What do you need more of in your life this week? During the current restrictions, people are spending more time at home and missing the normal activities they usually enjoy – meeting up with friends, strolling around campus or work, worshipping at church. What if there were a way to inject more social, physical, and spiritual vitality even for one week? That is just what the Health Ministries Department of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists offered in September with their “Made to Move” Challenge. Although the planning for this program began early last year, no one anticipated that it would launch during the most fitting time: a pandemic. The isolation that followed created a deeper need to intentionally boost every aspect of health.
The Guam-Micronesia Mission Health Ministries Department promoted the challenge and participants met every day during the week to elevate moods and heart rates. The week kicked off with a Sabbath video sermon and people were encouraged to take a Sabbath walk or hike while respecting physical distancing. Then, participants from Guam, Chuuk, and Tinian in the CNMI connected virtually and safely over the internet. The sessions began with prayer and warm-up exercises, followed by a short video demonstration of each new fitness activity, before exercising as a group. Exercises were easy to modify according to each individual’s ability. In addition to these daily group activities, participants were instructed to walk or run for at least thirty minutes a day on their own. The element of group accountability added to the motivation, as people looked forward to meeting each evening. Learning new moves and safety tips from fitness experts, while working out with other people in a welcoming environment, made the challenge of exercise less intimidating. Pastor Restauro, Pastor Ifa, and Mrs. Jokray of these islands not only committed themselves, but actively recruited others to engage in the week of fitness. Participants in Tinian engaged their spouses and children in the program. Others from Chuuk drove around town to pick up and drop off participants each evening.
In the Marshall Islands, one church member even struck up a conversation with a woman in the community she had met at lunch, and invited her to join the program that was meeting at the SDA campus. To her surprise, the woman showed up that evening! During their evening of fitness and fellowship, she accepted a further invitation to return the coming Sabbath for church. Something as simple as exercising together can open the door to sharing one’s faith. As people recognize the need to take care of physical fitness, they learn more about the Designer who made us to move.
After each group exercise, the group watched a short video devotional built around the theme of journeys. Each devotional thought was crafted so that anyone – church or community member – could relate to the hope and love found in Jesus. Participants encouraged each other as they discussed personal reflections on their own journeys to fitness, relationships, and spiritual growth. As the week progressed, not only were bodies stretched, but hearts opened as people shared freely how God moved through their lives.
It is important to note that, on the first Sunday and the last Sunday of the program, each participant counted the number of repetitions they could complete for several different exercises. This was not just a walk in the park - it included jumping jacks, mountain climbers, burpees, and, yes, planks. There were measurable physical improvements after just one week, with some participants' reps increasing by over 60%. People also shared that they felt stronger by the end of the week. Most importantly, they demonstrated that in only one week, they could make a difference in their lives. Congratulations to each person for taking on the challenge to move and be moved! Continue these daily habits of time spent in exercise, personal devotion, and healthy relationships. The challenge is not just for a week, but for a lifetime.