MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR Fourteen-year-old Anthony Quimbo Esguerra is new to the Adventist family, but he is already playing an active role in spreading the good news of the gospel. Just recently baptized on March 4, 2006, in Palayan City, Philippines, Esguerra is a student literature evangelist who distributes literature to different places including churches, offices, and banks. He is also an avid speaker at worship services in his school and different churches in the Philippines. Esguerra is a junior student at the Bongabon Essential School Seventh-day Adventist Company and attends the Bongabon Essential Seventh-day Adventist Company Church located in the Central Luzon Conference in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division.
ADVENTIST LIFE At a weekend Pathfinder retreat one of the progressive classwork requirements was to study ceremonies that were given by God to the children of Israel. While we were reviewing what we had discussed in a larger group, a question was asked as to whether the church practices any ceremonies today. Hands went up, and answers of baptism and Communion were quickly given. But the answer that brought the smiles was “potluck”! —Duane Bennett, Rockland, Wisconsin
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“Courage is not the absence of fear. It is moving on in spite of fear.”
—Pastor Samuel Thomas, Jr., during a sermon at the Orchard Park Seventh-day Adventist Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA).
I have already obtained admission to go to graduate school in England, but the lack of funds, including school fees, doesn’t allow me to go there. I have been struggling to solve it, but my financial situation is still very weak. I have learned that with God everything is possible. I believe that my Lord will strengthen me and let someone help me. —Sun-Min, South Korea
I need prayer, as I wish to join a technical, nursing, or Bible college, and am in need of the Holy Spirit to uplift my sense of well-being. —Owen, Malawi
Please pray for my husband. He does not attend church, nor does he read any Bible or other religious materials. Also pray for my family so that the Holy Spirit will bring us closer to God. —Victoria, Malaysia
My wife and I have been praying for a better business to enable us to support our children in their pursuit of higher education. Pray that God will supply the means. Also, please pray for Leo, who is suffering from a stroke that seems to be incurable, and for Edwin, who suffered a broken leg in an auto accident. —Nkede, United Kingdom
Words of Comfort I was so much delighted to receive this most splendid magazine, Adventist World. Thanks for the articles that give me comfort, especially “Lord, Remember Our Children” in the May 2006 issue.
The sweetest texts and articles draw my thoughts to our loving, passionate Savior. I admire the simplicity, but striking assurance in Isaiah 50:2, which says, “Was my arm too short to ransom you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you?” (NIV). His indivisible love and care cannot be compared. His interminable sympathy is an inspiration to love Him more and to follow His beautiful design. I like this touching message of Sister Ellen White from Mind, Character, and Personality, which says: “Your child is not your own; you cannot do with her as you like, for she is the property of the Lord” (vol. 1, p. 169). “At all times the mother should endeavor to be quiet, calm, and self-possessed…. That which may be small to the mother is large to them. And a word of direction or caution at the right time will often prove of great value” (ibid., p. 168).
God will be pleased to look down upon the efforts of parents with their abiding closeness of prayer in all walks of toughness.
Starlette A. Jordan Prilly, Switzerland
Women and Witness Many thanks for the article “Women and Witness” in the April 2006 Adventist World. I am happy that Brian Strayer highlighted the contributions made by Roxie Rice, Mary Priest, and Mary Haskell in forming and shaping the vision of our church’s most successful evangelistic ministries. How I wish the world leadership would more actively encourage those at the division, union, conference, and local church levels to include more women in our outreach work. The significant membership of the female gender within our world church membership is sadly underrepresented. Ella Smith Simmons made a commendable movement in the right direction.
Dennis E.N. Wilson-Cole London, England
Would Love to Receive Adventist World! I was glad to receive my first issue of Adventist World, and wanted to know how I could continue to get it.
Boas Donza Via e-mail
There are currently two divisions that do not yet receive Adventist World—the Euro-Africa and South American divisions. If you are from a division other than these two, please contact your division office to receive it. —Editors
I read with much awe and interest the October 2005 Adventist World. The many methods used in praying really caught my attention and puzzled me. I had not yet grasped that praying can be so enjoyable using many different ways. I really enjoyed Adventist World and was wondering how I could receive monthly copies? I tried in vain to get hold of the November and December 2005 issues as our local conference did not receive them either. Many Adventists around here are asking for it, and as a youth director I decided to write directly to you.
