God could have sent angels to work for the reformation of man, but He did not do this. Humanity must touch humanity. The church is the Lord’s instrumentality.
Tell others of redemption
By Ellen G. White
God could have sent angels to work for the reformation of man, but He did not do this. Humanity must touch humanity. The church is the Lord’s instrumentality. He works through those that are willing to be worked. If the church had cherished a sense of her accountability, fervent, earnest messengers would have carried the truth to countries far and near. God’s living Word would have been preached in every corner of the earth. What was Christ’s last commission to His disciples before He left them? Lifting up His hands, He blessed them, and said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” . . .
Christ’s commission is to be received and acted upon. We are to go forth in faith, with earnest prayer for the promise of One who has said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” With the promise of such companionship, we are guilty of great unbelief and disobedience if we refuse to take up the cross of self-denial and self-sacrifice.
God Uses the Teachable
The words, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” are spoken to every individual. We may be adapted for different branches of the work; but while we do our part unselfishly, we are obeying the command.
Do we search the precious Word of God interestedly, that we may say, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple,” not to men and women of weak intellect, but to those who cherish simplicity of heart and mind, who are willing to be taught by the Holy Spirit, that they may know how to open the Word of life to others? As we communicate the light that has found entrance to our souls, the Holy Spirit gives increased light, and our hearts are filled with the precious joy of the Lord. . . .
God will use humble men [and women] as His instruments. Even though they have but one talent, if they trade upon it, it will increase. The great fault in the church is that the work of saving souls is so limited that the advancement of the kingdom of God is slow.
A backslidden church is the sure result of a selfish church—a church that does not use her talents in cooperating with Jesus to restore the image of God in men. We are to minister to every creature. A responsibility is laid upon us to work for all—our friends, our acquaintances, those who are bound up with the world and alienated from God. The apparently amiable and agreeable are to come into the sphere of our labors. The truth is for them as much as for us, and we must say, “Come.”
God has entrusted the knowledge of the truth of redemption to every converted soul, and this knowledge is to be given to others. With a tender, sympathetic heart, tell them of the great truth of redemption.
If we are in earnest, we can and will so speak that all will see that we have the love of the truth in our hearts. The frivolity and love of amusement that we encounter may chill our soul, but it will not silence the message we bear as Christ’s witnesses. And each soul saved will save other souls; for those who are truly converted will realize that they are the depositaries of sacred trusts. What rich blessings will follow pure, consecrated effort, the worker depending on God to give the increase!
This is taken from the article “Christ’s Commission,” published in Review and Herald, April 26, 1898. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.
Seven figures sat in dark shadows against the brick wall of the closed shopping center. Huddled in thin blankets they sought to stay warm in Zimbabwe’s chilly night air. “This is bad,” Nkosilathi Khumalo, a staff member with the Zimbabwe Union Conference’s communication department, said as he walked toward the group after an evening evangelistic meeting in an adjacent field. “We can’t leave them here all night. They are sick and will only grow worse in the cold.”
Zimbabwe Leads the Way
A mega free clinic promises to shape the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s work going forward.
By Andrew McChesney
Seven figures sat in dark shadows against the brick wall of the closed shopping center. Huddled in thin blankets they sought to stay warm in Zimbabwe’s chilly night air.
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER: People being baptized in Bulawayo.
“This is bad,” Nkosilathi Khumalo, a staff member with the Zimbabwe Union Conference’s communication department, said as he walked toward the group after an evening evangelistic meeting in an adjacent field. “We can’t leave them here all night. They are sick and will only grow worse in the cold.”
The seven people had traveled several hundred miles in desperate hope of being first in line when a free clinic opened for its last full day in the shopping center in Chitungwiza, a city near Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.
The two-week free clinic, organized by the Zimbabwe Union Conference to coincide with two weeks of evangelistic meetings by Adventist Church president Ted N. C. Wilson, had astonished the country and received wide coverage on national
television and in newspapers. Waiting lines were common; they usually started to form around 3:00 a.m. Khumalo called over Innocent Gwizo, coordinator of the free clinic. They spoke with the waiting patients and telephoned the district’s Adventist pastor to see whether he could help.
The next morning I found Gwizo in the shopping center’s packed central plaza, where more than 1,000 people were waiting for treatment. Gwizo, the Adventist Church’s director of AIDS relief programs and health ministries in Zimbabwe, said the seven patients had slept in the pastor’s warm home and eaten a hot breakfast. All received free health care.
programs coordinator for the Chitungwiza free clinic, speaks with a 3-year-old boy waiting with his father for pediatric care.
Then Gwizo grabbed my arm, his eyes lighting up with joy.“You know,” he said, “one of the women asked me with great puzzlement this morning, ‘Why are Seventh-day Adventists doing this health expo? Why would you help so many people for free?’ I told her that we are only obeying Jesus.”
But, Gwizo said, the woman persisted. “Other churches in Zimbabwe glorify their church leaders, but you Adventists are always talking about Jesus,” she said. “Why is that?” Gwizo told her simply: “We love Jesus.”
