By Tim Arnott — “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”[1]  These words, as they pertain embracing the values and purposes of Adventist Medical Evangelism Network (AMEN), came true for me on November 8, 2018.  That day the Paradise Camp Fire disaster closed forever my medical practice in Paradise, California.  We lost essentially everything but the clothes on our back.  I was unemployed for nearly six months.  Then, I received an email that was to forever change the way I practiced medicine, but let me stop and give some background to this story.

For many years the Lord graciously gave me the opportunity to participate in short-term mission projects.  I was able to participate in the first mission trip organized by Students for International Mission Service (SIMS) at Loma Linda University.  Three medical students, using ophthalmoscopes, assessed visual acuity and fitted patient with glasses that had been generously donated.  It was so gratifying to see the immediate joy of many patients when the world suddenly changed from blurry to sharp.  Optometry was the focus of those visits, but not much else.  Providing appropriate medications to treat diagnosed conditions was the focus of other early mission trips.  However, it wasn’t so satisfying to simply provide patients with medication, knowing the underlying cause of their medical condition had not been addressed.  For this reason, I decided to start providing nutrition and lifestyle education as part of my mission trip medical visits.  This practice increased patient satisfaction and my own.  Additionally, my translators were learning enough that soon they were instructing the patients in principles of healthy living without my needing to tell them anything!  Still, I sensed something was missing.  I decided on future mission trips, I would make a series of handouts I could show the translator to depict NEWSTART® principles, including trust in Divine power.  In short, I decided to teach my patients, after making a diagnosis, providing indicated medication and lifestyle education, how they could get to know Christ for themselves and how important that exercise was to their eternal destiny.  In short, I began teaching patients the practical aspects of John 17:3, namely, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”[2]  I first included this aspect of patient care on a mission trip to Bolivia.  I was stunned at the reaction.  After instructing the translator in this gospel presentation, I watched as the translator began sharing with patients how they could get to know Jesus Christ for themselves and how this was God’s chosen method to save them eternally. To my surprise, patients began weeping!  Patient after patient had similar responses.  It was as though the Holy Spirit joined the medical visit when we shared themes of eternal import with patients.  Wow.  I was amazed, and I was hooked!  I decided, from now on, the spiritual presentation would be part of my medical visits on future mission trips.  What I didn’t realize was that decision would soon transform my medical practice back home.  Yes.  I had been praying with patients on mission trips all along, and I continued to do so, and patients greatly appreciated this, but, explaining the simple gospel to patients was new for me and so rewarding.  When I realized the practical aspects of salvation were largely unknown to the majority of patients coming to mission clinics, I was deeply moved and motivated to go on future trips just to share with patients how they can take hold of eternal life with Christ for themselves. 

It wasn’t long after the experiences above that the wild fires closed my medical practice in Paradise, and I received an invitation to serve at Guam Seventh-day Adventist Clinic.  As it turned out, a family member of an AMEN officer traveled to Guam for meetings and dropped my name.  I subsequently received the email I referred to above from the medical director, inviting me to consider coming to Guam.  We accepted this invitation, but I didn’t realize God was setting me up to take what I had learned on mission trips and incorporate it into regular medical practice. 

