“One of the biggest things for a strong community is when we get together,” said Gardena Police Chief Tom Kang.
The truth of this statement was demonstrated to the 288 people who received free medical care at the Gardena church on March 11 and 12. Services provided at the two-day clinic included dental, vision, chiropractics, chaplaincy, legal counsel, food bank distribution, medical triage, nutrition counsel, behavioral health services and more.
The Adventist Medical Evangelism Network helped make this event happen, as did the Southern California Conference (SCC) L.A. Metro Region and six of its churches — Hawthorne, Long Beach, New Life, Norwalk, Rolling Hills, and South Bay. Iki Taimi, Gardena church pastor, shared “a special word of thanks for supporting our constant outreach ideas” to Gardena Japanese church and East-West Language School.
The church also tapped into existing city relationships. According to Taimi, the church has been fostering relations with the city for quite some time. “We are engaged with the city on a lot of levels,” he explained. “It varies from partnerships to participation, and we have grown a strong connection with the city offices.”
City organizations supporting the clinic included Gardena Human Services, the Mayor’s Office, Police department, Memorial Hospital of Gardena, and Behavioral Health services a Gardena city partner.
“The true test of whether or not a church is truly doing what it’s supposed to do is not found in its membership or coffers but in whether or not the community will miss it when it’s gone,” Taimi said.
Kang shared a few words with the patients who were waiting in the sanctuary to be seen for dental or vision care as the clinic kicked off on Sunday morning. “This is truly a blessing,” he said, “not only for myself and those who work in this community but to provide the service for those who need help. This is amazing — everything is here for you.”
Kang and Gardena Mayor Tasha Cerda both live streamed their visits to the clinic on their official Facebook pages. Cerda took a 15-minute walking tour through the entire venue on Monday afternoon. She expressed great support for what was the church’s first clinic, as well as the possibility of partnering for future events like this one.
This event was one of many ways the church is reaching out and making itself available to the community. As Derrick Cruz, associate pastor, put it, “We’re not a mega-church, but we have a mega-heart.”