Health Is Part of the Gospel
The free clinic promises to shape the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s work going forward. A team of 550 volunteers ended up providing about US$2.5 million in basic health services to 34,513 patients at the event, one of several examples of how the Adventist Church sought to follow Jesus’ lead and care for people’s physical and spiritual needs during evangelistic meetings at 914 sites across Zimbabwe on May 17 to 30. About 30,000 people were baptized as a result of the outreach effort.
“The Chitungwiza health expo has sent a message to the world that God’s plan to help people be balanced . . . physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually—is a powerful plan,” Wilson said as he thanked the volunteers during the last evangelistic meeting.
Peter N. Landless, the Adventist world church’s top health officer and a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, said this was the first time he had seen a free clinic care for so many people on a sustained, daily basis. He suggested that it offered a model for the church to replicate elsewhere.
“This has been a most amazing experience because it has shown you don’t have to have extravagant expos but you must have thorough expos,” Landless said in an interview only steps away from the entrance of the shopping center. “That’s what meets the needs of the people right at the grassroots level, and particularly here, where there has been a need for screening and basic health care. The needs have been met, and people have just rejoiced.”
Gwizo himself had trouble fathoming the enormous impact that the free clinic had on Zimbabwe. “I have no doubt that the Lord did this expo,” Gwizo said after the event ended. “This was not a human program. This was God in action because, as director of the expo, I am surprised by the results too. Nothing is impossible with God. We need to think outside the box.”
The Adventist Church has sought to care for people’s physical and spiritual needs since its origins in 1863, but it has placed an increasing emphasis on blending the two in a “comprehensive health ministry” in the past five years. The first major free clinic treated about 3,000 people over three days in two California cities last year. It was followed by a three-day event that provided US$20 million in free health care to some 6,200 people in San Antonio, Texas, in April.
The core medical team behind the Chitungwiza free clinic has organized a couple small, one-week free clinics in the country’s second-largest city, Bulawayo. But the potential of its work captured the attention of local church leaders this past September when it staged a three-week free clinic in Marange, a remote area in east Zimbabwe with no public health services nearby. While only five doctors, four nurses, and 36 other volunteers participated in the free clinic, it resulted in 220 baptisms and the establishment of 10 new churches in the area.
Similar results could emerge from Chitungwiza’s free clinic, where scores of patients attended evangelistic meetings next door. Several are already preparing for baptism, including a former drug user who was forced by his wife to enter an intensive 10-day addictions recovery program.
The wife marched her husband to the addictions recovery booth near the start of the free clinic and ordered him to stay there, Gwizo said.
Paul Charles, communication director for the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, tries out a bed at the ASI-refurbished ward at Harare Central Hospital.
Organizers operated the addictions recovery program in a building near the free clinic, and people who sought assistance to overcome addictions to cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco lived and ate with medical volunteers for 10 days. To enroll, patients were required to surrender their cash and cell phones.
“The man says he is grateful that he is now free from addictions to drugs, beer, and tobacco, and will be baptized and become an Adventist,” Gwizo said. Twenty-four people finished the program and received certificates during a graduation ceremony attended by Dorcas Sithole, deputy director of the Zimbabwean government’s Mental Health Services. Four graduates gave speeches thanking the church.
Sithole was so impressed with the program that she asked the church to showcase it at a nationally televised event to mark No Tobacco Day.
Opening Other Doors
Other patients also expressed gratitude for their treatment, but perhaps among the most thankful were those who left cured of diabetes. Dr. Masima Mwazha, one of the members of the core medical team behind the free clinic, said he would long remember the joy of seeing people complete a program in which they were fed a diet that reversed their conditions.
Linda Sibanda, another member of the core medical team, said she was in awe that the free clinic had touched so many lives. “The Adventist Church will never be viewed the same in this country again,” she said.
Patients aren’t the only people delighted with the free clinic, which leased vacant retail space in a half-deserted shopping center. The shopping center’s other tenants, which include food stores and a pharmacy, saw sales soar.
The only disappointed tenant was a dentist whose office couldn’t compete with the 30 dentists offering free services, said organizers of the free clinic. But the organizers found a way to make peace and leave the dentist beaming. The 30 free dentists referred all their patients to his office for follow-up work, and 200 to 300 of the several thousand dental patients were expected to end up paying for his services.
ed N. C. Wilson and Paul Ratsara wave goodbye to church members in Gweru on one stop of their itinerary of three Zimbabwean cities.
The free clinic was not without its challenges. The biggest issue was the unexpectedly large turnout, which left organizers scrambling at times to find the finances to meet the demand. Even after the free clinic closed, major surgeries were continuing to be performed at the Chitungwiza Central Hospital as volunteer doctors worked through a backlog of patients who had been accepted for treatment. The US$25,000 needed to cover those surgeries was only raised later.
Meanwhile, church members have been busy doing follow-up work with 49,784 contacts made at the free clinic. Every person will be visited at least three times by church members, and smaller health expos will be conducted in Chitungwiza churches to nurture them.
In addition, the local Adventist Church was making use of its freshly burnished image to strengthen its collaborative relationship with government agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Zimbabwe’s vice president, Phekezela Mphoko, and health minister David Parirenyatwa praised the free clinic, and the government and various organizations have extended invitations to the church to partner with them on health issues.
