Adventists Engage in 5K Walk to Promote Healthy Lifestyle in Venezuela

Inter-American Division

Adventists Engage in 5K Walk to Promote Healthy Lifestyle in Venezuela

More than 4,000 Seventh-day Adventists promote the church’s I Want to Live Healthy initiative across the East Venezuela Union territory

Healthcare | Venezuela | Steven’s Rosado and IAD News Staff

Thousands of Seventh-day Adventists and their friends recently walked through main roads, city streets, sports fields, and communities in the eastern region of Venezuela to promote the church’s I Want to Live Healthy initiative, which promotes the eight natural remedies to live a healthy lifestyle, including drinking water, keeping a positive attitude, eating nutritious foods and better breakfasts, avoiding poor foods, reducing dinners, exercising, resting, and promoting happiness.

Bearing banners and homemade signs, church members walked during the church’s second annual East Venezuela Union 5K. During the walk, church members engaged with more than 4,000 community members on January 28, and February 4, 2024. Additional 5K walks are scheduled in the coming weeks in several fields, church leaders said.

Sharing Hope

“This year’s 5K walk turned out to be a blessing for our members to connect with others in our territory,” said Darlys Belisario, Health Ministries director for the East Venezuela Union and main organizer of the event. The activity was a way of sharing hope, she said. “People may not be directly open to learn[ing] more about the Bible, but they have an affinity for sporty activities, so the objective of our health ministries is to open the doors to many hearts for the honor and glory of God.”

In the southeastern region of the state of Bolivar, an Adventist radio station promoted the activity, inviting the population of Santa Elena de Uarién and other nearby communities to arrive at 7 a.m. to warm up before the walk. “As we ended the walk in a park, we divided participants in groups, and each group would go to designated stations where the eight natural remedies were highlighted,” said Kendy Fernández, Health Ministries director for the South Bolivar Venezuela Mission.

No Matter the Age

Mariana Márquez, a cancer survivor, said she was delighted to take part in the I Want to Live Healthy activity. “Exercising gives you life, energy, and resistance, and most of all, the [capability] to think more clearly,” Márquez said. “That’s why I want people to train to walk to enjoy the sun and the fresh air to have a calm and clear mind.”

“I walked the 5 kilometers even though my daughter doubted that I could do it,” said 77-year old Elsy, who took part in the walk in South Bolivar. “I want to be part of any activity like this when it comes up for my health and I know that I have the strength and God’s blessing.”

Eighty-year-old Maria Noguera, from northern Bolivar, said she knows it was God who motivated her to walk because He gives her the energy, strength, and will to walk. She had been feeling pain in her legs for three days but prayed to God to feel better. “Thanks to God, I was able to walk the 5K walk,” Noguera said.

Connecting with Others

In Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, Minerva Mejías said she didn’t want to miss connecting with others and being active through the walk, even though her hip has been giving her problems. Mejías, age 50, encouraged young people to be physically active and not waste their time on video games and social media. “It’s better to move your legs than to move your fingers,” she said.

In the state of Monagas, Wilma Pérez was part of a group of 100 participating in the 5K. “I love to take part in walks and in marathons, and it’s important to show others the importance of physical exercise to enjoy good health and a positive attitude,” said Pérez.

More than 345 people, including 70 friends from the community, completed the 5K walk.

Onlookers and drivers received literature on family, the Christian faith, and health as they journeyed throughout the streets and communities during the annual 5K walk.

The larger crowds were escorted and protected by the municipal police and civil protection authorities, as were the regional media outlets covering the activity.

“Today we were able to enjoy a special day,” said Kleiberlin de Cardossi, from Guarenas, Miranda. “The activity was so comforting because as a church, we have been taking on challenges here to care for our health at the start of the year. We were able to walk with so many people from our region and share with others that don’t know about Jesus how beautiful it is to live healthy.”

Ana Gamboa, Health Ministries director in the Zone 5 district of the South Central Venezuela Conference in Santa Lucía, Miranda, said she was delighted to see children, young people, and adults complete the 5K walk. “I am sure that this event motivated so many people,” she said. “I could feel the companionship of God, and He helped us to accomplish what we sometimes think is not possible. Walking is health. And we should walk more often and with God next to us.”

Health Activities Throughout the Year

Belisario said the Health Ministries Department will continue to coordinate with Youth, Children’s, and Women’s ministries to promote various activities designed to highlight the I Want To Live Healthy initiative.

In addition, the church is planning to promote its I Want to Grow Healthy initiative throughout the primary and secondary schools across the union territory, said Belisario. “We have many activities taking place bimonthly, like health expos, health clubs, food fairs, medical brigades, open clinics, and others that help to alleviate the difficult social and economic situation that many live [with] in Venezuela.”

Belisario concluded, “All of us can do our part to invite our fellow members and friends in the community to promote this wonderful truth we have in Jesus and help change the paradigms with health ministries.”

Anaís de Jiménez, Gretsy Fonseca, Jettsim de Brito, and Pablo Gamboa contributed information to this article.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division website.