The Fifth Annual Exalta Health Luncheon was big in number, welcoming a record-setting crowd of 320 people, and grounded in faithfulness, centered at every turn on God’s care and providence.
Exalta Health President, Bill Paxton wouldn’t have had it any other way.
In his last luncheon address before a planned retirement next spring, Paxton had a clear message for the many Exalta Health supporters, board members, volunteers and staff in attendance: We follow a God who specializes in impossible.
“I wish I could guarantee future sustainability,” Paxton said. “I wish the God this organization follows taught us how to pray for our annual bread, or quarterly bread or even monthly bread. But Jesus didn’t. He wants us on our knees every day not knowing what tomorrow will bring. He taught us to pray for just what we need for today. And living day-by-day is not easy.”
Paxton reminded those in the room of a stark fact: Every patient the organization treats costs it money.
With a wry smile he said of Exalta Health’s approach: “It may be a great mission model, but it is a bad business model.”
It’s also a big part of the reason why Exalta Health has a $2 million budget this year (the organization is on an October through September fiscal year) but needs to raise $1.5 million of it.
Yet, he noted, every patient the organization treats is also living out of Christ’s call to serve the poor, sick and disenfranchised of society.
And so he outlined the stories of a few of those patients.
Jose who has been losing his sight, and when things looked the bleakest was able to be scheduled for corrective surgery.
Amy who has diabetes and had to make a choice between buying cheap unhealthy food or paying for her $600 per month medication before Exalta Health worked with her, so that now she is getting access to less expensive medication and learning to manage her diabetes through Exalta Health education and nutrition programs.
Sally, who at the age of 42, had her first-ever teeth cleaning and spent four agonizing hours in the dental chair but now comes to Exalta Health faithfully for annual prevention cleaning.
Or Guillermo who now has dentures that fit after the only solution to debilitating tooth pain was to pull all his teeth.
Those stories are why Exalta Health doesn’t hew to the world’s definition of business success.
“Our business model is not bad,” Paxton concluded. “How can it be? It’s God’s business. It’s his model. So at God’s organization as we walk with grief, pain, discrimination and fear, we find joy as we exalt God’s name.”
The annual luncheon also introduced a new element in 2019: the first-ever Exalta Health Stewardship Award. The award is in honor of Fred De Jong, a long-time friend and supporter of the organization’s mission, and it was awarded in 2019 posthumously to De Jong, who passed away in April 2019 after a three-year fight with cancer.
The event closed with a prayer led by Exalta Health Chaplain Kristen Meyer who prefaced it by saying to attendees: “We’re going to do this Exalta Health style” before letting them know that at Exalta Health when staff members gather to pray, they do so in a circle, and they join hands. With that, 320 people rose, joined hands with those at their table and were led in prayer by Meyer, giving thanks to a God who specializes in the impossible, finding joy in exalting His name.
You can read Bill Paxton’s full remarks here.