Gunmen slay the men in Guatemala and the Philippines.
Adventists worshiping in a rented apartment in Erbil, a northern city of more than 1.5 million people in northern Iraq, on Sabbath, Nov. 22.
The news headlines coming out of Iraq might be horrific, but a new Adventist church is being built in the north, Adventists are inviting neighbors to Sabbath worship services in Baghdad, and ADRA is opening an office to provide humanitarian relief.
“Many wonderful things are quietly taking place behind the scenes,” said Homer Trecartin, president of the Adventist Church’s Middle East and North Africa Union, who visited Iraq for four days recently.
Iraq has been the subject of prayer for Adventists worldwide amid an outbreak in militant-led violence against minority groups, including Christians. Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the world church, asked for special prayers in August and said no more than 50 Adventists remained in the Middle Eastern country.
Trecartin, who confirmed that about 50 remained on the membership books, said he was inspired to see a small but vibrant church community during his visit.
Adventists who have fled the violence and moved to Erbil, a northern city of more than 1.5 million, are grateful to the ruling Kurdish authorities for helping them to register the Adventist Church there and for giving them permission to build a house of worship, he said.
“Construction is well under way on a building that will have a church hall, offices, and two apartments,” he said. “For now the members gather each Sabbath in a rented apartment, where friends, neighbors, and occasionally some refugees join them.”
The number of church members is small, and they live far away from their former homes, but they are actively reaching out to those who are worse off, he said.
Together with George Shamoun, the leader of the Adventist Church in Iraq, the members have used their own money, donations from others, and a special contribution from Adventist Frontier Missions to build toilet facilities in several centers for internally displaced people, to distribute food parcels, and to hand out winter clothes and blankets.
CHURCH IN THE WORKS: George Shamoun, leader of the Adventist Church in Iraq, visiting the construction site of an Adventist church in Erbil, Iraq.
Even more humanitarian work is expected to be carried out soon with the registration of the Iraq office of the church-operated Adventist Development and Relief Agency, or ADRA.
After much work, the Iraq office was registered with the authorities, and it is in the process of bringing in staff and setting up projects to provide even more assistance, Trecartin said.
A few Adventists still live in Baghdad, and they are sharing Jesus with their neighbors, he said. Every Sabbath the church members meet for a worship service filled with friends and neighbors.
“Please continue to keep the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Iraq in your prayers,” Trecartin said.
—Adventist World staff
El Salvador: 4,800 Baptized
HUGE TURNOUT: Evangelist John Carter speaking to some 52,000 people at the Estadio Cuscatlan stadium in San Salvador, El Salvador, on Nov. 29.
Australian evangelist John Carter praised God for the more than 4,800 people who were baptized during a three-week evangelistic series in El Salvador, a Central American country mired in crime and turmoil.
“We were impressed by the spiritual hunger of the people,” Carter said after speaking to a near-capacity crowd of 52,000 people on the closing day of the series in Estadio Cuscatlán, the largest stadium in Central America and home of the El Salvador football team. “Glory be to God.”
The stadium event in the capital, San Salvador, in late November marked the climax of 93 evangelistic campaigns organized by Carter. He teamed up 93 pastors from across Central America with 100 local pastors to hold simultaneous meetings over three weeks.
Former El Salvador vice president Ana Vilma de Escobar, who was among a group of current and former government officials at Carter’s meetings, told the evangelist that he had shared a message about Jesus that her country desperately needed to hear.
“These meetings are just what is needed at this time,” she said.
—Vania Chew, South Pacific Adventist Record, with additional reporting by Adventist World staff
Kenya: 8 Dead in Massacre
At least eight Adventists were among the 28 bus passengers massacred by Muslim extremists in northern Kenya on a Sabbath morning, the East-Central Africa Division said.
Al-Shabaab militants stopped the Nairobi-bound vehicle in late November and quizzed passengers to determine whether they were Muslims. Eyewitnesses said those who answered unsatisfactorily were taken aside and shot.
It’s likely that the Adventists on the early-morning bus were on their way to church at the time of the attack.
“Our hearts ache for the families who have lost loved ones, including children, in the senseless and brutal killings,” Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, said in a statement.
“We cannot understand the horrible actions that have taken place,” he said. “However, the Holy Spirit as the Comforter can bring encouragement and sustenance amid such traumatic tragedy. We have prayed for these families who are suffering great loss.”
Blasious Ruguri, president of the East-Central Africa Division, said he was “tongue-tied” over the “meaningless, devilish” killings.
“I cannot imagine Jesus delaying too much longer!” he wrote in reply to e-mailed condolences from Wilson. “He just needs to come yesterday. Pastor, with this trend of events, this world has become unlivable.”
—Adventist World staff
India: 50 Children Teach
MARCHING FOR HEALTH: Students from Miryalaguda Seventh-day Adventist High School sharing the Adventist health message with residents of Miryalaguda, India.
Fifty children gave health seminars and marched with banners in a city in southeastern India as they joined Adventist Church efforts to find a new way to share Jesus in that part of the country.
At a cost of only $200, the students from Miryalaguda Seventh-day Adventist High School shared the Adventist health message with several thousand of the 115,000 people in Miryalaguda, said Robert L. Robinson, administrative assistant to the president of the church’s Southern Asia Division.
“We were experimenting to see if this would be a good approach to begin reaching the cities in the state of Andhra Pradesh with the gospel message,” said Robinson, who attended the event.
By all indications the experiment worked, he said.
The students, wearing blue school uniforms and accompanied by police escorts, gave health lectures at three separate locations recently. They also marched with self-made banners bearing such slogans as “Alcohol Is a Demon Drink” and “Smoking Is Injurious to Health.” Robinson estimated that 2,000 people heard the lectures and many more saw the march.
The initiative also caught the attention of the local newspaper, which published an article that gave additional attention to its purpose. About 50 million people live in Andhra Pradesh, the eighth largest of India’s 29 states. Only about 1.5 percent of the population is Christian, with Hindus making the majority of 92 percent.
—Adventist World staff
Uganda: Appeal Over Sabbath
The leader of the Adventist Church in Uganda has made a personal appeal to the East African country’s president to expand religious freedoms to allow Adventists to avoid requirements to work and study on Sabbath.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni did not immediately reply to the request, made by John Kakembo, president of the Uganda Union Mission, at a fund-raising drive for a new church in the capital, Kampala. But he praised Adventists as honest.
“Let your light shine for others to see so they can praise your Father in heaven,” Museveni said in a speech.
It was not the first time that he has been pressed about the Sabbath. Jan Paulsen, during his time as president of the Adventist world church from 1999 to 2010, raised the issue with Museveni while a local court was considering an appeal by Adventist students against taking university exams on Sabbath. The court did not back the students.
Sabbath observance can be a challenge to many of the 261,000 Adventists who live in Uganda, a country of 36.9 million. “I have lost six jobs because of the Sabbath,” church member John Nyagah Gakunya said during a recent discussion about Sabbath observance on Adventist World’s Facebook page.
But Gakunya said he was not discouraged. “I remain faithful to God, and I would say it’s not a loss to serve God,” he said. “Honor God, and He will honor you.”
