Free, Day Clinics: Are They Medicine, Evangelism, or Neither?

At this point, U.S. Federal healthcare legislation is in a state of . . . confusion, shall we say? One broad policy question that remains unanswered is whether healthcare in America is a right or a privilege.i Although debate on this issue typically devolves quickly to inane, political bickering, I understand this as an essential part of the framing of our approach to healthcare. Further, I believe the Gospel and Seventh-day Adventist theology positions us on the "rights" side of the issue. But healthcare in America is an "industry," one in which we Adventists are deeply embedded  even if we take a not-for-profit approach. American healthcare is a capitalistic, business venture that has morphed itself toward customers and away from its historic attention to patients. Americans have a lot of rights as patientsii ,but ironically, in order to assert those rights, they have to pay for them.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
1 Like

Bloomberg News had a most interesting and lengthy article about Salt Lake City as having the best system of caring for its needy population.
It reflects the Mormon church’s method of caring for those in need but also helping them to move upward. It seems to be a model based on the NT and much less on preaching a religious belief. The Mormons are so far ahead of Adventists that the SDA church is left in the dust.


Saying that we can’t have an evangelistic purpose for helping people is like saying that a man who is attracted to a woman is only allowed to be kind and helpful and must never think of winning her heart. Neither should he ever let her know that he loves her, according to the reasoning of this article.

As a Registered Nurse I have always taken my cues from the client. Listening tells you exactly what is appropriate and my first duty was to carry out the nursing tasks diligently and professionally, after that the client responses and reactions are the best guide to whether more is acceptable to the client. Healing and health is in itself the greatest evangelism. Acting on the vulnerability of the client is inappropriate and potentially against the parameter of the license.


“Saying that we can’t have an evangelistic purpose for helping people…”

Please reread carefully:

"Of course, if the patient first expresses a faith orientation or commitment that opens the door for prayer or discussion of our good Lord, this is surely a blessing to be appreciated.But when there is no established relationship whatsoever, our concern should be altruistic service; clinical care with no strings attached."


In professional school at Northwestern we were advised that there are two things you should not discuss in your office - religion and politics! And whether in my office or when volunteering in free clinics, I don’t until and unless I am asked. Perhaps I am selfish . . . but I AM blessed in participating in the free clinics . . . probably more than the patients I see. Am I evangelizing myself? :wink:

Patients at these free clinics have queried, though . . . “who are you and why do you folks do this?” Then I do answer. It’s not for me to win souls. I’ll let the Holy Spirit do it . . . He is so much better at it!


Charity is good for our souls, freely we have received, freely give. The author speaks more against proselytizing than evangelism. “Come and see!”

1 Like

ALL of our World-Wide local Seventh day Adventist churches should be HEALING CHURCHES.
Healing – Body, Mind, Spirit.

Without the Spirit being healed, one CANNOT communicate with their Creator, their Higher Power.
But the Body AND the Mind have to first be healed before the Spirit can find healing.


i think the author makes some very good points, but it may be worth remembering that effective evangelism doesn’t have to produce immediate, measurable results…for instance, someone can experience quality healthcare in an adventist institution, or from an adventist practitioner, and only after many yrs have passed make a connection in his mind between the care he received and the religion of the institution or provider involved…in this kind of case, there is no immediate, measurable result at the moment of healthcare delivery…but because the person receiving care was perhaps favorably impressed with the care he received, he may be more open to visit an adventist church he happens to see in his area, once he makes the connection…he may be more open to religious mailings and handouts, and even daniel and revelation seminars, should he come across one…

i really believe god uses everything that happens to a person in a way that bends his thinking in a spiritual direction…if we are somehow part of what god uses with someone, and that person eventually gives his heart to christ and goes on to be saved, that’s a star in our eternal crown, even though we saw no evidence of that result at the time, or even imagined that god could use our contribution…just being alive and filled with god for the day pretty much guarantees we’ll be used in some way if we mingle with people in some way…most of us are probably in for very pleasant surprises when we see in heaven the results of our personal walk with god, which we never expected, or even suspected…

The author takes on the discussion from his experience with that 50-ish woman who felt “violated” by the physician who gave her no clinical intervention but only encouragement to come to her church. This is a world away from Christ’s model of “meeting the people where they are.” David I. Levy’s model is more appropriate since the doctor “incarnates” himself into his patient’s life situation then asks his/her permission if he can pray for that specific patient. There is no violation of the patient’s rights there. I once had a hospice patient who I asked permission to pray for. Although I felt that he wanted it, I believe he felt so unworthy of such attention that he said No. I had to respect that. But I believe he appreciated my clinical care for his situation and needs.

When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life. " Eze 33:8,9.
Jesus instructed his disciples to “Heal the sick and say to them the Kingdom of God has come near to you” Luke 10:9. Paul says to “Preach the word, be prepared, in season or out of season”. 2 Timothy 4:2.
The author uses the exceptional example of an unhappy dying woman to try and make a point that directly contradicts the scriptures. He uses not a single text to support his opinion. He gives no evidence aside from the patient’s fears to support the assertion that she received anything other than the best medical care. The sad reality is that patients do sometimes come whom doctors cannot heal. I have had the distinct pleasure of having prayed with thousands of patients (no exaggeration, I try do this before every surgery and have done so for 30 years of practice), No one has yet complained that I asked to pray with them. Many later returned for follow up and would not leave until we had prayed together. None of this is obligatory and so far I have had 7 who have declined the offer, two of whom thanked me for asking. Jesus has given us a mission to tell a dying world of their need for salvation. He combines the commission to teach the word and to heal the sick into one sentence. Not all will want to hear the message and some may want to crucify you. The mission remains the same. steve roesler md.

1 Like

My adventists friends often wonder why I don’t offer free Adventist literature in my clinic or pray with my patients unsolicited. I tell them I’m a physician, not a seducer. Can you imagine the professional consequences of billing MC or BC for proselytizing?


Hi Elmer;
The billing is based on the medical treatment and not on time spent in prayer. This is all done by computer and there is no check box and no extra credit given for praying with the patients. One can bill for time spent counseling and I’ve done that maybe twice in the last year. When I do, the time spent in prayer is not included. The surgery fees are set depending on the procedure done, and whether or not one prays with the patient has no bearing on the amount billed. steve


It is not a matter of billing ! If I need a treatment, I want a treatment ! It is an abuse of the situation - here the “allmighty” , healty physician, called for medical help, and there the sick patient, desiring mdical (medical !) help. Well. some desire sipiritual help also, even mainly - but not the way :“Now let us pray !” (An abusive , forcing method also being used in church affairs !)

To be hanlded under the giudance of the Holy Spirit and very gentle and sensitive !

1 Like