|Research Shows Churchgoers Overweight, Fitness Ministry Develops
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Research Shows Churchgoers Overweight, Fitness Ministry Develops
"In most of the research, religion is a positive influence on health," said Purdue University sociologist Ken Ferraro. "I anticipated that people who attended religious services would be less likely to be obese - and we found just the opposite."
Why did Jesus heal people of Leprosy when diseases like Malaria, Tuberculosis and Infant Mortality were very prevalent in the early A.D.s? Was Leprosy the most prevalent disease of the time? I think it was because Jesus understood how horrible social stigmatization and a slow painful death was not only to the body but also mind and spirit. The Bible calls us into relationships, to go to the nations, to our tribes and to our people to proclaim the good news. A Leper though could not participate in civic life though. Instead they were marginalized by society and shunned. They were unable to socialize or do the things that there friend and families were doing. Not only were they dying but also they were doing it alone. Though they had many years of functionality left, society had already given up on them. They were forbidden to enter public places and given scowls and judging glances when the people saw them. While they watch their bodies decay they also had to face the loss of being an outcast to society.
Obesity is the leprosy of the new millennium. It is a socially stigmatizing and slow killing disease. The top 10 killing diseases in the US are lifestyle diseases, meaning they can be prevented with lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. Yet, people are sometimes powerless to stop their own death because culture, advertising and lack of knowledge push them towards a life that leads to an early preventable death. Not only does obesity kill but it forms the new "leper colonies". Obese people are forced to buy from plus sized stores, legislated against on transportation services and shunned by the media. How often are people eager to sit next to a fat person on an airplane or go out and see that new movie with the fat actor/actress? Our society is one that marginalizes those who are overweight and tells them that it's their fault.
15He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."
Jesus calls us to heal the sick, comfort the broken hearted and to associate with those who are shunned by the world. That is how people will know that we are Christians, when we do things and go to places where the world has forgotten to show God's love where it is needed most. How often though does the church deal with obesity? Do we mention the disease that is correlated to many of the Top 10 causes of death? With society in an uproar over child obesity, sedentary and performance drug abuse, does the church offer to help or overlook the topic completely? I think for too long the Church has forgotten that in this new millennium helping the "widow and the orphan" might look different than what it did generations ago. The problem today is that generations of people inside and outside the church are dying and the love of Christ is nowhere to be found.
My purpose in trying to start a Fitness Ministry is to try and make a difference instead of complaining and standing idly by while millions of people deal with the social stigma and health risks of obesity. A person does not become overweight overnight. It takes 3,500 calories to gain a pound. It is the day-to-day choices that cause obesity. A large reason people make these choices is because they don't know any better. How can they know if no one has ever told them? Food corporations spend millions on advertising to get their message across; how much effort does the Church put in? By creating a Fitness Ministry I am trying to help make decisions that will not only affect their lives but the lives of their families and friends.
A recent Stanford University School of Medicine study, published in this month's issue of Pediatrics, indicates that overweight parents are the greatest risk factor for children becoming overweight.
Sixty-four percent of children in the study with overweight parents became overweight themselves. Study leader W. Stewar Agras, a professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral science, explains that the connection between overweight parents and overweight children is most likely the result of a combination of genetics and family environmental influences. 7-15-04
When people are healthy, not only are they better able to live life but they are more able to serve God. Mission fields these days involve tough manual labor. In Sri Lanka relief workers spend most of the day unloading boxes and rebuilding cities. There is no need for dead weight when there is so much work to do (pun intended). In Africa, disease runs rampant, western missionaries often suffer terrible diseases and sicknesses (healthy individuals are more likely to adjust to changing climates, elevations and posses stronger immune systems). Does the church just want to obey the call and not prepare for the actual work? Even Paul spent years studying the Scriptures before he left on his journeys so that he would be ready for the challenges ahead.
For the college student though, probably the biggest benefit is to reduce the cycle of depression, social stigma and self-confidence. This is a vicious cycle that can cause bouts of isolation and even suicide. It isn't easy to be overweight in a society that values looks. The Churches stance on this issue has been just to accept overweight people and to allow them to be who they want to be. How great of a stance that might be, the world does not view it the same way. In reality many Christians feel the social stigma and hit to their confidence. Christians suffer depression when society outcasts them because they are different and the Church's response has always been, "We please God, not men". Yet, this does nothing for them and it is not the solution when this leads Christians to isolate themselves from those who do no accept them. The world is not going to see a person like the Church sees people. Paul says to be all things to all people so that we may win some, he didn't say if they don't like you then too bad. If we are to impact society then we must be in the world, that's hard to do when you can't socialize because society marginalizes you. The easiest answer is to do nothing and stay overweight. Jesus never took the easy way out though. Jesus didn't just accept the leper; he healed them. Can the same be said for us?
12While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."
13And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him.
Are we willing to not only heal our own lives but to heal those lives around us?
Plan of Action:
The Fitness Ministry will be structured in a way that is unique to other fitness ministries. Part of this reason is because I am a bodybuilder not an aerobics instructor. My diet and workout plans work because I am my own test subject. This ministry will be a real commitment with real accountability. Workouts will go 3 times a week and supplemental workouts need to be done on an individual's own time. We will adhere to strict guidelines that ensure we are making an impact not just on our own bodies but also on the world in which we are trying to serve. Theory is fine but real warriors are made in battle. The Acronym for this ministry is as follows.
D. iscipline (Spiritual and Physical)
I. ntegrity (Devotions and Diets)
E. vangelism (Using our gifts to reach a struggling world)
T. raining (Spirit and Steel)
- Some things are totally within our power to do. Don't just pray for the hungry, feed them
- God will open doors when you become more faithful, fat-to-fit
- live like a missionary
- Faith in action, adminster to the poor, love the lost, heal the sick
- Faith is about moving (Hebrews, "by faith Noah built the arc"), the more fit you are, the farther you can move =op
1 Corinthians 6
19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
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