—Samuel Mwebaza, Uganda Union Mission communication director, and ANN and Adventist World staff
Gunmen slay the men in Guatemala and the Philippines.
(image) FALLEN PASTOR: Hundreds of church members attending the funeral of slain pastor Noe Gonzalez in Jalapa, Guatemala.
A pastor and an elder were killed in armed ambushes in Guatemala and the Philippines in the space of two days, highlighting the danger that some church workers face in restive regions of the world.
Masked assailants attacked pastor Noe Gonzalez, 54, and his wife as they rode home on a motorcycle following evangelistic meetings that he had led in the town of Hierbabuena in east Guatemala on October 23.
Gonzalez was shot four times and his wife, Oralia, was struck on the head and left for dead. Oralia was treated at a hospital and released hours later.
A day earlier, masked gunmen opened fire on six people preparing to board a vehicle in a village in the Philippine province of Zamboanga del Norte, killing church elder Ramil Ansong, 29, and his 50-year-old father, Jos?.
The other four people in the group, including the Ansong’s mother, escaped uninjured, according to local media reports.
Deadly attacks on Adventist pastors are rare but not unheard-of.
“We are saddened by violent attacks on Adventist pastors,” said Derek Morris, associate secretary of the Adventist world church’s Ministerial Association, which trains and supports pastors. “In such difficult times we can find encouragement in the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:10: ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’?”
Multiple media in the Philippines reported that Ansong was an Adventist pastor, but the Adventist Church’s Southern Asia-Pacific Division, which includes the Philippines, later clarified that he had served as an elder at his church.
In Guatemala, Gonzalez died amid an increase in violence that has worried local church leaders.
“We want you to live each day in the presence of Jesus so that you can be prepared for whatever incidents you may face each day,” Guenther Garcia, president of the Adventist Church in Guatemala, said in a statement to his country’s 117 pastors. “Do not be discouraged by the wickedness, injustice, and depravity that you are called to face as you proclaim the good news of salvation.”
Gonzalez, survived by his wife and four adult children, was the fourth Adventist pastor to be killed in Guatemala in the past 33 years.
— Andrew McChesney, news editor, Adventist World
(image)STANDING FOR GOD: Noe Gonzalez standing on mountainous region in east Guatemala where he ministered for more than 10 years.
New Zealand: Tribunal Upholds Sabbath
A New Zealand company has been ordered to pay lost wages to a Seventh-day Adventist who was fired for refusing to work on Sabbath.
Mark Meulenbroek was dismissed from his position at Vision Antenna in the city of Invercargill, in September 2012 after he declined to work on Saturdays. Meulenbroek, who had worked at Vision Antenna since 2004, asked for Sabbaths off after rejoining the Adventist Church, which he had left at age 16.
The Human Rights Review Tribunal, part of New Zealand’s Justice Ministry, found that Meulenbroek “was terminated for reason of his religious beliefs,” and awarded him 40,000 New Zealand dollars (US$31,025) for lost wages, legal expenses, and emotional distress.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in New Zealand welcomed the tribunal’s ruling in late October.
This “represents a victory for all people who seek to actively live out their faith as a loyal employee,” said Damien Rice, president of the South New Zealand Conference.
—Linden Chuang, South Pacific Adventist Record
Curacao: Big Graduation
Nearly 200,000 Adventist members in Central America and the Caribbean have been awarded certificates for undergoing hours of training in such areas as how to give Bible studies, how to conduct an evangelistic series, or how to share Jesus with children.
The yearlong initiative, organized by the church’s Inter-American Division under the banner “Year of Nonformal Education,” aims to maintain an rapid increase in church membership in the region, one of the fastest growing in the world.
“The preparation you have received will help you understand the expectations of the Lord, for He is ready for you to give everything of yourself,” division president Israel Leito told 500 graduates who attended an autumn ceremony in Willemstad, Cura?ao.
Myriam Guerrero, 60, was among the 500 dressed in academic regalia to receive a nonformal education certificate. She completed two 40-hour courses on how to prepare an evangelistic campaign and how to lead a Sabbath school class. “This type of event motivates our church members to be more interested in serving the church,” she said.
—Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division
(image) FINISHED THE COURSE: A church member smiling after receiving a health education certificate from the Inter-American Division’s Health Ministries department in Willemstad, Curacao.
China may not be identified in the Bible as a missionary destination, as some Adventists once believed, but the faith is flourishing there today in a fractured community that is largely homegrown and unknown to the outside world.
That is what a group of about 100 Adventist leaders and scholars heard at a first-of-its-kind conference in Hong Kong this autumn as they sought to gain a better understanding of the Chinese church, which is believed to have 500,000 members.
“The gospel commission is to go into all the world, which includes China,” said Bob Folkenberg, Jr., president of the Chinese Union Mission.
Edward Allen, a professor of religion at Union College, noted that the first serious article about China and missions was written in 1874 by George W. Amadon, a printer at the Review and Herald Publishing Association. Amadon believed that the “land of Sinim” referenced in Isaiah 49:12 in the King James Version pointed to China, a notion repudiated by biblical scholars today.
Regardless, Allen said, Adventists “were beginning to think outside of their box” of sharing the gospel only within the U.S.
—Michael W. Campbell, AIIAS
Peru: Adventist TV Grows
Raising a remote control over his head, the president of the South American Division kicked off the expansion of Adventist-operated Nuevo Tiempo television in Peru at a Lima stadium packed with 40,000 church members.
The president, Erton Kohler, symbolically pressed the button on a remote control to inaugurate the launch of Nuevo Tiempo on local cable channel 571 during a worship service at Monumental Stadium in Peru’s capital on November 1, 2014.
The launch marks the local expansion of the Brazil-based channel, which first started broadcasting over the open airwaves in this city of nearly 10 million people in December 2013, and whose programming is already reaping results. A married couple was baptized in late October 2014 after being convicted that God wanted them to keep the Sabbath.
“The influence of the Adventist Church in Peru is increasing with the addition of this channel on cable television, and the growth of the Peruvian church is a source of inspiration for Adventists throughout South America,” Kohler said.
—Felipe Lemos and Rosmery Sanchez, South American Division
(image) ON THE AIR: South American Division president Erton Kohler symbolically pressing the button of a remote control to launch Nuevo Tiempo TV on a cable channel in Lima, Peru, on Sabbath, November 1.
Bahamas: Health Center
Adventist Church leadership has been seeking to open community health centers around the world, but it’s not every day that a prime minister makes a personal appeal for a center in his country.
The prime minister of the Bahamas, Perry G. Christie, has asked the Adventist Church to open a health and wellness center in his Caribbean island nation after hearing a report on Adventist centers worldwide.
“You have an extraordinary history of commitment to best health practice. In this report, it speaks to the success of wellness programs that you have, but it also says we must move to create in the Bahamas a wellness center,” Christie told local church leaders in the Bahamian capital, Nassau.
Christie, speaking at a quadrennial business meeting of the church’s South Bahamas Conference, pledged his government’s support of an Adventist wellness center.
Leonard Johnson, president of the church’s Atlantic Caribbean Union, said the church was considering the establishment of its own health outreach center.
