January 31, 2023 | Caracas, Venezuela | Steven’s Rosado and Inter-American Division News

Thousands of Seventh-day Adventists recently gathered to run or walk across the streets of Caracas and other cities in the eastern part of Venezuela to promote a healthy lifestyle. The event was the first territory-wide 5K walk led by the church in the East Venezuela Union and engaged more than 5,400 church members and their friends to highlight the church’s banner program “I Want To Live Healthy.”

“The health of the people of God is more important for this time because we should preach with the Word and our testimony, and what better testimony than a healthy lifestyle,” said Zoila de Atalido, health ministries director for the East Venezuela Union.

L-R: Lenny Hernández, communication director of the East Venezuela Union, Marlene de Sousa, Marlene de Sousa, health ministries director of the Central East Venezuela Conference, and Zoila Atalido, health ministries director for the East Venezuela Union and main organizer of the “I Want to Live Healthy” 5K walk smile for a group photo in Caracas, on Jan. 22, 2023. More than 5,400 church members and their friends walked in their respective cities and communities to highlight the importance of living healthy lifestyle. [Photo: East Venezuela Union]

The 5K walk took place on Jan. 22, and was preceded by eight straight days of healthy living promotion on the church’s social media platforms. The social media posts challenged readers to walk, do outdoor chores, and plant a tree, as well as aerobic and strength exercises. These activities and more highlight the eight natural remedies promoted by the “I Want to Live Healthy” initiative.

“Walking at a fast pace, talking to people, enjoying the fresh air and a pleasant weather, without a doubt renewed my body and spirit,” said Atalido. “I could see that same joy among so many of the participants on the walk.” Little by little, people can overcome small health challenges and acquire new healthy habits, she added.

More than 800 church members gathered in the central east region of Caracas to begin the 5K walk throughout main roads and avenues. [Photo: East Venezuela Union]

Government officials from the city of Maturin and the state of Monagas joined in the 5k regional city event with over 1,500 church leaders and members from the East Venezuela Conference.

In Luis del Valle Garcia in the city of Barcelona, in the state of Anzoategui, Master Guide Gabriel Moncada joined 200 of his fellow church members to walk and run throughout the region. At the end of the event, the participants gathered at the military base to view a presentation on aviation put on by the military base in Barcelona.  “We were able to distribute Christian literature to the members of the military base there,” said García.

A group of members hand out Adventist literature at the military base in Barcelona, Anzoategui in eastern Venezuela after the “I Want To Live Healthy” 5K walk. [Photo: East Venezuela Union]

The “I Want to Live Healthy” events across the eight conferences and missions in the union territory, culminated their walks with a special gathering stretch, distribute literature and talk to onlookers, organizers said.

Seventeen-year-old Gregorio Ramirez, a new member of Marichal Adventist Church, was ecstatic to have won the 5k run in Chacao, a subdivision of Caracas. Participating in the event meant so much to Ramirez because he had been sick two days before the event. “I prayed to God to heal me so I could be part of the event and the morning of the event I felt better and it was such a great experience,” said Ramirez. He recently joined the church thanks to the health message and the assistance of so many who had been physically active.

Gregorio Ramírez, first place winner of the “I Want To Live Healthy” 5K walk in the Central East Venezuela Conference , is congratulated by Pastor Edgardo Velázquez(center), president, and Misael Hernández, youth ministries leader of the Central East Venezuela Conference in Caracas, Venezuela. [Photo: East Venezuela Union]

“My goal was to win some kind of race or marathon and when I learned about this activity at church, I started training and that paid off today,” said Ramirez. “I would love for the church to organize this type of activity two or three times a year.”

The impact of the event drew so many to register to wear their numbers and shirts that leaders are planning to make it an annual event, hoping the lead more church members and their friends to join the “I Want to Live Healthy” initiative.

Dozens of members gather for a group photo after taking part in the 5k walk in Puerto la Cruz, in Anzoategui, Venezuela[Photo: East Venezuela Union]

To learn more about the East Venezuela Union and its initiatives and activities, visit uvoriental.org

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