Our Help in Ages Past
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.