I am in my third year of university and have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for about two years. He is a Christian studying to be an engineer. He is very smart, studies diligently, and encourages me to do well in school. He often gets angry when we disagree on issues of little consequence. He even screams at me. Last week he pushed me while we were discussing a matter we feel differently about. I am concerned and afraid of his behavior; despite the fact that he quickly apologized and promised he would never do it again. What do you think?—Christina
Abuse in relationships is a difficult topic for anyone to speak about. Everyone should develop a better understanding of abuse, and find out what resources are available to support people who may have such a need.
As smart as your boyfriend is, he obviously has difficulty managing his anger. This is a situation for which he will need professional help. It is easy to be fooled when you’re in a relationship with a person who has many of the traits one looks for in a potential mate. God can heal and forgive anything, and He can certainly do so with your boyfriend. However, while your boyfriend is healing—if he chooses to get help—you may get hurt more than you already have.
Here are some sobering facts about abuse among young adults in relationships: Women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.1 One in five teens in a serious relationship reports having been hit, slapped, or pushed by a partner. Fourteen percent of teens report their boyfriends or girlfriends threatened to harm them or themselves to avoid a breakup. Studies indicate that as a dating relationship becomes more serious, the potential for, and nature of, violent behavior also escalates. Date rape accounts for almost 70 percent of sexual assaults reported by adolescent and college age women; 38 percent of those women are between 14 and 17 years old.2 While the need to be in a close relationship with another person is how God created us, relationships are complicated. You have to be aware of what God says about love. The way you are being treated by the person you are dating is a good indicator of the way that person will treat you when you are married. Healthy relationships follow the principles of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: patience, kindness, self-control, and many other virtues. True love will not hurt you. Think seriously about terminating this relationship. While it is a decision only you can make, we hope you will do so before it is too late. As a university student you should have access to the counseling services at your institution. You may also get help from your pastor or campus chaplain. Speaking to your parents about this matter is also a good idea, so you can receive their guidance and support.
God is the source of all love. He loves you more than you could ever ask, think, or imagine. Trust God with all your relationships and your quest for finding the right spouse. Remember, God has promised to supply all your needs (Phil. 4:19).
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.
Event draws visitors from 12 nations, promotes Christian living
THIS IS THE WAY: Magdiel Pérez Schulz, executive secretary of the South American Division, directs traffic at the Fourth Pathfinder Camporee. Left: VERY HAPPY CAMPERS: Adventist youth met in Brazil in early January 2014 for the Fourth South American Pathfinder Camporee, one of the largest Christian youth events in the world.
A record 35,000 mostly Seventh-day Adventist young people, from a total of 12 nations, gathered in Barretos, in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, from January 7 through 12, 2014, for the fourth South American Pathfinder Camporee, a gathering that promotes Christian living and community service.
State governor Geraldo Alckmin formally welcomed the participants, who came from nations in South America, North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Pathfindering is one of the largest global projects for spiritual, social, and educational support for children and youth. Throughout the year children and adolescents between 10 and 15 years of age meet on Saturdays and Sundays to learn dozens of skills, ranging from how to give first aid to how survive in the wilderness and care for the environment.
For the Barretos camporee the city provided 850 buses to transport participants, most of whom came from the Americas. An estimated 800 dining areas were designated to feed attendees.
The camporee also boasted a museum displaying the history of Pathfinders, a shopping mall, a supermarket, bakery, snack bar, police and fire outposts, and at least 500 people in charge of security and internal transit. “It’s a massive structure to ensure safety for all participants. We do this type of event once every 10 years because of the logistics [involved]. Pathfinders is an ongoing project: clubs meet to help children and adolescents avoid negative activities such as drugs and crime. We teach values that we hope will remain in their lives,” said Udolcy Zukowski, general coordinator of the event. While the Pathfinder “city” at the Barretos Cowboy Park was a center of youth activity and fun, not everything was centered on enjoyment. Community service and outreach was part of the event as well. In a single day Pathfinders visited 40,000 homes in Barretos, delivering information about protecting children from abuse, as well as an informational “flywheel” brochure on preventing dengue fever. The following day 40,000 copies of Signs of Hope, an outreach book by Seventh-day Adventist pastor Alejandro Bullón, were distributed free of charge. On Friday, January 10, citizens were given a DVD with images of Israel, Turkey, Greece, and Rome and a special message from the Bible about what happened in these historical places. On the afternoons of January 8-10 a health fair took place at three locations in Barretos, where health professionals and speakers offered advice on eight natural remedies and their use to achieve health. Special features for women’s health were also offered. A unique feature of the fourth South American camporee was its effort to include people with disabilities. Natalia Paola Blanco is 22 years old, and belongs to the Ebenezer Pathfinder Club, located in northwestern Argentina. She has Down syndrome. “The opening was beautiful,” she said. Her mother, Elva Blanco, emphasized that contact with the club has contributed greatly to her daughter’s social involvement, communication, and learning. It’s also an opportunity for Adventist youth to learn about equality and social participation. Elias Santos, 19, an instructor at the Five Oceans Pathfinder Club in the Brazilian city of Bahia, has a damaged left leg. For him, attending the event is the realization of a dream. “I participate in all activities of the club, and the guys never disrespect me,” he said. A childhood friend of Elias, Diego Barreto, said that Elias “ joined the club and then had his