Joanna Daniels was sitting in the doctor’s office—again. It was a frightfully common occurrence for the 19-year-old who had spent most of her adolescence and teen years feeling lousy. Only now, in the last few years, lousy had turned to unbearable, as every time she ate, she doubled over. Tests were run, medications were prescribed, advice was followed, prayers were lifted, yet nothing seemed to alleviate the ricocheting pain in her stomach. And so, there she was, one more time, waiting and hoping the doctor would come in with an answer to the question that she asked herself a thousand times, “What in the world is wrong with me?”
“Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” the doctor said.
Joanna was surprised by the diagnosis. “What do I have to do to get rid of it?”
“Nothing to get rid of it—only to deal with it,” the doctor replied. “You’ll be on medication—for life.”
Nothing about that sat right with her. She was young, thin, and athletic, and as she projected to the future; she couldn’t imagine a lifetime as a dependent on a drug. She knew some people might have to live that way, but it didn’t feel right for her, not at all.
Over the next seven years, Joanna tried every regimen, diet, cleanse, and heeded the advice of every book on nutrition she could get her hands on. Try as she might, the crippling pain continued to reverberate around her body every time she took another bite. At the end of her rope, she sat alone one day, hoping and praying that there was some rock that she had still not yet overturned.
“I’ve read everything,” she said to herself, deep in thought and desperate. Suddenly, she got an idea. She walked over to her desk and grabbed her Bible, holding it close and hoping the answer was in God’s Word. She wondered where to begin. She decided to simply start at the beginning: Genesis 1.
It didn’t take long.
There, in Genesis 1:29 was a bit of God’s instruction that, although she had read it many times before, suddenly seemed newly inserted and bolded just to catch her eye. “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.’”
Plant yielding seed, Joanna thought. Hmmm. As soon as she began to change her habits to simply eat foods that were made of plants that yielded seeds, her body began to react like flipping on a switch. For the first time, Joanna was getting well. Her body was finally luxuriating in the food that it had been craving all along. God, in Genesis, was establishing humankind’s stay on earth. It made sense that God would offer loving protection for the spectacular bodies He was creating. Joanna was elated.
What she didn’t realize at the time was that while her good feelings were increasing, her consciousness for the role health played in the church was too.
She attended a church fundraiser where some of the prizes were beautifully wrapped baskets of food. One of the pastors called up the winners who excitedly came onstage to receive baskets of assorted chocolates, or coffee, and others with salamis and cheeses. “Now for the one nobody wants,” the pastor chided. It was a basket full of healthy foods. The audience, in good fun, boo’d the basket.
“We have a cultural problem,” Joanna said to herself.
She couldn’t sit idly by and not be a voice for a healthier body of Christ. She was going to start a ministry for the purpose of exposing God’s heart toward a healthy body and spirit—and base it on the Bible. She filled out the paperwork from the church office, placed a tiny ad in the church bulletin, then waited to see if anybody might come to their first meeting.
What happened next was a steady stream of people coming from the church that, when they revealed their need for a new approach to diet, began to create a Christian’s Health Profile, of sorts. And it wasn’t good.
Words like shackles, chronic, addiction, depression, debilitating, helplessness, hopelessness, desperation, slave began to create a more clearly defined foe that Joanna had unexpectedly picked a fight with. One thing for sure, the community of faith was tired of feeling so sick and tired, and they were desperate for the church to have an answer.
Joanna began to see that much of the freedom in Christ that the church espoused was getting lost among so many broken bodies living in a never-ending spiral of bad habits, bad food, and poor understanding of what they were doing to themselves. Since eating was a daily activity, the problem was urgent.
She tackled the problem by becoming a certified health educator of nutrition plus earning other certifications in Natural Therapies, as well as immersing herself in the scriptures to find the deep connections between health of the temple and our spiritual walk with Christ.
Since 2005, the Nutrition Ministry that Joanna’s initiated, HIS Living Healthy Lifestyles, has seen people get off medications, tumors eliminated, diabetes reversed, all kinds of diseases and conditions healed, chronic pains vanished, hundreds of pounds lost, spirits lifted, and personalities restored to their former lightness. Most people find that eating healthy is not near as difficult as they once thought and doesn’t taste near as bad. In fact, many who were not handy in the kitchen have learned to find their inner chef. People are exercising more and enjoying life in a way they hadn’t before. And, the happier people became, the more they reached for better foods—which indicates that part of the reason people eat so poorly may have something to do with a painful emotional state they are trying to assuage.
Best of all, each person who has had made a healthier change of life has also experienced a closer walk with God as a result, as if God’s plan was always to have his people enjoy the fruit of healthy bodies.
“I just go back to Genesis 1:29,” offers Joanna. “It’s in His Word for a reason. We are precious to our Lord—spirit and body.”