May God richly bless you. Khumbulani Douglas DubeMidlands, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe falls under Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division territory, and therefore should be receiving Adventist World. Please contact their offices to secure your free subscription. —Editors
Bolstering Our Faith We praise the Lord for publishing a great conveyor of our worldwide work. The cover stories have fascinated us so much and helped us to know more about the progress of Adventism in the world. Articles on our fundamental beliefs and the Spirit of Prophecy also served as great pointers in widening our scriptural knowledge, and helped to sharpen our faith and instill a deeply rooted knowledge of Adventism. The Bible study by Mark Finley was also a good review piece for new and old Adventist members.
Members of the Hanging Bridge Seventh-day Adventist Church Bulacan, Philippines
Connecting With Other Believers I am a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, and I greet you all in the precious name of Jesus Christ our Lord. I am an old man of 75 years. On reading the January 2006 Adventist World, I came across a small article [on the Muscat church in Oman] with a picture of East Indians dressed just like us (with saris and long hair) in South Africa. It made my heart so happy.
Sam Moodley Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Blessed With His Best The “Hope for Humanity” piece in Adventist World (NAD edition, May 2006) was very informative and interesting. I have memories of Harvest Ingathering from way back in the late 1930s and 1940s going up and down the streets with a singing band. The Lord did bless us as the years passed by.
During the past few years my husband and I have had a burden for our own Native Americans. So we have helped them and have wondered what our church was doing, especially for the poorest of these groups in the Southwest—the Navajo, Apache, and Hopi.
I appreciate your writings on the issues of the church. It is like you challenge and then affirm. God bless your work with His best—He always does.
Jeanne Hardaker Bridgewater, New Jersey
A Thorough Examination I find this article more than a little irritating. Is this an Adventist magazine? Is Brother Rodríguez familiar with The Desire of Ages? Certainly his exegesis is a thorough study of the Bible, and in addition he seems to be very thorough in examining all possibilities. However, he particularly avoids the obvious, as if he assumes only the Bible is authoritative for Adventists. The article completely ignores these clear statements: “His brothers, as the sons of Joseph were called, sided with the rabbis” (The Desire of Ages, p. 86). “All this displeased his brothers. Being older than Jesus, they felt that He should be under their dictation” (ibid., p. 87). “Here were His mother, His brothers and sisters, and all eyes were turned upon Him as He entered the synagogue upon the Sabbath day, and took His place among the worshippers” (ibid., p. 236).
James Burry New Dimension, China
Response: Dear Brother James: I apologize for causing you some discomfort. I am sorry that for some reason you missed my final conclusion in the last paragraph: The brothers of Jesus were the sons of Joseph and not of Mary. I did not use Ellen G. White because I am expected to provide a biblical answer. It is obvious that the answer she provides in her writings is the same found in the Bible. Based on her prophetic role within the church, we should consider what she says on this subject to be extremely valuable extra-canonical information.
Blessings, Angel Manuel Rodríguez
Such Good Things Many years ago I observed my father reading what then was called The Review and Herald. And I would ask him, “What do you get out of that?” “Oh,” he said, “there are such good things in here!”
Little did I know that someday I would be baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Today I receive Adventist World. When it arrives, I stop what I am doing and read it from cover to cover.
Oh, how I wish Pop could read it now! It’s much thicker, has stories from all over the world, and has such beautiful, colorful illustrations. I would tell him, “There are such good things in here!”
Thinking men and women everywhere wonder what the future holds for those who live on this planet. World leaders struggle with overwhelming problems. In many parts of the world political instability leads to the constant threat of war. In other countries hunger, poverty, and diseases such as HIV and AIDS devastate large segments of the population. Natural disasters destroy entire cities. Energy prices are rapidly rising. Crime is out of control. Divorce is common. Pornography stares us in the face. Nations continually build more sophisticated weapons of mass destruction. And we are polluting our atmosphere at frightening levels. What does all this mean about the nearness of our Lord’s return?
1. Although no one knows the day or hour of Christ’s return, what can we know about the times when Jesus will come? Read the following text and write the answer in your own words. “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!” (Matt. 24:32, 33).
2. What prediction did Jesus make regarding political conditions before His return? Circle the key words in the following text. “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. . . . For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (verses 6, 7).
Our world has always been plagued by wars. In the twentieth century we had World Wars I and II. And in the first few years of the twenty-first century armed conflicts have exploded in many countries in the form of tribal conflicts, sectarian violence, international turmoil, and civil wars.
