New Zealand

Te Kotahitanga Neehi Hapori Whakapono o Aotearoa

"Faith by itself, not accompanied by action is dead"  James 2:17

Serving Christ with health education

As the editor for a denominational magazine I heard about a church in Cambridge that had held reoccurring community events for four years. One year it would be a seniors’ expo and the alternate it would be a men’s health event.

One half of the organising duo was Helen, a Faith Community Nurse. Helen and her friend explained to me how both events ran, with the help of willing volunteers from the church.

At the men's event, health providers offered free screening or information on a wide range of health conditions. Participants received a ‘WOF’ card, which they ticked off as they visited the various stands and rated their risk levels based on the information they received. The men were advised to follow up with their general practitioner if any indicators showed up. 

The seniors’ expo similarly involved external providers, advising on their particular offerings to the community.

I was impressed with both the community spirit behind these events and what seemed to me to be an easily replicable formula.  But perhaps the men’s health event stood out to me especially because my husband had had a recent cancer diagnosis. Anyway, it motivated me to ask my own church whether we could hold a men’s health event in our small town.

And so we did! It was well-attended and considered a worthwhile exercise by the many health providers who were involved. They are keen for us to repeat the event sometime soon, but success was measured in other ways too.

One young man who attended was prompted to get a worrying condition checked out by his GP. He was found to have an early stage of cancer, for which he subsequently had a successful operation.

And the diabetes mobile testing service, which had been rushed off their feet during our event, asked us if they could return to our site twice more to offer free tests. This significantly extended their reach into our community.

These are only two of the ‘success stories’ I know about. There could well be others, as who knows how many men were persuaded to go to their GP or who, through education, learned ways to improve their health. Also, as I shared the Cambridge church’s story in our denominational publication, there may well be other churches who picked up this idea, or adapted it, for their own outreach and service to their communities.

I am grateful to Helen and her friend for sharing their story and thus sparking a great deal of inspiration near and far!

Linda Grigg