Dr. Viriato Ferreira, a physician and health ministry leader, accepted a call last week to serve as associate Health Ministries director at the Seventh-day Adventist world church headquarters.
Ferreira, 47, a Portuguese citizen, currently oversees Health Ministries for the church’s Inter-European Division (EUD), headquartered in Berne, Switzerland. He also serves as president and physician at the Portuguese Association of Preventive Medicine in Lisbon, Portugal.
In his new position, Ferreira will replace former associate director Dr. Peter Landless, who has acted as director-elect of the department since Dr. Allan Handysides announced his retirement in April.
“I am looking forward to learning and being inspired by the leadership of the Health Ministries department, and by the experience and wisdom of church members around the world, as we move forward in His service,” Ferreira said.
Ferreira brings a broad range of experience and abilities to the position, Landless said, as well as “a deep commitment to the Lord. We expect him to be an excellent fit as the church continues its emphasis on a wholistic philosophy of health ministry and even further broaden this precious ministry." Adventist health leaders are planning to unveil a comprehensive health ministries initiative at a church business meeting in October.
“I know Viriato will bring dedication and energy to this initiative,” Landless said.
Ferreira spent his childhood near the Adventist Church’s Bongo Mission Hospital in the Southern African nation of Angola, where he says the selfless dedication of mission doctors deeply impacted him. After completing his medical training in South Africa and marrying Marianne Raitt, the couple helped establish mission work among the Himba people in a remote area of Namibia.
In 2003, Ferreira began overseeing Health Ministries for the Adventist Church’s Portuguese Union of Churches. Four years later, he accepted a call to serve as Health Ministries director at the division. In that role, he organized a health expo initiative in Europe that has drawn thousands of people from largely secular communities. He is also co-founder and project director of a lifestyle center still in development in Portugal. In 2009, he helped organize the Global Conference on Health and Lifestyle in Geneva and in May chaired the steering committee of the European Health Conference in Prague.
Ferreira says he’s passionate about modeling Christ’s example of outreach—meeting practical needs before spiritual ones. “Jesus’ method is truly unparalleled in positively affecting the lives of others and giving meaning to our own,” he said. “This method can only be genuinely followed when we are filled with God’s love. This is true whether you work in a highly sophisticated and technological hospital, or at a humble clinic or wellness center.”
Ferreira and his wife, also a physician, have three children. “The family will be a great asset to Health Ministries and the Adventist world church,” Landless said.
Ferreira is expected to phase into the position starting part-time in October and working full-time by the beginning of next year, subject to finding a replacement for his current position, Landless said.