Building Bridges

April 28, 2014


God has been doing big things this year in San Francisco! A team of 17 "cross" trainers are currently working with 13 of the 14 churches in the San Francisco area, to disciple church members in outreach and ministry. And in April about 600 Adventist volunteers participated in Bridges to Health, an outreach event that brought free medical and dental services to almost 3,000 people in San Francisco and Oakland over a three-day period. This medical outreach was organized and sponsored by the Pacific Union chapter of Adventist-laymen’s Services & Industries (ASI). The Pacific Union, the Central California Conference and the Northern California Conference served as co-sponsors. Many organizations within the Adventist church, including Adventist Health, were involved in the event, including a number of lay people and church leaders who had been praying for nearly two years in preparation for this event.



About half of the volunteers were medical and dental professionals. Other volunteers served in a variety of supportive capacities to help as many people as possible. “We were working together for one goal — sharing Christ with those who are most in need,” said event organizer Lela Lewis, a physician from Ridgecrest, who serves as ASI Pacific Union president.

Many people mentioned that they could feel the presence of God throughout the three days. “The Holy Spirit energized and focused the health professionals, pastors and volunteers as they did the work Jesus asked us to do — helping other people,” said Ricardo Graham, president of the Pacific Union.  The idea for Bridges to Health began almost exactly a year before at the 2013 Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI) Pacific Union convention. Don Mackintosh, HEALTH director and campus chaplain for Weimar Institute, challenged the ASI members to plan a project for their next convention that would be in accordance with ASI’s motto: “Sharing Christ in the Marketplace.”
“The Holy Spirit very much inspired the board and me: this is definitely what God wants us to do,” said Lewis. She and the board decided to host a large medical outreach event in either Los Angeles or San Francisco. They sent out proposals to the mayors’ offices in both cities and prayed that the Lord would direct them. The San Francisco mayor’s office gave an enthusiastic response. “They called, basically begging us to come,” said Lewis. “We took it as a sign that God wanted us to go to San Francisco.” Later she discovered that the Central and Northern California conferences were planning joint evangelism work in the Bay Area through a project called Bridges: Bay Area for Jesus. The medical event fit well into the conferences’ goals, and the organizations joined forces. It was decided to add a day of medical outreach in Oakland in order to offer help to both sides of the Bay.

Originally, Lewis and her team had planned to recruit about 20 medical providers to work with volunteers from other non-Adventist organizations. However, as time went on, enough Adventists signed up so that 98 percent of the volunteers were church members. They came from all over the United States and other parts of the world, including a woman from Saudi Arabia. “God orchestrated the whole thing, moving the plans in multiple directions to make it entirely a Seventh-day Adventist event, and getting us the support of the mayors and their health offices,” said Lewis. “In both cities, we saw multiple, blatant miracles of God.” Read more. 

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