By Alex Bryan
In this autumn season, we find ourselves surrounded: a virulent virus, a weakened economy, racial strife, a cruel political incivility, widespread anxiety, depression, loneliness, and malaise.
What’s a Christian to do?
Adventist Health is a humanitarian ministry of 37,000 associates serving more than 9 million people in over 80 communities on the West Coast and in Hawaii. Our answer to a chronically inhospitable and often acutely hostile world? Hospitality. Hospitality in the deepest sense of the word. The healing, wholistic, hopeful hospitality of Jesus.
This work includes physicians, nurses, therapists, counselors, and an expansive support team. It also includes the unique labor of chaplains—clergy expertly trained to minister to caregivers, patients, families, and communities. These dedicated, highly skilled professionals work to turn mere clinics into houses of hope. They are tasked to lead hospitals to live up to their highest, original purpose: Christian hospitality. In a world “harassed and helpless” … “like sheep without a shepherd,” chaplains “see the crowds and have compassion on them.” They “proclaim the good news of the kingdom and heal every disease and sickness” (Matthew 9:35-36).
They do the work of Jesus.
Adventist Health’s Office of Mission has launched a new program to recruit and train young Adventist leaders in the sacred calling of pastoral work in a healthcare setting. This August, the Mission Leadership Internship program welcomed our first candidate, Katie Wagner, a 2020 graduate of Walla Walla University. The curriculum includes full employment as an Adventist Health associate, four units of Clinical Pastoral Education, and sponsorship of a M.Div. degree.
“There’s beautiful hope in this care, a hope that our world so desperately needs right now,” says Wagner. “We have the incredible opportunity to lead, care for, and share God’s love with every person we encounter and serve: our associates, patients, community members, and beyond. That mission to live God’s love is something I deeply resonate with and am passionate about. I’m looking forward to experiencing the positive impact our Adventist Health community will continue to have in this world.”
Wagner joins a systemwide team of approximately 100 clergy—spiritual care directors, clinical chaplains, and on-call pastors—dedicated to tangibly supplying the hope of Jesus in a world hungering for something to believe in. The healing ministry of Jesus, pervasive and prioritized in the Gospel record, is the blueprint of our work. His commitment to universal compassion, excellence in care, and wholistic medicine—alleviating mental, physical, social, and spiritual disease—is our collective vocation.
This world is a dangerous place. But Jesus has called us to be God’s loving, hopeful hold until He comes again.
“We have the incredible opportunity to lead, care for, and share God’s love with every person we encounter and serve: our associates, patients, community members, and beyond. That mission to live God’s love is something I deeply resonate with and am passionate about.”