But the free clinic and the broader evangelistic effort in Zimbabwe is only the beginning, said Paul Ratsara, president of the church’s Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, which includes Zimbabwe. Ratsara has actively encouraged comprehensive health ministry throughout the division, and his office covered a large part of the free clinic’s expenses, also stepping in when well-intentioned local organizers accepted more patients than they could afford. “This is not the end. This needs to be the beginning of the big effort,” Ratsara said. “Evangelism is not an event. It is a process and a way of life Once you are an Adventist, you are not only a disciple, you are a disciple maker.”
Many Projects One Goal
Thousands of people were baptized across Zimbabwe as one of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s biggest initiatives to share Jesus resulted in the unified efforts of many groups, including ASI, Light Bearers, and scores of church members who gave Bible studies.
Thousands of Adventists listen to Wilson speak at an athletic stadium in Bulawayo.
Baptismal numbers were trickling into the Zimbabwe Union Conference’s headquarters, but preliminary estimates indicated that church leaders had met their goal of baptizing 30,000 people in a country with more than 800,000 Adventist believers.
Adventist Church president Ted N. C. Wilson declared that the church members who went door to door offering Bible studies were the real heroes.
“What you have done in Chitungwiza is unbelievable,” Wilson told more than 1,000 people standing before him in a Chitungwiza field at Sabbath services. “I have preached the Word, but what you have done is more important,” Wilson said as about 35,000 worshippers listened.
Church members descended on Chitungwiza about a month earlier to go door to door offering Voice of Prophecy Bible lessons provided by Light Bearers, a U.S.-based supporting Adventist ministry. About 9,000 lessons were circulated in Chitungwiza, and 5,043 people graduated, church leaders said.
The Voice of Prophecy work carried out in Chitungwiza was replicated elsewhere. In addition, church members led some 5,000 small-group Bible studies ahead of the two-week evangelistic meetings. Among the other events that drew people to the meetings: - An Adventist free clinic provided basic health care to 34,100 patients at a shopping center during the two weeks that Wilson spoke in a nearby field. - Adventists built a 200-seat church in just six days in Darby, Zimbabwe, and celebrated its inauguration with the baptism of 101 new members. - A groundbreaking ceremony for a US$100,000 Adventist school financed by the church’s Iowa-Missouri Conference was held in a district of Chitungwiza that lacks any schools.
ASI renovated a ward in the Harare Central Hospital. The value of the work was US$160,000, but actual costs were closer to US$40,000 thanks to the efforts of volunteers.
The evangelistic meetings changed more than the lives of people in Zimbabwe. A record 30 young adults from the church’s Arkansas-Louisiana Conference were among the 77 non-Zimbabwean speakers who presented the ShareHim sermon series during the two weeks.
Wilson wrapped up the meetings with a lightning trip between three cities, preaching to the crowd of about 35,000 people in Chitungwiza before hopping on a plane to speak to 20,000 in Gweru and 50,000 in Bulawayo.
— Andrew McChesney
COMING TOGETHER: On Sabbath, May 23, people gather for the inauguration of a new church building constructed in Darby, Zimbabwe, in just one week.
We have been hearing more about “comprehensive health ministry.” Is this just another program or “buzzword”? Is anything really practical happening in the church and, more important, in local communities?
Comprehensive Health Ministry
By Peter N. Landless
We have been hearing more about “comprehensive health ministry.” Is this just another program or “buzzword”? Is anything really practical happening in the church and, more important, in local communities?
Comprehensive health ministry (CHM) is a term used to reflect and embrace in a more modern parlance the meaning of “medical missionary work,” a term used by Ellen G. White urging the church to engage in wholistic caring and healing. CHM includes not just health workers but also pastors, teachers, administrators, and every church member. When CHM is incorporated into the Mission to the Cities initiative, the result could be “the setting in operation of a mighty movement such as we have not yet witnessed.”
A primary objective is to keep Jesus as our “pattern man” and to follow Christ’s method, ministry, and mission alone.
As a world church program comprising numerous departments and administrators, CHM’s goal, by God’s grace, is to promote physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. It strives to model the self-sacrificial ministry of Christ in a broken world.
What does comprehensive health ministry look like? This special initiative has four basic markers: When put into practice, it appears as if Jesus is among us! Those who are sick are cared for; those who are hungry are fed; those who are naked are clothed; sympathy, love, and inclusivity abound.
It is not merely a method but rather a ministry and a mission, extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ “to make people whole.”
It is concerned as much with wellness and wholeness as it is with the treatment of disease. Preventive lifestyle initiatives are vitally needed. The continuum of care addresses the whole person in every aspect, including physical, social, mental, and spiritual.
All people seek wholistic health, even though sometimes they may not be fully aware that the ”void” that may exist is spiritual wholeness. There are many practical areas where this “commodity” of health—a common goal desired by all—can make the difference with youth, children, and adults of all ages, as well as in our various ministries and endeavors such as our education systems, chaplaincy programs, and development and relief initiatives. CHM does not belong to the Health Ministry Department; rather, it is a ministry and mission for every church worker and every church member. Our churches can become community health centers and provide instruction in balanced healthful living, cooking and nutrition, smoking cessation (Breathe-Free 2), and recovery ministry. They can run seminars that destigmatize mental health problems and help people better cope with depression and anxiety.
