TRADITIONAL WAYS: These workers harvest tea the same way it’s been done for generations. Those who share the gospel with them must know something about their lifestyle and traditions.s we drove into town the van stopped with a jolt. The side door slid open and a man jumped in. “Go that way,” he pointed. As we drove through Hewaheta, a colorfully decorated town crowded with people engaged in their daily activities, a question raced through my mind. How are these people going to hear the gospel?
We were in Sri Lanka, a picturesque, pearl-shaped island nation some 30 kilometers (19 miles) off India’s southeastern coast. It’s been more than 100 years since Adventist lay member Abram LaRue landed in Colombo, Sri Lanka, as its first Adventist missionary. Yet only some 3,500 Adventists live among Sri Lanka’s 20 million people. Its strong ethnic and religious divides have caused skirmishes and years of social unrest, making it a challenging place to share the gospel.
The Setting The man who jumped into our van is Sivayogam, a Global Mission pioneer serving Sri Lanka’s beautiful hill country. This region is noted for its tea plantations and exceptional local produce. These cool rolling highlands are filled with hardworking Tamil people brought from southern India during British colonial days to work on the tea estates. Many of these “hill country Tamils,” as they’re called, spend most of their lives on these estates.
Frontline mission work in Sri Lanka means meeting people in their homes. There are no large halls to host evangelistic meetings. Most people don’t own a car. They travel by bus, public minivan, or three-wheeled taxi. The lucky few own small motorcycles that can barely carry more than one person up the steep roads. Some pioneers walk as much as two hours each way to study the Bible with people in their homes. Most pioneers live in small houses that double as churches.
We head out of the village and turn onto a twisting country dirt road just wide enough for two small cars to pass—if one pulls onto the shoulder. We stop at Sivayogam’s home at the top of the hill. He likes living out of town, shielded from prying eyes. People in this region don’t always welcome pioneers and are skeptical of Christianity in general.
Over the past 15 years as a Global Mission pioneer, Sivayogam has endured his share of trials. In one village nearly 1,000 people gathered and threatened his life. “I felt scared,” Sivayogam admits.
Slow, Steady Progress
WILLING TO SHARE: Sivayogam, a Global Mission pioneer, shares the gospel with groups small and large in Sri Lanka’s hill country.Sivayogam and his family hold worship services in his home. His wife, his partner in mission, runs an English-language school for nearly 60 children. The school gives Sivayogam a chance to meet the children’s parents. This is a great gateway for him to share the gospel. Each Sabbath Sivayogam and his wife conduct a branch Sabbath school for the students and their siblings.
After meeting his family and seeing the school, we follow Sivayogam across town to a tea estate where he holds a weekly prayer meeting. We turn into the estate and slowly pass women filling large baskets with tea leaves. We wind our way up the hill, stopping to pick up Masilamony, a young pastor from another faith. He’s been studying for the past year with Sivayogam.
Masilamony told us that a fellow minister at his church learned he was studying the Bible with Sivayogam and called him into his office. The man was upset; he beat Masilamony and kicked him in the face. Undeterred, Masilamony now keeps the Sabbath and hopes to become a Global Mission pioneer himself.
Near the top of the hill the van stops. “We’ll have to walk from here,” Sivayogam says. The path is too narrow to drive. Sivayogam’s group of nearly 20 people is waiting for us. Sivayogam stands on a large, red, floral rug in the center of the room. People sit on smaller carpets along the walls. The service is simple but special.
The meeting ended, we say our goodbyes and make our way back to the van. As we wind our way down the hill I’m impressed with Sivayogam’s work. But I realize that unless we have more pioneers like Sivayogam, many people in Sri Lanka will never have an opportunity to meet Jesus.
Ministry Behind Bars Preaching freedom to captives
By Daniel Weber
A guitar is slowly strummed as a group of men sing a hymn, their voices echoing off the concrete walls that surround them. A single window at the end of the room sends a soft light that envelops those singing. Peace and joy show clearly on their faces.
A CONTAGIOUS FAITH: Sentenced to life in prison, Valentin effectively shares his faith with a captive audience.This could be a typical scene from anywhere in the world: a group of Adventist believers singing and sharing their faith, celebrating new lives provided by a loving Savior. But this group is unlike most others in the church. These believers will never set foot outside the small compound they now worship in. They have been forgiven by God, but society requires them to spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
A Community in Transition The country of Moldova is a picturesque landscape nestled between the mountains of southern Ukraine and northern Romania. The streets of Chisinau, its capital, are similar to many cities and towns around the world. Children play in the park while holding balloons, young people gather in small groups visiting and laughing, families enjoy a bright sunny day. These images are so common they might be taken for granted.
This former Soviet republic has undergone a drastic transformation during the past 20 years. Yet despite all the changes, Moldova is still considered one of the poorest countries in Europe. People work hard, most of them in agriculture or government. They enjoy spending time with their families. Most people belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, but for many religion is more about tradition than experience. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has more than 11,000 members, a population ratio of one Adventist for every 390 people—one of the best in the entire Euro-Asia Division. Despite this growth, however, there are still many challenges.
Seventh-day Adventists in Moldova have found ways not only to spread the gospel, but to make a difference in their communities. One of these is Pavel Girleanu. In addition to the three churches he pastors, Girleanu works in seven prisons in Moldova. He does everything from arranging and holding church services in small, cramped cells, to arranging “family days” at prisons and detention centers. Girleanu is making a difference in the lives of people whom society wants to forget.
Help for “the Least of These”—and Their Families Girleanu arranges for groups of families to visit women’s prisons around Moldova. The smiles onthe faces of wo-men at seeing th-eir children for the first time in months show how much they appreciate all that Girleanu and his helpers are doing. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency provides volunteers, transportation for family members, and personal hygiene kits for the prisoners. Family members often break down in tears as the emotions of months of separation come to the surface. Although it’s a simple act of kindness, it’s a perfect example of how the church provides relief to those in need. Just as Christ helped people without judging them for their sins, Girleanu’s efforts are another way Christ is represented here on earth.
PRISON PREACHER: Pavel Girleanu (center) preaches to a group of believers who worship in a cell in Chisinau. In addition to his prison ministry, Girleanu leads three Adventist congregations.Girleanu has taken a special interest in a group most people would avoid. Inside a small cell that serves as his chapel, Girleanu leads a small group of prisoners in prayer and Bible reading. Sabbath school consists of a lively discussion, as this is the first time the group has been able to meet in nearly six months.
