Hundreds of thousands of Adventist young people shared Jesus’ love in 132 countries for Global Youth Day, setting a new record that surpassed organizers’ expectations.
Records Broken as Young People “Are the Sermon”
By Andrew McChesney
Hundreds of thousands of Adventist young people shared Jesus’ love in 132 countries for Global Youth Day, setting a new record that surpassed organizers’ expectations.FOOD FOR ALL: Adventist young people share pizza with those who are homeless as part of Global Youth Day in Monterrey, Mexico.
Gilbert Cangy, Youth Ministries Department director for the Seventh-day Adventist world church, declared the third annual event a big success.
“I daresay today was a huge moment for the church and a huge moment for youth ministry,” Cangy said by telephone on Saturday night, March 21. “It was a pivotal moment. It proved once again that if you create an environment where young people can be involved, they will always surpass your expectations.”
Young people were challenged on Global Youth Day to “become Jesus’ hands and feet” by finding ways to show His love to others. Among other things, young people sang, visited hospitals, and swapped fruit for cigarettes. The motto for Global Youth Day was “Be the Sermon.”
Activities were held in 132 of the world’s 192 countries as recognized by the United Nations, and 73 percent of participants were young people between the ages of 13 and 34, said Cangy, the organizer of the event. He noted that this represented a critical age group that has disengaged from the church in large numbers in recent years.
“Global Youth Day goes against this trend,” he said. “It shows that our youth are willing to engage in the mission of the church if we are willing to give them leadership. I am very proud of our young people.”
It may never be known exactly how many people participated in Global Youth Day, but metrics from Google and on social media indicate that the number is up from the previous two years. Egypt, for example, was the only country in the Middle East and North Africa to host activities last year, but this year it was joined by Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, Cangy said.
In another first, footage from the event was live-streamed online and on the church’s Hope Channel from 19 uplink sites over 24 hours.
Virgil R. Bakulu tweeted from Manado, Indonesia, that his group had successfully given away fruit in exchange for packs of cigarettes. At a police station in South Africa, young people expressed their gratitude to officers by singing “Amazing Grace.”
Youth in India passed out food to homeless children, and a group in Botswana waved at passersby.
Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, encouraged youth to go beyond Global Youth Day and be a sermon every day until Jesus’ return. Wilson, who has participated in every annual youth day, spoke from a gathering of 5,000 youth in Colombia.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has come a long way from the 60-minute Let’s Talk television program in the 2000s, when the Adventist Church president took questions from young people. “Now we have a 24-hour program from 19 locations in the world, involving the youth not just in the discussion but in the planning and recording,” said André Brink, associate communication director for the Adventist Church, who videotaped segments for Let’s Talk and prepared a video feature on the 2015 event. “This is truly amazing.”
Nearly 6,200 people received $20 million in free Adventist health care at a Texas stadium, church leaders said, recounting behind-the-scenes stories about an overworked X-ray machine and an unexpected doctor’s referral.
Surprises Emerge From San Antonio
By Andrew McChesney
Nearly 6,200 people received $20 million in free Adventist health care at a Texas stadium, church leaders said, recounting behind-the-scenes stories about an overworked X-ray machine and an unexpected doctor’s referral.FULL COVERAGE: Evangelist Mark Finley prays with patient Marcus Daniel after Dr. Shaun Rusk (left) completed dental work at the free clinic in San Antonio.
Duane McKey, vice president for evangelism at the church’s Southwestern Union Conference, a cosponsor of the free clinic in San Antonio’s Alamodome stadium, said an X-ray machine typically makes 45 X-rays in two and a half days, but the machine donated by GE spat out a total of 338 X-rays during the event.
“The machine got so hot that it stopped working,” he told the Spring Meeting of church leaders at General Conference headquarters. “But the technician said, ‘I can fix it,’ and he cranked up the fan and got it working again."
McKey said a patient who got an operation worth $25,000 at a nearby Adventist hospital told how she had broken the news about her plans to receive the free surgery to her doctor. The doctor had expressed disbelief that anyone would provide her with such an expensive operation at no cost, so she had presented him with a flyer about the event.
Sometime later the doctor found himself speaking with another patient who urgently required an operation but didn’t have the insurance to cover the bill. “How am I going to come up with the $25,000?” she asked. The doctor handed her the flyer for the free clinic.
Evangelist Mark Finley joined McKey at the front of the auditorium to share a montage of local television news reports about the free clinic. He reminded the audience that the event had aimed to introduce San Antonio to the Seventh-day Adventist Church before thousands of Adventist believers arrived in July for the General Conference session in the Alamodome.
“The major news in that city was ‘Seventh-day Adventists … helping people,’ ” Finley said. “When we go for the General Conference session in that city, people will know who Seventh-day Adventists are.”WHOSOEVER WILL: Thousands of people wait in line for free Adventist healthcare before the opening of the Alamodome stadium in San Antonio, April 8.
From the sparkle in her eyes and the energy she exudes, one would never know that Valentina Ivanova had lived most of her life in primitive conditions in Siberia.
Banished, or Blessed?