3. How are today’s conflicts different from those that came before? What can humankind do to our planet today that it could not do 100 years ago? Write the phrase that best answers the questions on the lines below. “The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth” (Rev. 11:18).
Never before in the history of the human race has humankind had the potential, because of nuclear weapons, to destroy life on this planet.
4. At the same time nations arm themselves for war, what will they talk about? Circle the two words that describe the motto of many nations at the end time. “For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them” (1 Thess. 5:3).
Nations talking about peace and security but arming for war is a clear fulfillment of the apostle Paul’s words.
5. Jesus predicted a cluster or group of signs in the natural world before His return. Read the texts below and list at least five signs in the natural world that point to the Lord’s return. “And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places” (Matt. 24:7). “And on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25).
6. With what other time in this world’s history does Jesus compare His coming to? Read the text and fill in the blanks below. “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be (Matt. 24:37).
Jesus compared His coming to _________________________________________________________________
7. Why has Jesus given us these signs? Read the text and circle the answer that shows what Jesus desires for your life when He comes. “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (verse 44).
Beyond knowing and understanding the signs of His coming, Jesus wants us to be ready for His return. He’s coming for us. He loves us too much to leave us in this world of sorrow and suffering much longer. Soon He is coming for us. This is the blessed hope of each child of God.
Next month we will continue our study about the signs of Jesus’ return with the lesson “End-Time Living.”
QUESTION: A friend of mine tells me that all the benefits of Christ’s death were given to the human race when He died. This doesn’t seem biblical. Is it?
Such an idea, called by its proponents “legal universal justification,” is not biblical. Some Adventists find it attractive and embrace it without critical analysis, but this is a dangerous approach. Truth should not be determined by what seems to make sense, or by what makes us feel good, but by what we find in the Bible. The following points may help you in evaluating that teaching.
1. The Totality of Scripture: We must submit any claim of truth to the teachings of Scripture. The fact that a few texts seem to support such teachings is not enough to demonstrate the correctness of their claims. These claims have to be examined within the context of the totality of Scripture in order to clarify how the texts ought to be interpreted. Some people come up with what appears to be an original idea and proceed to look for biblical texts to support it. They bring to the text those ideas and read them into it. Their interpretation may appear to be logical and persuasive, but they are, in fact, imposing their ideas into the text. In evaluating those ideas we need to examine the biblical teaching in full, not just a few texts.
2. Impact on Other Clear Biblical Teachings: These views may appear to be innocuous, but we should examine their impact on other teachings of the Bible. If the implications of a new teaching undermine other biblical teachings, there is something wrong with its claims, despite the fact that biblical texts are used to support it. That means the texts being used should be interpreted in a different way.
3. A Case in Point: The Mediation of Christ: One example may be enough to illustrate this last point. Since universal legal justification teaches that before the Lord all the sins of the human race have already been forgiven and the human race has been saved, as a practical matter it leaves no room for the biblical teaching of Christ’s high priestly mediation before the Father. According to Paul, the death and resurrection of Christ make possible the mediation of Christ before the Father (Rom. 8:34). Mediation means that human sin and guilt are still relevant before the Lord in heaven and that it is only through Christ’s work for us in the presence of the Father that we receive the benefits of His sacrificial death. The fullness of those benefits is granted only to those who believe. Guilt and sin continue to be part of the human experience in the sight of God!
If the implications of a new teaching undermine other biblical teachings, there is something wrong with its claims, despite the fact that biblical texts are used to support it.
The role of our Mediator before the Father is an indispensable element in the plan of salvation (Heb. 7:25; 9:14). So we must ask, if it is true that in the sight of God the sin of the human race has been forgiven and humanity has already received the totality of the benefits of His death, why would John write, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1, NIV; cf. Acts 2:38)? John went on to suggest that the forgiveness of sin through the effectiveness of the mediation of Christ before the Father is assured because “he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2, NIV).
Christ is the mediator for anyone who wants to approach the Father to receive through Him forgiveness, justification, redemption, reconciliation, etc. The views you mentioned tend to interpret the mediation of Christ in terms of the cleansing of the human heart from sin. But the doctrine also deals with the work of Christ in heaven and the application of the benefits of His sacrifice to repentant sinners. Proponents of legal universal justification do not seem to be fully aware of its serious doctrinal and theological problems. In some cases they tend to redefine the doctrine of Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.
