaders believe Adventist healthcare professionals have needs that are not necessarily well addressed by the church, he added. Those needs can be personal, professional, and/or spiritual and pretty different from those of other church members, he said.
Personal needs can be as complex as the management of family life, work-life balance, a higher rate of divorce compared to other groups in the community, a higher rate of drug addictions, and poorer quality of health when compared with other members of the same social and economic status, explained Géneus.
“Professional needs are, among others, access to continuous training and medical education. Adventist healthcare professionals are expected to reach excellence in their practice as flag bearers of the vision of the Adventist health ministry,” said Géneus. It’s all about practicing with professionalism, delivering quality services, “to practice with compassion the holistic health message based on the Bible, on the Spirit of Prophecy, and scientific evidence-based practices.”
The Role of the Church
Dr. Géneus said leaders believe the church can play an essential role in Adventist health professionals’ spiritual development. The church can accompany the spiritual growth of a health professional, support an alignment between faith, spirituality, and modern secular scientific approaches, and provide ongoing opportunities for training and professional development, among other actions.
“We believe that the Christ-centered healthcare ministry of Adventist health professionals is a valuable contribution to the greater good of humanity and advances the cause of God by applying Christ’s soul-winning method,” Géneus said.
As part of the event, ADOPAS elected new leaders for the next two years.
The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division website.