Staying faithful to God and His Sabbath in Siberia
By Barbara J. Huff
From the sparkle in her eyes and the energy she exudes, one would never know that Valentina Ivanova had lived most of her life in primitive conditions in Siberia. Many of those near the age of 60 are languid; years of inconvenience, discomfort, and disappointment are etched on their faces.
That’s not the case with Valentina! She sprints instead of walks. She jumps instead of steps. Her smile brightens the darkest room; and the love of Jesus is reflected in her blue eyes.
A LIFETIME OF FAITHFULNESS: After 55 years together, Sasha and Valentina have much for which to be thankful. 16 AdventistIn the Beginning
Alexander (Sasha) Ivanov finished medical school in Moscow in 1959. Medical school graduates were assigned a place to work for three years. After that they were free to work where they wanted. He was given the choice to stay and teach at the medical school or go to Osinniki, Siberia, to work.
Sasha knew that if he stayed in Moscow, he would have Sabbath problems. He thought that if he were far away in Siberia, he would be less likely to be harassed; so he chose Siberia. A year later he and Valentina were married.
Sasha had problems with Sabbathkeeping from the very start of his career. He did not have to work the first Sabbath he was in Osinniki. But early the next week he was fired because he refused to work future Sabbaths for which he was scheduled.
In the first two years after graduating from medical school, Sasha worked at various jobs in eight cities, including one job he held for an entire year. He was watched night and day for some infraction of the Communists’ interpretation of the law.
After the KGB found Sasha at a home church, the local newspaper printed an entire page describing a man who chose the Bible over the scalpel. He feared that his medical license would be revoked. All this time Valentina stood by Sasha and cheerfully moved from one place to another. Eventually Nadia, the first of two daughters, was born.
In 1962 Sasha went to Anzherka to apply for work as a doctor who accompanied ambulances. He offered to work any time except Friday and Saturday, but he was scheduled for those days anyway. “I cannot do this,” he told his supervisor. He was subsequently fired. For a couple weeks he had no work at all.
At the beginning of the following week, Sasha received notice to report to the KGB office and was told that if he didn’t find work by the end of the week, he would be arrested. During that week he looked for any kind of work. He saw “Help Wanted” signs in various shops, but each time he inquired, he was turned away. Managers of the shops said, “Yes, we need help.” But when Sasha presented his passport, they said, “Sorry, we do not need you.” It seemed that his arrest was inevitable.
One day Sasha saw a sign advertising for a painter. Eagerly he went inside the building. The manager said, “Yes, we need a painter. Let me see your passport.”
When the man opened it and saw the name “Ivanov,” he said, “I shouldn’t tell you this, but the KGB has told everyone in the region not to hire you. I’m sorry.”
Defeated again, Sasha went home, knowing that he must report to the authorities the next day because the week was over and he did not have a job.
The next morning, with reluctant footsteps, Sasha made his way to the KGB office. When he didn’t return home, Valentina knew he had been arrested. After three days in jail and a mock trial, Sasha was sentenced to three years of exile and shipped to Mariinsk to work at a collective farm. It was a month before Valentina knew where he had been sent. Nadia was 13 months old; Valentina was 25.
Valentina eventually received a letter from Sasha’s telling her that the collective farm near Mariinsk where he had been sent was called “Victory.” With only this information, Valentina set off with a large bag and a backpack to find her husband. Leaving Nadia with a friend, and after a seven-hour train ride, Valentina arrived in Mariinsk.
It took awhile to find someone who knew where the farm was located. Eventually she was told about a man who was taking a truckload of supplies to Victory farm. She found the man, and he agreed to let her ride along.
Many types of people were sent to Siberia in those years: political prisoners; people like Sasha, who had been exiled because of some phony charges; and criminals serving sentences. Valentina was certain that this truck driver fell into the latter category. But she had no other way to get to the farm. She had to see Sasha, for she knew that his food would be inadequate and that he would need encouragement.
FAR FROM SIBERIA: Nadia Ivanova, photographed in her Moscow garden, is Health Ministries director for the Euro-Asia Division. She is the oldest daughter of Sasha and Valentina. Her sister, Tanya, is deceased.During a snowstorm the truck became stuck going up the final hill to the farm. It wasn’t far, only about a kilometer (half mile). Valentina chose to carry her heavy load up the hill in the snow rather than stay in the truck. As she approached the farm, she saw a building that appeared to be barracks. When she got nearer, she saw a man coming from the building. “Is there a man here named Sasha Ivanov?” she asked. Joy rippled through her body when the stranger confirmed that her husband was there.
Sasha was speechless when he saw his brave, smiling wife. She spent the night at the farm, then went back to her home and prepared to move to Mariinsk. Spouses and families of those who were exiled were allowed to live with their family members.
When Valentina and Nadia arrived at Victory farm, they were assigned to live in a tiny house with a woman who, with her husband, had been exiled there in 1937. Although her husband was dead, the woman stayed on because she had no other place to go.
The space in the tiny house allocated to the Ivanov family was actually just a windy corridor. Happy to be together in spite of the accommodations, the Ivanovs enjoyed this arrangement for 10 days.