–Angel Manuel Rodríguez is director of the Seventh-day Adventist Biblical Research Institute.
arasites are miserable little organisms that live off us. They vary from one-cell organisms, such as malaria and amoeba, to fully developed worms. Some migrate and live in our tissues, where they can damage us severely—especially if they get into our brains. Others are in our bowel, and yet others get into our lymphatics or skin.
The following questions illustrate the global problems with parasites.
My 7-year-old was coughing and vomiting, and a worm came out of his nose. It looked like an earthworm—only about two inches long and pink. Could you advise? I thought worms came from eating meat.
An adult specimen of the pork tapeworm, Taenia solium, from the intestine of a human.
Some worms do come from meat. The pork tapeworm (or Taenia solium) and the beef tapeworm (Taenia saginata) come from eating meat that is infested with tapeworm cysts. Good, thorough cooking prevents these diseases, but so does being a vegetarian.
Your little boy’s worm was not a tapeworm. It was probably an Ascaris lumbricoides worm. These worms are the most common of all human worm parasites. More than a billion people have the worm in their intestines. The worm lives about one to two years. The female lays 200,000 eggs a day into the bowel content, which pass out in the stool. If a human eats the eggs by way of unwashed hands, food handling, etc., then a little larva hatches out of the egg. This larva bores into the intestinal wall, and travels in the veins to the heart and then the lungs. It then bores from the blood vessels into the air sacs.
The worm climbs the respiratory tubes and is swallowed and restarts the cycle. Such worms can be so abundant they can block the intestine, causing vomiting. Children sometimes vomit up a worm, which could come out the nose. The worm also causes lung inflammation, but this is because the larvae are passing through the lungs.
What an important lesson to us about washing our food—and especially our hands! It’s not nice to think we eat eggs from someone else’s bowels, but a billion people obviously have done so.
My mother always makes me wear shoes, and half the other kids in our village go barefoot. The weather is warm in Zambia, and I think she is being overprotective. Don’t you?
You are living in the tropics. Lucky you! But that warm, humid weather is good for some miserable little organisms that are mean parasites. There are several worms that can live in us and in the soil that we need to be aware of.
One worm that can bore through your skin and infest you is the hookworm. About a quarter of the world’s population is affected by hookworms. They burrow through the skin, go to the lungs, then crawl into the respiratory tubes and climb up into the throat, where they are swallowed. Then they hook on to the small intestines and suck blood. These little bloodsuckers lay eggs that are passed in the feces. That is why latrines are so important, because unless we control human feces, we have no hope of controlling some of these diseases. Of course, it helps to wear shoes! So guess what? Your mom is correct!
We live in a beautiful part of Canada, and a beaver pond is at the bottom of the hill. Our grandchildren visit us, and want to swim in the pond. Is there any danger?
Parasites are organisms that live inside or on another organism and give nothing in return. In fact, some can be very harmful to humans. “Beaver fever”—as the parasite infestation with Giardia lamblia is called in Canada—is not a nice illness. Beavers may have giardia and contaminate beaver ponds with it. Giardia causes diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and foul-smelling gas. The diarrhea can last a long time (weeks) and cause weight loss.
While we may sound like spoilsports, we have to be wise. Swimming in lakes or rivers in Canada would be much less of a risk than swimming in a beaver pond.
–Allan R. Handysides, M.B., Ch.B., F.R.C.P., is director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department.
–Peter N. Landless, M.B., B.Ch., M.Med., F.C.P.(SA), F.A.C.C., is ICPA executive director and associate director of Health Ministries.
ften referred to as “Down Under,” Australia lies totally in the Southern Hemisphere, between the Indian and South Pacific Oceans. Australia is the sixth largest country in the world and the smallest continent. In the seventeenth century Dutch explorers extensively mapped the northern and western coastlines of Australia, but it wasn’t until 1770 that British explorer Captain James Cook claimed the continent for Great Britain. On January 1, 1901, the British colonies of Australia federated themselves as states to form the Commonwealth of Australia. As a constitutional monarchy it has a parliamentary system of government, but still recognizes the British monarchy as the head of state.
Although Australia was originally a penal colony of Great Britain, most of the population descends from nineteenth- and twentieth-century British and Irish immigrants. Since World War I the population has quadrupled due to aggressive immigration policies: today more than one quarter is foreign-born. The native peoples, known as Aborigines, declined for 150 years, but policies established in the mid-twentieth century have helped reestablish them.