—Atlantic Caribbean Union communication staff
(image)PREMIER PRESENTATION: Bahamian Prime Minister Perry G. Christie speaking at the quadrennial business meeting of the South Bahamas Conference at the Hillview Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nassau on November 2, 2014.
Romania: New $1M Clinic
The first Adventist-owned medical center has opened in Romania, marking a key expansion of the church’s health-care system in underrepresented Europe and the fulfillment of a dream by church members who once rented a hall in the facility to worship on Sabbaths.
The 800,000 euro ($1 million) Premed medical center Premed, located in a refurbished building recently acquired by the Adventist Church, is the first facility in the country’s capital, Bucharest, to offer a broad range of health-care services from general medicine healthy cooking lessons.
Marius Munteanu, president of the church in Romania, likened the medical center’s potential to Jesus’ parable of the tiny mustard seed that grew into a large tree.
“From its earliest days, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has served the needs of the soul as well as the needs of the body,” Munteanu said at the grand opening this fall.
In 2009, Adventist members rented a hall in the building for Sabbath services and began to dream and pray that the Seventh-day Adventist Church could own the building and operate a medical center there, said Adrian Bocaneanu, initiator of the project. “This is how everything started: with prayers and high hopes,” he said.
—A. Horja and G. Isvan, EUCNews
India: Marking 100 Years
Church members in the Indian state of Kerala celebrated the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Adventist message in the arms of an Adventist bookseller.
Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, emphasized in a speech to 4,000 people at convention center in Kerala’s capital, Thiruvananthapuram, in late October that Adventists wish to serve God by responding to needs of society.
John Rathinaraj, president of the church’s Southern Asia Division, told how Adventism entered the region when a bookseller named Suvshesha Muthu visited from the present-day neighboring state of Tamil Nadu. Muthu sold several books, including Present Truth, Who Changed the Sabbath? and Steps to Christ, to a Salvation Army captain named M. Abel in October 1914.
Abel grew convinced that the seventh day was the Sabbath and, after several months of Bible study, was baptized. By 1915 he had left the Salvation Army and was preaching about the Sabbath and Jesus’ soon return.
Today the church has 37,000 members, 27 schools, and a hospital with a nursing school in the region.
— Pothen Kurian, Southern Asia Division
(image) ALL DRESSED UP: Adventist Church leader Ted N. C. Wilson, wearing traditional Indian garb, speaking at an anniversary gathering in Kerala’s capital, Thiruvananthapuram.
40,000 Turn Brazilian Stadium Into a Place to Praise God
40,000 Turn Brazilian Stadium Into a Place to Praise God
Adventists pack a World Cup stadium to celebrate the end of an initiative to share Jesus after soccer matches.
PACKED STADIUM: A view from a drone of nearly 40,000 people praising God at the Vivaldo Lima Amazonian Arena in Manaus, Brazil, on Sabbath, Aug. 16, 2014.
A sports stadium that had recently echoed with the cries of soccer fans turned into a house of worship filled with prayer and song as about 40,000 people celebrated the end of a campaign to share Jesus following the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament in the Brazilian city of Manaus. The mainly Adventist crowd packed the 41,000-seat Vivaldo Lima Amazonian Arena to near-capacity on Sabbath, August 16, the first major public event held in the city of 2 million after the conclusion of the World Cup on July 13. Manaus was one of 12 cities to host World Cup games. “This moment in the arena was the great coronation of the Hope Manaus project, which provided greater visibility of the scope of the work developed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to society,” said Gilmar Zahn, president of the church’s Northwest Brazil Union. The gathering, attended by senior local officials, crowned a week of social outreach efforts dubbed “Hope Manaus” that, among other things, saw volunteers distribute thousands of copies of the missionary sharing book The Only Hope.
“There are thousands of people in search of hope, and we need to finish the work that our pioneers began in announcing the good news of the gospel,” Erton Köhler, president of the South American Division (which includes the Northwest Brazil Union), told the crowd as he thanked participating local churches.
Hope Manaus is part of the world church’s Mission to the Cities initiative that aims to share Jesus in the world’s biggest cities. Ten people were baptized at the end of the meeting, a token of the 350 who were baptized throughout the week.
— Magdiel E. Perez Schulz, executive secretary of the South American Division
Australian photographer Karl Lindsay saw the convenience store called the God Is Able Shop in Zambia’s Eastern Province capital, Mambwe, while working in the country with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency. “I thought, That would look awesome under a starry night sky,” he said. Starry night skies are common in Zambia, and Lindsay got his shot the next night. “It makes the perfect statement,” he said. The photo won Lindsay this year’s Avondale Fine Arts Photography Prize at the Manifest Creative Arts Festival.
Nauru: Church in Works
Adventist leaders plan to start construction of the first Adventist church in Nauru, a tiny South Pacific island nation, by year’s end after acquiring a 99-year land lease as a donation from a church member. “This is something that the members of the Nauruan church have been looking forward to for years,” said Glenn Townend, president of the church’s Trans Pacific Union Mission. “Land in Nauru is very expensive and not easily transferred to others.”
Nauru is the smallest country in the South Pacific, with 9,400 people living on 8 square miles (21 square kilometers) of phosphate rock. The only smaller country in the world by population is Vatican City, with some 850 people. Twenty-five Adventists live in the island, but weekly attendance in the current meeting place, a rented hall, is closer to 40, said Eparama Drou, associate chief financial officer for the Trans Pacific Union Mission.
In May, Nauruan president Baron Waqa signed off on the transfer of a land lease from a local church member, Steve Mwea Amwano, to the Adventist Church. The land was given so a church could be built in Nauru. Townend said Mwea Amwano gave the land because he was grateful for his education at Navasau Adventist High School in Fiji. In exchange for the land, the church agreed to build a two-bedroom house for Mwea Amwano and his family elsewhere on Nauru.
— Andrew McChesney, news editor, Adventist World, with reporting by Trans Pacific Union Mission staff
SMALLEST ISLAND NATION: An aerial view of the South Pacific island of Nauru, whose 25 Adventist members are looking forward to their first church.
Colombia: Plans to Share Jesus in Mideast
More than 100 young people from South America will be trained to share Jesus in the Middle East after they signed up to become missionaries at a major conference in Medell?n, Colombia, church leaders said. The volunteers enrolled in Colombia Adventist University’s school of missions during the Adventist Missions International Congress, which was held at the university in Colombia’s second-largest city and brought together nearly 2,000 young people, students, and professionals from Colombia, Peru, and Argentina. The congress in August sought to motivate participants to serve in the mission field. “We wanted to inspire our young people who study different careers that just as they grow academically, they can grow with a commitment and growing passion for the mission of the church,” said Abraham Acosta, president of Colombia Adventist University and the main organizer of the event.
— Inter-American Division
Laos: First Bible Conference Held
A group of Adventists in Laos heard an unprecedented series of seminars on clean versus unclean meat, Sabbathkeeping, and the authority of the Bible from a trio of visiting scholars—and appreciated their country’s first Bible conference so much that they asked for it to be organized every year.
About 60 Bible workers and pastors attended the conference in Laos in late August as the Seventh-day Adventist Church stepped up efforts to share Jesus in a part of the world that was off-limits for decades. Similar Bible conferences also were held in neighboring Vietnam and Cambodia. Organizers said the event was remarkable because even though most of the attendees were illiterate, with little education, they understood the message as it was presented.