accident. But the Pathfinders embrace him, because to us he is not [a person with a disability]. Besides, he still plays ball with us, and better than me!” Like Elias, Leonardo Fontan has a physical disability and attended the camporee. He joined the Villa Luzuriaga Herederos Pathfinder Club in Argentina three years ago. “I like to camp, to participate in events, and help people,” he explained. On December 14, 2013, three weeks before the camporee, Fontan expressed publicly his decision to follow Christ through baptism, the result of his involvement in Pathfinders. Beyond the campers on the ground, another significant group also participated in the event, but with a twist: a virtual camporee, with live broadcasts of programming and interaction via social networks. A virtual version was not something planned by the communications team that coordinated the activities. Rogério Ferraz, manager of digital strategies of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South America, said the idea arose spontaneously through the Pathfinders who participated in the webcast. “The initial goal was to bring what was going on here to those who could not come, so they could have a sense of what is happening and to share a little bit too,” he said. But during the event the participation of netizens was intense. “The transmission was so good . . . that they began to feel part of the event. We were all happy with their interaction and the possibility that they participate in different places,” said Ferraz. That’s when the virtual camporee began to form. Two groups were created on Facebook by the virtual campers: “#CampanhaTrunfoParaOsInternautas” and “I did not go in but I’m in #CamporiDSA.” The groups operated alongside the official webcasts on the CamporiDSA Web site. “I was watching the chat CamporiTV, and many [people online] were sad at not being able to go to the program. As I do not like to see anyone sad, I had the idea of creating the group, to get everyone motivated and happy,” says Pathfinder Henry Santos from Porto Seguro, who created the Facebook group with the hashtag #CampanhaTrunfoParaOsInternautas. Because they were so connected to what was happening, online participants began to feel part of the camporee, and wanted to earn an award for their participation. “So we created the idea of a virtual camporee and started to put some requirements that they could complete to earn an award, something to show that they were actually participating in day-to-day programming, watching and interacting. Fulfilling these requirements would enable then to win the award,” Ferraz said. Activities for virtual campers were posted on social networks every day. Then a form was created that they could link to and document each activity performed. The pathfinders in Barretos were not the only ones who heard the messages of Pastor Odailson Fonseca, speaker of the event. Viewers thousands of miles away also felt part of the invitation to the “Meeting Scheduled in Eternity.” “It was not just for the Camporee IV, for I’m connected to CamporiTV. . . I also have an appointment with JESUS . . . #camporiDSA #campanhaTrunfoParaOsInternaltas,” posted Ana Leticia, Maranhao, on Facebook. The Internet outreach had its effects, Ferraz said. One girl, who had planned to attend the camporee but withdrew at the last minute, saw the online programming and sent a message saying she would return to church. Another sign of success: 680 online applications for the merit award from virtual participants.
In all, camporee content was viewed 337,000 times by 80,000 people in 97 countries, officials reported. —compiled by Mark A. Kellner, Adventist World news editor, with reporting from Felipe Lemos and Deborah Calixto, ASN
TENT CITY: Some of the thousands of tents prepared for the Fourth South American Pathfinder Camporee in Barretos, in the Brazilian state of São Paulo.
I shall always remember Faminu Imabong’s words (in “The Waiting Womb,” December 2013): “Why does heaven stay silent sometimes at the point of the deepest despair? when it seems so unbearable, and you can’t take it anymore? when you don’t know what to do or where to turn? when it seems that only God could understand, and He shows no great care?” Brimming with Scripture references, Imabong’s message was overflowing with endurance. Thank you to the author—and thanks to Adventist World for sharing this woman’s insight. Dawna Fae Bradley _Rogue River, Oregon, United States
The December 2013 cover story was a star! Faminu Imabong discusses many of the points I discovered in Bible study during the years I struggled with the pain of childlessness.
It is also important to recognize that while barrenness is largely seen as a grief of women, men deal with it too. Both hurt with the loss of joy in loving and raising little ones made through their love. Women suffer shame, gossip, and guilt. Some cultures also shame men, increasing their temptation to obtain children outside of marriage, but beyond this, men face the fact that there will be no one to carry on their name. In Jewish society it was important to have a genealogy that included the memory of a man’s name. Without descendants, a man’s name ceased to be mentioned in the coming generations. Jesus had to accept this, as foretold in Isaiah: “He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation?” (Isa. 53:8). By remaining single in obedience to His mission, Jesus gave up the joy of procreation. Only by faith could He trust that in eternity He would “see His seed” (verse 10) and be satisfied. . . . He’s a wonderful Savior! Pam Baumgartner via E-mail
Finding the Truth
Ted N. C. Wilson related, in his article “Finding the Truth” (Nov. 2013), the inspiring story of John Bradshaw and how the book, The Great Controversy, played an integral part in his conversion. These sorts of stories are wonderful examples of the continuing importance of the publishing ministry in this denomination. Yes, the book changed John’s life because it contained great truths. But equally important, it was given to him in the context of a relationship with his brother. Mass mailings can never be as effective as personal relationships; perhaps we need to rethink things and get back to discipleship. Eric Anderson _Port Hardy, British Columbia Canada
Truth, Obedience, and Health
I read Adventist World every month. I was very impressed by Bill Knott’s editorial “Doing the Truth” (November 2013); and I appreciate the writings of Angel Manuel Rodríguez, most recently his article “A Question of Obedience” (November 2013). I am also thankful for the advice of the two General Conference doctors, Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless, in their monthly column World Health. Yaovi Gagno Togo
Thank you so much for Adventist World. I enjoy Bill Knott’s editorials and Bible Questions Answered, by Angel Manuel Rodríguez. Margaret Major Australia
The darkest hours in life shine brightest in the light of Jesus. —Jimmy Lee Martin, Baltimore, Maryland, United States.