One evening Sasha did not return from his work of caring for farm animals. He had been transferred again. Later he told Valentina that party officials told him that the country was not rich enough to use doctors as laborers on a pig farm. Communists may have been blind to many things, but they were not blind to Sasha’s unused talents, or to his integrity.
Again Valentina waited eagerly for word from anybody who might know the whereabouts of her husband. Eventually Sasha was able to get a letter to Pastor Zozulin, who made arrangements to move Valentina and Nadia by train. Thus began Valentina’s second quest to find her husband.
Good and Faithful Servants
It was a joyful reunion when Sasha collected his little family from the train station. However, that was the easy part of the journey. The three of them went the next 50 kilometers (30 miles) by truck. With another 50 kilometers to go, Sasha found a little Mongolian pony that was “half dead” to take them the rest of the way. They put their little pile of belongings on the cart, placed baby Nadia on top, and she and Sasha walked behind. “The scenery was breathtaking,” says Valentina. They were in a quiet, peaceful river valley surrounded by mountains. Part of the time they traveled on the frozen river. However, the river had begun to thaw, so there was water on either side of their track. Night fell, but the travelers pushed on.
Suddenly the quietness was broken by the sounds of another horse and cart coming toward them on the frozen track. Soon the two horses were nearly nose-to-nose on the narrow path, and there was not enough room for the two conveyances to pass. The man in the other cart, in a drunken stupor, was unaware of the dangerous situation. Sasha’s solution was to tilt the other sledge up and lift one runner off the ice and to carefully, oh, so carefully, lead the two horses past each other.
Exhausted from their ordeal, Sasha and Valentina had no choice but to keep walking. Their hope revived when they came to a little settlement where they found a home in which to spend the night. By now they had walked halfway to their destination, approximately 25 kilometers (15 miles).
The next day they found the cabin to which they had been assigned. Even though it had no windows, it was a most welcome sight to the weary travelers. Located on the side of the mountain, with a river flowing through the valley, the cabin’s surroundings were magnificent and peaceful. They arrived in March, which gave Valentina time to plant a garden and harvest the crops before Sasha was reassigned in September. During their three years of exile they lived in four places.
With Sasha’s exile nearing an end, another daughter, Tanya, was born, leaving the family wondering where they might find work. While Adventists who lived in cities were often unemployed or working at menial, thankless tasks, Sasha was doing the work he loved and for which he had been trained. Adventists in the cities were harassed; no one bothered the Ivanovs. The rich Siberian soil always produced a thriving, abundant garden; so the family had plenty of good food to eat. These were happy years for the little family.
The Ivanovs were surprised and relieved when the administrator of the regional Siberian prison system offered Sasha a job. While in exile he had had no choice where he would work. Now, however, he had a choice, as his status had changed from being an exile to being a free man. “Dr. Ivanov,” the man said, “you will have problems with your Sabbath wherever you go to find work. We value your work, and we want you to work for us in a different facility.”
Prison officials sent a helicopter to move the family and their belongings to the new location. They bought furniture for the family and settled them into a new home. This last move was to Novokuznetsk, where they lived in the same apartment for 25 years. Nadia and Tanya went to the same school for 10 years. Even though their little second-floor apartment had no toilet, no sewer, and no running water, and they cooked on a woodstove, the Ivanovs felt richly blessed.
Children of God
Sasha never again had Sabbath work problems. Altogether he worked 30 years as a surgeon in Siberia. When asked about the most difficult time in her life, Valentina brushed off the question. “Oh, everything was easy.”
Then she became serious and continued, “When Nadia started school, my real fears began. We would not send her to school on Sabbath, and the KGB threatened to take her away from us and put her in an orphanage.” One Sabbath Nadia’s teacher came to the house and asked Nadia to go to school with her. “I will take you to an orphanage if you don’t go,” she told the first grader. Nadia politely told the woman that she would not go to school on Sabbath. The teacher went to town to speak to the director of education.
“What kind of student is this girl?” he asked. The teacher had to admit that Nadia received all A’s. “Let them keep her at home,” he said. “We have students who attend all the time and don’t do nearly as well.”
After the fifth grade, however, Sabbathkeeping became a bit more complicated. The school held classes in shifts, and students went to school either mornings or afternoons. Afternoon classes began at 2:00 p.m.
In December and January the sun went down at 3:00. That meant that all winter Nadia, and later Tanya, had to miss two days of school each week.
Nadia recalls spending every Sunday studying to do her lengthy homework assignments. When she missed class on Friday and Sabbath, she never knew exactly which material had been assigned for homework and what had been covered in class. When she called schoolmates to ask about her assignments, they feigned ignorance. They had been instructed not to tell her anything. To compensate, Nadia studied constantly, and ended up at the top of her class.
One might think that Valentina’s daughters had a lonely childhood. Nadia says that that was not the case. They did not feel alone. They accepted their situation as a way of life. Their teachers talked openly against the girls in front of the other students. Nadia says that no one talked to her at school. Their family was branded as crazy and dangerous. Most parents would not allow their children to visit the Ivanov home.