“Furthermore, they enjoyed it so much that they requested more conferences on an annual basis,” one organizer said. Plans are already under way for another conference next year.
— Andrew McChesney, news editor, Adventist World
Germany: Congress Seeks to Empower Women
More than 700 women from 20 European countries gathered in Germany for a first-ever conference aimed at nurturing their needs and empowering them to assist other women in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and their own communities. The four-day Inter-European Division Women’s Congress, which ended September 9 in the German city of Schw?bisch Gm?nd, included plenary presentations and 17 workshops and a flash mob against violence.
Conference organizer Denise Hochstrasser also underscored the need for women to play an active role in their communities. “Men and women need each other,” said Hochstrasser, a Swiss native who heads the Women’s Ministries Department for the Inter-European Division.
Hochstrasser knows firsthand: After studying business at Newbold College in preparation to become a pastor’s wife, she ended up devoting more than 25 years to Adventist women’s needs after the premature death of her husband.
— Inter-European Division staff and Adventist World staff
South American Adventists Make Bible a Hot Topic on Twitter
Left: WHY TWITTER WORKS: Magdiel E. Pérez Schulz says local Adventists have latched onto the idea of tweeting for three reasons: anyone can participate, it doesn’t take much time every day to do, and it can be done from any location.
Right: LAUNCHING THE PLAN: Presidentsof each of the church’s 13 world divisions read a portion of Genesis1 to launch the Revived by His Word initiative on April 17, 2012, at the denomination’s world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Are you familiar with the Twitter hashtag #rpsp?
If you live in South America and are active on the microblogging service, chances are you know that it stands for Reavivados por Su
Palabra, or Revived by His Word.
Several thousand Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking Seventh-day Adventists have been tweeting their thoughts on the daily Bible reading plan since the world church launched it in 2012, and their efforts have made #rpsp one of the most popular hashtags on the continent. In fact, the hashtag has made the top list of trending topics—the most-discussed topics on Twitter—in Brazil and several other countries of the South American Division.
“It has been very uplifting to see how the church has reacted positively to Revived by His Word and the amount of daily tweets that we’ve had in the past couple of years,” said Magdiel E. P?rez Schulz, who oversees local social media as executive secretary of the South American Division.
Revived by His Word kicked off on April 17, 2012, with the church’s 13 division presidents taking turns reading Genesis 1 during a meeting at the world church’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. At the same time a Web site, revivedbyhisword.org, opened where people can read all 1,189 chapters of the Bible by committing to one chapter a day until the General Conference session starts in San Antonio, Texas, in July 2015, and then two chapters a day during the 10-day meeting.
The daily reading, which is available in multiple languages, pairs each chapter with a reflective blog entry written by an Adventist church leader or layperson. About 100 bloggers have contributed so far, and another 50 are expected to weigh in by the time the project wraps up.
Adventist leaders have expressed hope that at least half of the church’s 18 million members would get involved in Revived by His Word, an amount slightly higher than the
estimated 47 percent of Adventists worldwide who were reading the Bible every day when the online initiative started.
While comprehensive readership figures were not immediately available, each chapter on the English-
language version of the site attracts 200 to 400 comments and thousands of readers daily, said Derek Morris, who helps steer the project and is the associate secretary of the world church’s Ministerial Association.
But the South American Division, and particularly Brazil, which has more than 1.4 million Adventist members, appear to be at the forefront in sharing the Bible plan via social media. “Magdiel has been doing an amazing job with tweeting for Revived by His Word,” Morris said.
Magdiel E. P?rez Schulz said it was only natural for local church members to start tweeting Bible insights to their communities. “We use those networks to keep up with old friends and family, and we use Twitter to learn and to keep us informed,” P?rez Schulz said in an e-mail interview. “Why couldn’t we use it as a tool to share the gospel and to keep others posted about what we have learned or what has touched us during that day’s reading?”
That kind of thinking has seen the number of #rpsp tweets soar from zero in April 2012 to about 3,000 a day in July 2014. According to Twitter statistics, about 6,530 participants have sent some 100,000 tweets with the hashtag over the past 11 months, reaching 8.5 million people who saw the tweets a total of 197 million times (impressions).The region’s Facebook figures for Revived by His Word are also high.
“This shows that our members are committed to the project and to using their time and talents in this area,” P?rez Schulz said.
Local leaders make an effort to retweet messages from youth, Pathfinders, and other members. “The retweets show our members that we value their comments and that we learn from them,” P?rez Schulz said.
He underscored that South American Division president Erton K?hler, who has a respectable 30,500 followers, and other senior local Adventist officials tweet regularly about the Bible chapters.
“Remember that if leaders do this, then those who follow us will imitate us,” P?rez Schulz said. “So we need
to be the first. God has called us to
While less than a year remains before the project ends, Adventists around the world can and should find ways to promote Revived by His Word, whether through Twitter or other means, P?rez Schulz said. “Let your imagination work,” he said. “But if you want to hop onto this initiative, do so and involve everyone. We’ve
got work to do. The gospel needs to be preached in every possible way.”
Nepal: One Millionth Scholarship Dollar Awarded
A Nepali student named Sunita has become the recipient of the one millionth dollar from a scholarship fund backed in part by the sale of women’s devotional books.
The one millionth dollar was included in a $500 scholarship granted to Sunita during a July 23 meeting of the Women’s Ministries Scholarship Fund at the world church’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. The money will assist Sunita in paying for her tuition at India’s Spicer Adventist University, where she is majoring in education.
“By helping Sunita, we are strengthening our church in Nepal,” said Heather-Dawn Small, director of the world church’s Women’s Ministries Department. “We’re wanting to strengthen the church worldwide by empowering women and supporting them in their higher education.”
Originally founded by the proceeds of an annual women’s devotional book, the fund over the years has awarded 2,164 scholarships to Adventist women attending universities in 124 countries. Department leaders say the fund has helped strengthen the Adventist Church worldwide, especially in developing countries.
Small praised the $1 million mark as “a big accomplishment” for women’s ministries. “Education is one of our core focus points, and it’s the only department in the world church we know of that gives scholarships for women,” she said.
The fund began in 1993 from the royalties of what would become the department’s annual women’s devotional book. Its first recipient was May-Ellen Colon, who is now an assistant director with the Seventh-day Adventist world church’s Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department.
“It was an encouragement, an affirmation,” Colon said of her scholarship, the only one awarded that year.
The committee now awards annual scholarships totaling $75,000 to $125,000, said Women’s Ministries Department associate director Raquel Arrais. Each of the Adventist Church’s 13 world divisions receives the same amount to award.
To donate or apply to the Women’s Ministries Scholarship Fund, visit adventistwomensministries.org.
— Ansel Oliver, ANN
$1 MILLION: Women’s Ministries associate director Raquel Arrais, at head of table, chairing a meeting of a scholarship fund in Silver Spring, Maryland, on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. The fundgave out its one millionth dollar during the meeting.
Britain: Faith Showcased in Shop Window
With shopping centers looking more crowded than churches nowadays, a group of creative-minded young Adventists in Britain decided to showcase their faith in a shop window.