The Adventist health message, when practiced with balance, has as many mental and emotional benefits as it does physical. Mega health events treating disease and providing dental and ophthalmic care have been run with great success in San Francisco and San Antonio in the United States, and Harare in Zimbabwe, with recipients viewing the gracious love of Jesus through the lens of His servants’ practice of selfless CHM.
As every church member embraces comprehensive health ministry, every church may become a center for health promotion. We maintain relevance in our communities by practicing Christ’s method of mingling, sympathizing, meeting needs, winning confidence, and sharing timeless spiritual truths of salvation and eternal life. Our challenge to pastors, educators, health workers, and every church member is to get involved!
And, oh yes, to even share the 2015 Mission Book, Health and Wellness: Secrets That Will Change Your Life.2
A United Ministry
My heartfelt appeal: We can’t do it alone. We need one another. We are all part of the body of Christ. As Paul stated: “For in fact the body is not one member but many” (1 Cor. 12:14).
Together, and with God, we can!
1 Ellen G. White, Medical Ministry (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1932), p. 304. 2 Order at www.adventistbookcenter.com/health-wellness-secrets-that-will-change-your-life.html, or contact your local conference, union, or division publishing department for more information.
Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department.
“Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Seventh-day Adventists are very conscious of living at the end of time.
Time is Running Out
How will the work be finished?
By Lowell C. Cooper
“Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Seventh-day Adventists are very conscious of living at the end of time. On the brink of eternity, we are absorbed with the shortness of time. Our speech and other communications are shaped by the conviction that the second coming of Jesus is imminent, and we have much work yet to do. How can we possibly get it all done?
End-of-time Thinking Galvanizes Focus A woman in her mid-30s arrived at the airport departure gate for her flight. She had come early and thus had time to relax and read her book. Several moments passed. Suddenly she leaped to her feet and exclaimed, “I left my phone in the car!”
She glanced at her watch, threw her book and jacket on the chair, cried, “I’ll be back,” and headed down the corridor. Through the corridor, past security and check-in counters, out the door, across the road, and down the walk to the parking lot. At last she reached her car, grabbed the phone, slammed the door, and began the return journey.
Gasping for breath, she arrived at the security line, the place where one experiences eternity in the present. Finally through security, she summoned her last energies and leaned in to a frantic dash for the boarding gate. Other passengers had already boarded. The agent stood ready to close the door and caught sight of this desperate person coming down the corridor. Without breaking stride, the passenger arrived at the boarding gate, grabbed her coat, presented her boarding pass, and headed on to the plane. She made it just in time—clutching her phone, purse, and jacket—but she had forgotten her book on the chair. Living under a sense of urgency had so concentrated her attention on one thing that she overlooked another.
How Does One Live in the “Last Days”?
What should be prioritized on a person’s or the church’s agenda at the end of time? How does a church live under the pressure of end-time thinking?
The Gospel of John records a conversation between Jesus and His disciples when one might say Jesus was living in the “end of time.” Chapters 13-17 of John’s Gospel present a fascinating summary of this last meeting before the crucifixion of Jesus. He ate a meal with the disciples, washed their feet, spoke about His betrayal, reaffirmed that He had chosen them, gave a new commandment, described the work of the Holy Spirit, and used the vine and branches as a symbol of the relation between Him and His disciples.
These words of Jesus were spoken to His disciples. However, down through history those who view themselves as His disciples have heard these words as though they were being addressed directly to themselves.
I have often wondered why Jesus didn’t have much to say about finishing the work. One might have expected that His last discourse with those who would carry on His mission in this world would be about strategy and tasks. Why didn’t He talk about theological truth, organizational structure, strategic initiatives, and succession planning? With just a word or two He could have resolved doctrinal questions that have created havoc among His followers for centuries. A paragraph or so about church structure and leadership would have been enormously helpful; perhaps an insight about the use of technology and social media. And how, with such a burgeoning world population, are His disciples then and now to reach all nations, cities, and people?
The Primacy of Relationships
At this, His last opportunity to outline a strategic plan for mission, Jesus spends His time on relationships more so than on tasks. Many of us are task-oriented. We want a program, clear instructions, a time line, and specific performance targets. Instead Jesus says, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
A somewhat similar situation is recorded in the Old Testament. At the command of God, Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt, through the sea, into the wilderness. Then He is summoned to meet with God on Mount Sinai. What Moses needs is an organizational chart and a strategic plan, a blueprint of how to get this undisciplined mob of slaves moving across the wilderness and into the Promised Land. He spends 40 days there on the mountain, enough time surely to get the priorities, technicalities, structures, and strategies sorted out. But instead He comes back to the people with a code of conduct and a diagram for a worship place.
God doesn’t seem to be in much haste about getting to the Promised Land. His first priority is to create from this motley assortment of tribes a community that embodies the character of God Himself. He wants them to know Him and become like Him.
The invitation to God’s people is to become a new kind of human community, not merely to accomplish some task. He seeks to create a people who will reflect His own character, people who “proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9; see also Matt. 5:16).
