By Kristen Caldwell

For Rev. Dave Thompson and his wife, Kim, the journey to better health has been a long and winding road full of milestones to honor along the way, most recently with the purchase of 200 pounds of turkey.

The 200 pounds of turkey, purchased for the local food bank in Roseburg, Oregon, where they serve First United Methodist Church, honored the combined 200 pounds of weight the couple has lost in the last year-and-a-half.

“Our journey began with a simple prayer. For too long we had focused on taking weight off, thinking that would solve all our problems. But it hadn’t worked. We would lose some weight, then put that plus more back on,” Dave Thompson said. “We were tired. A deep spiritual tired that no amount of rest or sleep could cure. We were frustrated and feeling hopeless. We looked to people and programs to help us, and all of that had let us down. So, we prayed together. But this time we prayed for healing – healing of body, mind, and spirit.” 

A double-bypass heart procedure in July 2018 wasn’t exactly an answer to those prayers, but it’s what began Thompson’s weight loss journey and continued effort to heal his mind and spirit. Kim started her weight loss journey in November of 2018.

“We would love to say that we saw results immediately and became totally healed persons right away, but the journey to healing is not always easy or comfortable. We have wept, laughed, been angry, been full of doubt, and full of hope,” Dave Thompson said “It’s been one step forward and then two steps backward.”

With encouragement from the Oregon-Idaho Conference Abundant Health ministry, Roseburg FUMC has developed a wellness ministry team. The group is charged with helping the church become healthier. The church is sponsoring a wellness day in May and a second annual Celebration of Life 10K walk in July.

In addition to that Rev. Thompson said the wellness team is providing healthy alternatives during fellowship times and church potlucks and the church includes wellness moments in worship, the newsletter and on its website.

“Jesus invited us to love our neighbor always and all-ways. Abundant Health is the mission priority of United Methodist Global Ministries for 2017 – 2020,” said Rev. Marshall Wattman-Turner, director of the Oregon-Idaho AH Initiative. “The global goal is to reach at least one million children with health-promoting measures by 2020.”

Wattman-Turner reports that during the past two years, more than 60 congregations in the Conference have joined the Abundant Health Initiative, which is about mind, body and spirit.

“My ministry has changed in that I now schedule in exercise times and announce on the calendar that I am working out during these times,” Thompson said.

The Thompsons say they’re in a much better place now, but their journey is far from over.

“The physical pounds we have lost – and we’re proud of that – are just a part of the many spiritual and emotional pounds that we have lost and are still trying to lose,” he said. “It will be a lifelong process of learning – especially learning to forgive others and ourselves.”

To learn more about Abundant Health’s work locally visit For more information about the global Abundant Health initiative, visit the UMC Missions website. And if choosing to give to The Advance for Abundant Health be sure to give to # 3021770.

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