Revived by His Word
A Journey of Discovery Together Through the Bible
God speaks to us through His Word. Join with other believers in more than 180 countries who are reading a chapter of the Bible each day. To download the daily Bible Reading Guide, visit RevivedbyHisWord.org, or sign up to receive the daily Bible chapter by e-mail. To join this initiative, start here: APRIL 1, 2014 • Isaiah 36
Rechargeable Scientists and technicians in Japan are spending US$200 million to build a super-sized, rechargeable battery that will store energy harvested from the light of the sun. Source: The Rotarian
Depending on where they live, women around the world face the following odds of dying during pregnancy or childbirth:
In Afghanistan 1 in 32 In Botswana 1 in 220 In Brazil 1 in 910 In Cambodia 1 in 150 In Finland 1 in 12,200 In India 1 in 170 In Rwanda 1 in 54 In United States 1 in 2,400
Source: The Rotarian
What Would Jesus Say?
When Jerusalem was at the crossroads between Egypt to the south, Rome and Greece to the north, and Babylon and Assyria to the northeast, Aramaic was the common language.
The “writing on the wall” in Daniel 5? Aramaic. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me,” when Jesus cried out on the cross (Mark 15:34)? Aramaic. Although the New Testament was all written in Greek, Jesus and His disciples most likely spoke Aramaic, a Semitic language related to Hebrew and Arabic. Now the only place where Aramaic is spoken is the village of Maaloula, in the hills outside Damascus, Syria, where the elderly still teach it to their children with state support. Outside this enclave, it’s likely that Aramaic will die out as a spoken language within a generation or two.
119 Years Ago
Maurice Tièche was born in Nimes, France, on March 5, 1895. The son of Adventist pastor, evangelist, and administrator Léon-Paul Tièche, Maurice was studying literature and philosophy at the University of Paris when he became interested in studying theology and education as well.
After teaching history, theology, and literature at several Adventist schools, he became a pastor and edited Revue Adventiste, the church paper for French-speaking Adventists. He also spent four years organizing the youth work in France. After his retirement from teaching, he was speaker for the radio program La Voix de L’Espérance (“The Voice of Hope”), which was heard throughout the French-speaking world. He wrote numerous articles for the church and secular press, lectured extensively about family education, and published 15 books. He died in 1959.
VOICES OF PROPHECY: J. P. Fasnacht (left), Robert Gerber, and Maurice Tieche anchored the French radio ministry Voice of Hope in the early 1950s.
ANSWER: Attendees at a Youth Ministry Fellowship in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Philippines, proudly present the Bibles they were given.
Matthias Bohuia, a driver at the West-Central Africa Division (WAD) office in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, was seriously ill with a prostate crisis. But thought of an operation scared him. At the clinic, La Providence, his physician, Jean-Baptiste Moulo tried to calm him down, assuring him that surgery might not be necessary if he improved with treatment. That was on Monday, March 11, 2013. The Operation—The treatments through that week reassured Matthias. But on Friday, March 15, 2013, something unexpected happened. About 3:30 p.m. Dr. Moulo had Matthias taken into the operating theater for surgery. Matthias was quite unprepared for this. He had not yet informed his family. But Dr. Moulo insisted and convinced Matthias that it had to be done. According to the physician, those three hours and 15 minutes were a time of grave crisis. Three times Matthias almost passed away. Dr. Moulo prayed for divine assistance, and God answered him and his team. Finally, the operation was successful. The next evening, when Dr. Moulo visited Matthias in his room, Matthias asked him why the doctor had insisted that he be operated upon on Friday afternoon. Dr. Moulo, who is not a Seventh-day Adventist, smiled and explained to Matthias that every Friday evening the Spirit of God visits earth in a special way, and He goes back on Saturday evening. For this reason Dr. Moulo performs his most delicate surgical operations on Friday evenings. So convinced was this non-Adventist physician of God’s help and presence with him on Friday evening that he told Matthias that if his surgery had taken place on another day, he would have passed away. Dr. Moulo’s faith is an unusual lesson for God’s remnant church! The preparation of the Sabbath, the welcoming of Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, is to be taken very seriously. For He visits Planet Earth every Friday evening to bless and protect His children. Hallelujah! What a vivid testimony that challenges the way God’s people should prepare for the Sabbath and worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24, KJV) on that day!
A Sabbath to Come Today Matthias discharges his duty at the WAD office happily, and he is in good health. We praise the Lord for His mercy toward His servant, and we pray that all God’s children and servants around the globe may serve Him wholeheartedly until He comes back to take us home when, finally, our eyes shall be opened, and we shall see Him face to face. This reminds us of what John says: “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2, 3). Until then, may the Lord help His people to prepare to welcome Him every Friday evening, fellowship with Him during the holy hours of the Sabbath, and close the Sabbath with Him every Saturday evening as is well presented in His Word (Ex. 20:8-11; Isa. 58:13, 14; Luke 23:54-56)! One day we shall meet on that great Sabbath as He has promised, and never part again nor experience sickness, death, sorrow anymore.
