6 min read

Restoring the Power of Community

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A community is more than just a group of people living in the same area or having similar interests. It is a network of individuals bound together by a sense of belonging and mutual respect.

We have endured the abnormal era of the past four years which fomented an unprecedented division among Americans and among people around the world. Now is the time for us to focus on finding harmony and community once again. It is the return of the wholeness and solidarity that defines community that I wish to address in this issue.

"Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf." 1 Corinthians 10:17 NIV

I share this verse not just because it refers to communion which is a coming together with the spirit of Christ; it is an apt metaphor for what we are experiencing today. We all share one loaf whether we identify it as the same planet, country, state, or city where we live, and because we all share and depend on the same resources it makes us all one body of people. In other words, God made us and intended for us to live in community.

We are Hard-Wired for Community

Community is a universal human need that is found in all cultures. The desire to belong and be a part of a group is hard-wired into our system. It is an instinctual need from our early hunter-gatherer history when acceptance in the tribe - inclusion in the group - was a matter of survival.

More than just a need, community is a powerful force that can empower groups of people to create positive change.

It gives them purpose and aligns the skills, intellects, and efforts of many toward a singular objective. When you bring together the collective strength of people working together obstacles seem to fall away. Suddenly goals that seemed impossible become achievable.

A Blanket of Security

Being in community means we are never alone when we're working through difficulties; it creates a blanket of security because the group is always willing to provide assistance, resources, and empathy to those who need it. It empowers us to deal with uncertainty, and enables us to rebuild after an emergency or disaster.

"I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought." 1 Corinthians 1:10 NIV

When people are united in community they create a culture that makes everyone feel valued. Community is built on trust and requires honest, open communication. Mindful listening is a trait that unites because people feel like they have been heard. Being in community helps reduce stress in times of trouble because the burden is shouldered by many while the group works to boost each other's morale.

Beware of the Dividers

Challenging our sense of community are those who profit from our division. We must always be on the alert to recognize their corruption. We need to be critical thinkers in this age of fake news. And, it helps to remember the wisdom of Will Durant, American philosopher and historian, who observed, “The political machine triumphs because it is a united minority acting against a divided majority.”

We Have More in Common than You Realize

Despite our differences, which many politicians will poke and push to provoke, we still have much in common that we want for ourselves, our friends, and our families. We all want peace and safety - in other words - freedom from fear. We all want the basic necessities of life such as clean water, good food, and a comfortable home. We want good health. We want prosperity, which is more than wealth; it is the freedom to pursue our personal interests and to find happiness. We want friends: to belong and be accepted by others. We want love, to be respected, and have a sense of self-worth. And, we want justice where everyone plays by the same rules.

When we remember all these universal desires it enables us to build bridges between diverse peoples and beliefs to create community. By banding together in common cause, the whole becomes greater than the parts.

"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ." 1 Corinthians 12:12 NIV

We practice unity everyday at OHI by focusing on the whole self: body, mind, and spirit. The OHI for Life Body-Mind-Spirit program brings people together and creates a sense of camaraderie and oneness in ways they have never experienced before. This is especially true in our classes: You Validation, Release Ceremony, Communication, Your Life is a Gift, Mental Detoxification, Emotional Detoxification, and Alpha Meditation Techniques. Even our weekly fun talent event Friday Night Live creates cohesion with love and laughter. After just a week, many of our guests form tight bonds that last a lifetime.

OHI is Built on Community

Now we are creating more unity across our OHI community. Our two locations in Austin and San Diego share one program. The difference is that Austin is a smaller, more intimate, and quieter setting while San Diego is larger, has more people, and is more lively. Many of our guests have tried both locations and have their favorites. Starting in 2024, we will have facilitators from each of our locations to visit and teach in the other. This will help integrate both of our locations and keep them connected.

Also in 2024, we are focusing more on our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube) because it is important to connect both in-person and online. We are encouraging all guests, missionaries, and staff to unite in our online community by posting photos, comments, and useful articles to help us all stay connected with the full OHI community.

It is my sincere belief that OHI can spread our special unity to the world at large. Our community at OHI vibrates unity and leads by example when we show love and caring wherever we go. When we walk about in joy and confidence, we radiate a positive influence that people recognize and want to share in, and to be a part of. When that happens we have an opportunity to be a witness for the OHI program and its values and mission of community. We in the OHI community are perfectly positioned to spread a powerful message of unity outward to the world.

What’s New at OHI

Over the past few months, we have been busy making enhancements to our program and facilities in both of our locations. We have introduced pricing programs for guests who stay three or more weeks, as well as a rewards program for guests who refer their friends. We have trained more facilitators so that we are now able to reintroduce the variety of classes and hands-on experience in our food preparation classes that were available pre-pandemic.

In Austin, we have re-roofed the main building, replaced windows, refinished bathtubs, and restored the hardwood floors in our guestrooms. We have more wonderful news: Sheryl Haupt, our beloved facilitator, will be returning periodically to teach classes in 2024. 

In San Diego, we have refurbished the furniture, spa, and decks in the Courtyard, painted building exteriors, installed new planters and irrigations systems in our organic garden, and refurbished the Courtyard guestrooms. But that's not all! Our beloved facilitators, Sheryl Haupt, Peg Harvey, and Danielle Demko will be making regular visits to teach classes in 2024.

As I mentioned above we are focusing more on our social media, and we would like you to join us by following OHI on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to stay updated on our latest news and events. Also sign up for OHI's emails, and subscribe to our newsletter where you'll receive regular updates and information about our program and community. Another great way to stay connected is to join our Missionary Program where you will get a firsthand opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

These are just a few of the exciting improvements we've made at OHI, and we can't wait for you to come and experience them firsthand!

Come to OHI this Spring

The sun is shining and the flowers are blooming, this is a great time to reunite and strengthen your bonds with your OHI community. A spring cleanse will help you reset and revitalize your body after the long winter months. Be sure to book early – call us (800) 588-0809 to book your stay!

Here's wishing you health and wellness in this spring season.

Yours in prayer,

Robert P. Nees, Jr.
Senior Pastor and Chairman, Optimum Health Institute San Diego and Austin