Finally there was a breakthrough when Nadia was in seventh grade. Some neighborhood children were often home alone and frequently came to the Ivanov girls for help with their schoolwork. After that, other girls ventured into the home and discovered and spread the word that the Ivanovs were a normal, happy family, living in a comfortable home. They even had a radio and a piano!
Valentina’s fears about the children being taken from her were replaced by knowing that it’s possible to be true to God and also have community acceptance and friendship. Valentina cannot understand why anyone would feel sorry for the family being exiled to Siberia.
“We don’t know anyone who has only joy, happiness, and roses in their lives. Everyone has problems and difficulties,” says Valentina. “These difficulties make us stronger. We do not fear the future. We just try to find ways to overcome and survive. This keeps us closer to God because we need His guidance and wisdom in everyday living.”
Siberia is a cold place with untouched forests, wind, wolves, bears, and other wild things. But from all of this Valentina drew warmth, joy, peace, and happiness. Was Valentina really in exile? You decide.
Barbara J. Huff lives in Florida, United States, with her husband, Lee. Material for this story was taken from an interview with Valentina when the author lived in Russia. Sasha, 80, and Valentina, 77, are retired and live in Belgorod.
Imagine the challenge of catering food for the largest convention center on earth. Within this vast building housands of different groups are meeting, and they all need to be fed.
Feeding the 5,000 Times 500,000
Serving the four largest unreached population groups
By James H. Park
LET THEM COME: An educational tutoring program in Myanmar helps students to excel.
Imagine the challenge of catering food for the largest convention center on earth. Within this vast building housands of different groups are meeting, and they all need to be fed. The people are hungry, you have good food, but there is a huge problem. Despite doing your very best to feed that hungry throng, rarely do any of the multitudes show even the slightest interest in your best recipes! So one day your tiny catering company gets word from the world headquarters that special funds2 will be made available to select and train 60 chefs over a five-year period.3 The goal is to come up with tasty dishes for each of four major groups that are meeting in the convention center.4
Creating Local Cuisine
By now you must have realized that this article is really not about a real catering company or the training of chefs. Rather it chronicles a God-guided initiative to reach four major groups, Buddhists, Chinese, Muslims, and urban dwellers located in Asia. It is also the story of a small educational institution, the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS), located in the Philippines, dreaming big and being blessed with special funds from the tithe blessings received at the General Conference in 2007.
By a miracle of God’s grace, the first class begins on Monday, September 20, 2010, with exactly 60 pastors. The best chefs, professors, from all over the world are brought in to teach the students how to prepare tasty food for each of the groups. About a third of the students focus on spreading tasty treats for Buddhists, a third zero in on ringing the Chinese cuisine bell, and a third go to town trying to figure out what would delight the appetite of Muslims.
While three of the years are spent together on the central campus, one of the annual gatherings found the Buddhist’s chefs in Bangkok, Thailand, the Chinese cooks in Hong Kong, and the Muslim menu makers in Jakarta, Indonesia. They spent six weeks trying to catch the tastes of the urban dwellers and hone their cooking skills together. The pastor chefs were divided into small groups to create simple and easy-to-use recipes for the millions of member chefs that are trying their best to feed the group of more than 2.5 billion (5,000 times 500,000)5 hungry, unreached people in the convention center.
Many missionaries from various denominations have spent more than 100 years trying to interest native Thai Buddhist people in Christian food with little or no success. Billions of people in China have never even met one Christian in their entire life. Such high theological and sociological barriers have been erected between ristianity and Islam that providing loving service has become extremely challenging.
On top of these challenges, the limits of a tiny Adventist presence in that vast constituency make our attempt to cater a meal in the 10/40 window like putting a small table of food out in the parking lot during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl or the second half of the World Cup soccer final. Consider the figures from an abbreviated table noted in the General Conference’s 2012 Annual Statistical Report, which shows how small our footprint is in this vast and extremely diverse area:6 Until a few years ago, the only way to produce attractive, colorful brochures and materials (appropriate to interest the local population) was to engage a publisher with a big printing press that needed to run many thousands of copies.
With the advent of the laptop and the affordable inkjet printers now available in Asia, local pastors can create and print materials for the extremely low cost of 500 copies per US$1. Therefore, this print revolution has led to a dramatic decentralization of the production of materials. Local chefpastors, many of them with master’s degrees, should be encouraged to start making “dishes” for their own local communities. This creation of local, contextualized materials is exactly what Jesus did when He walked and taught in Israel. According to Ellen White, “the prince of teachers, [Jesus] sought access to the people by the pathway of their most familiar associations.”7
The Big 4 Student Projects As part of the creative process of focusing upon the challenges of the Big 4 communities within the 10/40 window, each student had to develop either an individual or a group project of contextualized materials for their particular ministry situation. In 2013 AIIAS professors visited all of the students in their field in order to ascertain the challenges and help guide them in the selection and development of an appropriate project.
Each student or group had to write a concise academic paper that explained the principles they used to develop the materials. Professors evaluated each project (including the paper and the developed material) and signed an approval sheet. Following the completion of their projects, Big 4 students put on a successful ministry fair on the campus of AIIAS on March 6, 2014, that led to more discussion of creative ministry approaches and inspired other students to think creatively of contextualized mission.