Outside the window of the cell, a courtyard gives glimpses of the lonely life these prisoners lead. All of them will spend the rest of their lives in desolation and despair; that is, unless they get the chance to talk to Valentin. He sits at the back of the group of prisoners as they start their church service. Valentin became a Christian, then an Adventist while serving a 14-year prison sentence. As he neared the end of his sentence, he felt compelled to confess all of his prior crimes, earning him a life sentence.
Valentin has not been afraid to share his faith with his fellow prisoners. He converted his first cell mate. Frustrated prison officials gave him a new cell mate, who soon became a Christian. Again they changed cell mates and the next person was converted. Valentin’s faith is contagious.
Recently Valentin was present at the baptism of a fellow prisoner. When the man came out of the water, Valentin hugged him to welcome him into God’s family. By accepting the man, considered a member of the lowest class of prison society, Valentin has been labeled an outcast by his fellow prisoners. He’s not allowed to touch or even talk to his fellow believers for fear they will be ostracized as well. But the men in this cell owe Valentin a debt of gratitude, for he was the one who brought each of them to Christ.
“He has given me this responsibility for a reason,” says Valentin. “The Word of God says we should be witnesses, His witnesses.”
The prisoners are thankful for the new lives they have been given by Christ. Despite all they’ve done, these men now lead new lives.
WITNESSING WITHOUT WALLS:While in prison, Zakir, a former Muslim, asked an Adventist pastor to visit his family, many of whom have now become Adventists.Another prisoner is Zakir, from Turkmenistan, a country in which the Adventist Church has a very small presence. Zakir was a Muslim; when he converted to Christianity his family in Turkmenistan abandoned him. He hasn’t seen a family member in almost 15 years.
Still, Zakir contacted the president of the Adventist Church in Turkmenistan and asked him to visit his family. The president visited Zakir’s relatives and developed a relationship with them. Several have now joined the church and are making plans to travel to Moldova to visit Zakir in prison.
“God is ready to accept us despite all our sins,” says Zakir. “With all we’ve done up to now, He’s given us salvation and forgiven us.”
The church service ends with Girleanu’s closing prayer, and the prisoners prepare to return to their cells. For them the Sabbath service is over, but they wish to give one last message to their fellow Adventists around the world. “Please pray for our small group,” says Zakir. “It is just beginning its way to Christ.”
Thank you for your support of Adventist mission around the world. To learn more about mission and the role you can play in telling the world about Jesus, please visitwww.AdventistMission.org.
Daniel Weber is a video producer for the Office of Adventist Mission.
Adventists around the world are serving others in God’s name.
“Why should not the members of a church, or of several small churches, unite to sustain a missionary in foreign fields?” asked Adventist pioneer Ellen White (Gospel Workers, p. 466).
The Radoi family needed a helping hand. The husband and wife and their eight young children lived in a small Romanian village in one room of an old house, says Cristian Modan, Romania’s youth director and volunteer program assistant. Even worse, the house was unlivable. “There were no windows and the roof was leaking,” says Modan. “Because of this, two of the small children were already sick. The father, sick with tuberculosis, could not work, so the mother was left to find work every day wherever she could.”
Life continued like this for the Radoi family until a group of young Romanian volunteers banded together to help. Through fund-raising, says Modan, “the volunteers raised 6,000 euros and bought a house for the family.”
THE EXPANDING ADVENTIST WORLD: These new believers in Okoita, Nigeria, display their baptismal certificates and copies of Adventist World. They were baptized as part of the evangelistic meetings conducted by HisHands volunteers.Just who are these volunteers who were able to make such a big difference in the lives of one Romanian family? They are a small sample of people from all over the world who are currently taking part in HisHands, an Adventist Volunteer Service initiative that seeks to help volunteers serve as God’s hands in a world of need.
Born of Necessity First implemented in late 2006, the HisHands program was inspired by the Holy Spirit and the acute need for Adventist volunteers throughout the world, but especially in places such as Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa, says Vernon Parmenter, General Conference director of the Adventist Volunteer Center. With the help of a special committee, Parmenter was able to develop it into a significant outreach tool.
The initial idea of HisHands was that churches or organizations in developed countries could sponsor volunteers to help with specific, long-term missionary projects overseas. All expenses would be paid by the sponsoring church or institution so that calling organizations could receive the volunteer missionaries at no cost. This would be ideal for all those organizations that needed the help of volunteers, but couldn’t afford the costs of hosting them.
When HisHands was presented in Nigeria, it caught on quickly, but with a twist. Gideon C. Nwaogwugwu, president of the Eastern Nigeria Union Mission (ENUM), says that because missionaries rarely came to Nigeria, “we decided that we didn’t necessarily need missionaries from overseas. We had missionaries right here already in our own churches.” With this in mind, ENUM started the program with Nigerian churches sponsoring Nigerian HisHands volunteers to help with projects in their own country.
As a result, Nigerian HisHands volunteers have made a substantial and ongoing contribution. N. John Enang, volunteer coordinator for the West-Central Africa Division (WAD), reports that a total of 177 people have been baptized there as a result of projects undertaken by HisHands volunteers.
One such project was an evangelistic series late last year in Okoita, Nigeria. The story starts, in actuality, long before the campaign. Bassey Udoh, executive secretary of ENUM, relates that months in advance of the series, eight HisHands volunteers had been sponsored to go to Okoita. “They went round the town giving Bible studies and interacting with people,” he says. By the time the meetings started, the town, which, according to Udoh had been “very resistant to the Adventist message,” seemed ready to hear what the speakers had to say. “Daily attendance was over 300 people,” exclaims Udoh. “This type of turnout has never been experienced before in this territory, even where we have [a] strong Adventist presence. Many are already indicating an interest in baptism.”
The Next Step As Parmenter observed what was happening in Nigeria, he again felt impressed to rethink the strategy of the program. He realized that HisHands volunteers need not only go from developed countries to undeveloped countries; they could be sponsored by their home churches to help out with mission projects in their own countries or divisions. This is how it happens already—not only in Nigeria and Romania but in other countries as well.
