A quick and perceptive look at what's going on in the Seventh-day Adventist Church...
Vegan Diet Cuts Risk of Prostate Cancer
Loma Linda University Health releases new study.
By Andrew McChesney
Men who follow a vegan diet are a third less likely to develop prostate cancer, according to a new study by Loma Linda University Health. The study, published in the January 2016 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, saw a reduced risk in both White and possibly Black males who adhered to a vegan diet without meat, dairy, and eggs.
“If you are already a vegan male, be thankful that you will have a lower risk of prostate cancer,” said Dr. Gary Fraser, director of the study. “If you are not vegan, be aware that the lacto-ovo diet and the pesco-vegetarian diet did not give evidence of protection when compared to non-vegetarian Adventists.”
The study—a new analysis of 26,346 men who participated in the landmark Adventist Health Study-2—examined the association between prostate cancer and the diets of men who ate meat (nonvegetarians), some meat (semi-vegetarians), dairy and eggs but no meat (lacto-ovo vegetarians), only fish (pesco-vegetarians), and no animal products (vegans).
Vegans differ from other dietary groups by consuming more fruit, vegetables, nuts, and soy. The other major difference is their nonuse of dairy and eggs.
“It would be reasonable to consider minimizing use of dairy products and maximizing fruit, vegetables, nuts, and soy—particularly if there is a family history of prostate cancer,” Fraser said. But, he cautioned, “this message about dairy is at the present time a logical deduction rather than a tested result.”
He said his team planned to soon put this message to the test directly and report on it.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, accounting for 27 percent of all cancer cases among men, according to the American Cancer Society.
But male subjects in the Adventist study experienced about one-third lower incidence of prostate cancer if they were vegan, said Loma Linda University Health, a Seventh-day Adventist institution located in southern California.
“In total, 1,079 incident prostate cancer cases were identified. Around 8 percent of the study population reported adherence to the vegan diet. Vegan diets showed a statistically significant protective association with prostate cancer risk,” said an abstract of the study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The precise relation between diet and prostate cancer is unclear.
“Because people do not consume individual foods but rather foods in combination, the assessment of dietary patterns may offer valuable information when determining associations between diet and prostate cancer risk,” Loma Linda University Health said in an e-mailed statement.
But other recent studies have found a link between meat and cancer. An analysis from Adventist Health Study-2 published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in March 2015 showed that a vegetarian diet might reduce a person’s risk of colorectal cancer by 22 percent. Previous work from Adventist Health Study-1 linked meat consumption to a higher risk of colorectal cancer.
The World Health Organization made international headlines last fall when it declared red meat and processed meat to be a cancer hazard.
Dr. Peter N. Landless, director of the Health Ministries Department of the Adventist world church, said the outcome of the latest study was not surprising.
“There is robust evidence supporting the many benefits of a balanced plant-based/vegetarian diet,” Landless said in a statement. “It is interesting and exciting to see different protective properties of different diets, even among the various so-named vegetarian diets (total vegetarian or vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, and pesco-vegetarian).
“We see statistically significant protection against prostate cancer in the white vegan group of the AHS-2, with a nonsignificant trend among Black vegans, and wrestle with the protective benefit of dairy consumption regarding colorectal cancer. The epidemiologists and statisticians are facing almost as many questions as answers that are generated by various studies. There is no doubt that a meat-free diet is healthier than one that includes meat. We have long recommended that dairy products should be used sparingly and as a condiment, as it were.”
Landless even posed the logical question that many might expect: “Why would we not just recommend a total vegetarian diet for all?”
“Human beings are dependent on dietary sources of vitamin B12; in many parts of the world, dairy is the only source of this essential vitamin for the vegetarian,” Landless said. “Where vitamin B12 is readily and affordably available, where adequate B12 fortification of dairy equivalents is practiced, the total vegetarian diet is very healthy. I strongly urge that all categories of vegetarian supplement their B12 intake, even more intentionally as they grow older, as B12 absorption processes slow down. The current study is a North American-based study; although the results are able to be extrapolated to a global population (White and Black males, as specified above), the socioeconomic circumstances cannot.”
Landless summed up his response to Loma Linda University’s new report, saying: “As far as a general recommendation is concerned, we believe it safe and healthy to consume a balanced (supplemented), vegan diet; we urge those who consume dairy products to do so sparingly and use low- or no-fat preparations. We underscore that a balanced, plant-based diet is optimal. We strongly encourage supplementation of vitamin B12 as outlined above. These recommendations hold true for men and women. We keenly await more answers as the research unfolds.”