British colonists took advantage of the country’s vast natural resources and developed agricultural and manufacturing industries that quickly established Australia as a world leader. Its strong economy compares with the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Australia is an exporter of wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits, cattle, sheep, and poultry. Industries include mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, and steel.
Adventist Life: Ellen White arrived in Australia in 1891. Her nine years there had a deep impact on the Church’s early work in the South Pacific. She first received visions of the work in Australia on April 1, 1874, and January 3, 1875. However, it wasn’t until 1885 that Stephen Haskell,
Catholic, 25 percent; Anglican, 25 percent; Uniting Church,* 10 percent; other faiths, 15 percent; no affiliation, 25 percent
ADVENTIST TO POPULATION RATIO
?*The Uniting Church in Australia is a union of three churches: the Congregational Union of Australia, the Methodist Church of Australasia, and the Presbyterian Church of Australia.
J. O. Corliss, M. C. Israel, William Arnold, and Henry Scott, along with their families, left San Francisco harbor to become the first Adventist missionaries in Australia.
By the middle of 1886 the first church, Melbourne Seventh-day Adventist Church, had grown to 90 members. Like most postmodern secular nations today, the church in Australia struggles to grow in membership. Over the past 10 years the Church in Australia has grown by only 8 percent, as compared to the world church’s growth of 66 percent. n Ellen White contributed to the selection of the site for Avondale College in 1894 and the Sydney Sanitarium (now Sydney Adventist Hospital) in 1903.
• Sydney Adventist Hospital is the largest private hospital in New South Wales, the most populous state in Australia. The church also operates 15 retirement centers throughout the country.
• The first Adventist primary school was established on June 10, 1900, with two teachers and 60 students. Today there are more than 55 primary and secondary schools in Australia.
• In 1927 Pastor David Sibley is believed to have broadcast the first Adventist radio program in Melbourne. In 1956 Faith for Today was the first Adventist television program broadcast in Australia. In 1966 the Adventist Media Centre in Australia began production on Focus on Living films.
–Compiled by Hans Olson, Office of Adventist Mission
hrist’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me’” (Ellen White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 143).
When a church shuts itself off from its community, it also closes its doors on an essential aspect of mission. Too easily we can get caught up in catering to our own spiritual needs, our own comfort, and forget that each local church is in a specific place—in a specific neighborhood—for a purpose. To make a difference.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a rich heritage of continuing community involvement. Throughout the world thousands of Dorcas Societies work tirelessly for those less well off. Adventist Community Services in many countries is always ready to assist people in times of tragedy and need. Adventist Volunteer Services provides opportunities for church members to share their time and skills in various positions of service. Global Mission pioneers become active in their communities, making friends, helping the people, and sharing the love of Jesus. And of course the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) each year reaches into hundreds of communities with practical humanitarian assistance, regardless of race or creed.
And yet, according to the 2002 Adventist World Survey, more than 70 percent of Adventists are not involved in any form of regular community service. One of the seven major goals of Tell the World is to encourage at least 40 percent of church members, over the next five years, to become involved in their neighborhoods.
Why not look for opportunities in your community to get involved? Many organizations are always looking for volunteers to help with visiting the elderly, mentoring young people, helping with soup kitchens, and many other projects.
At the heart of the Tell the World initiative is the concept of “involvement”; of a faith that is active, not passive. A faith that compels us to live what we believe, not merely talk about it; a faith that leads us out of our churches and into our communities.
Now is not the time to be a spectator. Now is not the time to get too comfortable in our church pews. This is a time for every member of the body of Christ—layperson, young person, pastor, and church administrator—to step fully onto the stage, and take up their role as Christ’s hands, Christ’s voice, in a world that needs to hear Him and feel Him. Many of us believe we can make an impact in our neighborhood only through an organized project. But sometimes the best way is simply to be a friend, taking the time to be with people not of our faith. Often we will find those who are lonely or unsure, who feel their future is fragile.
Have you been touched by Christ’s healing? Then share it with someone! Do you find comfort in the assurance of salvation? Well, don’t keep it to yourself! Have you experienced joy and security in being a part of God’s family? It would be the ultimate selfishness to hoard it away. Are we ready to do this?
What we value most as believers displays itself best in interaction with other people; it creates hope, joy, security, a sense of purpose, and the promise of an eternal future.