A BETTER BUILDING: In a room ofthe old house where the Radoi family had been living, volunteers get ready to move them to a better, more hospitable home.HisHands is off to a good start in the Euro-Asia Division (ESD). According to Michael Kaminsky, volunteer coordinator and executive secretary of ESD, exciting reports from the HisHands program have come in from all over the division. HisHands volunteers in Belarus have introduced Seventh-day Adventism in 25 different locations, says Kaminsky, and as a result, 33 individuals have been baptized.
Kaminsky tells a story of a HisHands volunteer from Moldova: “In the village of Kishkaren in Moldova, Yeshanu Konstantin was invited by a Pentecostal family to come to their church. Konstantin soon became friends with the elder of the church and was asked to preach a sermon there. In his sermon, Konstantin used Revelation Seminar materials. The church members listened carefully and tried to write down every word he said. One woman was so interested in the message she asked Konstantin to conduct a Revelation Seminar for her family. Konstantin, of course, conducted the seminar, and, as a result, the entire family joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
Yeshanu Konstantin is only one. Yet through the HisHands program he is doing a mighty work—the work of God’s hands.
More Opportunities Around the world, others are also offering themselves and their talents to do the work of HisHands. Though the program is still relatively new, program leaders have already started HisHands-related activities in five divisions, and a rich harvest of believers is already being reaped as a result. After only a few months, at least 224 people have been baptized. And this is only the beginning. Other divisions, such as the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD), are still planning and gearing up for HisHands programs of their own.
Whether HisHands volunteers come from our own backyards, or from other divisions, the Holy Spirit will lead more of them to serve. Their work speaks for itself; one can only imagine what could happen when thousands more commit themselves to spreading the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit.
To learn more about the HisHands program, visit hishands.adventist.org. Here, divisions can learn how to advertise their needs, and churches/organizations can adopt a project.
The world of Islam is changing before our eyes as Muslim leaders reach out in dialogue to Christians and Jews. Seventh-day Adventists increasingly are involved as invitees and themselves are initiating conversations with Muslims.
Why would Adventists wish to be involved in these developments? And why would Muslims, given the large number of Christian bodies, be interested in meeting with a comparatively smaller faith grove in the Christian scene? The answers to these questions give insights into the rapid changes taking place.
Our Long Shadows
From the Adventist side, the reasons for our engagement are simple. They boil down to one word: mission. We are a world faith with a distinct identity and mission—to declare God’s character and to help prepare a people for the soon return of Jesus Christ. Islam likewise is a world faith, with followers not only in countries stretching from Morocco to Indonesia, but increasingly in countries with traditional Christian bases. Today some 5 million Muslims live in France, representing 10 percent of the population. In the United States, Muslims number around 10 million.
Thus almost anywhere on the face of the globe, Adventists and Muslims occupy the same ground. Muslims are our neighbors, not just followers of a far-off religion. As servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is incumbent on us to interact with Muslims on all levels, from the neighbor next door to official contacts.
For many years the Adventist Church has engaged in conversations with representatives of other churches. These encounters have resulted in much good, as stereotypes have been broken down and misunderstandings on both sides have been removed. On the Adventist side, a great benefit has been the dropping of the false designation of our church as a “cult” or “sect.”
I have been involved in these interchurch conversations for more than 20 years and am convinced that they are of significant value. I also have become persuaded that in all such meetings we should present our distinctive beliefs graciously, but clearly, winsomely, but honestly, holding back nothing that we stand for. To attempt to curry favor with the other party is to mislead and to invite both short- and long-term disaster.
Whether our conversations are with other Christians or with followers of other religions, our purpose is that there shall be a genuine, mutual recognition of who we are (and we ourselves can best state that), the values we seek and hold high, and why we seek the open scene and not obscurity.
These new conversations present us with new challenges. Muslims tend to paint all Christians with the same brush: in lifestyle, as pork eaters and alcohol drinkers; in geopolitical stance, as pro-Israel and anti-Arab. A major goal for Adventists is to show and explain that we are not just another Christian denomination; that our lifestyle is similar to Muslims’ in key areas; and that we are an international, global community of faith whose agenda is not driven by the winds and directions of secular politics. We also want to convey that our convictions about religious freedom—a topic of keen interest to Muslims in some countries—lead us to encourage leaders of all nations to permit adherents of minority faiths to build places of worship and assemble together.
While the differences of belief between Adventists and Muslims—particularly over the person and work of Jesus Christ—are major and are not to be “dumbed down,” there are significant points of contact that invite dialogue. Among these are the high regard we each have for holy writings; belief in creation rather than evolution; the expectation of and preparation for the Day of Judgment; the Second Coming of Jesus Christ; and belief in prophetic messengers. Thus, Adventists have openings for fruitful conversations with Muslims that other Christian churches do not.
For many years Adventists have been involved in cooperative endeavors with Muslims. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Loma Linda University heart team rendered much-appreciated service and Loma Linda still maintains contact through extension courses offered within the country. Likewise, in Afghanistan, Adventist medical work has a long history and through Loma Linda personnel today plays a major role.
In addition to such practical demonstrations of Adventism, the church set up an Institute for Adventist-Muslim Relations. Its representatives have quietly spread the knowledge of who we are and what we stand for in the Islamic world.
One of the first Muslim initiatives for dialogue in recent times originated in the state of Qatar on the Persian Gulf. For six years in succession the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Sharia Studies at the University of Qatar has sponsored an International Conference on Interfaith Dialogue. For the most recent meetings—in 2007 and 2008—Adventists have been invited to attend, with all expenses paid, and to present papers.
With the release of the open letter “A Common Word” on October 8, 2007, signed by 138 high-ranking Muslim clerics and leaders, the pace of interfaith engagement has accelerated. Now “dialogue” seems to have become the buzz word. The Vatican has set in motion ongoing conversations with leaders of Islam and the major Christian denominations, plus bodies like the World Council of Churches are meeting to decide their response to the invitation given in the open letter.
Ten days after the release of the open letter, the Adventist Church sent a reply to its framers, applauding their initiative and indicating our willingness to engage in dialogue with Muslims. When a joint Christian-Muslim meeting of scholars met at Yale University in July 2008, an Adventist was invited to join the group of 150 assembled for discussions. Likewise, when King Abdullah of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia called a meeting to plan the international interfaith dialogue that convened in Madrid, Spain, July 13-15, an Adventist was included among the invitees.
