10th August 2017

On the afternoon of Sabbath 29 July the Bristol churches came together to work towards a common goal. It was that of reaching out and serving the community, by following Jesus' example ‒ mingling, desiring their good, showing sympathy, and ministering to their needs, by holding a Life Colours Health Seminar on lifestyle diseases. In attendance were over 200 people, with approximately 50 from the community.

Organised by the Bristol Joint Evangelism Committee (BJEC), the event featured two presentations on lifestyle diseases by Dr Chidi Ngwaba, SEC Health Ministries director, at the Bristol City Council City Hall, a prestigious venue in the heart of Bristol.

The event was designed to highlight the Church's health message, in partnership with the city council and a number of other health and well-being organisations. It followed on from a health event at the Bristol Race for Life at the beginning of the month.

Dr Chidi's first presentation focused on Diabetes, Obesity and Diet, 35854480460_65ec08d226_oand highlighted the links between the typical Western diet and a number of lifestyle diseases, particularly type 2 diabetes, which can then lead to a number of other illnesses and disorders.

The second session, covered Cancer and Stress, where Dr Chidi presented his case that the more animal fat and protein in your diet, especially from milk, the greater the risk of cancer. Dr Chidi then went on to identify the positive changes wDr-Chidi-Ngwabahich can be made to help prevent cancer, such as the benefits of a change in diet, regular exercise, vitamin D3, and managing stress and emotional health.

The latter was a particularly interesting factor, as he explained that even if you were on the best diet, but you still harboured bitterness and anger, you could still be vulnerable. Dr Chidi explained how stress can negatively affect our health, and by following Christian principles, such as love for God and love for others, we can improve our health and avoid a number of lifestyle diseases. He used the example of forgiveness. Dr Chidi said "One of the most difficult tasks you may do in your life, is to learn to forgive people who have hurt you, and even help people who have hurt you", but if you don't, that bitterness and anger can seriously harm you.

After each presentation there were questions from the audience ranging from the use of herbal teas, to recent research about the benefits of drinking alcohol. Full of humorous but informative stories, and challenging facts, the audience were completely captivated. One attendee, Samuel Holkar, was particularly impressed and said he had learnt a lot, and said that "events like this are very important to raise awareness."Naomi-Watson

The programme also included a talk by Naomi Watson, a cancer survivor who shared her story of how she declined the use of conventional chemo and radio cancer therapies, after a mastectomy, and instead trained in health and nutrition and now has been cancer free for ten years. She now promotes healthy living through a holistic approach to make small changes in lifestyle, to improve well-being and fight lifestyle induced diseases.

The sessions were complemented by two practical food demonstrations by Angelette Muller, who showed how to prepare wholegrains and plant milk from various nuts and seeds, for a nutritious and healthy breakfast. These were very well received by the attendees.

Also in attendance were over 15 other organisations who operated stalls associated with health and well-being. Some of these included the Well Spring Healthy Living Centre, Health Watch, Prostate Cancer, and Everyone Active, allowing visitors to access a wide range of services and advice. After the seminar, many of these participants complimented the church and its efforts, and asked to be included in future events, and invited the church to attend events they were running.

In addition to the stalls by the partner organisations, stations were also set up for health checks, vegetarian food tasters, 36079961742_330f08ebe9_ojuicing demonstrations and samples. Vegetarian and vegan food tasters were also given out at lunchtime and were particularly popular, along with fresh fruit, homemade houmous and vegetable samples.

Outside the venue to attract people to come in, Evan Green from Newport, set up his smoothie bike, and a number of passers-by, after trying the smoothies, were invited in and stayed and enjoyed the presentations. One young student who passed by, was very interested in what the Church believed, and was given a goody bag with Ministry of Healing and other material, and an invitation to attend a church service.

Speaking after the event about the overriding message of his presentations, Dr Chidi said that "Hope is key, and health and healing come from hope, and the fundamental basis of that hope is Jesus Christ. If you want to avoid the stress that leads to all these diseases, it's understanding that Jesus died for your sins. You then don't have to hold onto the bitterness and coldness. You can live free, and that freedom helps you to forgive, be happy and have joy, which is the heart of health."

Among the main organisers from BJEC, were Mary Philip and Albert Gardiner, who had devoted a huge amount of time and effort to put the programme together. Albert said after the event was over, that he was "really pleased with the outcome and the feedback received on the seminars, food demonstrations and exhibition stands, which were well received. It just showed that people were really interested in how to improve their health, and people were taking information to follow up at future programmes."

All agreed that this event built on the work already done in Bristol, and was another good step forward in the mission to reach our communities, meet their needs, and introduce them to Christ.

A selection of photographs, taken by Nelson Khonje, are available here.

[Ian Sabadin]

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