Some of the best projects were later presented to Adventist world leaders during the Annual Council’s focus on evangelism on October 11, 2014. Here is an overview of some of the projects, which were developed and are currently being used to reach out to the peoples of the 10/40 window.
Reaching Buddhists Mongolia: Rainbow Bible Study Guides: These introductory Bible study guides were developed by a pastor from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. This is the first set of Bible study lessons developed for the newly emerging field of Mongolia, and is based on the colors of the rainbow. The rainbow has deep cultural meaning in Mongolia, and each of the different colors illustrate a biblical truth. Thailand: Small Group Training Materials: These small group training materials were developed by three pastors from Thailand. Sensing the need of developing small groups in the urban centers of Thailand, these pastors created dynamic, contextualized materials to train pastors and members in starting and nurturing small groups. Reaching Chinese Shanghai: The Year of the Horse Bible Studies: This is a bound book of Bible studies developed and printed by the wife of a principal of a Seventhday Adventist music school in Shanghai, China. The studies are based on the year of the horse and are wonderfully illustrated and printed locally. Indonesia: Chinese Family Network Goal Device: The pastor of a Chinese church in Makassar City, Indonesia, built a device that attempts to capitalize on the extensive family networks within Chinese communities.
Through this device his Chinese members are encouraged to list all their immediate and extended family members and pray and work for their conversion.
HOPE ON WHEELS: This van is used in health ministries to reach Chinese people living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Malaysia: China the Wonderland: This engaging resource was developed by a student from Malaysia. It features a complete Vacation Bible School program in both Chinese and English based on famous landmarks of mainland China with a vibrant program, songs, crafts, and teacher guide.
Philippines: The Eight Big Blessings: These eight colorful brochures were developed by two college teachers and a staff worker for Philippine Frontier Mission. These brochures take the traditional Chinese blessings such as wealth, family, and prosperity and give them a more genuine spiritual and biblical basis.
OLD AND NEW: This very creative approach taken by a pastor in Indonesia uses well-known traditional Javanese folk puppets and traditional stories with a new twist that plants the seed of faith.
Reaching Muslims Indonesia: Bible Study Guides: Four pastors from Indonesia developed a highly contextualized series of Bible studies based on a folk hero of a minority people of central Java. They also filled an inexpensive MP3 player with local songs and materials to give lessons to people who are unable to read. Indonesia: Javanese Folk Puppet Show: A pastor developed a wonderful outreach based on traditional local puppets, which are still extremely popular in the open-air markets. Taking as his point of departure wellknown traditional stories, he has transformed these stories in ways so that people can begin to understand the basics of faith. Malaysia: Famous Food Bible Studies: A worker from the Sarawak Mission created a colorful and creative study tool featuring famous foods from his region. A background of the food is given, as well as a picture and the recipe. Spiritual lessons are then drawn from the food, providing a unique avenue to engage the local population.
OLD AND NEW: This very creative approach taken by a pastor in Indonesia uses wellknown traditional Javanese folk puppets and traditional stories with a new twist that plants the seed of faith.
Philippines: Muslim Student Outreach: A Filipino pastor, together with a college administrator, created a series of lectures for students of a major Muslim university in the southern Philippines called Ayat Allah (“Verses of Allah”). Through these 12 lectures, which includ a professional handout with a test, Muslim students are introduced to genuine spirituality through verses of the Koran.
DIVERSITY AND CREATIVITY: Four examples from Indonesia, Malasia, Mongolia, and the Philippines of using contextualized approaches for telling the “old, old story.”
Looking Toward the Future
The original Big 4 funding provided a budget for the rollout of these projects. AIIAS has been working diligently with the students and various Adventist Church departments within the region to make sure the students and projects are properly supported. Through careful management of the original funding, US$150,000 was left over to implement the rollout of the projects and add to the AIIAS library acquisitions in this area.
The 2014 Metro Manila outreach with General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson was strongly supported by providing training modules. Major research into nderstanding and ministering to Buddhists during their funeral services has already begun. Three years will be given to develop a specific curriculum for Buddhists, Chinese, and the work with Muslims in the 10/40 window. A cost-sharing plan has been developed between the Big 4 program, the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and the Center for East Asian Religions, located in Bangkok, Thailand, in order to enhance the effectiveness of the funds.
The project also envisions annual training programs for pastors in Myanmar, mainland China, Indonesia, and Malaysia. In Indonesia, pastors will be taught how to better understand Muslims and present God’s love in this particular context. Many years ago, at the end of a very long day of ministry, Jesus asked His weary disciples to feed 5,000 men (plus women and children) in a remote place. With time fast running out, all they were able to muster was a boy’s half-stale lunch of five barley loaves and two small fish. But as their humble human hands placed that meager meal into the mighty miracle hands of Jesus, there was a brilliant flash of Genesis creative power, and the tiny pittance was multiplied until “they all ate and were filled” (Matt. 14:20).
The sun is about to set on the big convention center. There are billions to feed, and our resources are scant. Let’s bring with the same faith whatever we have and place it in the nailpierced hands of Jesus, who can infinitely multiply the tiniest morsel into warm, fresh loaves to feed the 5,000 times 500,000.