In the United States we have established a relationship with the Islamic Society of North America, the largest Muslim organization in America. The General Conference hosted a meeting with their representatives at the church’s headquarters, and Adventists and Muslims cooperated in a joint Health Expo at the group’s annual convention held in Columbus, Ohio, August 30–September 1. Some 40,000 people attended the gathering.
Larger initiatives lie just ahead. We have developed an excellent relation with the directors of the Royal Jordanian Institute of Interfaith Studies, based in Amman, Jordan. The first of a series of official conversations has been planned for the near future.
This is just the beginning. The world of Islam, changing fast, is vast and diverse. Impelled by mission, we need to engage Muslims in many different parts of the world. Whenever and wherever the Lord opens a door of opportunity, we must move ahead without delay.
William G. Johnsson is an assistant to the General Conference president for Interfaith Relations.
“If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.” —David Livingstone, Christian missionary and explorer
Situated on the southern third of Africa is the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The division territory stretches from Zambia to South Africa, Angola to Mozambique, and includes island nations such as Madagascar and Mauritius. Today some 151 million people live in this division. More than 2.2 million are Seventh-day Adventists. That’s a ratio of about one Adventist for every 68 people.
Scottish missionary David Livingstone arrived in the southern part of Africa in 1841. Sent by the London Missionary Society, he carried the Christian message into the interior of the continent. At age 27 Livingstone had no idea the impact he would have on the region. More than 30 years later, Livingstone would die in Africa, found kneeling by his bed in prayer.
Adventist missionaries arrived in southern Africa some 20 years after Livingstone’s death. In 1895 W. H. Anderson, his wife, Nora, and two other American missionaries traveled for six weeks by oxcart from South Africa to Zimbabwe. There they established the first permanent Adventist mission station on the continent of Africa. That mission station is now the site of Solusi University. The Andersons served nearly 50 years in southern Africa, eventually establishing mission stations in Zambia and Angola as well.
AN EXERCISE IN FAITH: It took William H. Anderson (left) and his wife, Nora (not pictured), six weeks to travel by oxcart from South Africa to what was then Rhodesia, and is now Zimbabwe. They helped establish what is now Solusi University.The legacy of faith and courage left by Christian missionaries such as Livingstone and the Andersons lives on in the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division.
For years many of the countries have been devastated by war, civil unrest, and widespread poverty. Yet despite the physical hardships, God has blessed His work here. Adventist church membership has grown. Great challenges remain, however. There are few Adventist schools and many of the existing schools have been destroyed by war, making it difficult for Adventists to get an education. Adding to the problem, there aren’t enough trained Adventist teachers, so Adventist schools occasionally have to hire non-Adventist teachers.
Located just below the equator along southwestern Africa’s Atlantic Ocean coastline, Angola lies between Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This Portuguese-speaking nation is rebuilding after enduring more than a quarter century of strife.
In 1975 Angola gained its independence from Portugal after 400 years of colonization. War soon broke out as different political factions fought for control. More than 500,000 people were killed, and 4 million refugees suffered during 27 years of civil war.
Following the signing of a peace agreement in 2002, Angola’s economy is being transformed, moving from the disorder during the civil war to become the second fastest-growing economy in Africa.
The Adventist Church in Angola struggled during the civil war as well. Even though the church grew to some 300,000 members, much of the church’s infrastructure was damaged. In just one region of the country 145 church buildings were destroyed.
During the war Bongo Mission Station, where William and Nora Anderson had begun Angola’s Adventist work in 1924, was evacuated. In 1986 workers at the mission station were forced to flee as fighting moved into the area. Some of the mission’s buildings are still standing, but are in urgent need of repair.
Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help rebuild Bongo Mission, including the Bongo Adventist Seminary. Before closing its doors Bongo averaged 300 students and offered elementary school through high school and three years of Bible instruction.
Mozambique lies along Africa’s southeastern coast just north of South Africa. Long sandy beaches and the warm Indian Ocean once made this country a vacation destination. However, years of civil unrest have left desolate what once were lavish, luxury hotels.
In 1975, after nearly five centuries of Portuguese rule, Mozambique gained its independence. Over the next two decades a civil war raged, and an ongoing drought sent the country spiraling into an economic depression.
Despite a chronic lack of resources, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mozambique has grown rapidly over the past 15 years. Church membership has grown from 70,000 to 200,000 members.
Along with the many new members have come many new challenges. Because of the instability of the war, most people never learned to read or write; most Adventists in Mozambique have had little or no education. With the support of the last Thirteenth Sabbath Offering to this division, the church is working to build a training school in Mozambique to educate pastors and teachers to train new believers in spiritual growth.
Zambia is a landlocked nation in southern Africa sandwiched between the Democratic Republic of Congo to the north and Mozambique to the south. It’s considered by some to be one of the world’s 50 poorest countries.
Once a British colony, Zambia is home to some 12 million people and nearly 600,000 Adventists—a ratio of one Adventist for every 20 people. Yet in the entire country the Adventist Church has only one secondary school and a handful of elementary schools.
In 2003 the Adventist Church established Zambia Adventist University in southern Zambia, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) outside the capital of Lusaka. Already more than 800 students study there. The school library has some 42,000 books, but no library space to house them. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help provide a library for this university.
This Thirteenth Sabbath you have an opportunity to support the Adventist Church in southern Africa. You can help tell the world about Jesus by rebuilding Adventist schools in Angola and Zambia, so young people can get the education they need to be become active and contributing members of their church and society. With your support they can learn to share a message of hope in Jesus with people in their communities.
Thank you for doing your part to share God’s love with the world. And thank you for your support of the weekly mission offerings.
Taking the gospel to Southeast Asia requires more than human resources.
By Laurie Falvo
The Southern Asia-Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is home to nearly 750 million people. This beautiful region of the world is mind-boggling in its diversity. Each country has its own exotic mix of languages, religions, and cultures.
This immense diversity makes this territory one of the most challenging areas in the world in which to share the gospel. Church growth has been slow, but exciting things are beginning to happen.
The Southern Asia-Pacific Division is made up of 18 countries tucked between China, India, and Australia. This area includes the Southeast Asia region, the countries of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and the Oceanic missions of Guam and Micronesia.
Another great challenge to mission in this division is its staggering population. It has more than 20 cities greater than 1 million people each. Eight of the 18 countries have fewer than five Adventist churches or companies for every million people. And 77 unique ethnic groups have more than 1 million people who may have never even heard the name of Jesus.