How Will the Work Get Finished?
During the early days of our service in India, the ministerial director convened a meeting of department leaders and pastors in the local field. At the end of a long day of presentations on various topics he suddenly announced that there would be a quiz. We were all rather surprised and not a little embarrassed, for we had not paid strict attention throughout the day.
The ministerial director went to the chalkboard and simply drew a few blanks and wrote a few words that looked like this:
He asked us to fill in the blanks so that the completed sentence could serve as a reliable compass for our ministry. We were silent for some time. Slowly, tentatively, a few suggestions emerged. Ministers will do the work if church members will furnish the means. Lay members will do the work if pastors will furnish the training. The church will do the work if the conference will furnish the plans.
We were serious about our suggestions. But after each proposal the ministerial director shook his head with obvious disappointment. “You are not getting it!” he declared. Some tense moments of silence passed. Finally he returned to the chalkboard, filled in the blanks and wrote the reference. “God will do the work if we will furnish Him the instruments.”*
We were all in a teachable frame at that instant. Those last few minutes of a long day’s meeting have been etched indelibly on my mind. Effectiveness in ministry, in witnessing, is rooted in relationship more than in method or technique. I must not let the pressure of “finishing the work” divert my attention from the Lord of the work, the source of spiritual power for both my life and my work.
*?Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 9, p. 107.
Lowell C. Cooper has served 16 years as a general vice president for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
What to do when a man is married to a woman who has a history of sexual abuse? How would you show this woman total love and security?
Brokenness is a reality of being a part of the human family. Since our ancestors—Adam and Eve—sinned, we’ve all borne the marks of their legacy in some tangible way. To be sure, many have experienced greater levels of dysfunction than others. However, we all need the saving and transforming grace of Jesus in our lives to be successful in all our relationships.
We are pained to hear about the sexual abuse that took place in the situation you describe, and what this may mean for this marriage relationship. However, we are pleased how you worded the question, giving us an opportunity to respond in a way that can make this relationship viable.
David’s heartfelt prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10, ESV), serves as the cleansing power of God in one’s mind to develop the right attitude and thoughts about one’s wife in this predicament. This will give a husband the capacity to relate to his wife with compassion and love, without which little will be accomplished to make this marriage meaningful and formidable. This prayer will also help a husband let go of any anger or unforgiving spirit toward his wife about something over which she had no control.
Our favorite New Testament writer, the apostle Paul, also shares crucial counsel essential to convey a sense of total commitment that fosters security in marriage: “Love is patient and kind. . . . It is not arrogant or rude. . . . It is not irritable or resentful. . . . Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Cor. 13:4, 5, 7, 8, ESV).
What comes to mind after reading this passage are the words usually found in marriage vows that say: “To have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish; and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her so long as you both shall live.”
Of course, with a case such as the one you have presented, in addition to using the Bible to give this husband the right frame of mind and attitude towards his wife, we suggest engaging the services of a competent Christian counselor, one who has had extensive experience with these types of cases in order to help the wife, and the husband, process the emotional damage she has endured. You will continue to be in our prayers as you trust God for spiritual fortitude to navigate these very challenging waters in marriage, believing that with God all things are possible.
Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE, an ordained minister and family sociologist, is director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Elaine Oliver, MA, CFLE, an educator and counseling psychologist is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries. You may contact them at Family.Adventist.org or HopeTV.org/realfamilytalk.
There are times in the lives of most organizations, and their leaders, when they are expected to report on their achievements for the past period of time. It might be an annual report or—in the case of our various church sessions and meetings this year—reflections on the highlights of the past quinquennium.
There is much that is good and worthwhile in these processes. But there are also temptations as to how we report, measure, and assess the progress of the church. The first response is probably to report statistics of both membership and finances. But while important and valuable to an extent, these are not definitive, or necessarily biblical, measures of the church’s success.
Then we might be tempted to highlight bold initiatives, growth of institutions, even buildings and other church projects. “But,” as the prophet Jeremiah warned King Jehoiakim, “a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!” (Jer. 22:15 ). As important, valuable, and even useful as the membership numbers, money, events, institutions, and infrastructure of the church might be, they do not inevitably make a great church, or a great leader. Instead, Jeremiah pointed to the example of a king who demonstrated a practical kind of faithfulness: “‘Your father, Josiah, . . . was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him. He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?’ says the Lord” (Jer. 22:15, 16). This is a remarkable statement in that it equates knowledge of God with giving “justice and help to the poor and needy.” It is not that one leads to the other, whichever way we might argue that, but that they are the same thing. Commenting on these verses, Abraham Joshua Heschel emphasized how knowledge of God is intimately linked to thinking and acting in accord with God: “Knowledge of God is action toward man, sharing His concern for justice; sympathy in action” (The Prophets).
But Jeremiah’s description of Josiah adds another important aspect to our understanding of the Bible’s call to do justice, describing him as “just and right.” The most common words used in the Bible for these ideas in both Hebrew and Greek can be translated alternatively righteousness or justice, as two aspects of the same concept. The faithful goodness or right living God seeks from His people includes both righteousness—personal and corporate holiness—and justice, working for the good of others, particularly those most in need, most oppressed, most marginalized, most exploited.