Division President Succumbs to Rare Disease
Asoy was elected to office just six months ago.
By Andrew McChesney
Leonardo R. Asoy, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD), died after a months-long struggle with a rare bone marrow disease. He was 56.
Asoy was elected SSD president at the General Conference session in San Antonio, Texas, in July 2015, replacing the ailing Alberto C. Gulfan, Jr., who died of cancer on September 26, 2015.
Asoy, who was hospitalized about two months after the General Conference session, died on January 12, 2016, at the Adventist Medical Center Manila, Philippines, from complications resulting from myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare disease in which the bone marrow is unable to produce adequate healthy blood cells.
Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, called Asoy “a dynamic promoter and supporter of evangelism.”
“He was a valiant guardian of the eternal truths of Scripture and the marvelous Advent movement God has entrusted into the hands of Seventh-day Adventists,” Wilson said.
He offered condolences to Asoy’s wife, Elma, and two adult children, Elnardz and Shawnette.
SSD’s executive secretary, Saw Samuel, has been appointed acting president until a new president is elected, in accordance with the General Conference’s Working Policy.
Leonardo Remulta Asoy was born on November 18, 1959, in Mindanao in southern Philippines, and graduated from the Adventist-owned Mountain View College in 1983 with a degree in theology. He first worked as a district pastor in Ozamis City in the church’s Western Mindanao Conference and later as its youth director from 1988 to 1990.
In 1990 he earned a master’s degree in pastoral studies from the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) in Cavite, Philippines. Whatever knowledge Asoy gained from his Adventist education, he returned hundredfold, friends said.
Felixian T. Felicitas, dean of the School of Theology at Mountain View College, recalled traveling with Asoy on numerous evangelism outings early in their 15-year friendship.
“On most of our trips, Pastor Asoy would turn our long travels into mentoring sessions,” Felicitas said. “At times he would park his blue pickup truck and we would sit in the back, resting. He would simply share his ministry experiences with me. Little did I know then that this was his own little way of teaching and mentoring me.”
Asoy served as president of the South Philippine Union Conference from 2011 until last year, turning it into one of the best-managed unions in the Adventist Church, said G. T. Ng, executive secretary of the Adventist world church and a friend of Asoy for more than two decades.
Ng said he would long remember the one day that Asoy briefly left the hospital to attend the opening of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division’s year-end meetings on November 6. Asoy had been confined to his hospital room for 47 days, but he made it a point to be discharged from the hospital in time to attend the morning worship of the opening session.
“He spoke with resounding gusto, saying how grateful he was to be present in the midst of fellow leaders from the unions,” Ng said. “He was fully committed to the Lord and to the full restoration of health.”
Ng described Asoy’s life as “a celebration of piety, humility, zeal, and unflinching courage.” “Like the apostle Paul, he could say, ‘This one thing I do,’ in his lifelong commitment to the mission of the church,” he said. “Here is a valiant soldier of Christ waiting to see his Master face to face soon.”
My Straight A’s Friend, Bob Folkenberg
Remembering the late General Conference president.
By Jim Gilley, evangelist and former 3ABN president
It was a strange place to begin a friendship.
Bob Folkenberg and I were very nervous as we stood in line waiting for our final grades before graduation from Andrews University in 1962. Bob shared with me his reason for concern.
“I’ve made straight A’s on every report card since the first grade. But I am concerned about this last report card, because I may have slipped to a B in Greek II with Blazen,” he said, referring to Ivan Blazen, the professor of Greek and New Testament.
I shook my head in mock sympathy. I also was worried, but my concern was whether or not I had passed Greek I. All I needed was a passing grade.
When Bob received his grade, he jumped, nearly hitting the ceiling, and shouted, “Whoopee, an A!” Then he ran down the hall.
Wow, well done! I thought. Straight A’s since first grade!
Bob was long gone when I received my grade and erupted in similar celebration, announcing “Whoopee, a D!” with even more exuberance.
We went on to graduate that weekend, Bob with honors, and I—just barely! Both of us were eagerly looking forward to embracing that which the Lord had given us a love for: sharing Jesus with the lost.
