What is health?

For the past 40 years of my life as a doctor I have had a rather narrow view of what it means to be healthy. My medical training caused me to concentrate mainly on the physical aspects of disease and how to reverse its effects. Occasionally, I dealt with the emotional aspects and rarely with the social aspects of the problems, and not until I became a Christian did I consider the spiritual problems of my patients and their families.

Over time I have come to appreciate all of our problems have a spiritual basis if you dig deep enough. After attending the Neighborhood Transformation Training of Trainers in France last week I now realize my definition of health and what it includes is much too narrow. Thanks to Chris Steyn, UMO board member and International Coordinator for HCFI, who encouraged us to attend, Marianna and I have a much broader view of health. Not only does health include the four areas mentioned but concerns aesthetics, justice, ethics, linguistics, finances, and the environment.

The teaching was led by Stan Rowland, considered to be the leader of the neighborhood transformation movement around the world, and Cor Sneider, the European coordinator. It was a privilege to be in attendance at the first training in Europe. The teaching was based on the principle that relationships are key to changing the lives of people, which then transform neighborhoods, leading to changed cities and ultimately changed nations. As relationships between people are developed, biblical principles are modeled and shared. The Gospel is proclaimed and the Holy Spirit changes hearts.

This very much fits into the mission of UMO. Marianna and I are excited to share this material with our church in Kyiv and the medical community with which we work. This is not a set program but helps people locally recognize their God-given gifts and talents based upon local resources, assets, and interests.

Our attendance also allowed us to become acquainted with other groups working in Europe. Serve the City is a group bringing people together in cities to volunteer to improve their communities and serve one another. The relationships help to build trust between people thereby improving their city and forming the basis for sharing the Gospel. Another group we have become aware of is the Geneva Institute for Leadership and Public Policy which exists to equip leaders in developing nations to lead transformation in their home countries in government, economics and public policy.

How will God use this training to bring about change in the health of communities throughout Ukraine? Join with us in prayer as we seek His will on where, with whom and how to apply what we have learned.