Most older Bible translations use the word “righteousness” in contexts in which the original language could equally be translated as “justice,” as some newer translations do. A good example of this comes in the fourth of the Beatitudes: “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice [righteousness], for they will be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6).
But in other well-known Bible verses these twin ideas are made more explicit: “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress [doing justice] and refusing to let the world corrupt you [living righteously]” (James 1:27, see also Matt. 23:23).
So what makes a church, and its leaders, great by the Bible’s measure? It might not be so much of what makes up our usual annual, triennial or quinquennial reports. And certainly the glossy, slick reports themselves “do not make a great king!” The prophets both urge and demonstrate that faithfulness is always more important than success, and that faithfulness in knowing God will look a lot more like servanthood (see Matt. 20:25–27), even when no-one is watching or reporting (see Matt. 6:1-4). Our recognition of the justice core of the call of God will draw us toward seeing our greatest “achievements” in the lives of people and communities outside our usual reporting processes and measures.
Jesus Himself instructed us collectively to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness [justice], and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33, ESV ), even our membership growth, financial resources, initiatives, institutions, and infrastructure, particularly as they are used to do justice in the world around us.
Nathan Brown is book editor at Signs Publishing Company in Warburton, Victoria, Australia.
I am writing to commend you for publishing the monthly World Health column.
ADHD I am writing to commend you for publishing the monthly World Health column. Peter N. Landless and Allan R. Handysides’ contributions continue to educate and inform Adventist laypersons and physicians as we all struggle through life’s aches and pains.
Their commentary on the very difficult “hyperkinetic disorder” (see “ADHD,” March 2015) was the best I have ever read in current medical literature. The doctors’ concluding paragraph of advice to well-meaning grandparents was a jewel: “Avoid giving advice; give love instead.” How beautiful, and how true! J. D. Mashburn Columbia, Maryland
Creation’s Demise The phrase “creation’s demise” came to mind after I read L. James Gibson’s piece “When Species Change” (March 2015). “Demise,” because this word conveys the “transfer of the sovereignty to a successor.” Adam forfeited his delegated the sovereignty or stewardship of earth to “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4, KJV). Though restrained, Satan has been given significant leeway in injecting disorder throughout the whole of creation.
Gibson, in referring the Flood, calls to my mind a text in Amos 9:5, 6, which I believe is best translated in the New King James Version. It describes geological change: “The Lord God of hosts, He who touches the earth and it melts. . . . He who builds His layers in the sky, and has founded His strata in the earth; who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the face of the earth—the Lord is His name.” There is an obvious parallel between the layers in the sky (stratosphere) and the layers in the earth (as in stratification). It is within these sedimentary layers that we find the fossilized remains of many of the species that prevailed in “the world that then was” (2 Peter 3:6, KJV).
The Bible does have something specific to say about the “corruption” of all flesh prior to the Flood. It describes aberrant, adverse, and antagonistic changes in some plants and animals after the entrance of sin (Gen. 3:18; Isa. 11:6-9; 65:25). Kent Knight Hermiston, Oregon
Righteousness In the February 2015 article “Christ’s All-encompassing Righteousness,” Ted N. C. Wilson wrote: “God declares us righteous through the sacrifice of Christ. . . . As we humbly submit to Christ’s control over our lives, His power than begins to sanctify us. This entire change is the all-encompassing righteousness of Christ.”
Yes, glorification, the final stage of that righteousness, happens at the second coming of Jesus. But glorification (the “shining”) also takes place now.
The final phase of the “all-encompassing righteousness of Christ” is the reciprocal glorification that identifies God’s people to discerning observers. “In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you’ ” (Zech. 8:23). Max Hammonds Hendersonville, North Carolina
Thankful I am so thankful for Adventist World. It is my favorite church publication. I especially like the appeals contained in the articles by Ted N. C. Wilson and Daniel R. Jackson.
A thought came to me (actually, it is both a wish and a prayer): that every delegate to the General Conference session and all the attendees take Psalm 51:10 as their personal guide of speech and action. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (KJV). David Manzano Harriman, Tennessee
Are you ready for an adventure? One of the most exciting things we Christians can do is to share the wonderful message that God has given us. And one of the simplest ways of doing this is by handing out a piece of literature!
Not long ago a man purchased several religious tracts. One of those tracts—which talked about what happens after death—ended up traveling to another country. There the tract was passed from hand to hand, until it ended up with a Baptist pastor who translated it into French and read it to 80 people at a funeral.
Another person, a young woman, simply laid one of the tracts on a table. A jail chaplain happened to pick it up and read it. He later ordered more than 2,000 pieces of literature for the 900 inmates in his jail.
Another woman timidly handed a tract to her seatmate on a bus one day. To her surprise, the man said, “I was just praying for God to send me a sign if He didn’t want me to commit suicide. I think this is it.”
“We know not what may be the results of giving away a leaflet containing present truth.”*
So, once again, are you ready for an adventure?