It has been said: “The greatest discovery anyone can make is that somebody loves you!” Well, Christ does, and He wants us to tell others. But words alone will not do.
–Jan Paulsen is president of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Serving Like Jesus
ore than 3,500 Romanian young people have made a commitment to “serve like Jesus did” through a project called YouServe. Teams of young people go into different towns and villages—usually where there are no Seventh-day Adventists, or the church is not well known—and undertake a number of community projects. These can range from painting the town hall, building a house for a needy family, cleaning parks, chopping firewood for the winter, or repairing a school or public building. They visit nearby hospitals and run errands for elderly people in town. In each place they also organize a Kid’s Club, which provides recreation and activities for the children of the town. The goal of YouServe, say organizers, is to model an approach to service for young people based on the ministry of Jesus.
Wherever they go, the young people attract attention—from both the town leaders and the general community. Comments from townspeople include: “I can’t believe you are doing all this for free”; “I didn’t believe there were young people like you”; and “Jesus has come to our village.”
A Christmas Gift
welve years ago husband and wife Sérgio and Marli Azevedo felt called to do something about the problem of poverty in Brazil. Out of this conviction, the Mutirão de Natal project was born. Starting with a Christmas food collection effort in Botafago Adventist Church, Rio de Janeiro, the project has grown to embrace hundreds of Adventist congregations across South America, involve more than 80,000 volunteers, and touch an estimated 1 million people.
The effort culminates each year in a Christmas pageant that is broadcast live by satellite from Canada to Argentina. The goal of Mutirão de Natal is not just to collect food and clothing to distribute to the poor, but to involve Adventist laypeople in personally touching the lives of people in their communities.
Adventists Use YouTube Internet Videos to Share Messages
Music, Sermons—Even Russell Crowe at Avondale—Show Up Online
By Alexis A. Goring, Adventist World
Standing on the edge of popular technology, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is using YouTube, the same online video-sharing Web site musicians and politicians use to promote their platforms, to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
YouTube, which describes itself in news releases as “deliver[ing] more than 100 million video views every day, with 65,000 new videos uploaded daily” and as “the leading destination on the Internet for video entertainment,” was started in February 2005 by three former PayPal employees and has taken the world by storm. Eighteen months after its founding, Internet giant Google acquired the service for US$1.65 billion in stock, one of the largest deals of its kind. SOMETHING TO ‘CROWE’ ABOUT:In this image captured from a computer display, a very young Russell Crowe—in what is believed to be his first paid role—is seen portraying a potential theology student at Adventist-owned Avondale College in Australia. The decades-old film, rarely seen outside the SouthPacific, is now available on the YouTube Internet service. Internet users can visit www.youtube.com to upload, view, and share videos made by both directors and amateurs. People of all ages and life experiences shoot homemade videos and, once registered with YouTube online, can post their work for all the world to see.
As of June 2007, when someone types the word “Adventist” into the YouTube’s search engine, results of 3,190 videos are listed. Among those videos, one would find: congratulations from U.S. President George W. Bush, and U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., for the Adventist Church’s stance on religious liberty; music videos from Christian artists and amateurs—ranging from Brazilian church musicians in concert to Mark Schultz performing in America; a CNN feature about the longevity of Adventists in Loma Linda, California; even a decades-old promotional film for Avondale College’s theology program, starring a then-unknown actor named Russell Crowe. (It was, in fact, believed to be Crowe’s first paid film role.)
When asked what he thinks about YouTube, Adventist pastor and North American Division Church Resources Center associate director Dave Gemmell replied, “It’s basically the democratization of video.” According to Gemmell, video has been so expensive over the years that only very powerful organizations can produce and distribute video.
“YouTube cuts through all that so people with their own video cameras can upload videos on the Internet and make their videos accessible to the world,” he said. “It changes the entire culture of video.”
According to media research firm Nielsen-NetRankings, YouTube racked up 2.76 million page views in May 2007 in the United States alone, with users spending 2.1 million minutes, or 35,000 hours, that month viewing videos online there. Clearly, this is a new “medium” that is attracting a substantial audience: Ellacoya Networks, Inc., a company that helps telecommunications carriers optimize broadband Internet services, said in May 2007 that “YouTube alone comprises ... nearly 10 [percent] of all [North American] traffic on the Internet.”