A Heart for Evangelism
The next thing I knew, Bob was the singing evangelist for the Roger Holley evangelistic team in the Columbia Union. And because no one else would take the job, they made me the Southern New England Conference evangelist.
Bob learned evangelism from Roger Holley, a man who had studied at the feet of Fordyce Detamore, who knew more than anyone about the “science of soul winning,” as the pen of inspiration calls it. And Bob learned it well during his two years with the team from 1964 to 1966. When he left Pastor Holley to accept a call to the Inter-American Division, the practical knowledge God had blessed him with proved key to the unprecedented growth of that division.
“Thousands were baptized because Bob had the faith to hold big meetings for the Lord,” evangelist Kenneth Cox told me.
Cox, working with evangelist Benny Moore, held evangelistic meetings with Bob in Panama, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. “Anytime we had an opening, Bob would ask for our team to come,” recalled Moore.
Bob served as evangelist for the Panama Conference, then as president of the Honduras Mission and president of the Central American Union. Soon he was elected assistant to the president of the Inter-American Division, where his emphasis was on evangelism.
In 1985 Bob returned to the United States with his wife, Anita, and two children, Bob, Jr., and Kathi, to serve as president of the Carolina Conference.
The Carolina Conference soon led the Southern Union and North America in soul winning. Bob often called me, and we would discuss some new soul-winning idea that he had, always on the cutting edge of technology. I was amazed at his great personal energy and his total commitment to spreading the gospel.
A Miracle at the 1990 General Conference Session
In 1990 I was chosen as a delegate to the General Conference session in Indianapolis, Indiana. When I arrived at the airport, I saw Richard Barron, a great youth leader who had also served as a conference president, and he said to me, “Gilley, there’s change in the air.”
He was so correct. I soon saw what he meant.
Only three people were chosen from the Southwestern Union Conference delegation to participate in the Nominating Committee, and miraculously I was one of them. Initially Bob was not chosen to represent the Southern Union Conference. But one of those selected to serve declined, and Bob was picked as the replacement—another miracle.
When the Nominating Committee was organized, Bob was quickly elected as chair, to the surprise of everyone. We immediately saw his strength with that committee, and it suddenly occurred to me that he could be nominated to the office of General Conference president.
I pointed this out to several people, and the next morning I told Bob that I thought that he would be asked to be president before the day was over. He looked at me as if stunned and said, “Jim, you’re the second person to tell me that this morning.”
But things didn’t go that way. The Nominating Committee ended up choosing George Brown, president of the Inter-American Division, as General Conference president. However, Brown declined the position after a time of prayerful consideration and because of his concerns about his wife’s health at the time.
When we reconvened, Charles Dudley arose and nominated Robert S. Folkenberg, Sr. Delegates on the floor elected Bob, and at the age of 49 he began his presidency at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Bob hit the ground running, putting Global Mission into action worldwide and adopting the suggestion of then-Lake Union Conference president Don Schneider and his committee to launch World Wide satellite evangelism in partnership with the Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN). The Seventh-day Adventist Church entered a time of great growth, with Bob leading the way in opening evangelism in the former Soviet Union and parts of the world known as the 10/40 window.
Problems arose during Bob’s second term of office, and he decided to resign in 1999. It was a dark time of his life. But the Lord still had much work for him to do.
Greatest Ministry Comes After GC
Bob returned to the Carolina Conference, where Ken Coonley, who had served as executive secretary during Bob’s presidency there, was now president. Bob began a project he called Global Evangelism but later changed to ShareHim, which organized lay members and youth to hold evangelistic meetings all over the world. ShareHim is owned and operated by the church as a department of the Carolina Conference, but is funded exclusively through direct donations.
The other day I contacted Benny Moore, who joined ShareHim after retiring from denominational work, to ask about the results of ShareHim under Bob’s leadership for the past 10 years. Not all totals are known. But ShareHim conducted almost 6,000 evangelistic series resulting in 300,000 baptisms in the 11 years from 2000 to 2011. An average of 50 people were baptized per series.
On December 24, 2015, Bob went to sleep in Jesus after a long struggle with cancer. When Bob, Jr., called to tell me, I was driving with my son, John, in my pickup. I stopped the truck and reflected on Bob’s life. I thought back to Andrews University and standing in line for our grades.
One day we will once again stand in line, and Bob will hear the words “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!” Bob may have worried that he had slipped to a B, but once again I believe he made an A.