The nine Adventists staged a public art exhibition in a shop window in one of the busiest shopping centers in Birmingham, the biggest British
city after London with more than
1 million people.
The three-day exhibition, titled “The IQ: Innermost Questions,” featured
artwork made by the nine Adventists and themed around life’s unanswered
questions, such as the existence of humanity and the origins of morality.
“My whole aim with the IQ project was to make use of the creative skills we have in the church to bring the gospel outside of the church walls to the people,” said coordinator Daniel Blyden, a member of the local Aston-Newtown Community church. He jumped at the chance to hold the exhibit when a friend opened a shop with a window display in The Square Shopping Centre in February.
Blyden said the unconventional approach to evangelism this summer stimulated conversations about Jesus with many shoppers and proved highly effective in reaching people from all walks of life, resulting in follow-up Bible studies with atheists and Muslims alike.
Safi, a young Muslim, was in the city center participating in Islamic outreach when he saw the exhibition and decided to take a closer look. The IQ team gave him a tour that raised his curiosity about Christianity and led him to ask for Bible studies to learn more, Blyden said.
— British Union Conference and Adventist Review staff
Left: INSIDE THE DISPLAY: An IQ team member discusses artwork in a window display with a passerby at a Birmingham shopping center.
Right: The window display and art exhibit that nine young Adventists organized at a Birmingham shopping center draws attention.
Vanuatu: Couple Gives Roofing to 100 Churches
How far can US$35 go?
On the Vanuatu islands, deep in the South Pacific, it can cover an entire Seventh-day Adventist church with a durable iron roof.
Adventist leaders in Vanuatu have thanked a retired Australian couple, Henry and Hanni Rusterholz, for providing iron roofing to dozens of churches over the past decade. During a special lunch, Vanuatu Mission
president Nos Terry presented the couple with a bowl carved out of coconut hardwood as a token of appreciation.
“This is nothing compared to what you have contributed to the Mission and church members in Vanuatu,” Terry said. “Without your support, we would not be able to respond positively and adequately to the many requests for iron roofs that we receive each year.”
The Ruzterholzs have spent more than 1 million vatu (US$10,700) since 2001 in providing iron roofing to more than 100 Adventist churches in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. A 12-foot (3.6-meter) iron roof costs 3,400 vatu (about US$35).
Now in their 80s, the Rusterholzs are unsure how much longer they will be able to contribute to the church roofs.
The couple first visited the islands in response to a pastor’s request to build a church. “As soon as we saw how people worship under simple thatched roof made from bush leaves, we were touched,” said Henry Rusterholz. “We thought if we could in a small way enable people to worship under at least a decent roof, we would be happy. It has been our ministry ever since.”
— Simon Luke, South Pacific Record
THANK-YOU GIFT: Vanuatu Mission President Nos Terry, left, presents a carved bowl to Henry and Hanni Rusterholz
Raafat Kamal Elected President Trans-European Division
Raafat Kamal, the new president of the church’s Trans-European Division, acknowledged that Seventh-day Adventists face an enormous challenge in twenty-first-century Europe, but said he believed new ways would be found to share the message of Jesus’ second coming.
Kamal was elected on July 10 by the General Conference’s Executive Committee, the top governing body of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, to replace Bertil Wiklander as president of the 22-nation region that includes Britain, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and a swath of countries stretching from Finland to Cyprus.
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a unique prophetic message for the people of Europe at the end of time,” said Kamal, referring to the three angels’ messages in Revelation 14.
“I am excited about the opportunities that we have within our reach, and humbled by the fact that God is using us to accomplish His mission,” he said in an interview. “The question before us is how God will transform our minority church from being a fortress influenced by secular society into a force to transform local communities.”
Kamal, who has served as the division’s field secretary and Wiklander’s assistant for the past seven years, said a spiritual decline accompanied by growing materialism presented a challenge for the Adventist Church.
“Europe, possibly for the first time in 1,000 years, is now a mission field,” he said.
Adventists account for only about 0.04 percent of the 203 million people living in the division’s territory, or one in every 2,415 people, he said.
World church president Ted N. C. Wilson said new methods were needed to sensitize people to religion and to find approaches that reach their hearts.“We will be praying that the new president will help to increase the focus on these very important eternal objectives that are very precious to the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” he said in an interview.
Wiklander, who turns 68 in September, said he was retiring for personal reasons and had reached the decision with his wife.
“I have had the privilege and joy of serving the church as division president for 19 years, which is a long time considering the amount of travel required,” he said. “In my Swedish culture one retires at 65 years of age, and I have passed that.” He said he looks forward to spending more time with family, serving the church through biblical scholarship, and seeking God through music, art, and poetry.
Raafat (pronounced: Rah-afat) Kamal, 50, was born in Lebanon and holds two undergraduate degrees, in business and theology, as well as four master’s degrees, in systematic theology; educational administration and curriculum; Islamic philosophy and theology; and business administration. He married Heidi Kamal Kendel, a native of Norway and registered nurse, in 1987, and together they have two daughters.
Asked what inspires him, Kamal pointed to Lamentations 3:22, 23, which reads: “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
“I’m inspired to know and experience God’s faithfulness, love, mercies, and compassions new every morning,” he said.
— Andrew McChesney, news editor, Adventist World
Russia: Nine Teens in Hot Water for Skipping Sabbath Exam
Adventist leaders in Russia appealed to the Russian government to intervene after nine Adventist teenagers were barred from advancing to the tenth grade for refusing to take a final exam on the Sabbath.
School officials, who had flatly rejected requests for flexibility, appeared to back down after the appeal on behalf of the students. All were ninth graders in the southern city of Belgorod who had missed the state exam in mathematics on Sabbath, May 31.
Federal education authorities, who had scheduled the exam for that day, had anticipated that some students might not be able to attend for religious reasons. So they ordered public schools across the country to offer the exam to those students on June 16 or June 19.
Adventist students in other parts of Russia took the exam on June 16, four Adventist leaders with the Euro-Asia Division said in a letter to the Russian government.
But education officials in the Belgorod region, which includes the city of Belgorod and is located along the border with Ukraine, refused to administer the exam on an alternative day.
“We believe that this situation is unacceptable and call on the leadership of the Russian Federation as well as public and religious associations to take all legal measures to eliminate these violations in the Belgorod region,” the letter said.
The letter also said local school principals and education officials had “crudely and offensively” pressured Adventist parents to tell their children to reject their religious beliefs and take the exam.
“Even in Soviet times, during the persecution of all religious organizations, officials did not deprive the children of religious families the opportunity to receive a secondary education,” it said.
The appeal appeared to have worked. Belgorod officials later agreed to let the nine students take the math exam shortly before the start of the school year on September 1.
— Andrew McChesney, news editor, Adventist World
Philippines: White Estate Branch Office Opens
A branch office of the Ellen G. White Estate has opened at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) in the Philippines, the second such facility to be established outside the U.S.
The branch office contains copies of Ellen White documents and other historical materials from the main office at the world church’s General Conference headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, and it will provide AIIAS seminary students as well as local Adventists and non-Adventists alike with increased opportunities to study the church’s heritage, Adventist officials said.