“We have between 800-900,000 members in the Philippines and Indonesia, where the majority of our members live,” says Rick McEdward, division Adventist Mission coordinator. “But in the areas that are more difficult to reach, it’s a real challenge. The percentage of our members living outside these two countries is quite small.”
The challenges are huge, yet the church is growing.
In 1975 the Pol Pot regime took power in Cambodia, killing millions of people and crushing the backbone of the Adventist Church in that region.
Thousands of refugees poured into crowded camps, bringing nothing with them but hunger, fear, and the clothes on their backs. Yet in their darkest night, Adventist missionaries were there to offer a glimmer of hope.
Dick and Jean Hall were missionaries in southern Asia for 25 years and personally ministered to the displaced people of Cambodia. “One day,” says Pastor Hall, “the refugees asked us why the Adventist Church bothered to help them when they could give nothing in return. We said, ‘We’re here because of Jesus. ‘Well, who’s Jesus?’ Then we’d begin to tell. ‘God sent His Son to this world because He loves us and wants to help us. We’re in need, and He asks us to go out to all the other people in need and help them.’ And they said, ‘We want to learn more about Jesus.’”
From the refugee camps a handful of new believers went back to Cambodia as pioneer workers. The Cambodian church was reborn. Today it’s growing rapidly through Global Mission pioneers, the help of supporting ministries, and a carefully planned small-group ministry movement.
The tiny country of Laos, nestled between Vietnam and Thailand, has few Christians.
Before political changes closed formal Adventist work, Dick and Jean Hall served there as missionaries, operating a small school in a mountain village.
“The thing I am most proud of,” says Hall, “is that the Lord was able to use us in reaching some of the Hmong, the mountain people, who went to our little school. They became pastors and now they’ve gone out and raised up churches.”
In 1961 the Halls were forced to evacuate. But before leaving, they helped many of their students leave via their plane. Today the church is impoverished. Without a single ordained minister in the entire country, it desperately needs training and resources.
Jakarta, Indonesia, is the largest city in the largest Muslim country in the world. It’s a city of stark contrasts. Here modern buildings and conveniences clash with shocking poverty and despair.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has chosen Jakarta as one of its Hope for Big Cities projects, an initiative to build the church in some of the largest cities in the world. Here pastors and lay members are partnering to reach the 18 million people in their city. They’re giving Bible studies, training new workers, and ministering through small groups.
And they’re reaping a small harvest. When the church held a recent evangelistic series, more than 1,600 people gave their hearts to Jesus and were baptized.
Yet very few of these conversions were from the majority Muslim population, which continues to be extremely difficult to reach.
Jon Dybdahl, a former missionary to Southern Asia, shares some of the challenges of presenting the gospel in this part of the world.
“One of toughest challenges is that most of the people here are non-Christian Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and therefore we don’t share a common background. Most of us in the West—Europe, Australia, and North America—have been trained to share our faith with people from a Christian background. You don’t realize that until you move out and try to work with another religion.”
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, lies in the heart of the 10/40 window, where two thirds of the world’s population live. It is home to many world religions, relatively few Christians, and rapidly growing cities.
Until recently there were only five Adventist churches in Bangkok. Doug Venn is coordinator for the Hope for Bangkok church planting project that is working to reach the city’s 10 to 13 million people.
“With the Hope for Bangkok project and help from the world field, we’ve started 10 new church plants,” says Pastor Venn. “These all started from small groups. We’ve had changed lives and baptisms. But the most exciting thing is that the laypeople have just seized the work. So our investment of 10, thanks to the sacrifice of the world church, has blossomed and another eight more have started.”
The success of this church planting project is astounding. Especially when you realize that the church has had a presence in Thailand for more than 100 years. Yet throughout all of Thailand we have a relative handful of believers—and most of these come from small minority groups, not the dominant Thai population.
Building bridges of understanding is what the Global Mission Center for Ministry Among Buddhists is all about. Center director Scott Griswold, who has lived among Buddhists for many years, is seeking more effective ways to help them understand Adventist beliefs. Every Sabbath the Griswolds hold a church service in their home and invite their Buddhist friends and neighbors to attend.
Recently their Buddhist landlady, friend, and aunt to their children accepted Jesus as her Savior.
“We praise God for so many good things that are happening in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division,” says Adventist Mission director Gary Krause. “But we still see the tremendous challenges that remain. We don’t have the answers. We don’t have the plans. We don’t have the resources. But we must pray that even though we are not sufficient for these things, we will trust in God who is. And we will be committed to be part of His plan to reach every man and woman, boy and girl, with the good news about Jesus Christ.”
Laurie Falvo is a Communication Projects manager for the Office of Adventist Mission at the Seventh-day Adventist Church world headquarters. To learn more about Seventh-day Adventist missionaries and what is happening in mission in the world church, visitwww.AdventistMission.org.
Walking in Their Shoes Getting close to people by stooping to serve
By Rick Kajiura
Travel through the high desert of north-central Arizona in the southwestern United States, and you come to the town of Page. Head south from there, and you enter the land of the Navajo nation. This is the reservation of the largest Native American tribe in the United States. There is no Seventh-day Adventist church in Page—at least not yet. But one family has been hoping and praying for a church there.
“Native Americans originally occupied this land,” says Dan Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America. “The rest of us are really immigrants. Yet our First Nations, or Aboriginal peoples, are among the most underserved populations in our ministry outreach in North America.”
The closest Seventh-day Adventist church is a two-hour drive away in Flagstaff. In Utah are the Monument Valley (two and a half hours to the east) and St. George (three hours north) churches. There’s nothing to the west of Page except the Grand Canyon.
A Homecoming of Sorts Allen and Kelley Fowler came with their family to this area several years ago. For Kelley and the children it was a new adventure. For Allen, a Navajo, it was like coming home. In the years since he had left, Allen had met and married Kelley, started a family, and become a Seventh-day Adventist.
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE: Allen and Kelley Fowler hope this community center will provide their friends with a venue to take classes in health, family, and spirituality.Allen’s family expected him to return the same as when he had left. When he came back as a Christian, they were shocked. After three years they’re getting used to it.