Those unfamiliar with this new cultural phenomenon might wonder from where it emerged, who started it, and what users can gain from YouTube. The service began in 2005 as an “underground” venture, created after its founders experienced conflict and frustration while trying to share videos online. Fast forward two years later: YouTube is so well known that even the 2008 United States presidential candidates are using it to promote their platforms.
Politicians aren’t the only ones who see worth in this video-sharing Web site, as the Seventh-day Adventist world headquarters also recognize its value.
Williams Costa, Jr., associate director of the world church’s communication department, who is seen on many of the Brazilian Adventist YouTube music videos, accredits a specific human trait to YouTube’s success. “People have [a] curiosity to search and find,” he said. “For this reason, it’s becoming very popular, especially with the young people.”
VIDEO EXPERT: Adventist pastor Williams Costa, Jr., associate world church communication director, has posted many Adventist music videos on YouTube and supports the use of this technology.Costa notes that while there’s a lot of good information on YouTube, there are also a number of less-suitable items; though the service is itself morally neutral, good and bad can come from it. He believes, however, that YouTube is an overall positive experience and that Adventists need to place good materials on it. “We need to be proactive in producing good material in all medias,” Costa said. “Radio, Internet, YouTube, and Google—those are the tools that reach the people and we are about reaching the people.”
Thomas Dooley knows how to reach people. He works as a production coordinator for SRB productions in Silver Spring, Maryland, and believes YouTube should be used to its fullest potential as a witnessing tool.
“The church needs to experiment with the different technologies out there to expand their ministries,” Dooley said. “[It would be ideal] if somebody who’s homebound or searching for a religious experience can go on YouTube and see church service.”
Currently, YouTube is used to further ministries, give public exposure of a family’s “Kodak moments” with home videos, promote political platforms, and give a global stage to professional and amateur musicians.
“There’s so many other ways to get church messages out than a pastor going up [to a podium] and hoping someone’s going to walk through that door for that day’s sermon,” said Dooley, who shared information about his home church, Community Praise Center (CPC), an Adventist congregation in Alexandria, Virginia, and their venture into making their sermons into podcasts available via Apple, Inc.’s, iTunes music service.
Gemmell shares Dooley’s outlook: “The future is now,” he said. “Technology is going to continue to permeate society, and for those of us in the field of media, we need to understand new media and utilize it to the fullest.”
Costa would also like to see the church using YouTube and other communication media to reach out to people outside its own walls.
“We need [to reach] big cities,” he said. “We need to do everything possible to reach people with this message, especially in hard-to-reach places such as the 10/40 window [and] in China.”
According to Costa, the Lord is giving the church tools to do that now with advances in technology. He believes we need to be more than simply active in broadcasting the good news.
“We need to go ahead by faith and trust that the Lord will open the gates,” Costa said, “so that we can go fulfill the mission.”
hen Tom Robinson, an amateur yet avid genealogist, sent a sample of his DNA to a bioarchaeology firm, the resulting discovery required more than a letter in the mail. Robinson received a personal phone call that informed him that he was a direct descendant of Genghis Khan, the Mongol warrior who conquered vast tracts of Asia and Europe in the thirteenth century.1
For some, genealogy is just a hobby; for most, it is a pastime that rapidly turns into an addiction.
For some, genealogy is just a hobby; for most, it is a pastime that rapidly turns into an addiction. This obsession to trace and document one’s lineage is not a new fad—the Old Testament devotes large portions to genealogy. It is as though human beings are inherently driven to discover their roots. Finding and sifting through the lives of ancestors, in some unfathomable way, brings meaning to the living. Details of family history can heal wounds of an abandoned childhood, boost the low self-esteem of a dull and boring life, explain a harmful habit, justify attitudes and actions, or simply quell a yearning to answer the question Who am I?
Genealogy helps people understand who they are. Robinson’s connection to Genghis Khan caused him to reflect on personal traits that could be a result of his lineage to this noteworthy world leader (albeit ruthless warrior), such as his supervisory role at work and his ability to ride a horse.
For Christians, however, it takes more than family history to understand the significant slots that we fit into. Whether our research unveils a hero or a villain, who we are and what we are destined to be result not from DNA or genes or history but from a lineage that connects us directly to Jesus Christ. We must remember that we are “all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26, NLT).2 With this knowledge in our hearts, we must live lives worthy of that connection to the cross. We must live like children of God. 1