When I arrived on Guam, the retiring physician whose practice I was to take over remained for several months and during that time my schedule was rather light.  This allowed me to see patients for 30 minutes each visit.  It is important to mention that it took a few months to become licensed and credentialed for Guam.  I spent this time with family in Loma Linda.  During this waiting period, the Lord impressed me to make a handout[3] to share with patients.  I labeled it simply, “New Patient Handout – Guam.”[4] This became my tool to transition from sharing with patients about nutrition for healing the physical body on the front page to explaining food for saving the soul from the back page.  I was not sharing doctrines, but the simple steps found in books like Steps to Christ[5], To Know God: A Five-Day Plan[6], and It’s All About Him.[7]  Amazingly, I found patients in Guam as open to this discussion as the patients in Bolivia.  I remember a young man who came back to see me after I shared the simple gospel with him.  He went home and shared this precious message with his girlfriend who gave me a wonderful endorsement, though we had never met, simply because I had shared with her boyfriend how to get to know Christ for himself.  I recall another patient who was visibly touched during the gospel presentation and began expressing his appreciation in real time, and later after the visit ended, he came back and found me in the hall and began expressing again how thankful he was I had shared how he could get to know Jesus for himself.  After having a some of these positive encounters, the Lord then arranged for me to give a presentation to the Guam AMEN members and clinic staff.  I was a novice, but almost immediately, I was asked to share my journey and experiences.  This tells me God is passionate about His medical providers sharing with patients simple steps of how they can get to know Christ for themselves. 

Immediately following that first AMEN presentation, the Lord sent me a patient that opened my eyes.  This man was the last you would expect to have interest in spiritual things.  He was rough, crude, outspoken.  After every few words, out of his mouth came cursing and swearing.  I have had a few patients over the years I came close to reprimanding for their foul language, but I never came closer than with this patient.  Early in the visit I decided I would not be sharing the gospel steps with this patient.  I knew he’d have no interest.  I had almost decided not to pray with him.  I finally, against my better judgement, chose to offer prayer.  To my surprise, he agreed!  But what happened next, never happened before or since.  I prayed a heartfelt prayer and took in the specifics of the concerns he had expressed.  I had no sooner said, Amen, when this man literally lunged at me with outstretched arm, and taking my hand in his, began shaking it back and forth for all he was worth.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  He was so thankful!  So appreciative.  He expressed his thanks over and over again.  He told me it was the best medical visit he had ever had. At that point, I thought the visit was over.  I was satisfied.  The Lord wasn’t!  Apparently, there was unfinished business with this patient. The Lord literally delayed my always punctual and proper medical assistant from entering the exam room to complete the patient visit.  She was so delayed, I did a double take and decided there was more God wanted me to do.  I looked around for literature and saw the book Hero of Hacksaw Ridge.[8]  I returned to the exam room and offered the book to him.  He instantly recognized the title and stated he had seen the movie.[9]  I was relieved, and thought for sure the Lord would be satisfied.  I was mistaken.  Still my usually prompt, punctual, detailed-oriented MA was nowhere to be found.  I went looking for her, but to no avail.  I did another doubletake.  Perhaps there was more the Lord had in mind for this gentleman.  I went online and found my handout “Do You Want to Have Eternal Life?”[10]  I returned the second time to the exam room and offered this handout to the patient.  I had no sooner closed the door, when, instantly, my bright, cheerful medical assistant was right there walking down the hall ready to enter the patient’s room.  I stood there amazed!  The patient I thought was hopeless.  The man who seemed so far from the kingdom of God, was closer than ever I had imagined, and God wanted me to share even more than a heartfelt prayer, and orchestrated events in the clinic to get lifesaving truth into the hands of His wayward child.  This is exciting work!  To this day, I don’t know all the Lord had in mind for that visit, but I do know God is passionate about His medical professionals sharing with patients how they can get to know Christ for themselves.

[1] Romans 8:28. The Holy Bible. Authorized King James Version. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, England, ©1611.

[2] John 17:3. The Holy Bible. Authorized King James Version. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, England, ©1611.


[4] ibid

[5] White, E.G. Steps to Christ. Pacific Press Publishing Association: Mountainview, CA. ©1892.

[6] Venden, M. To Know God: A Five-Day Plan. Review and Herald Publishing Association: Hagerstown, MD. ©1983.

[7] Venden, L. It’s All About Him. Review and Herald Publishing Association: Hagerstown, MD. ©2004.

[8] Herndon B. Hero of Hacksaw Ridge. Remnant Publications: Coldwater, MI. ©2016.

[9] Gibson, Mel. Hacksaw Ridge. Lionsgate, 2016.