Because Allen is a Navajo, he brings a unique perspective and understanding to their ministry. “To understand Navajos, you have to walk in their shoes, take part in their grief, take part in their way of life,” says Allen. “Then they won’t say, ‘You never did this; you never experienced this.’ When you lived there, you grew up there, you can say, ‘I know you. I know what happened and how it happened. I had the same experiences you had, so there’s no excuse why you can’t change the way your life is.’ You can talk to them straight and they don’t have any excuse for not really responding. It really impacts them.”
A Ministry Is Born When the Fowlers first moved to Page, they lived in a traditional Navajo hogan. Today they live in a house that’s still not finished because their ministry comes first. Not only did Allen and Kelley move to a new location—they also found a ministry to the Navajo people.
Kelley says, “The whole model of going to the door and asking, ‘Do you want to have Bible studies?’ doesn’t work out here, because they have to see that you care about them and that you really have their best interests in mind. Then they’ll trust you.”
As the Fowlers saw the needs around them, they decided to build a community center so that they could help their newfound friends and neighbors.
“The community center has been such a beautiful work in progress,” says Kelley. “To us it feels like it took a long time, but in the scheme of things it’s almost done, and it only took two and a half years to get it done with all the mission trips that came.
“Our goal for the community center is to have cooking classes at least once a week. We would love to have people come in and help us, to move here and help us on a regular basis; to have a cooking class every week and to make sure people would always know that it would be on Tuesday night. We would love to have a well. The well is in progress. Once the well is put in, it’s going to be even more of a draw, because people have to travel so far for their water.”
The community center is nearly finished thanks to the help of volunteers who have come on mission trips to help Allen and Kelley.
Jim Genn is one of these volunteers using his building talents to work among the Navajo. “Everyone has a talent,” he says. “If you turn your talent over to God, He’ll tell you what the talent is. It might be out here scooping sand, driving nails, or sending money—whatever.”
UNITED IN SERVICE: With their two children, Allen and Kelley Fowler hope to bring the message of Christ’s love to the Navajo nation.Some people, such as Francis Browning, found a mission field in their own backyard. “We went to Mexico a number of times, until it got so hard to get across the border. Now it’s getting unsafe to be down there, so we started looking for something closer to home. Here we don’t have to have a passport, we don’t have to get airline tickets for a long flight. There are mission fields all over if we just look for them.”
Something for Everyone Why do people like Jim and Francis help with projects like this?
“These [projects] don’t belong to me,” says Jim. “They belong to the Lord.”
Even though it’s not quite finished, the community center is already making a difference in Allen and Kelley’s neighborhood. “Now that it’s almost done, we’ve really seen a huge increase in the awareness of the community that we’re here to help them,” says Kelley. “We just want to keep the mission trips coming. We need mission trips for pretty much anything you can imagine that a trip could do—medical missionaries, building, dentistry, you name it. They need our help.”
Some of those being helped are interested in learning more about what Allen and Kelley believe. They had so many requests that they’ve asked a Bible worker to come and help them.
The Bible worker, Carla Clare, reports, “I’ve been here only a few weeks, and I’ve realized that we have more than 200 names.”
Although most of their ministry is on the reservation where they live, Allen and Kelley are feeling God’s call to start a church in Page, the nearest town. For Allen it’s a homecoming in more than one sense.
“It feels comforting to be here and to work for God. God places you where you need to be, for the experience, and anything in life is to prepare you for work that you don’t know of but that God will show you in time. When I walk here, it brings me memories of my childhood. That’s why God let me go through that experience—so I’ll be able to be prepared for now.”
“To have a young couple move to Page, Arizona, and build a community center where there can be studies, worship, and so on is an exciting project,” says Dan Jackson. “To see our native work all throughout North America is a positive thing because it is a growing work. But we do have to support this very worthy project.”
Twenty-five percent of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help finance projects in the North American Division, including ministries to Native American and immigrant populations. Thank you for supporting Adventist Mission.
A simple idea revolutionizes a church’s mission outreach.
By Jerry Kea
Sometime back I agreed to serve as Sabbath school superintendent of our small church in the hills of northern California (U.S.A.). What happened next changed my life forever.
While emphasizing the support of Global Mission in our Sabbath school ministry, I embarked on a journey to learn about the progress and challenges facing the Adventist Church in terms of mission. I wrote letters, phoned mission-supporting ministries, and studied a number of former and present General Conference Bulletins and the giving patterns they recorded.
The picture that emerged revealed that the worldwide church is witnessing its greatest soul-winning opportunities since its founding in 1863. In the Americas, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, wherever darkness once held people captive, millions are accepting the gospel.
CAN DO: Don Lane (left) was pastor of the Sebastopol, California, (U.S.A.), Seventh-day Adventist Church when “One Dollar Love Call” was launched. Lane, the author, and Larry Nakashima encouraged church members to donate US$1 a week for missions.Challenges and Opportunities
This evangelistic explosion has given rise to unprecedented challenges and opportunities. I discovered that:
Almost half the world’s population—3 billion people—still have not heard the name of Jesus.
An army of potential lay missionaries has emerged and stands ready to join their fellow lay members in moving this movement forward. All they lack is a few hundred dollars a year for basic necessities.
Furthermore, thousands of emerging congregations are creating a need for new places of worship. At the rate of today’s membership growth, five new places of worship are needed each day. Notwithstanding the tremendous efforts of the church and its supporting ministries, we cannot keep pace with this overwhelming demand. Some estimates call for as many as 70,000 church buildings worldwide, with the number growing every year.
Amazingly, an entire church building can be built for a few thousand dollars. And it is critical to give church congregations a permanent “home.” These buildings establish Adventism in their localities, minimize membership loss, and enhance church growth.
The North American Division generates approximately 60 percent of all contributions—tithe and offerings—donated to the worldwide church. So the potential for addressing present and future challenges and crises in missions tends to reside largely in North America.
Small Change to Change the World
INTELLIGENT DESIGN: Rebecca Wong, a talented young church member, designed the label for the “One Dollar Love Call” can.As I contemplated these sobering facts it became clear that we could, and must, do more for missions. From this conviction was born the “One Dollar Love Call”—an invitation to give a single dollar a week to missions; using small change, as it were, to change the world. One hundred Adventists, giving at least one dollar a week for one year, could build a church and sponsor three full-time missionaries in many countries of the world.