The Strangest of Accidents Recently a terrible and strange accident took place in the Eastern Nigeria Union Conference territory. On Thursday, May 30, 2013, 10 members of the Abali family were traveling from the eastern city of Port Harcourt to Babcock University in the west, where their beloved Margaret and Chinyere Abali were due to graduate on June 2, 2013. Happy Abali, oldest son of the Abalis, an oil engineer by profession and one of our stalwart church elders, reported the strange and horrible news to us: a motorcyclist who suddenly changed lanes from right to left collided with the brand-new chartered van that carried the Abali family. The van somersaulted and caught fire, killing eight members of the same family. An unspeakable tragedy! When asked to share his feeling about the whole situation, Elder Abali answers, “Who am I to question God’s authority?” God, he knows, is “too wise to err.”1 In the depths of his pain, Abali drew strength and reassurance from the fact that the previous Sabbath, the family had partaken of the Lord’s Communion together. Now, for him, it was as if it were a way of saying “goodbye.” A Strange Twist—Not everyone in the blazing inferno died. Two of Margaret’s younger brothers, 5-year-old Unique and his younger brother Blossom (4), had the strangest of stories to tell. “An uncle came,” they explained to Abali. He opened the window of the van, and removed both of them from the burning vehicle. They heard their mother, their baby brother, and the other family members crying. An inexplicable reality! No one but the Lord can answer our questions about the specific reason for this particular accident. He alone knows the specific identity of the uncle. He alone can explain the way and tell why two little children were delivered from the horror. He alone has the answers. We can say that, as at Mount Perazim (Isa. 28:21), the Lord did perform “His unusual act.” And we can continue to pray in submission and in supplication that His will be done, and that to Him alone be all glory. By and by we shall be able to say more.
An Appeal Ellen White wrote: “The time is at hand when there will be sorrow in the world that no human balm can heal. The Spirit of God is being withdrawn. Disasters by sea and by land follow one another in quick succession. How frequently we hear of earthquakes and tornadoes, of destruction by fire and flood, with great loss of life and property! Apparently these calamities are capricious outbreaks of disorganized, unregulated forces of nature, wholly beyond the control of man; but in them all, God’s purpose may be read. They are among the agencies by which He seeks to arouse men and women to a sense of their danger.”2 The Lord may allow certain things or situations we do not understand now. We will when we reach home. This is a call to get ready. Tragedy can strike anyone, anywhere. The precaution of renting a brand-new van did not protect the Abalis. The unknown can strike easily. If the “Uncle” chooses to come and rescue us, we praise Him. If He allows us to experience calamity, let us be ready and praise Him still. For His faithfulness is sure. In the mean time, we weep with the Abalis in “the blessed hope” of the resurrection morning (Titus 2:13; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). Thank you for praying for us in the WAD. n
1 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 1, p. 120. 2 Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1917), p. 277.
Josephine Wari is associate education director, and coordinator of Shepherdess International for the West-Central Africa Division. Gilbert Wari, her husband, is WAD president.
SURVIVORS: Unique and Blossom (center) were the only ones who survived the auto accident that claimed the lives of several family members.
There is a plot of fields and woods high in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts to which my mind returns more often than my body.
Say the word “home,” and my thoughts quickly gather there, remembering the many happy hours running through the early hay, climbing the tallest spruces and pines, building dams on the smallish creek that flows down one side of the property.
It was land that first belonged to my grandparents, then my father, and now is the inheritance I share with my brothers and our families. For nearly a century, someone named Knott has roamed these acres, cut the hay, put up firewood, and picked the wild strawberries that grow upon The Knoll each June. When it came the day I had secretly chosen to ask Debby to be my wife, I took her there to pose the question, high upon an old stonewall where the view is both wide and intimate.
Each of us has such a place. For some, like me, it is a rural spot where woods and skies give some true measure of our size; for others, it the familiar creak of a staircase leading to an urban apartment, with sights and tastes and sounds of city all around. These places are, in the fullest sense, “spiritual” places, for they connect our present lives to the values we have inherited from the past. As inheritors of a spiritual legacy, Seventh-day Adventists around the globe also have dozens of such places. Here Ellen White experienced the vision that launched the worldwide ministry now known as Adventist Review/Adventist World; there, Abram LaRue first disembarked in 1880s Hong Kong. A marker may be all that remains of a famous Adventist institution, but we gather around it to remember the history that was launched from that spot, the lives that were changed, and how the kingdom grew.
As you journey with associate editor Gerald Klingbeil in this month’s cover feature to several of these cherished spots, invite the Lord who promises to guide our memories to call you back to the pieces of your past that will restore and renew your faith in His great endtime movement.
Hope Channel Al-Waad Now Widely Available Across Middle East, Northern Africa
A new satellite contract for the Seventh-day Adventist television outlet in Beirut Lebanon, significantly expands the footprint of the church media in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Hope Channel Al-Waad recently entered a five-year contract with satellite Eutelsat 7 West A, a move network officials say introduces a message of hope to a wider audience of Arabic, Turkish, and Farsi speakers in the region.
“This new contract is a fantastic opportunity for advancing our work, and a major step for urban outreach,” said Hope Channel president Brad Thorp. “We can now provide Al-Waad to any of the cities in this region, opening up millions and millions of homes to programs that will offer a better life today and tomorrow as well.”
The French-based satellite provider Eutelsat operates Eutelsat 7 West A in cooperation with the Egyptian satellite provider Nilesat, the largest satellite provider in the Middle East. The 2011 launch of Eutelsat 7 West A marked part of the provider’s efforts to boost broadcasting in the Middle East, Gulf States, North Africa, and Northwest Africa.
Viewers using the Nilesat satellite can now reset their channel lineup to receive Adventist television in their homes. Satellite is the most common broadcast distribution method in the Middle East.
“We have been praying for this development for many years,” said Al-Waad director Amir Ghali, adding that the channel’s “peaceful, nonpartisan programming” has been well received in the region since its launch in 2010.