James H. Park, is professor of discipleship and mission in the Applied Theology Department of AIIAS and also serves as director of the Big 4 project. He ministered in the Los Angeles area for 25 years before accepting a call to teach at the Theological Seminary of AIIAS.
1 The Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) is a General Conference institution located near Manila in the Philippines. It offers graduate degrees in business, education, health, and religion.
2 AIIAS wrote a proposal in 2009 to receive specially designated tithe funds to educate 60 pastors and develop materials for Asia. 3 This program, which involved AIIAS giving a master’s in ministry to 60 pastors, was called the Big 4 project because it gave practical instruction on how to reach Buddhists, Chinese, Muslims, and Urban dwellers within the 10/40 window. 4 For an excellent article citing the immense challenges facing the SDA Church in the 10/40 window, please read Mark A. Kellner, “Statistics Reveal Massive Adventist Missions Challenge, Leaders Say,” at http://archives.adventistreview.org/article/6675/archives/issue-2013-1527/27-cn-statistics-reveal-massiveadventist-missions-challenge-leaders-say. 5 While there are currently almost 5 billion people living in the 10/40 window, half of these, or 2.5 billion (5,000 times 500,000), are considered “unreached.” See the Joshua Project for an excellent overview of the number of unreached peoples at http://joshuaproject.net. 6 http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR2014.pdf. 7 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, are introduced to genuine spirituality through verses of the Koran.
Please pray for my grandparents; they are having serious health problems and need healing. And pray for me to find a job with an Adventist institution. Katty, Peru
Please pray for my wife, who is going to give birth soon. I need financial aid for her. Thank you! Win, Myanmar
Pray for me and my ministry. Shiful, Bangladesh
I am having financial difficulty and am unable to meet the needs of my family. I am working on several projects to help alleviate the situation. Please pray that God gives me faith, courage, strength, and wisdom to get over this situation, and that I have tremendous success with the projects. Clint, Trinidad and Tobago My faith is wavering, and I feel a gap between God and me. Please pray! Geoffrey, Kenya
Pray that our ministry has the means to achieve its goals of spreading God’s unconditional love to all. Bandao, Togo
Please pray for permanent residence in Australia for my family. We also need prayers for Christian education. Ekevati, Australia
I am studying theology but am finding it hard to fund my schooling. Pray that the Lord helps me. Enock, Zambia
Giving Light to Our World—GLOW—is an outreach initiative that originated in California, United States, but is now branching out to other world divisions. It’s based on the concept of church members distributing GLOW tracts—free of charge—at every opportunity. The tracts are currently being printed in 45 languages. Here are two short stories from Germany and South Africa that depict lives touched by GLOW: GERMANY: While traveling by train from Germany to the Czech Republic, a young church member met and had an enjoyable conversation with his former Czech language teacher. He gave her a copy of The Great Controversy in Czech, and a “Steps to Health” GLOW tract in German and Czech. She thanked him especially for the GLOW tracts and said that since they were already printed in both languages, she would plan to use them as translational course material for her next class.
SOUTH AFRICA: A couple living in South Africa were out shopping when the husband handed a young man a GLOW tract titled “Talking to God.” The young man looked at the tract and said, “I learned just this morning that my son has died.” After expressing sympathy for his loss, the husband handed him another tract—the only one he had left—titled “Is There Hope After Death?” Both tracts were written in Afrikaans, the young man’s home language. The wife later called the encounter “a divine appointment.”
Stories are compiled by Pacific Union Conference, United States, GLOW director Nelson Ernst and International GLOW coordinator Kamil Metz. To learn more about GLOW, go to sdaglow.org. To watch video GLOW testimonies, go to vimeo.com/user13970741.
Francis Wernick, a former vice president of the General Conference, spent much of his life proclaiming the Advent message of Jesus’ soon coming.
Church Leader Prepares Wife for His Death
By Andrew Mc Chesney, news editor, Adventist World
The Wernicks in an undated photo taken for a church directory.
Francis Wernick, a former vice president of the General Conference, spent much of his life proclaiming the Advent message of Jesus’ soon coming.
These days Wernick, who is seriously ill, is encouraging his wife of 72 years, Mary Sue, to keep her eyes fixed on that hope as he prepares her for his death. Wernick, 95, has lung disease, likely brought on by old age, and has had several close calls, said the couple’s eldest child, Brenda Flemmer, 64.
Wernick himself is ready to go, his children said. But he also wants to make sure that his college sweetheart, who turned 95 on February 3, 2015, and is 10 days younger than he is, is ready to say goodbye.
“My dad is ready to meet Jesus. He wants to go to sleep and rest,” said his son, Robert Wernick, 57.
“When he talks to my mom about this, he reminds her that Jesus is coming soon and they will not be apart very long, to stay faithful, and there is a better life ahead,” he said. “My mom believes this, but after 72 years of marriage it is hard to say goodbye, even for a little while.”