I shared this idea with my friend Larry Nakashima. He generated the idea of using offering containers. We bought more than 100 paint cans with slots cut into the top, on which we wrapped a world mission label drawn by a talented young church member, Rebecca Wong. My wife, Sandra, and Larry’s wife, Debbie, supported us and became our prayer warriors in the venture. Our congregation got on board with the idea, and in less than a year we had raised $5,000.
In the middle of the campaign Sandra and I took a call to serve as missionaries in Thailand, and our California congregation decided to send the $5,000 to us at Thailand Adventist Mission to build a needed church in Banghan. Since then the church has moved on to other mission projects in other parts of the world, including the Philippines, Ukraine, and Mozambique.
SO MUCH FOR SO LITTLE: The believers in Banghan, Thailand, now have their own building in which to worship and from which to reach out to their community. It was the first “One Dollar Love Call” project.Now we send out a simple message from the offering cans and hearts of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sebastopol, California, with the prayer that congregations around the world will join us in fulfilling the holy purpose for which our movement was called into being. This is our commitment:
“We, of the Sebastopol Seventh- day Adventist Church, join our denomination in the solemn conviction that in a historic manner God’s Spirit is being poured out on the face of the earth. Nations, which for generations have been closed to the gospel, are opening their doors . . . presenting unprecedented opportunities and challenges around the globe. As thousands of churches/schools are desperately needed at this present moment, and thousands of unfunded missionaries line up to be sent, their pleading hands reach out to ‘The Land of Plenty.’ With 60 cents of every dollar of church income coming from the North American Division, we hear God speak to our hearts, ‘To whom much is given much is required.’
“We invite every brother and sister who bears the name of Jesus to share one single dollar each week. In 12 months our 100 members will generate $5,000, enough money to sponsor three missionaries (at US$500 each) and build an entire church (US$3,500). Praise God! When the face of a perishing soul asks ‘Who is my neighbor?’ we can only answer, ‘It is he who has mercy.’”
To meet Seventh-day Adventist missionaries and discover what’s happening in mission around the world, visit www.AdventistMission.org.
Jerry Kea recently returned from mission service in Thailand, where he was director of the Ekamai International School and education superintendent of the Thailand Adventist Mission.
The church in South America benefits from the generosity of Adventists around the world.
By Daniel Weber
With a membership of more than 2.5 million members the South American Division is growing at a rapid rate. Yet the church faces challenges that threaten to slow the pace of growth. From big cities to rural areas millions of people still need to hear the gospel. There is also the need to educate pastors and lay members to help sustain the growth that has already taken place.
“We are part of the world church, doing our part, with speed and passion,” says Erton Köhler, president of the South American Division. “With the growth we have had, and the challenges we face, we need the world church to join hands with us in the mission of the church in South America. Financial resources give us the means to preach the gospel.”
Working the Neighborhoods
One of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offerings in 2006 helped build chapels and churches in northern Argentina, expand schools in Brazil, and start the work of reaching out to the people in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.
One of the schools to receive a portion of the offering was Petrópolis, located in the mountains outside of Rio de Janeiro. This school is now home to more than 400 students, more than half of whom live in campus housing. The 2009 offering is now expanding the boys’ dormitory and will be completed in time for the new school year in January 2010. Students on this campus are learning how to witness for Jesus.
The people working in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro also benefited from the 2006 offerings. These crime-ridden neighborhoods are home to millions of people who live in trying and difficult circumstances. The work here is hard and progress is slow. Your offerings have helped buy land where a new church will be built to nurture the new members who have come to live a new life in Jesus.
Pastor Sal Costa began having Bible studies in a garage. His small group started out with three members, and now more than 40 people have been baptized and are attending church each Sabbath. “We are thankful for the offering for the work in the garage and we continue with this small group,” says Costa. “We have been able to purchase a small house to continue the work.”
Affordable and Accessible Education
One of the fastest growing areas of the South American Division is the North Brazil Union Conference, growing at such a rapid rate that in 2010 it will be split into two union conferences. The North Brazil Union Conference has been adding about 45,000 members each year and now has a membership of more than 350,000 people. This may sound like a lot, but the Union covers more than 45 percent of Brazil’s entire land mass and encompasses 3.85 million square kilometers (almost 1.5 million square miles).
This has led to two major challenges for the church in northern Brazil: First, because of the incredible growth that has taken place there is now a great need for trained pastors to shepherd new flocks of believers.
Second is the need to reach out to the outlying areas of this union to touch the unreached people who live in the forests and along the rivers of northern Brazil.
To help prepare workers to support this dramatic growth, the South American Division is building Adventist Amazon College, which will open its doors to theology students in 2010. A portion of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help build a dormitory on the campus to house these future pastors. The school will eventually expand to offer five majors, and will be home to more than 1,500 students. The buildings are designed to be environmentally friendly, with the latest energy-saving techniques to keep the cost of education affordable.
Currently Adventist young people have to travel either to São Paulo or Bahía (3,000 or 1,500 kms respectively), to attend an Adventist college-level school. Most attend local public schools, where theology training is unavailable. When construction is finished, the school will be the major source of new pastors to help grow and nurture the church in northern Brazil.
Reaching Out With Radio
On the western coast of South America is the mountainous country of Ecuador, one of the fastest growing regions in the South American Division. Ecuador is home to 13 million people, and the Adventist Church has more than 76,000 members. The church has grown here because of a strong effort to reach people through radio ministry.
The church operates a network of radio stations that reaches an audience of some 200,000 listeners. In the past five years the radio station has been responsible for more than 700 people joining the church, while giving out 4,000 Bible studies in northern Ecuador alone.
The station focuses on programs that deal with health, family, and spiritual growth. The majority of the audience is educated, and some 95 percent are not Seventh-day Adventists. The programs are created and broadcast from a small station in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. The staff of three people is led by Miguel Martínez, director of the radio station.
Jorge Cruz, radio station chaplain, oversees the Bible study program. More than 90 volunteers give Bible studies and meet with listeners who have requested visits in their homes. One volunteer couple, Yolanda and Augusto, work in the town of Alangasi on the outskirts of Quito. Recently they visited the home of María Roque, a single mother.
While visiting with María, Yolanda suggested she listen to the Adventist radio station. Maria liked what she heard and soon asked Yolanda and Augusto to study the Bible with her. Now María, along with her son and daughter, are baptized members of the Adventist Church. Cruz says that the radio station is a great way to enter the homes of the people in Ecuador. “God is in this radio station,” he says.