Al-Waad programs address topics such as health, education, and family. The channel derives its name from the Arabic word for “promise,” offering what Ghali called “the promise of hope” to the region. —Adventist News Network
Religious Liberty Experts Meet in Athens
A group of scholars and attorneys specializing in religious liberty gathered in Athens, Greece, for the January 2014 Meeting of Experts sponsored by the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA). The annual event allowed these specialists to discuss matters of concern in an informal and candid setting. According to IRLA United Nations Liaison Ganoune Diop, Athens was selected as a venue not only for its location but also for its history. Athens is the birthplace of philosophers Socrates, Pericles, and Sophocles, men whose work continues to impact society centuries after their lives were over. Athens was the home of Plato’s Akademia and Aristotle’s Lyceum, and it is considered the cradle of Western civilization. From a political perspective, democracy is said to have begun there.The 2014 event’s theme was “Religions, Secular Society, and Religious Liberty in the Mediterranean Area,” with a “How to Interact in Our Diverse Societies” focus.
Presenters covered topics related to religion, secularism, the Arab Spring, and issues of equality, women’s rights, and human dignity, as well as the need to translate this dignity into carefully crafted legal provisions that improve relations in societies.
Among the participants, Diop noted, were Gunnar Stålsett, bishop emeritus of Oslo, Norway, and copresident of Religions for Peace; W. Cole Durham, Jr., director of the Brigham Young University International Center for Law and Religious Studies at the J. Reuben Clark Law School; and Silvio Ferrari, professor of canon law, University of Milan, and former professor of church-state relations, University of Leuven, Belgium.
IRLA representatives included group president Ambassador Robert Seiple, the first U.S. ambassador-at-large for religious liberty; IRLA vice president Rosa Maria Martinez de Codes, professor on the faculty of history of the Complutense University in Madrid, Spain, and former vice director of religious affairs in Spain’s Ministry of Justice; as well as secretary-general John Graz, and attorneys Dwayne Leslie, Karnik Doukmetzian, and Todd McFarland. —Mark A. Kellner, news editor, with information from IRLA
Tens of Thousands of Eastern Europeans View Internet Outreach
Peace, strength, and purpose for the future, this is what the tens of thousands of viewers were offered by the sermon series “Horizon of Hope,” held in Bucharest, Romania, December 6-14, and presented by American Seventh-day Adventist pastor and writer Doug Batchelor.
The Adventist Theological Institute hosted the event, which was broadcast live by Hope Channel, Radio Voice of Hope, and on the Internet. The lectures were translated into four languages—Romanian, Hungarian, Russian, and Ukrainian—and broadcast in Romania, as well as in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. Every evening Batchelor took the audience through a journey into the world of the Bible. Aided by his own experiences, he narrated significant episodes from the lives of biblical people of faith, in a twenty-first-century context.
A total of 328 churches received the program via satellite in Romania. Church members promoted the event by distributing flyers and inviting friends to watch it with them. A Hope Channel team traveled across the country for nine days, broadcasting live from a different church every evening.
Online response was impressive. The first and the last lectures of the series were the most viewed, with viewer count on the sperantatv.ro Web site of 13,000 and 15,500, respectively. During the broadcast period, more than 150,000 visits were made to the video site, both live, and through sperantatv.ro, sperantalaorizont.ro, adventube.ro, and hopetv.org Web sites. Android and iOS apps were also launched to provide better access to Hope Channel’s programs. The Speranta TV Facebook page reached 10,000 fans.
The “Horizon of Hope” sermon series was followed by a special edition, with participants from academia as well as representatives of various denominations. “I consider [it] to be a commendable event, first and foremost for being a cultural manifestation, much needed now, with an important spiritual dimension. The entire event is a success that other confessions should emulate,” declared Constantin Ba˘la˘ceanu-Stolnici, a noted Romanian neurologist and professor. The lectures are available online to watch and/or download. More than 8,800 downloads have been made: approximately 5,400 in Romanian, 1,900 in Hungarian, 1,400 in Russian, and 170 in Ukrainian.
Public reaction was positive: “What I like most about these sermons is the way that the Lord’s message is presented, in the simplest of ways, for everyone to understand. I wish you a lot of success in all of your work,” wrote Vasile S,tefan. “These lectures are a special gift from God, also because we had the opportunity to listen to them in our mother tongue (Hungarian),” declared Szabó Gergely.
“I watched the sermons with a lot of interest. From now on I will practice Jesus’ teachings and follow His path,” added Csiki Margit. On the last day of the Horizon of Hope program, 10 persons from Bucharest were baptized. —reported by Loredana Dumitrașcu; CD EUDNews
Inter-America Reflects on Year of GrowthShortly after 2014 began, Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders and staff members at the Inter-American Division (IAD) met during a special worship service to praise God for the progress of the church in 2013 throughout its vast territory. More than 80 ministers and staff members reviewed church and financial growth at the IAD headquarters office in Miami, Florida, on January 6, 2014, to reflect on the success of the Year of the Laity—a year designated to celebrate the work of the lay members—and set plans, initiatives, and activities in motion for the coming months.
Reflecting on Isaiah 54, division president Israel Leito encouraged church leaders to reflect on the successes and failures of the past, and look to new opportunities to improve and enrich the mission of the church in Inter-America. “Don’t think of the failures. You are blessed because there is hope. Think of the future [and] how things can be better,” said Leito. That future means overseeing the training of thousands of lay leaders and members during what Inter-America has coined as the Year of Nonformal Education.