“What we are doing is acknowledging what you already know—that international students come to AIIAS to prepare to work for the Lord’s cause,” James Nix, director of the Ellen G. White Estate in Maryland, said at an inauguration ceremony on Sabbath, June 28.
The Ellen G. White Estate was created by the last will and testament of church cofounder Ellen White and has a mandate to act as her agent in the custody of her writings and the handling of her property.
Reuel Almocera, director of the new branch office, said the branch office as part of its new role would also reach out to Adventists by establishing mini-research centers, developing portable exhibits, and providing fun activities such as trivia games for church programs.
— Gay Deles, writing from Cavite, Philippines
Italy: ADRA Assists With Immigrant Crisis
Italian workers with ADRA, the relief agency of the Adventist Church, have distributed several hundred personal hygiene kits and staged a gospel music concert for a group of African immigrants fished out of the Mediterranean Sea by the Italian Navy.
The Italian naval ship Etna docked in the Sicilian port of Palermo in mid-June after picking up 767 immigrants in various operations across the Mediterranean, including a group from a shipwreck off the coast of Libya that killed 10 and left 15 others seriously burned.
On the next Sabbath ADRA workers visited a community center sheltering 280 immigrants from Ghana, Gambia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Mali, and Guinea.
“This allowed us to see firsthand what the real and immediate needs are and what we can do to help make them feel welcomed and loved,” said Luca Alfano, project leader of ADRA in Italy.
The following Monday ADRA volunteers handed out about 300 personal hygiene kits containing essential items such as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and towels to the immigrants.
That evening the Palermo Ghanaian Adventist gospel choir performed a musical program at the center. “We tried to convey warmth and solidarity with these people who were visibly lost, disoriented, and insecure,” Alfano said.
ADRA was working with the community center to provide other assistance, including lessons in the Italian language, workshops, and various recreational and cultural activities.
— Adventist World staff
Colombia: Parade Points to Sabbath
Here’s a novel way to share the Sabbath: create a city parade with seven floats, each representing a day of Creation week.
That’s what Adventist church members did in the Colombian city of C?cuta, just across the border from Venezuela, to showcase the Sabbath, a Creation expo, and the launch of an evangelistic campaign.
Dubbed “Creation Caravan,” the seven colorfully decorated floats on trucks rolled through the main streets of C?cuta for the two-hour event on a Sabbath last summer. Many participants, both on the floats and on accompanying motorcycles, wore T-shirts with the message “Sabbath Is My Day.” Volunteers handed out hundreds of flyers.
“Traffic would go at the rhythm of our caravan activity, and we could see people’s surprised looks,” said church member Eliana Pedrozo. “They began to ask us questions.”
Onlookers were invited to meet the next day at the town’s main pier, Plaza de Banderas, for a Creation expo and later at the Libertad Adventist School for the evangelistic series.
“Everyone who came by the pier was invited to participate in Expo-Creation,” said Raul Torra, communication director for the Northeast Colombia Conference. “Many of them were so impressed when they heard the story of Creation highlighting the Sabbath as the day of hope.”
Two Adventist Publishing Houses conference in Silver Spring, Maryland, approved and recommended to their respective constituencies a proposal to reorganize their operations.
Two Adventist Publishing Houses
On May 12, 2014, the boards of the Review and Herald Publishing Association and the Pacific Press Publishing Association, meeting respectively in Hagerstown, Maryland, and by telephone conference in Silver Spring, Maryland, approved and recommended to their respective constituencies a proposal to reorganize their operations. The restructuring plan was jointly proposed to the publishing house boards by the executive committees of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and its North American Division in meetings held on May 8, 2014. The General Conference and the North American Division have spent considerable time assessing optimal publishing house arrangements for the future that would meet the needs of both the General Conference and its North American Division. Publishing plays an integral part in the mission of the church, and its close linkage with other church programs is of vital importance. Changes in the publishing industry and the church’s publishing ministries have caused financial challenges to operations, particularly at the Review and Herald, and have made this evaluation and proposed reorganization more urgent. Under the restructuring plan the Pacific Press Publishing Association, located in Nampa, Idaho, will become an institution of the North American Division. It will serve as the base for the North American Division’s publishing program and also provide printing, production, and fulfillment services for the General Conference. The Review and Herald Publishing Association will cease operations at its current location in Hagerstown, Maryland, but will continue as a General Conference institution. Its corporate office location will be transferred to the church’s world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, where the reconstituted organization, without printing and production facilities, will oversee the publishing of various products that are currently produced by the General Conference headquarters, such as Adventist Review, Adventist World, Ministry, The Journal of Adventist Education, Elder’s Digest, Liberty, Mission magazines, children’s and youth Sabbath school materials, the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, Biblical Research Institute publications, and other products. The Review and Herald Publishing Association will also serve as publisher of other products as determined by the General Conference to meet the needs of the world field. This reorganized publisher will require minimal staffing since the editors of the present products are already employees of the world church headquarters. “The General Conference recognizes the tremendous significance of the publishing work not only to past evangelistic blessings in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but also to our current and future heaven-entrusted mission of the proclamation of the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 and the fourth angel of Revelation 18,” said world church president Ted Wilson. “We want to follow the inspired counsel of the Spirit of Prophecy regarding the publishing ministries work, and our goal is to see [that] these institutions are best positioned to aid in finishing the work of preparing the world for Christ’s soon return through the power of the Holy Spirit. We greatly appreciate the dedication and commitment of the employees in the publishing houses and in every aspect of publishing ministries. God is blessing the publishing ministries worldwide, and the North American Division will reach its full potential in utilizing an unprecedented expansion of publishing ministries outreach in fulfillment of its mission goals for its territory.” “We understand that this is an emotional time for so many dedicated workers at both publishing ministries,” said Dan Jackson, president of the North American Division. “We will move forward only after prayerful consideration and consultation. As ministry models change, one thing remains constant: our commitment to utilizing publishing as a means of reaching people with the hope of Jesus and it serving as a conduit to spreading the message of His soon return.” A Memorandum of Understanding between the General Conference and the North American Division will outline additional details of the transition and future operations. The North American Division will establish a transition team to determine how the physical assets of the Review and Herald Publishing Association and the Pacific Press Publishing Association will be used going forward. The transition team will also determine which personnel currently employed by the Review and Herald Publishing Association will be needed at the Pacific Press Publishing Association location. Every effort will be made to accommodate as many as possible of the current Review and Herald staff and incorporate them into the Pacific Press operations. However, a major restructuring will involve loss of jobs from the cessation of operations in Hagerstown, Maryland. This restructuring plan does not become official until the constituent bodies of each publishing association approve it. The two constituencies will meet independently of each other on June 17, 2014, at the General Conference headquarters. The proposed plan would take effect on July 1 if those constituencies give their approval. —NAD Communication, ANN, Adventist Review