In this month’s magazine we’ve included a GLOW tract for you to cut out, fold up, and hand out. As you do this, you will be joining more than 1.5 million Adventists across the globe who are doing the same thing! Take time to pray that God will guide you to a divine appointment or give you a creative idea. Then simply give the tract away or leave it somewhere to be found.
This is not necessarily a difficult question, but a certain aspect of it is often not emphasized.
A Perfect Reflection
This is not necessarily a difficult question, but a certain aspect of it is often not emphasized. Although there may be a connection with Genesis 1:27, where we are told that Adam and Eve were created in/as the image of God, there is hardly any question that Jesus is the image of God in a much grander and unique way. Christ is called the image of God in only two passages (2 Cor. 4:4 and Col. 1:15). We will also look at passages in which Christians are called the image of God/Christ.
1. Christ: Image of God. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul discusses why some people reject his gospel. In answering, he contrasts the work of the god of this age and the work of the true God. On one hand, people reject the gospel because the god of this age has blinded them “so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays [i.e., that is] the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (verse 4, NIV). The passage suggests that Christ, being the image of God, has His own glory, and that it is revealed in the gospel.
On the other hand, God is the God who created light out of darkness. This light ends human blindness, causing light to shine “in our hearts.” This light illumines our whole being and enables us to see “the light of [that consists in] the knowledge of the glory of God in the face [or person] of Jesus Christ” (verse 6).
“The face of Christ” is another way of referring to Him as the image of God. In this case Christ as the image of God reveals the glory of God, i.e., God’s character. In these verses the designation of Christ as the image of God points to both His nature—He is divine—and His function: He reveals the glory of God in a world of sin and in conflict with the god of this age.
2. Christ: Image of God: Colossians 1:15 belongs to what is considered to be two parts of a Christian hymn (Col. 1:15-20). The first is about the cosmic significance of Christ (verses 15-17), and the other about His work of redemption (verses 18-20). It is a narrative that depicts cosmic harmony, then moves almost unperceptively to rebellion and its resolution. It is about the cosmic conflict. Often overlooked is the reference to Christ as the image of God placed in the cosmic section of the hymn. In the context of the creation of the cosmos Christ is introduced as “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (verse 15). The title “firstborn” indicates His preeminence over creation. The title “image of God” clearly points to His cosmic role as mediator or revealer of the “invisible God” to all creation. In other words, when everything was created, the Son was instituted as the only means of revealing God’s character to the cosmos. Here, the term image does not mean “resemblance” but designates Christ’s nature as the exact manifestation of the invisible God. In Him dwells “all the fullness of the Deity” (Col. 2:9, NIV), and He was in His “very nature God” (Phil. 2:6, NIV). Only God can reveal God. It was as such that “in him all things [the cosmos] hold together” (Col 1:17, NIV). He was the cosmic image of God before sin, and He came to this world of sin as the image of God in human form.
3. Believers Reflect the Image of God: Humans by nature bear the image of Adam (1 Cor. 15:49). By contemplating the glory of Christ they “are being transformed into his image” (2 Cor. 3:18, NIV). Our new self is “being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Col. 3:10, NIV), meaning that the image of God that we almost lost is being restored to us through Christ. This is a present experience, but it is also a future expectation (1 Cor. 15:49). By reflecting the image of Christ now, we become His brothers and sisters (Rom. 8:29), part of the family of God.
Angel Manuel Rodriguez is retired after a career as a pastor, professor, and theologian.
After James White’s death in 1881, Ellen White moved to California.
God’s Messenger: Growing Church, New Challenges
A look at Ellen White’s life and legacy
By Theodore N. Levterov
After James White’s death in 1881, Ellen White moved to California. Feeling alone and discouraged, and not being able to write much, she immersed herself in attending General Conference sessions, speaking at camp meetings, visiting churches, and dealing with various church enterprises.
The first European camp meeting was held in Moss, Norway in 1887. Tents were used for living quarters and meetings. Ellen G. White is seated at right center with her back to the tent.
In the East and Midwest she ministered at camp meetings in Vermont, Maine, New York, Nebraska, Michigan, and Indiana. Back in California, she helped establish Healdsburg Academy.1 Healdsburg also became her permanent residence. She bought a house “with two and one-half acres of land closely set with choice fruit,” finding much pleasure in working in the garden and canning fruits. By July 1882 she had finished writing Testimony 31, exploring Adventist education, parental training, issues related to youth, and others.2 Being constantly engaged, it seemed, was one way she dealt with her grief.
Prophetic Inspiration The early 1880s saw new waves of opposition to Ellen White’s prophetic gift, including the charge of “suppression” (intentional hiding) of parts of her earlier writings. The issues surfaced after a decision to republish her early visions and experiences in a new book called Early Writings (1882). The book’s intended purpose was to silence growing criticisms against Ellen White’s earlier revelations. For some church members the opposite occurred—at least initially.3 Ellen White used the opportunity to point out that biblical inspiration was dynamic, not verbal or dictational.