The Year of Nonformal Education will allow lay leaders to enhance leadership skills so they can equip others, as a springboard to continue a structured certification training with each department and ministry of the church, said Leito. In his report to the IAD leaders and staff, Elie Henry, executive secretary of the church in Inter-America, reported that as of June 2013, 150,810 new members were added to the church, bringing the membership to 3,685,644 in 11,968 churches and 8,104 companies. Although a final membership count for 2013 is not yet available, numbers of baptisms have shown a slight decline since 2010. —reported by Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division
REGIONAL REACH — Map shows coverage area for Adventist-owned Al Waad satellite channel.
MEETING OF EXPERTS: In the shadow of the Acropolis, religious freedom experts join in the latest symposium of the International Religious Liberty Association.
OUTREACH EVENT: Evangelist Doug Batchelor and translator Christian Salcianu speak in Bucharest, Romania.
NEW BEGINNING: Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America, welcomes the leadership and staff at the IAD Headquarters as the office officially begins the year on Jan. 6, 2014, in Miami, Florida.
The ancient city of Philadelphia was founded in the second century B.C., and was named for Attalus II Philadelphus in honor of his love for his elder brother, Eumenes who preceded him to the throne. Ancient Philadelphia is located within the city limits of a modern Turkish town approximately 30 miles southeast of Sardis. Evidently, the Philadelphian believers were extremely faithful to Christ and His Word. This city was a launching point for Christianity to make major inroads into Asia. In the context of the historic timeline prophecies of Revelation, Philadelphia represents the faithfulness of early Advent believers who, like their ancient Philadelphian counterparts, were faithful to Scripture and proclaimed the message of Jesus powerfully in the early nineteenth century.
1) How is the divine Being who addressed the church at Philadelphia described? What title does the angel give Him? Read Revelation 3:7 and compare this passage with Leviticus 19:2; Jeremiah 10:10; and John 14:6. The living Christ is altogether holy and His words are eternally true. He Himself addresses John, instructing him regarding amazing end-time truths.
2) What does Jesus hold in His hand, and what does it represent? Read Revelation 3:7 and compare it to Isaiah 22:22 and Luke 11:52. The key of David represents the Messianic promise: Jesus coming to this world as our suffering Savior, and eventually returning as our triumphant Lord. It has the idea of the complete restoration of this world from sin.
3) Read Revelation 3:7, 8; 10:1; and 14:6, 7. What has Jesus set before His church? What is the significance of this divine event? How does it apply to the miraculous advance of the Advent movement? Jesus has entered the open door of the heavenly sanctuary in the closing work of this earth’s history. The door of the sanctuary and the door of salvation are open. No human being can shut the door that Christ Himself has opened. Heaven is making its final appeal to all humanity to prepare for the soon return of our Lord.
4) Read Revelation 3:7, 8 again. Who has opened this door? Can any human being shut it? Reflect on the doors Jesus is opening in your own life right now. What opportunities is He giving you today for which you can praise Him?
5) What promise did Jesus make to the church at Philadelphia, and how does it apply to Jesus’ last day church? Read Revelation 3:9 and compare it with Isaiah 56:7, 8; Joel 2:28-32; Amos 9:13-15; and Matthew 24:14. Christ’s promise to the church at Philadelphia foreshadows a mighty last day movement of Spirit-filled believers who courageously proclaim His Word to the ends of the earth and experience the light of Jesus’ love and truth. See also Revelation 18:1, 2.
6) What assurance does Jesus give His people regarding the tumultuous trials of the last days? Read Revelation 3:10 and compare it with the wonderful promises of the presence of God in the trials of life recorded in Isaiah 41:10 and 43:1-4, 19-21.
7) Read Revelation 3:11, 12. How does the message to the church at Philadelphia conclude, and what glorious promise did Jesus make to His faithful end-time people?
This promise must have resonated with the believers in Philadelphia. Their city was known for its earthquakes. In fact, a devastating earthquake in A.D. 17 destroyed most of the city. People fled from their homes and were afraid to return. Christ’s promise is that His people would be like a pillar in the temple of God, never to be moved or shaken. The heavenly home that He prepares for them is one that they will never have to flee.
When the ground beneath our feet is shaking, and all of life seems to crumble around us, God’s promises are sure. He is eternally with us, and in His presence we are secure. His promises are true, and we can place our confidence in the Christ who will fulfill His every Word.
Filled to Overflowing What is the cup of the Lord?
The cup of the Lord is a metaphor for literal cups used in ancient times from which to drink or to poison one’s enemies. In most cases drinking together from a cup was an expression of fellowship and kindness. These images are used in the Bible to express different ideas.
1. Cup of God’s Blessings:
The Lord prepared for the psalmist a fellowship meal during which he exclaims, “My cup runs over” (Ps. 23:5). The reference is probably to the abundance of God’s blessings he received. In fact, there is such a thing as a “cup of salvation” that contains the divine provision of salvation for the righteous (Ps. 116:13). The Israelites probably proclaimed God’s salvation during a fellowship meal in the Temple by drinking from the cup of the Lord in His presence. The connection between the cup and God’s blessing leads the psalmist to equate the cup with the One from whom all blessings flow (Ps. 16:5). A utensil used daily to imbibe water and juice, manifestations of God’s blessings, is transformed into a reminder of the constant provision of blessings and salvation for God’s people. In that sense every cup in Israel became a “cup of the Lord.”