Francis Wernick, a lifelong Seventh-day Adventist born in Lake City, Iowa, met Mary Sue at the library where she worked at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. Within months the two final-year students were engaged, and they married on May 24, 1942, just hours after attending their graduation ceremony in the morning. The wedding, held at the Union College church, was inexpensive, and the decorations were homemade. The officiating pastor was Jerry Pettis, who went on to serve as a California lawmaker in the United States House of Representatives.
Married, With Orange Crates
Two days after the wedding the couple headed to North Dakota so Francis Wernick could begin his ministry. “I never got the feeling they spent a lot of time analyzing whether or not they were right for each other, but both were praying that they would find the right person and trusted God to lead,” said Robert Wernick, who retired in 2012 after 32 years in the energy industry and began caring for his parents at his home in Ooltewah, Tennessee, near Southern Adventist University.
Everything the Wernicks owned was packed into their car for the move to North Dakota, and they started life together with orange crates as furniture. It took some time before they were able to acquire chairs, a table, and a bed. They also rented a room in someone’s house for most of their four years in North Dakota and didn’t own their own home until much later.
“Their thought processes were much different than we have today, in that they saw life as a set of responsibilities both to each other and to God, and they genuinely wanted to faithfully meet those,” Robert Wernick said. “What the world had to offer never seemed very important to them.” After North Dakota, Francis Wernick led churches in Pennsylvania and Ohio and then accepted an invitation to become president of the Adventist Church’s East Pennsylvania Conference in 1958.
Wernick later served as president of the Ohio and Oregon conferences and was president of the Lake Union Conference when he was asked to help lead the world church as a general vice president of the General Conference from 1975 until his retirement in 1985.
The life of church service sometimes presented challenges, but the couple developed a close relationship that no crisis could breach, Robert Wernick said. “I never saw a major crisis in the marriage, although I know at times my mom would have liked to have Dad at home more rather then out in the field supporting the work,” he said.
Mary Sue Wernick never worked outside the home, a decision that allowed her to raise three children, Brenda, Robert, and Carolyn Jimenez. “My parents always believed God founded the marriage,” he said. “They trusted Him to help them keep it together and the home happy. They did their part and let God do the rest.”
But 72 years of marriage is a rarity, especially in rich countries where the average length of marriage before divorce is 13.6 years, according to data published by The Economist last year.
Secret to 72 Years of Marriage
A healthy Adventist lifestyle could certainly be seen as a contributor to the longevity of the Wernicks’ lives—and by extension their marriage. But their son said the secret to their successful marriage is much more: selflessness and a combined commitment to their marriage vows and to the responsibilities that God gave them in this life.
“I don’t think my parents ever felt that life was somehow about them or personal thoughts about what they deserved out of life,” he said. “They never lived selfishly, but always worked for the welfare of each other. They did not always get along, but my mom had a meek and quiet spirit that was a nice complement to my dad’s energy and drive to get things done and make things happen.”
Francis and Mary Sue Wernick getting married on May 24, 1942, hours after their graduation from Union College. Family friends spoke highly of the Wernicks’ commitment to God and each other. “They were always together, he providing a strong arm of support for her when she was unsteady on her feet,” said William A. Fagal, 68, associate director of the Ellen G. White Estate, where Francis Wernick serves as a life trustee. “She looked up to him with admiration and love. Their devotion to each other was palpable, as was their commitment to the Lord.”
In an example of their companionship, Francis and Mary Sue Wernick welcomed Fagal and his wife of 43 years, Sylvia, to the Washington, D.C., area in September 2003 by showing up at their front door with a box of homegrown garden produce and an invitation to Sabbath lunch. “When around the Wernicks, I would see her attentively watching him, listening to him as he talked, with an expression of interest, maybe a tiny touch of awe, certainly pride and total support,” said Sylvia Fagal, 71, whose own relationship with the Wernicks stretches back to when her father, Frank L. Marsh, taught biology to young Francis Wernick at Union College.
“It’s the solid, old-fashioned situation of the man being the head of the family and the wife in total support and very important in her role,” Sylvia Fagal said. “They were such a team that even years later she would speak of how lonely she had been without him when he was traveling and she was home with the children.”
Despite the heartbreak of watching her husband die, loneliness appears to be less of an issue these days for Mary Sue Wernick, who is in good health. The couple are together all the time in the same room. They often hold hands. Because they are both hard of hearing, they communicate more through touch. When he speaks, he offers words of hope about the resurrection.
“My mom always wanted him to go first,” said their daughter Brenda Flemmer, administrative assistant at the Biblical Research Institute at the General Conference. “She said she didn’t think Dad would survive without her.”
More than 2,000 are baptized after a first major evangelistic series. By Andrew Mc Chesney, news editor, Adventist World
Thousands of people, many hugging each other and weeping with joy, thronged around a vast lake for a mass baptism that concluded the Adventist Church’s first major evangelistic series in Nicaragua.
Dozens of pastors wearing white shirts and ties baptized 1,884 people in the rippling waters of Lake Nicaragua in mid-March. Another 200 people who could not make it to the lake were baptized in local churches, bringing the total number of nationwide baptisms since October to 12,000.
“May this baptism bless our waters,” Julia Mena, mayor of the nearby city of Granada, told the crowd. Adventist Church leader Ted N. C. Wilson, who stood beside the mayor, said it was a thrilling sight. “It was a privilege to be present at such an impressive scene,” he said.
