After a two-year wait, Pathway to Health, a humanitarian arm of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, held a free mega-clinic in Indianapolis at the Lucas Oil Stadium. On April 17–21, 2022, the clinic served over 4,200 people in the metropolitan Indianapolis area. The goal of the event was to show people God’s love by serving as many people as they could with free medical, dental, vision, and lifestyle care.
Dental services ranging from dental cleanings to partial dentures were offered, as well as vision services such as optometry and glasses. In addition, medical services, such as primary care, cardiology, dermatology, radiology, and podiatry were offered. No identification, documentation, or remuneration were required for these services.
Organizers accomplished this by working together, in harmony with the theme, “United We Serve.” “We know that we could never have done this on our own,” said Vic Van Schaik, Indiana Conference president. “By uniting together with the Lake Region Conference and the Lake Union Conference and other ministries, we were able to do something that only God could have brought about.”
The clinics strived to make the experience for each patient seamless and efficient. “We tried to put ourselves into the place of the patient, and we asked ourselves, ‘What would help me have a good experience?’” explained Kathy Proffitt, board chair of Pathway to Health. “In the past, we just let people line up, and they were snaked around the building. Some people would sleep overnight, hoping to get services, and they would be there for three days and maybe get disappointed at the end. So, we’ve been very intentional about patient flow this time.”
The mega-clinic’s arrival was complicated by the COVID-19 outbreak. When the pandemic suddenly burst onto the scene, this forced the Pathway to Health board to postpone the mega-clinic.
While the mega-clinic was rescheduled, event organizers took many precautions. Volunteers were required to wear face masks and other protective equipment and, depending on when they arrived, test for COVID-19 up to two times. “This is of course a very controversial issue, but we have to answer to a number of entities,” said Julie Bryson, medical director for Pathway to Health. “We had to work on really good safety protocol.”
“That was me!”
Weeks before the mega-clinic, volunteers from local churches in Indianapolis laid the groundwork for the clinic to begin. One of their responsibilities, among others, was making sure the community was aware of the clinic. Nora Sackett, one of these volunteers, was passing out flyers with others from the Chapel West Church. “We were not having any luck,” recalled Sackett. “Nobody even wanted to open their doors.”
She contacted her pastor, and they decided to leave the flyers, even if people weren’t opening their door. Then it started raining. “I still had a lot of flyers left. So, I went to Walmart.” However, Walmart, and later Meijer, wouldn’t let Sackett pass out the flyers. It was pouring rain, and she still had flyers left. Sackett decided to go home. As she was driving, however, she saw a Mexican grocery store and went in and passed out the remainder of the flyers.
This is where Sackett met Saroj Patel, who immigrated to the United States from India with her disabled 24-year-old son several years ago. Her husband was not issued a visa, so that left her alone to provide care to her son. “I care for my son a lot,” she said. Patel, who works in a warehouse for a few hours every day, had been fasting for nine days when she decided to go to the grocery store. “I was shopping there, and I met a lady. She put a paper in my hand, and it was about Pathway to Health. I went home, took a picture [on my phone], and shared the flyer with my family.”
When Patel arrived at the clinic, she was experiencing debilitating foot pain. With assistance from volunteer podiatrists, she was able to resolve the foot pain. “Now I don’t have any pain at all!” she said excitedly.
During the check-in process, Patel connected with Sackett, a triage nurse. Discovering that they lived near each other, Patel offered her a ride home. During the drive, they began to discuss how Patel learned about the mega-clinic. After she recounted her experience at the grocery store, Sackett realized she was the one who had given her the flyer. Patel broke down in tears. She later recounted, “When you are by yourself, it is so hard to do everything. It becomes really challenging. But sometimes, I meet people like [Sackett] that allow you to forget everything.”
“I want to go to your church many times, not one time.”
