Are you familiar with the Twitter hashtag #rpsp?
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