Dozens of weddings also took place on the shore. Many Nicaraguans live in common-law marriages and have children, but never legally tie the knot. So lawyers donated their time to marry those people in civil ceremonies at the lake before they were baptized. Under Nicaraguan law, a couple cannot be legally married by a pastor. Among the people baptized was a woman whose son, an Adventist pastor, had prayed for 15 years for her to accept Jesus, church leaders said. The mother, in her 50s, made her decision at the lake and frantically began to search the crowd for her son so she could seal her commitment that day. Her son began crying when he heard the news. The pair hugged tightly, not wanting to let the other go. The son later baptized his mother.
The baptisms capped a year-long evangelistic effort that began with the establishment of about 5,000 small groups that studied healthy lifestyles in Nicaragua and neighboring Costa Rica. The groups later studied the Bible, and participants were invited to attend local evangelistic meetings. Evangelist Mark Finley wrapped up the initiative with four days of meetings to nightly crowds of more than 3,000 people in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital. The Adventist Church had 203,698 members in Nicaragua and Costa Rica as of December 2014. Major baptisms are also taking place elsewhere in the region, with 1,500 in El Salvador in mid-March, and 2,530 in Panama between January and mid-March.
Back in Nicaragua, Finley said local administrators and church members were dedicated to the mission of the church, and their enthusiasm rubbed off on the people who attended his meetings. “When public transportation did not run last Friday night, scores walked to the meetings,” he said. “One of our elders rented six taxis at great personal expense to bring Bible study interests to the meetings. Others took buses all night to attend our baptism. What mattered to so many of these Adventist believers was the salvation of their family, friends, neighbors, and working associates, and they were willing to make personal sacrifices to accomplish that dream.” n
Churches Open at Fastest Rate in History Church membership nears 18.5 million.
An Adventist church being opened in November 2014 in Guatemala, where 144 new churches were built last year.
Seventh-day Adventist churches are springing up around the world at the fastest rate in the denomination’s 152-year history. On average, a new building opens its doors to worshippers every 3.58 hours. A record 2,446 new churches opened last year, helping fuel the largest single-year increase in membership and bringing total membership to nearly 18.5 million. Gary Krause, director of Adventist Mission, whose missionaries play a key role in opening new churches, praised God for the growth and called for the Adventist Church to push ahead boldly in its mission to proclaim Jesus’ soon coming. “These statistics suggest that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is heading in the right direction in its mission and must keep that focus,” Krause said. The 2,446 new churches that opened last year is 381 higher than 2013, and tops the previous record of 2,416 churches in 2002, said David Trim, director of the Adventist Church’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research. The Adventist Church ended 2014—the tenth consecutive year in which more than 2,000 churches were organized—with a total of 78,810 churches, compared with 57,850 a decade earlier. Trim said the growth in churches was, from all evidence, an important but often overlooked part of the explanation for the growth in overall church membership. Newly compiled figures from his office indicate that a record 1,167,796 people joined the Adventist Church last year, surpassing the 1,091,222 people who joined in 2013 and the previous record of 1,139,000 in 2011. — Andrew McChesney, Adventist World
A Lomé prison inmate being baptized in the new baptistery.
Hope Channel in French The Adventist Church will launch its first round-the-clock television channel for the French-speaking world thanks to an ambitious plan by its Inter-American Division to start three new satellite channels. The three new channels—Hope Channel Français, Hope Channel Américas, and Hope Channel Caribbean—are expected to launch later this year in the three major languages spoken in the Inter-American Division: French, Spanish, and English. Hope Channel Français, however, will reach far beyond the French-speaking regions of the division because of collaboration between the Inter-European Division, the Adventist Church in Canada, and the French Antilles-Guiana Union. — Libna Stevens, IAD
30 Togo Inmates Baptized Thirty inmates were baptized at a Togo prison chapel built by the Adventist Church after prison officials asked for help replacing a previous chapel that had collapsed in bad weather. The chapel, located in the main prison in Togo’s capital, Lomé, cost $13,000, of which nearly half was donated by the General Conference, the administrative body of the Adventist Church. The baptisms were the result of an evangelistic series led by Bruno Amah, an Adventist member jailed in the prison, said Kwasi Sélom Sessou, executive secretary of the Adventist Church’s Eastern Sahel Union Mission. — Andrew McChesney, Adventist World
17 Families in Middle East Seventeen South American families have arrived in the Middle East as part of an unprecedented effort to share Jesus in a region where Seventh-day Adventists have struggled to make headway. The families underwent a three-week orientation course in Lebanon, which included the cultural shock of learning that the vast desert region also boasts snowy mountains, before scattering across the Middle East and North Africa to begin five-year terms. The missionaries are funded by the South American Division. — Chanmin Chung, MENA
A South American missionary building a snowman during an orientation trip in northern Lebanon.
Left: Hundreds of people being baptized in Lake Nicaragua. Below: Watching the baptisms are Ted N.C. Wilson, second left; Granada Mayor Julia Mena, fourth left; and Mark Finley, sixth left.