A year later she also supported the decision of the General Conference to revise and reprint her Testimonies in a new and updated four-volume format. “Where the language used is not the best,” she wrote, “I want it made correct and grammatical, as I believe it should be in every case where it can be without destroying the sense.”4 A few years later she noted that it was “not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired.”5
Going Abroad From 1885 to 1887 Ellen White, together with her son W. C. White, his family, and Sara McEnterfer, her secretary, went to Europe on Ellen’s first overseas mission trip. They embarked on the trans-Atlantic journey on July 13, 1885, and stopped first in England, where she visited the mission headquarters in Grimsby and spoke to numerous Adventist congregations. Mrs. White participated in several public “evangelistic” lectures. One Sunday evening she lectured to about 1,000 people in a rented hall in Southampton. Impressed with her message, the public press asked her to write it up for publication, which she did.
After two weeks in England she left for Switzerland just in time to meet with European leaders of the church at their annual council in September 1885. She made her home in Basel and, for the next two years, traveled extensively from Italy to Scandinavia, providing guidance for both church leaders and members. At the same time, she became exposed to some issues unique to the European context, such as serving in the army and Sabbath observance, compulsory school attendance of Adventist children on Sabbath, and other administrative issues related to the establishment of conferences for spreading the Adventist message.6
The 1888 Great Controversy White returned to the United States in 1887. She was trying to finish one of her most significant book manuscripts, the 1888 edition of the Great Controversy.7 Based on her vision from 1858, she had written several other times on the topic.8 Her decision to have an updated and more complete version, however, resulted from her visits to many of the places associated with the Reformation and the history of Christianity in Europe.
The enhanced edition would become one of her most renowned volumes. The book’s introduction also became known as one of the best elaborations on the nature of biblical inspiration. In part, this introduction was her response to a new controversy about her prophetic ministry caused by D. M. Canright, a Seventh-day Adventist minister and personal friend who left Adventism in 1887 and became one of its harshest critics. As with the earlier suppression charges, Canright’s doubts of Ellen White’s prophetic gift were based on a “verbal” view of inspiration. Ellen White (and Adventists) reiterated their understanding that while God inspired the thoughts of His messengers, He did not dictate their actual words.9
Minneapolis General Conference In 1888 Ellen White dealt with another theological issue that came to a head during the Minneapolis General Conference session. The old guardians of the movement, Uriah Smith and G. I. Butler, were confronted by A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner, younger theologians from California. The points of contention were theological issues related to biblical prophecy and traditional interpretations.
While Ellen White was aware of the different theological positions, she became greatly disturbed by the sharp feelings that the two groups began to show toward each other before and during the conference. At the end she had little to say about her theological position (although she endorsed Jones’s and Waggoner’s emphasis on righteousness by faith), but addressed the importance of tolerance, understanding, and manifestation of a Christlike attitude even in the midst of theological disagreements.
“My burden during the meeting,” she wrote, “was to present Jesus and His love before my brethren, for I saw marked evidence that many had not the spirit of Christ.”10 It is not an accident, therefore, that her most Christ-centered books, such as Steps to Christ (1892), Thoughts From the Mount of Blessings (1896), The Desire of Ages (1898), and Christ’s Object Lessons (1900), were written after Minneapolis. Ellen White did not see righteousness by faith as “new light.” It was rather an “old” but neglected truth that needed to be brought back to the “core” of the third angel’s message.
Soon after Minneapolis Ellen White, together with A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner, began a campaign to take the message of righteousness by faith to the Advent believers. Beginning in Battle Creek, Michigan, they traveled across the country and spoke to church gatherings and camp meetings.
The End of the 1880s The 1880s concluded with Ellen White publishing two other significant volumes: Patriarchs and Prophets (1890), and Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene (1890), a comprehensive work on health and a precursor of The Ministry of Healing (1905).
Although the 1880s were challenging, Ellen White continued working tirelessly. Facing the personal grief of losing her husband, dealing with a variety of church issues, and going abroad as a missionary only added to the wealth of her experience. Now she was ready for new challenges as the growing Adventist denomination was nearing the new century. But before that, she headed to another missionary venture: Australia.
1 See Arthur White, Ellen White: Woman of Vision (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 2000), p. 215. 2 W. C. White, “Health of Sister White,” Review and Herald, Sept. 26, 1882, p. 616. 3 For more detailed discussion, see Theodore N. Levterov, The Development of the Seventh-day Adventist Understanding of Ellen G. White’s Prophetic Gift, 1844-1889 (New York: Peter Lang Pub., 2015), pp. 143-146, 155. 4 Ellen G. White, Selected Messages (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1958, 1980), book 3, p. 97. 5 Ibid., book 1, p. 21. 6 Arthur White, pp. 225-244. 7 Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan During the Christian Dispensation (Oakland, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1888). 8 The 1884 version of the book, for example, was published by both the Review and Herald and the Pacific Press publishing houses and sold thousands of copies. See Ellen G. White, The Spirit of Prophecy: The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan From the Destruction of Jerusalem to the End of the Controversy (Oakland, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., and Battle Creek, Mich.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1884). 9 Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (1888), author’s preface, pp. c-h. 10 Ellen G. White, “Looking Back at Minneapolis,” manuscript 24, 1888. In Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases (Silver Spring, Md.: Ellen G. White Estate, 1981-1993), vol. 12, p. 192.
Theodore Levterov is director of the Ellen G. White Estate Branch Office at Loma Linda University in California, United States.