2. The Cup of God’s Wrath:
The opposite of the cup of salvation is “the cup of His [God’s] fury” (Isa. 51:17). In some cases only the term cup is used, followed by the negative consequences of drinking from it (Jer. 49:12; Lam. 4:21; Eze. 23:31-33). This cup is in God’s hand (Jer. 25:17, 18) or in His right hand (Hab. 2:16). The effects of drinking from the cup are illustrated by using the behavior of a drunkard, but they go way beyond it: “They will . . . stagger and go mad” (Jer. 25:16); they will remove their clothes (a symbol of shamefulness [Lam. 4:21]); and they will vomit and fall to rise no more (Jer. 25:27). The cup of the Lord’s wrath becomes a symbol of His final executive judgment against the wicked. It is a cup “of horror and desolation” (Eze. 23:33) and brings “scorn” and “derision” (verse 32). For the wicked, “the portion of their cup” will be “a burning wind” accompanied by “fire and brimstone” (Ps. 11:6). Sinners in Samaria and Judah (Eze. 23:31-33) will have to drink from it as will all the nations of the earth (Jer. 25:17-26). Drinking from the cup of God’s wrath is a symbol of universal judgment.
3. Origin and Significance of the Metaphor:
Why did the Lord use the image of a cup to refer to His judgment against sin? Perhaps we find it in the development of the ritual or ordeal of a woman suspected of adultery by her husband (Num. 5:11-31). In the absence of evidence to support the suspicion, she was taken to the Temple, where the priest prepared a potion, placed it in a cup, and gave it to her to drink. By her drinking from it the Lord would reveal her innocence or guilt. Only the Lord knew the facts, and He made them known through the results of drinking from the cup. In the case of the cup of God’s wrath, those who drink from it are already guilty, and by drinking they receive God’s judgment against them. The cup is not an instrument to determine who is guilty or innocent; it is a symbol of God’s universal, executive judgment against the guilty. The cup contains the divine verdict against sinners. It is in God’s hands, and He gives it to sinners and commands them to drink from it (Jer. 25:15). Drinking is compulsory, but at the same time people are to drink voluntarily from it. If they refuse to drink, the prophet tells them, “You shall certainly drink!” (verse 28). Somehow they are persuaded to drink from it!
Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath when He took upon Himself the divine judgment against sin (Matt. 26:39). Consequently, He made it possible for us to drink from the cup of salvation of the new covenant (verses 27, 28). He took the condemnation that was ours in order for us to enjoy what was His: the cup of salvation. This is specifically memorialized in the service of the Lord’s Supper.
Angel Manuel Rodríguez was director of the Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference before retiring to Texas, United States.
Nothing in life must come before manna. “Then they set out from Elim, and all the congregation . . . grumbled . . . , ‘Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger’” (Ex. 16:1-3, NASB).*
Why didn’t God kill us in Egypt? God has just brought them out of Egypt, but now they curse Him. They want to go back: “We were doing fine back there,” they say. Which is ungrateful nonsense of a very high order! Maybe they are hungry. But that doesn’t mean there is no food. They’ve just come from Elim and sweet water and date palms. What they really hunger for is Egypt’s flesh pots (Ex. 16:3). Which does not make this a devotional on vegetarianism! Besides, what’s so wonderful about Egypt that Israel would want to go back? God has just delivered them from Pharaoh’s tyranny, and they want to go back. There are revolting biblical metaphors about this kind of thinking—the dog to his vomit, or swine to their mud (2 Peter 2:22). What could be more awkward than turning from Jesus and His pleading blood to covet the degradations He saved me from just yesterday?
OK, you want to go back? Then just go! That’s what I’d say. I’d just give up. After all, I’m trying my hardest to help, and all you do is fret and complain and insult me. But God the amazing never quits on me. He loves me too much. He will do all He can to keep me going forward. And so, instead of letting Israel go back to shame and victimization, He proposes a one-of-a-kind demonstration: “At evening,” Moses and Aaron advise, “you shall know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt. And in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord” (Ex. 16:6, 7). Measuring the language of Exodus 16:6, 7 by God’s standard set in Exodus 6:6, 7 shows that God is not keen on this drama. In Exodus 6, God informs Moses that the way to know “that I am the Lord your God who [brought] you out” is to see what I do to the Egyptians. When God says “and you will know” to Moses, or some 60 times to Ezekiel (6:7, 10; 11:9, 10, etc.), we should not think He’s smiling. God is not sending quails because He is happy. It’s even clearer the second time He does it: “While the meat was still in their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was aroused against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague” (Num. 11:33; cf. Ps. 106:15). So what does God do when He is distressed about people who forget His wonders? He invents a way for them not to forget. And He does it with manna.
"Manna, like the Sabbath, is a miracle about remembering"
What’s manna? I don’t know. Israel didn’t know. That’s why they called it manna. They called it “What’s that?” (Ex. 16:15, 31). Manna, you see, is not your common, corner store item. Manna is so rare that nobody had ever seen it before. What’s manna? Manna is food, admittedly, very unimpressive and strange-looking food. Not in the same league as the five-star restaurants and the classy college cafeterias that kids still fashionably complain about. The three words that describe it in Exodus 16:14 are “fine” or “small,” and “flake-like” (NASB). Now “fine” isn’t really all that fine. It’s Pharaoh’s word for corn and cows that come up second in his dreams: the ugly, scrawny ones. Manna is not for pride; it’s for nourishment. And “flake-like,” the other word, doesn’t show up anywhere else in the Bible. It’s unique. The closest we can get to the Hebrew word for “flaky” is an Aramaic verb basically meaning “to peel off,” and, in its intensive form, “to pound grain.” That’s because you get to the kernel by pounding. You pound, and you sweat, and you blow away the husk, and you’ve got your food. Manna, it appears, may involve work. All you do is pick it up. But somebody may have sweated and pounded before; somebody bled so you could have bread. So you could have manna. Angels’ food, the psalmist calls it (Ps. 78:25). And how do you get it? You get out of bed. You can’t get it in bed. And you don’t postpone getting out of bed. And you don’t take care of other pressing matters first—texts, calls, streaming stock prices, or paper news. Nothing in life must come before manna. So off with the blankets; out in the fresh air; down on your knees; up with your manna. You get up and get down early because manna will melt when the sun comes up (Ex. 16:21). So manna starts your day. Nothing in life must come before manna. Manna is first: everybody up before sunrise, prostrate on the ground every morning, early, to get what God has sent each morning for that morning. Because it’s like vitamin C—you can’t store up a lot and then forget it for a while. You have to get it every day. Every day for that day. Every day, early in the morning. Nobody collects for you; everyone does it for himself, for herself, each according to their personal need (Ex. 16:16, 21). Manna is the action of the sentiments you sing:
"Lord, in the morning Thou shalt hear My voice ascending high; To Thee will I direct my prayer, To Thee lift up mine eye.”
