A scholarly discussion transpired during the AIIAS African Theological Association (AATA) forum where theological issues related to health, wellness, present research, and current real-life issues that are affecting Africa and the rest of the world was the central theme.

The theme of the forum on March 28-31, 2018, “Health and Wholeness in Africa, A Biblical Foundation” was inspired by the healing ministry of Jesus Christ while He was still on earth.

The AATA was established to discuss issues pertaining to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Africa. The forum helps to provide creative thinking and practical dialogue on issues related to the mission of the Adventist Church at large.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Michael Sokupa, Associate Director of Ellen G. White Estate at the Seventh-day Adventist Church world headquarters, presented wholism in his three topics, “Wholeness and a Biblical Worldview”, “The Eschatological Nature of Education and Health” and “A Wholistic Life in a Family Context”. This opened the platform for participants engaging in critical and scholarly evaluation to come up with sound biblical solutions on health and wholeness.

Other guest speakers, Dr. Alexis Llaguno, associate health ministries director and executive director of Adventist AIDS International Ministry; Dr. Hopeson Bonya, vice president, Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division (SID); Dr. Bangwato Sikwa, Health Ministries director, SID; and Dr. Godwin Aja, AIIAS Public Health department chair shared various topics on ministry, disease, health, lifestyle, medicine, and wholeness.

Joining them are speakers from the AIIAS Graduate School and Theological Seminary who presented their studies on self-care management, prevention and treatment of disease, mental health, public health needs, temperance, health laws and practices, challenges and implications on traditional approaches, Sabbath observance in relation to significant health improvement, impact of non-communicable diseases, theological foundations for inner healing, and a holistic biblical understanding on wholeness.

AATA will produce a book based on the theme and papers presented during the forum. The major highlight of the forum was a voted statement that brought all the discussions of the week together. The statement reads:


Preamble: Being cognizant of perpetual epidemics/pandemics, non-communicable diseases, challenges to quality healthcare, objectionable therapies, misinterpretation of scripture and the spirit of prophecy, stigmatization, manmade conflicts, family disintegration, acute famines, and many health-related challenges assailing our communities on the continent of Africa and beyond,

We the attendees of the 13th AIIAS African Theological Forum:

  1. Affirm the Bible as the enduring foundation of health and wholeness. It is our resolute conviction that the Bible is the infallible Word of God that must underpin the quest for a healthful and wholistic life. As students of the Bible, we believe that God created humanity in His image and likeness in a perfect state of health and wholeness. We also believe that despite the effects of the fall, humanity can optimize health and wholeness through adherence to the Word of God.
  2. Call upon our church to unequivocally uphold the teachings of health reform outlined in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy in keeping with sound principles of interpretation. We thereupon insist on the primacy of health preservation by committing ourselves and simultaneously calling upon our communities to teach and practice evidence based healthful lifestyles that harmonize with Biblical teachings. Since health reform is integral to our mission, we suggest that the church considers commissioning certified health educators to entrench healthful lifestyles among our members and communities. It is our conviction that the Church in Africa can integrate culturally appropriate strategies in the delivery of health education/prevention services.
  3. Share the burden of our people who are going through health and wholeness challenges. We believe that Christ our Lord and Savior is the Master healer who can restore health and wholeness. We enjoin our churches to be centers of health and wholeness.
  4. Unambiguously reject pronouncements, acts and insinuations that stigmatize those who live with medical conditions, disabilities and health related issues in our churches and communities. Therefore, we express our support to ongoing interventions that seek to recover health and wholeness, mitigate suffering and alleviate pain while adhering to the best ethical guidelines that align with Biblical teachings.
  5. Acknowledge the utility of traditional interventions extant in our communities. We appeal for further empirical research in this area in order to ascertain the effects, side effects, and compatibility of these interventions with Biblical principles.
  6. Find comfort in the blessed hope of the imminent return of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, which shall usher mankind into the original state of perfect health and wholeness.

We thus resolve to live, teach and preach health and wholeness in Africa, and regions beyond, on Biblical foundations till the coming of the Master architect and Restorer of health and wholeness.

Photo Credit: Watson Mbiriri

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