I recently started a new job.
It’s exactly like the old job, but with a new company. Same territory. Same facilities. Better paycheck.
“Better” being very relative.
Because this new job, like the old job, is in hospice, I had to get a TB (tuberculosis) test. It’s not a test to see what I know about tuberculosis, which to be clear, is very little, but a test to see if I have it. I could have been exposed, be carrying it, and then spread it to every person in every facility I walk into whether they are on hospice or not.
That would be very, very bad. I mean, sure, my job is to help make people comfortable as they die. However, my job is not to MAKE people die. We in Hospice genuinely want our patients to somehow recover and go on to lead full extended lives. Which is why we take precautions like COVID tests and TB tests, just to name a couple.
I do not have TB. Thank you for asking.
Fortunately, if I did, TB is very curable. It’s a long process involving 6-9 months of antibiotics, but it is easily done. Without those antibiotics, TB is very deadly. With them, it’s very curable. For example, the death rate for TB in the USA is about 0.09 deaths per 100,000. That’s pretty good. Not the best in the world, which is Iceland with 0.00 deaths per 100,000, but still super great.
By comparison, Somalia has 109.27 deaths per 100,000 and Central Africa leads with the highest death rate at 148.01 deaths per 100,000. And this all raises an interesting question.
If TB is so easily curable, then why are there countries with 1,645 times the TB death rate of the USA?
There are lots of competing opinions and views all supported by varying facts. However, what most of them have in common is money. It’s not that the antibiotics are so expensive to make. It’s that there is a lot of profit to be had, and the poor countries either don’t have the money, or they aren’t prioritizing the money for the purpose of TB. That is an overly simplistic answer, and I recognize that. But the statistics are super clear. If you are a citizen of the USA or pretty much any first-world country, it is very unlikely you would die from TB, let alone even contract it.
But if you live in an impoverished country, your odds of contraction and death are exponentially higher.
Lives could be “easily” saved, but priority and distribution is heavily biased toward those in the correct group. Apparently, all one needs to do to all but ensure they never die from this illness is to change their national affiliation and live in the right place.
Does it disturb anyone that this is a thing?
A similar question… does it disturb anyone that I just described modern evangelism within the Adventist context?
Evangelism is about the good news. In fact, the Greek word that we get the word “evangelism” from literally means “good news” or “to proclaim good news” and a few other variations of the same thing.
The good news was that the Kingdom of God was at hand. It was the good news of Jesus. The good news that God sent Jesus to bring transformation to this world. Jesus was born, lived, and died to make this future possible. He ensured eternity for people who have never met Him. He ensured eternity for people who have never even heard of Him.
Jesus didn’t care what group you were in or what you believed. He cared that you existed and lived his life trying to show a better way. And He did all this while being very much at odds with every religious group he came in contact with.
This all forces us to ask another question. Why then, is all of our evangelism focused on making people part of our group instead of bringing people hope and healing and love in the spirit of Christ?
Why are we using the Tuberculosis model of evangelism?
I mentioned this in a previous article, but I will restate it. If you attend any mainstream Adventist evangelism seminar, it might last between 2-6 weeks, depending on who does it and which version they are using. But no matter how long it is, out of those 2-6 weeks, there are only 1-2 nights that focus on the life/death of Jesus. And even those 1-2 nights do so within the context of the rest of the series. A series that is designed to do exactly one thing.
Make more Adventists.
The primary goal of Adventist evangelism is to make more Adventists. It spends the entire time attempting to prove to the audience why Adventists are the true church of God. Everything is tied into prophecy-based remnant theology, interpreted differently and in a sketchy manner by every different evangelist. And in the end, it does lead to baptism, but only when those willing accept that it must end with them being Adventist.
In short, to be baptized at the end of an Adventist evangelistic seminar, one must first decide to become an Adventist. They can’t accept Jesus without first accepting Adventism.
They can’t get the antibiotic unless they change countries.
This is with the understanding that the overwhelming majority of “converts” were already Christian. They just changed clubs.
What we do isn’t evangelism. It’s more closely related to nationalism. It’s us vs. them. It’s about growing the club. It’s about sustaining the organization. It’s not about saving lives. One doesn’t need a prophecy seminar to do that.
Feed people. Heal people. Give them lifesaving medicine. Give them shelter. Give them clothing. Show them the love of God. The good news isn’t about changing minds. It’s about healing hearts. It’s about showing people that they matter to us and that they matter to God and that it doesn’t matter who they are or where they live or what groups they are a part of.
Let’s stop trying to do God’s job. We just aren’t very good at it.
Our job is to love. God’s job is to transform.
Maybe it’s time we stop getting in the way of what God is trying to do.
Maybe we need to experience the good news for ourselves.
Tony Hunter is a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and a hospice chaplain working for Elevation Hospice in Northern Colorado. Tony and his wife, Nirma, live in Firestone, Colorado. Email him at: [email protected]