In moments of forgetfulness, we may relate to breaking stock market news, political events, natural disasters, and war, as if they could satisfy hunger. Clearly we still need manna. Manna is for remembering. It is how you obey, and how you don’t forget. Manna is early every morning for 40 years of wilderness wandering, through apostasy and pardon, through rebellion and providence, twice as much on Friday (Ex. 16:22), and nothing on Sabbath. Manna spoils in a day if you try hoarding your own. Manna lasts forever when you listen to God and put a pot of it inside the ark (verse 33). Manna, like the Sabbath, is a miracle about remembering. The miracle pot that never spoiled kept company in the ark with the Ten Commandment tables, completing the cycle on remembering to do or desist, to obey by labor, and obey by rest. Because the God of the six is the God of the seventh. And the One who gives us our daily bread is the One in whom alone we may find our weekly and eternal rest. Manna is a matter of respecting His terms: “Six days shalt thou labor.” The Sabbath is the same: “In it thou shalt not do any work” (Ex. 20:9, 10, KJV). Thus manna and the Sabbath are a unity: The Lord of the Sabbath is the living bread from heaven, the awesome manna miracle that gives us life forevermore (John 6:51, 58). We live by seeking Him first. Nothing in life must come before manna.
Hope in Heavenly Places Why is the heavenly sanctuary important?
A discussion of the significance of the heavenly temple should examine the nature of God, His interaction with His creation, and the genuineness of this relationship. God’s interaction with and presence within creation are deeply significant theological topics, and the heavenly temple plays a key role in their understanding.
1. Nature of God:
God is unique. Everything within the universe belongs to the sphere of that which has been created, but not Him. Theologians refer to this dimension of God as His transcendence; in other words, He is above and independent of the cosmos. Creation is not large enough to contain Him (1 Kings 8). With respect to Creation, God is by nature the distant One. Creation did not emanate from Him, but came into existence through His word; it is outside Him. Since He is life in Himself, nothing in nature can contribute to God’s existence or is needed by Him to preserve Himself. Nature is the exclusive habitat of finite creatures.
Although God is by nature transcendent, He is by choice the ever-present One. Theologians refer to this as divine immanence; God is present within His creation. This is a rejection of deism, according to which God created the universe then left it to itself. In deism God would be an absolutely absent Creator. The immanent God is clearly depicted in Genesis 2, where He is described as being active within Creation as He creates human beings. The biblical God condescended to live close to His creatures, within the space He created for them. Creation is an expression of His love.
2. Nearness of God:
Now we have to ask: how is God present within His creation? Different, and at times complex, answers have been provided to this question. One of the most common ones is omnipresence, that is to say, He is everywhere. This answer risks the heresy of pantheism—that God is an impersonal force that permeates everything and therefore everything in its deepest essence is divine. But the biblical God is a person. The Bible speaks about God’s omnipresence in the sense that nothing within the cosmos takes place outside His presence and in total independence of His actions. This understanding of omnipresence assumes that He is everywhere because He is somewhere in particular. He located Himself within the space of His creatures in a specific place. The transcendental God became the immanent God by entering our space at a particular locale. Describing what took place in the beginning, the psalmist unapologetically states, “Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting” (Ps. 93:2). God “established His throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all” (Ps. 103:19). For the psalmist, the throne of God is located in His heavenly temple (Ps. 11:4). The unique fragment of space where the infinite and the finite intersect each other, and where God’s nearness is seen and experienced by His intelligent creatures, is what we call the heavenly temple. Its majesty and grandeur remains for us mysterious and unimaginable. This place is as old as creation itself.
3. A Real Temple:
The heavenly temple is not an incidental detail in biblical theology, or an unnecessary speculation. It is a real place that reveals the personal character of God and His intense love for His creatures. This temple was not made by human hands but is a unique act of divine creation. Its reality is affirmed by the fact that it is a cosmic center of worship for innumerable intelligent beings (Ps. 89:5, 6; Dan. 7:9, 10; Rev. 4:2-7), and the center of God’s cosmic kingdom (Ps. 103:19). From there He reveals His will to His creatures (Ps. 103:20, 21). From this majestic temple God works in the resolution of the cosmic conflict through judgment (Ps. 11:4-6; 33:13-15). From there He comes down and delivers His people from the oppression of the enemy (Ps. 18:6-9, 16, 17), grants forgiveness of sin (1 Kings 8:30, 38, 39), and blesses and justifies His people (Deut. 26:15; 1 Kings 8:32). In this unique space Christ ministers for us before the Father (Heb. 7:25). Through Christ, God came to our sinful world, and we experienced His saving nearness (John 1:14).
Ángel Manuel Rodríguez is retired after a distinguished career as a pastor, professor, and theologian.