In 2021, as part of the Northern California Conference’s journey to organizational health, and thanks to a generous gift, the conference directors and officers were able to fund seven community-relevant and mission-driven proposals, thereby helping to create engaged and enthusiastic members and employees.
As a result of the approved funding, in partnership with local churches, James Lim, director of Health Ministries, can offer 10 medical and dental clinics in which services are free to the community.
Fifteen miles northwest of Sacramento, the Woodland church was the first to host one of these clinics in July. Based on community needs, they focused on three main areas of service: dental, vision, and stress management.
With almost 80 volunteers, the church united to serve the community. Daniel Garza, the pastor, explained, “People lined up as early as 4:30 in the morning. They came from all faiths and walks of life. Of the 175 patients we saw that day, 16 were Afghan refugees.”
Garza remembers, “Leading up to the event, it was exhilarating to see the smiles on people’s faces when they found out about the clinic.” That joy continued throughout the day as Russ Ryan, dental volunteer, recalled, “It was nice to see patient smiles, especially the children, after being seen.” Brian Radut, church media director, added, “The health clinic was a great blessing to the city of Woodland and the Woodland Adventist church. You could see the joy on each volunteer and visitor's face as they witnessed God's love in tangible form. I am so happy we were able to host this clinic and hope we can do many more in the future!”
As reported by other volunteers, many community members asked, “Why are you doing this?” One of those served stated, “We cannot imagine a world where services like this are provided free with no strings attached.”
Vitaly Polovin, traffic flow director for the day, explained it best, “The clinic was a success in that it got down to the core of Christian ministry: Uplifting humanity by helping those in need and pointing to Jesus. Even those who didn’t respond to the invitation to attend communicated respect for the work. It appears that selfless acts, like this clinic, get people's attention and cause them to stop and think: Why are these people giving of themselves to others so freely?”
The Woodland church members and pastoral staff enthusiastically engaged their calling to ministry and community with compassion. They embraced a project that made their church relevant to the community. As a result, and with the Holy Spirit’s leading, they connected people to Jesus.
As Northern California Conference President Marc Woodson explained, “I am excited to see an example of where our journey toward organizational health is taking us. We have clarified the conference’s purpose, values, strategies, and objectives. As this example proves, our new focus is helping us become more effective in our mission to connect as many people as possible to an abundant life in Jesus and prepare them for His second coming.”
By Laurie Trujillo