A portion of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering this quarter will help to expand the outreach of the radio ministry in Ecuador. Miguel Martínez says, “We hope this offering will be a generous one, because it will be used to purchase antennas and repeaters that will link our four current radio stations.”
A three-hour drive from Quito is the small town of Santo Domingo de los Colorados. Here the church runs Colegio Adventista del Ecuador, a K-12 school that is also home to 65 seminary students. More than 400 students attend this school from all over the country to receive an Adventist education. A portion of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help renovate the boys’ dorm, which houses seminary students (the dorm is badly in need of repair), so that the school can continue to help train future pastors of the Adventist Church in Ecuador. As the church continues to grow through its outreach ministries, the need for newly trained pastors also grows.
Ever since Thirteenth Sabbath Mission Offerings began in 1912, Seventh-day Adventists have supported the growth of the church through their faithful prayers and offerings. Today these same offerings help to spread a message of hope in Jesus’ soon return to the people of South America. Thank you for your prayers and support.
How church members worldwide can make a difference
By Andrew King
The East-Central Africa Division (ECD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church comprises nine countries: Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda. This division includes nearly two and a half million Seventh-day Adventist members, and it is growing rapidly.
Every Thirteenth Sabbath, a special offering is received in churches around the world. This quarter the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help fund three special projects in Rwanda and Burundi.
EDUCATION: The Adventist University of Central Africa will soon have a multipurpose building in which school assemblies and Sabbath worship services can be held for its student body of more than 2,200 students.In Bujumbura, the capital city of Burundi, the Seventh-day Adventist Church operates a small urban health center. Seven more health care centers are scattered across the country. In Bujumbura the needs are great as this facility struggles to keep up with the high demand for its services. In addition to serving the general population, the center also works with nearby businesses.
“We currently have a partnership with nine private companies that ask us to provide care to their employees,” says Evariste Sindayigaya, director of Health and Temperance for the Burundi Association.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a rich history of medical work. Medical missionaries have long met the immediate medical needs of people, just as Jesus did. Often this interaction is the first time a person comes into contact with a Seventh-day Adventist.
On a typical day more than 40 people visit the clinic for a variety of procedures. The small staff is forced to refer many of the patients to different care centers around the city. The lost revenue caused by turning away patients could have a serious impact on all eight Adventist medical centers in Burundi because income generated from this clinic helps fund the others, which are located in rural areas.
To meet the need for better facilities, the church plans to replace the health center with a fully staffed hospital—complete with a maternity ward and full dental service. In the past patients requiring dental work have had to travel great distances, even to neighboring countries, for care. This new hospital will bring quality comprehensive medical care to the people of Bujumbura. It will also fund the continued growth of smaller, rural health care centers across Burundi.
Directly north of Burundi lies the country of Rwanda, known as the land of a thousand hills. The Adventist University of Central Africa was originally located in an idyllic setting among lush hills and away from the busy city. But during the violent genocide of the early 1990s, much of the university was destroyed and many lives were lost as people took refuge in university buildings.
After peace was restored, the university was given financial grants as part of the country’s rebuilding effort to restore what was lost. Though the original location of the university was beautiful, memories of the genocide made rebuilding there difficult. University leaders decided to relocate the university to the top of a hill in the capital city of Kigali. By 2006, after much hard work, classes were being held in the newly finished central academic building. This new building covers more than 4,000 square meters and provides quality, Christ-centered, higher education to more than 2,200 students.
HEALTH: This small, urban health center will soon be replaced with a full-service hospital—complete with maternity and dental services—in Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital city.The university is quickly gaining a reputation for excellence. “This semester the minister of defense decided to send about 100 military officers to be trained in our institution,” says Jozsef Szilvasi, former rector of the Adventist University of Central Africa. “The minister of labor uses our institution to train those who have lost their jobs; they finance the students. The minister of education has given about 20 scholarships to students who study in our institution. We are not marginalized as a Seventh-day Adventist institution in the country. We make a real contribution to society, and it is appreciated.”
In addition to courses that focus on the teachings of Jesus, biblical history, and Adventist beliefs, the university holds two well-received Week of Prayer programs every school year. Almost half of the students who attend the university are not currently Seventh-day Adventists, so the school provides a perfect opportunity to share the Adventist faith.
The university lacks a facility for the student body to meet for assemblies, special programs—such as Week of Prayer—and most important, church services. Work has already begun on a multipurpose hall to meet this need.
“It will contain seats for at least 2,500 students,” says architect Dominic Padarigan, “[including also] a balcony that will seat 300 students.”
A facility, constructed with a portion of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering, will be a much-needed place where students can meet and worship together.
The third project this quarter is centered in Rwanda, but will help the entire East-Central Africa Division.
Civil war and genocide devastated Rwanda in many ways. One of the major challenges the country now faces is rebuilding its primary and secondary education systems.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church operates many primary schools across the country. These schools provide literacy training for the country’s vast young population. Forty percent of the people in Rwanda are younger than 14 years old. This puts an incredible strain on the teachers who have taken on the challenge of educating a new generation.
Seventh-day Adventist schoolteachers across the East-Central Africa Division aren’t always equipped to teach the subjects they are expected to teach. A portion of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help fund continuing education for our teachers, to help them learn the skills they need to provide a Christ-centered education for their students.
“We cannot help those kids if the teachers are not trained,” says Joyce Musabe, director of Education and Children’s Ministries for the Rwanda Union Mission. “We have teachers in our schools—even those who are in Sabbath school classes—but they need training.”
After the genocide in 1994 many children were left as orphans. Traditionally, the government of Rwanda mandated that all students must wear uniforms to attend school. Since many orphans can’t afford uniforms, they’re allowed to bypass the rule and attend school without them. Still, Adventist schoolteachers have observed how not having uniforms affects these students.
“When they look alike in a classroom, there is a kind of a motivation, a kind of a feeling that they are not alone, a feeling that they are integrated into the classrooms with the other kids,” says Musabe. “So when they don’t look like others, they will surely think, Why are we here? Who are we? Why are we different from others?”
To help students feel they are not alone, part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help provide uniforms for orphans who attend Seventh-day Adventist schools in Rwanda.
Thank you for your continued support of the Thirteenth Sabbath and mission offerings. Thanks to church members like you, all around the world these special projects are helping touch lives for Jesus.