“Cieling 2.0” Brings Special Visitors This year’s Cieling event, the Inter-European Division’s youth gathering held in Madrid, Spain, April 17-20, included some special visitors. A group of hearing-impaired youth from the Adventist church in Valencia (Spain) participated for the first time. This year’s event brought together more than 1,000 young Adventists from all over Spain. Two individuals provided translation services for the Valencia youth during the four-day event. Presentations by Pastor Joel Barrios were translated into sign language. Though some attendees were hearing-impaired, they were still able to enjoy the music in a special way. “The integration of the hearing-impaired in the Cieling event was very impressive,” commented one of the translators. The impact of the meeting was so powerful that two of the young assistants responded to Barrios’ call to follow Jesus’ example. They are now studying the Bible to know more about God’s plan of salvation for humanity. “This is priceless,” commented one of the guardians who escorted a Valencia youth. “It was truly a miracle trip, filled with many blessings.” —Cid Leopoldino/CD EUDNews
Nepali Child Receives 5,000th Surgery Nishant, a 2-year-old Nepali child, became the 5,000th patient to receive free, life-transforming surgery provided by Open Heart International (OHI) volunteers. Nishant’s right leg was burned severely when he was 6 months old and fell onto the cooking fire in his home. Since he had never walked prior to the accident, his family feared he would never walk at all. In April, Nishant’s mother, Harimaya, heard that OHI volunteers offered free burn contracture surgery at Scheer Memorial Hospital in Banepa near Kathmandu. It took Harimaya and Nishant three days to travel the 500 kilometers (300 miles) from their home in Kailali to the hospital, where Dr. David Pennington and his medical team operated on the boy’s right leg. Three days later the toddler was walking with assistance. “To see Nishant—‘Mr. 5,000’ to the OHI team—running for the first time in his life brought tears to the eyes of his mother and the team members,” said John Sanburg, OHI’s Nepal project coordinator. “This was my final visit after 20 years of mission trips to Nepal, so to have the 5,000th OHI patient on this trip will be a special memory.” Burns are the second most common injury in rural Nepal, accounting for 5 percent of all disabilities. Many Nepali women and children are burned at home on their cooking fire, which is traditionally situated on the floor at the center of the household. Government hospital networks cannot cope with the demand for surgery resulting from the burns. Many villages have no access to emergency medical facilities, and some families live as far as a three-day walk from the nearest road. The OHI team plans to return to Nepal next year. They may operate on Nishant’s ankle, if he and his mother are able to make the journey back to Banepa. Nishant is one of the thousands of patients who have benefited from the services of OHI since Australia’s Sydney Adventist Hospital launched the initiative in 1986. OHI provides free cardiac, orthopedic, ophthalmic, women’s health, and burn surgery in 13 developing countries across the world, including Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, and Rwanda. More than 2,000 volunteers have donated their time, skills, expertise, and financial support to enable others to live longer and have better quality lives. —Open Heart International/Record staff
Social Media Campaign Offers Sharable Health Tips The Seventh-day Adventist Church recently released a social media campaign about healthful living for members to share with their churches and the public. The Facts With Hope campaign offers 12 one-minute videos that share tips on the importance of physical activity, healthy eating, maintaining healthy relationships, and gratitude. The one-minute spots can be viewed individually, shown to groups and churches, embedded into Web sites, and shared through social media. “This is a great way to share our messages about health, which have been backed up by scientific study,” said Katia Reinert, North American Division health ministries director. “We want people to know evidence-based ways to live healthier, happier lives.” The Adventist Church has promoted healthful living since the denomination was established more than 150 years ago. In recent decades Adventists have been featured in books and magazines for longevity; and the U.S. National Institutes of Health is helping fund extensive research about what makes Adventists one of the longest living people groups ever studied. In 2011 the Pan American Health Organization began a collaboration with the Adventist Church to help implement the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals at grassroots levels throughout North America and South America. The Facts With Hope series was produced by the Adventist Church’s North American Division Health Ministries Department and the General Conference Communication Department. See the campaign at factswithhope.org. —ANN Staff
Newbold College Board Appoints New Principal The Board of Governors at Newbold College in Bracknell, England, appointed John Baildam to the position of principal at its spring meeting on May 11. Baildam has served the college for more than 30 years in a variety of capacities, including English school director, and admissions and records director. Since 1997 he has served as director of Academic Affairs and more recently as deputy principal. Baildam has also served as chair of Governors for Garth Hill College in Bracknell, since 1999. Through his involvement with many professional committees and associations, Baildam has developed a deep and comprehensive knowledge of the higher education system in the United Kingdom, and has established a wide network of contacts. He comes with solid Adventist and academic credentials. He’s the son of Denys and Jean Baildam, an Adventist pastoral family who served across the UK from the 1940s to the 1990s. His wife, Lynda, serves Newbold as associate librarian. “I am excited by the task ahead as all of us as the college—students and staff—work together to give increasing numbers of young people the opportunity to enjoy the high quality of spiritual, social, and academic life at Newbold,” Baildam said. He is already working to significantly increase enrollment by September 2015. His message to parents and potential students: “Too many are missing out on the life-changing, faith-affirming experience to be found at Newbold.” Baildam replaces Philip Brown, who is returning to Australia following a three-year stint at Newbold. College development under his leadership included campus refurbishment, student life initiatives, a new certificate in health and wellness, and admission to the Adventist Colleges Abroad consortium. —Kristy Watkins/BUC News
There is a plot of fields and woods high in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts to which my mind returns more often than my body.
Say the word “home,” and my thoughts quickly gather there, remembering the many happy hours running through the early hay, climbing the tallest spruces and pines, building dams on the smallish creek that flows down one side of the property.
It was land that first belonged to my grandparents, then my father, and now is the inheritance I share with my brothers and our families. For nearly a century, someone named Knott has roamed these acres, cut the hay, put up firewood, and picked the wild strawberries that grow upon The Knoll each June. When it came the day I had secretly chosen to ask Debby to be my wife, I took her there to pose the question, high upon an old stonewall where the view is both wide and intimate.
Each of us has such a place. For some, like me, it is a rural spot where woods and skies give some true measure of our size; for others, it the familiar creak of a staircase leading to an urban apartment, with sights and tastes and sounds of city all around. These places are, in the fullest sense, “spiritual” places, for they connect our present lives to the values we have inherited from the past. As inheritors of a spiritual legacy, Seventh-day Adventists around the globe also have dozens of such places. Here Ellen White experienced the vision that launched the worldwide ministry now known as Adventist Review/Adventist World; there, Abram LaRue first disembarked in 1880s Hong Kong. A marker may be all that remains of a famous Adventist institution, but we gather around it to remember the history that was launched from that spot, the lives that were changed, and how the kingdom grew.
As you journey with associate editor Gerald Klingbeil in this month’s cover feature to several of these cherished spots, invite the Lord who promises to guide our memories to call you back to the pieces of your past that will restore and renew your faith in His great endtime movement.
Hope Channel Al-Waad Now Widely Available Across Middle East, Northern Africa
A new satellite contract for the Seventh-day Adventist television outlet in Beirut Lebanon, significantly expands the footprint of the church media in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Hope Channel Al-Waad recently entered a five-year contract with satellite Eutelsat 7 West A, a move network officials say introduces a message of hope to a wider audience of Arabic, Turkish, and Farsi speakers in the region.
“This new contract is a fantastic opportunity for advancing our work, and a major step for urban outreach,” said Hope Channel president Brad Thorp. “We can now provide Al-Waad to any of the cities in this region, opening up millions and millions of homes to programs that will offer a better life today and tomorrow as well.”
