Though I did not have any direct medical influences within my Adventist family, living in Loma Linda from the time I was 12 exposed me to medicine and healthcare as a profession. My father ran the service station in the center of Loma Linda, and many of my dad’s customers were in the medical profession. Many of my classmates’ parents were medical students or teachers. In high school I worked in the old Loma Linda sanitarium as a nurse’s aide helping with patients, and it was there that I developed a strong interest in becoming involved in the medical work.
After graduating from San Pasqual Academy (though I consider myself an alumna of Loma Linda Academy and Thunderbird Academy in Arizona because I attended those schools too), I completed four years of pre-med at what was then La Sierra College. The summer after graduation, I married my husband, Lynn Barton, an electronic engineer. He worked for the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, and we settled in Glendale, California.
He was not an Adventist when we first met, but he studied and was baptized before we were married and became a faithful Adventist. Unfortunately, he passed to his rest in Jesus in December 2020 with complications from severe Parkinson’s disease. Together we raised four sons and have six grandchildren.
In my medical career I interned at Glendale Adventist Hospital, did a pediatric residency at Los Angeles County Hospital, and then went into private practice for a few years before deciding to train in the new (at that time) field of neonatology, the care of newborn and premature infants requiring intensive care. During my years of practice in this area, we have seen amazing improvement and increased survival of premature babies as well as infants with severe respiratory diseases.
As I continued in my work, I became more interested in prevention rather than just treating diseases after they developed, for both children and adults. Because of this interest, I once again went back to school at Loma Linda for a Master of Public Health in maternal child health, health administration, and health promotion. I also did a preventive medicine residency at Loma Linda and became board certified in this field.
Because of my interest in these areas, I joined Adventist Medical Evangelism Network (AMEN), which holds a yearly conference to encourage healthcare and dental professionals and students to use their field of influence as a witness for God. AMEN hosts outreach medical events in churches and mission areas, including our most recent outreach in June in Romania with a group of doctors and dentists to provide dental and medical care for Ukrainian refugees and local Romanians.
Approximately six years ago, I was asked to lead the volunteer Health Ministries for the Pacific Union. Throughout the last few years, we have held numerous health training sessions for the churches in our five states and seven conferences. These have included training for addiction recovery, holding a children’s health conference, and guidance in how to conduct a “Diabetes Undone” seminar.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many churches did more food distribution outreach in their communities, but we now are slowly shifting to a more targeted approach again as far as community health outreach and ministry.
One of the goals of Pacific Union Conference Health Ministries is a stronger focus on mental health.
Our goals for Pacific Union Health Ministries over the next few months include:
- Encouraging a careful restart of in-person outreach in our communities, using many proven methods and materials;
- Encouraging each church member to take small but consistent steps to improve their own personal health so they can share with others in their family and churches;
- A stronger focus on mental health;
- Continuing to encourage churches to use proven resources to help people reverse or improve chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as many conditions caused by inflammation;
- Helping pastors improve their own health and encouraging them to advocate for health ministries in their churches.
It is important for each church member to take small but consistent steps to improve their own personal health so they can share with others in their family and churches.
We are also developing a resource list that will soon be posted on the Pacific Union Health portal for churches to access reliable and useful resources for their own health ministries.
We strongly encourage churches to remember that while the Adventist health message is the “right arm” of the gospel message and not the primary message, health ministries can be a meaningful opening wedge to reach people’s hearts for the message of God’s love for them.
Lorayne Barton is the volunteer Health Ministries leader for the Pacific Union Conference.
Churches should continue to use proven resources to help people reverse or improve chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as many conditions caused by inflammation.