Inspired by an Employee

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Inspired by an Employee
SOLOMON ISLANDS | August 3
Geoffrey Samuel, 51

Geoff Samuel, chief executive of a housing construction company on the Solomon Islands, couldn’t believe his eyes when an employee lost 90 pounds (40 kilograms) in a year.

He looked at his own belly and wondered, “Can I do the same?”

Geoff weighed 290 pounds (130 kilograms). For 10 years, he had suffered high blood pressure and hypertension. He realized that he was on a path to destruction.

Geoff was fully aware of the Adventist health message, having been raised in an Adventist home and having attended church schools. But his body was the complete opposite of what he knew. He made the evening meal the largest of the day, just like many Solomon Islanders, including Adventists. Before meals, he prayed, “God, thank You for the blessing of this food.” He never thought about praying, “God, give me strength to control my appetite.”

One day in early 2017, Geoff approached Herik, who worked for him as an architectural drafter. “How did you manage to lose all that weight?” he asked.

Herik explained that he had followed a diet and exercise program inspired by Ellen White’s book “Counsels on Diet and Foods.” “I can teach you what I did,” he said. “When can I start?” “If you want, we can start today.”

The two men left the office of Solomon Housing Limited and started daily 45-minute exercises on the beach, under trees, and at other places. It was hard work for Geoff as he tackled various exercises in 20-second increments.

“When I started, I couldn’t complete 20 seconds,” he said. “I counted, and I was happy if I could reach five seconds. I tried every day to improve on that number.”

As he lost weight, other people joined them. Herik continued leading the group, and Geoff assumed the role of coordinator. Today, more than 200 people of various faiths gather to exercise four days a week in an Adventist-owned auditorium.

Each workout begins and ends with prayer. Once a week, time is set aside for personal testimonies, and Herik and Geoff stress the importance of diet. Their advice comes straight from Ellen White.

“If you feel good now, how about applying changes to your life spiritually?” Herik asks.

“Imagine how you would feel if you prayed every morning, too,” Geoff adds.

As people see their bodies getting back into shape, the cry often rings out around the auditorium, “Hem waka!” (It works!).

Herik and Geoff aren’t medical experts, but they have noticed that God helps the body heal itself when people treat their bodies as God intended.

Geoff still has a way to go to reach his ideal weight. But he has lost nearly 80 pounds (35 kilograms) in 18 months and feels better than ever.

“I can run, climb, and jump!” he said with a big smile. “If I can do it, anyone can do it.” 

Obesity is a major problem in the Solomon Islands and contributes to a number of health ailments, including diabetes. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will support “Save 10,000 Toes,” a diabetes-fighting program in the Solomon Islands. “Save 10,000 Toes,” which was established in late 2017, finances Herik and Geoff’s community workout classes. Thank you for your Sabbath School mission offerings.

By Andrew McChesney

Story Tips 
 Watch a video of Geoff at the link: bit.ly/Geoffrey-Samuel.
 Find photos for this story at the link: bit.ly/fb-mq.
 Read more about Herik last week.

 Fast Facts 
 A Spanish explorer, Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira, first sighted the islands in 1568. Finding signs of alluvial gold on Guadalcanal, Mendaña believed he had found the source of King Solomon’s wealth and consequently named the islands “The Islands of Solomon.”
 It is thought that people have lived in the Solomon Islands since at least 2,000 B.C.
 The concept of money is relatively recent in Solomon Island culture; barter and alternative forms of currency such as shell money are still practiced.