Mark Eaton, Indiana Conference secretary and treasurer, was volunteering at the clinic and had an encounter he won’t soon forget. “We were standing in the lifestyle section, and I was talking to a Hispanic lady,” says Eaton. “She didn’t speak any English. I know a little bit of Spanish, so I showed her the locations of the Health Information Centers and some of the dates and asked her if she wanted to go.”
The woman, who appeared interested in the centers, replied, “Yes, not one time.”
Eaton, a bit unsure of the woman’s response, replied, “Some of these are only one time.” The woman persisted. “No, no, many times. I want to go there many times. Any church that helps people like this, I want to go there many times.”
Eaton was blown away by her response. He called Noel Ojeda, Indiana Hispanic Ministries coordinator, and had him speak with the woman. “She was adamant—she said ‘I want to go many times! I want to join!’” Eaton said. After she spoke with Ojeda, the woman informed Eaton of her choice. “She told me, ‘I want to join your church.’ The Holy Spirit really impressed her.”
It is stories such as these that G. Alexander Bryant, NAD president, says makes Your Best Pathway to Health the closest to the ministry of Jesus. “It provides a ministry to the people who are in need, and who almost don’t know where else to go,” said Bryant, in an interview for the Lake Union Herald’s livestream broadcast. “When Jesus was here, He attracted this kind of people who don’t have means, yet they have great need. Your Best Pathway to Health comes into a community and provides free medical services to the people who are the least of these among us. And I believe that, more than anything else, really represents what Jesus would be doing down here.”
How It Came Together
Mark Black served as layout director for Pathway to Health and said it's astounding for him to see how God shows up during these outreach efforts. “In my career, I have been involved with the opening of many licensed care facilities. There is more than a month of training before any patients are admitted,” he explained. “With Pathway events, 2,000–4,000 volunteers come together, set up, and open a medical, dental, and vision triage and treatment center within a couple of days, and immediately bring in thousands of patients!” Black gives all the credit to God. “The reality is it really cannot be done! Humanly speaking, this is not possible. But that is how God works!”
Eight semi-trailers were loaded from a warehouse in Arkansas, stored at Indiana Academy, and then brought to Indianapolis ahead of the event. “God provided a volunteer that motored them to the Lucas Oil Stadium on the first day the dock was available,” Black said. Negotiations with vendors for equipment and supplies took place. Department leaders ordered supplies and shipped them to a local warehouse. Later, many departments found that entities were willing to donate supplies and lend equipment for the mega-clinic. Each piece of equipment had to be tracked and returned at the end of the event. “Over and over, I could see God's leading in providing the right volunteers and resources at the right time,” said Black. “There were many opportunities to see our need for God to work for the success of the event.”
A snowstorm during the event, a fire alarm on the first day, leading the stadium's evacuation, and a last-minute lack of volunteers in some departments were all challenges through which the event organizers had to persevere. “They all made apparent our need to keep our dependence on the Lord. Volunteers had set up a prayer room where there was continuous prayer. Being yoked together by Christ in service of others does something amazing for those who commit to work together; there is a sense of unity, of family, when Christ is at the head,” Black stated.
The Indiana and Lake Region conferences have planned an assortment of bold evangelism initiatives. As patients left Lucas Oil Stadium, they were handed a booklet about Health Information Centers (HICs). Evangelistic meetings and HICs will be located throughout Indianapolis and are designed to provide ongoing support to individuals as they strive to overcome lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.
Kevin Rogers, who pastors the Capitol City Church in Indianapolis, said, “You’ve heard the saying, ‘Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.’ One of the things that Pathway pretty much insisted on, as we were preparing, was they wanted us to have what they call ‘Health Information Centers.’ They saw the great need for people to learn to be [healthier] in their lifestyle.”
Van Schaik is enthusiastic about the efforts. “Because all these people have come, and they had such a positive impression of the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” he said. “I believe that God is already working on their hearts so that we can lead them to the next part of the journey.”
You can read the original article here