The French-based satellite provider Eutelsat operates Eutelsat 7 West A in cooperation with the Egyptian satellite provider Nilesat, the largest satellite provider in the Middle East. The 2011 launch of Eutelsat 7 West A marked part of the provider’s efforts to boost broadcasting in the Middle East, Gulf States, North Africa, and Northwest Africa.
Viewers using the Nilesat satellite can now reset their channel lineup to receive Adventist television in their homes. Satellite is the most common broadcast distribution method in the Middle East.
“We have been praying for this development for many years,” said Al-Waad director Amir Ghali, adding that the channel’s “peaceful, nonpartisan programming” has been well received in the region since its launch in 2010.
Al-Waad programs address topics such as health, education, and family. The channel derives its name from the Arabic word for “promise,” offering what Ghali called “the promise of hope” to the region. —Adventist News Network
Religious Liberty Experts Meet in Athens
A group of scholars and attorneys specializing in religious liberty gathered in Athens, Greece, for the January 2014 Meeting of Experts sponsored by the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA). The annual event allowed these specialists to discuss matters of concern in an informal and candid setting. According to IRLA United Nations Liaison Ganoune Diop, Athens was selected as a venue not only for its location but also for its history. Athens is the birthplace of philosophers Socrates, Pericles, and Sophocles, men whose work continues to impact society centuries after their lives were over. Athens was the home of Plato’s Akademia and Aristotle’s Lyceum, and it is considered the cradle of Western civilization. From a political perspective, democracy is said to have begun there.The 2014 event’s theme was “Religions, Secular Society, and Religious Liberty in the Mediterranean Area,” with a “How to Interact in Our Diverse Societies” focus.
Presenters covered topics related to religion, secularism, the Arab Spring, and issues of equality, women’s rights, and human dignity, as well as the need to translate this dignity into carefully crafted legal provisions that improve relations in societies.
Among the participants, Diop noted, were Gunnar Stålsett, bishop emeritus of Oslo, Norway, and copresident of Religions for Peace; W. Cole Durham, Jr., director of the Brigham Young University International Center for Law and Religious Studies at the J. Reuben Clark Law School; and Silvio Ferrari, professor of canon law, University of Milan, and former professor of church-state relations, University of Leuven, Belgium.
IRLA representatives included group president Ambassador Robert Seiple, the first U.S. ambassador-at-large for religious liberty; IRLA vice president Rosa Maria Martinez de Codes, professor on the faculty of history of the Complutense University in Madrid, Spain, and former vice director of religious affairs in Spain’s Ministry of Justice; as well as secretary-general John Graz, and attorneys Dwayne Leslie, Karnik Doukmetzian, and Todd McFarland. —Mark A. Kellner, news editor, with information from IRLA
Tens of Thousands of Eastern Europeans View Internet Outreach
Peace, strength, and purpose for the future, this is what the tens of thousands of viewers were offered by the sermon series “Horizon of Hope,” held in Bucharest, Romania, December 6-14, and presented by American Seventh-day Adventist pastor and writer Doug Batchelor.
The Adventist Theological Institute hosted the event, which was broadcast live by Hope Channel, Radio Voice of Hope, and on the Internet. The lectures were translated into four languages—Romanian, Hungarian, Russian, and Ukrainian—and broadcast in Romania, as well as in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. Every evening Batchelor took the audience through a journey into the world of the Bible. Aided by his own experiences, he narrated significant episodes from the lives of biblical people of faith, in a twenty-first-century context.
A total of 328 churches received the program via satellite in Romania. Church members promoted the event by distributing flyers and inviting friends to watch it with them. A Hope Channel team traveled across the country for nine days, broadcasting live from a different church every evening.
Online response was impressive. The first and the last lectures of the series were the most viewed, with viewer count on the sperantatv.ro Web site of 13,000 and 15,500, respectively. During the broadcast period, more than 150,000 visits were made to the video site, both live, and through sperantatv.ro, sperantalaorizont.ro, adventube.ro, and hopetv.org Web sites. Android and iOS apps were also launched to provide better access to Hope Channel’s programs. The Speranta TV Facebook page reached 10,000 fans.
The “Horizon of Hope” sermon series was followed by a special edition, with participants from academia as well as representatives of various denominations. “I consider [it] to be a commendable event, first and foremost for being a cultural manifestation, much needed now, with an important spiritual dimension. The entire event is a success that other confessions should emulate,” declared Constantin Ba˘la˘ceanu-Stolnici, a noted Romanian neurologist and professor. The lectures are available online to watch and/or download. More than 8,800 downloads have been made: approximately 5,400 in Romanian, 1,900 in Hungarian, 1,400 in Russian, and 170 in Ukrainian.
Public reaction was positive: “What I like most about these sermons is the way that the Lord’s message is presented, in the simplest of ways, for everyone to understand. I wish you a lot of success in all of your work,” wrote Vasile S,tefan. “These lectures are a special gift from God, also because we had the opportunity to listen to them in our mother tongue (Hungarian),” declared Szabó Gergely.
“I watched the sermons with a lot of interest. From now on I will practice Jesus’ teachings and follow His path,” added Csiki Margit. On the last day of the Horizon of Hope program, 10 persons from Bucharest were baptized. —reported by Loredana Dumitrașcu; CD EUDNews
Inter-America Reflects on Year of GrowthShortly after 2014 began, Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders and staff members at the Inter-American Division (IAD) met during a special worship service to praise God for the progress of the church in 2013 throughout its vast territory. More than 80 ministers and staff members reviewed church and financial growth at the IAD headquarters office in Miami, Florida, on January 6, 2014, to reflect on the success of the Year of the Laity—a year designated to celebrate the work of the lay members—and set plans, initiatives, and activities in motion for the coming months.
Reflecting on Isaiah 54, division president Israel Leito encouraged church leaders to reflect on the successes and failures of the past, and look to new opportunities to improve and enrich the mission of the church in Inter-America. “Don’t think of the failures. You are blessed because there is hope. Think of the future [and] how things can be better,” said Leito. That future means overseeing the training of thousands of lay leaders and members during what Inter-America has coined as the Year of Nonformal Education.
The Year of Nonformal Education will allow lay leaders to enhance leadership skills so they can equip others, as a springboard to continue a structured certification training with each department and ministry of the church, said Leito. In his report to the IAD leaders and staff, Elie Henry, executive secretary of the church in Inter-America, reported that as of June 2013, 150,810 new members were added to the church, bringing the membership to 3,685,644 in 11,968 churches and 8,104 companies. Although a final membership count for 2013 is not yet available, numbers of baptisms have shown a slight decline since 2010. —reported by Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division
REGIONAL REACH — Map shows coverage area for Adventist-owned Al Waad satellite channel.
MEETING OF EXPERTS: In the shadow of the Acropolis, religious freedom experts join in the latest symposium of the International Religious Liberty Association.
OUTREACH EVENT: Evangelist Doug Batchelor and translator Christian Salcianu speak in Bucharest, Romania.
NEW BEGINNING: Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America, welcomes the leadership and staff at the IAD Headquarters as the office officially begins the year on Jan. 6, 2014, in Miami, Florida.