Lord, I long to see Your face, to see the love You have for me. Please, let me see You.
To See His Face
Christ’s love is demonstrated in some unusual situations.
By Diana Dyer
Lord, I long to see Your face, to see the love You have for me. Please, let me see You.
How would Jesus answer my prayer?
An “urgent” sticky note notified me that Corky would be transferring to my district within 24 hours; she would need intensive home health services. Corky’s brief referral throbbed with words like noncompliant, combative, maladjusted, unmanageable, and terminal.
Corky’s new address was in a trailer park nestled into the hillside above lush pastures and the Pacific Ocean. Mike answered the door. I was surprised; the referral papers made no mention of a resident male. “Is this Corky’s place?”
“Yeah,” he said. “You the nurse?” He opened the door and motioned me inside. The living room was bare. Brown carpet was covered with a layer of chalky-white dust. “Sorry for the drywall mess,” he said. “I had to get this place fixed up so she could move in. I’ve been workin’ all night. She’ll be here tomorrow.”
I took out my pen, hoping to start on the necessary paperwork. Mike kept talking. “I think she’s gonna like this,” he said. “She’s never lived in the country before. Said she always wanted to live by the ocean. I’m giving her this room with the window so she can look out and see it.” He answered a few questions, then continued talking about Corky. “I don’t think she’s gonna live long. She’s hard to manage; she didn’t get the treatment she needed. She’s in a lot of pain, and I think she might have an infection. Can you help me with that?”
Arrangements were made for home health aides to come and tidy up. They would do some housekeeping and assist with Corky’s personal care.
“I’ll be back in the morning to make sure everything is in order,” I said. “Once Corky is here, we can adjust her pain meds and determine what nursing care she needs.”
A Difficult Case Back in the office I reviewed Corky’s medical history. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and scheduled for treatment. But she did not take well to the plan and “fired” one doctor after another when the side effects of the treatment made her uncomfortable. Various physicians had treated her with remarkable tolerance, considering her abusive language and failure to cooperate. Finally, only one physician was willing to assume responsibility for her care, and he provided only long-distance service, basing his decisions on reports from the nurse. Corky apparently did not appreciate nurses, either.
I arrived for my first visit with Corky filled with dread. Mike greeted me at the door; worry and sleeplessness had deepened the lines on his face. “She got here late last night and hardly slept at all,” he confided. “The pain medicine just doesn’t seem to help. I have to fight to get it down her. I promise her ice cream just so she’ll take it.”
Mike led me to the bedroom. The smell of decay challenged my gag reflex. Mike seemed too preoccupied to notice. “Wake up, Corky.” He spoke gently. “The nurse is here to see you.” He tugged on the mound of blanket. Slowly a tousled head emerged, followed by an enormous body. I had expected Corky to be emaciated.
I began asking questions. Her grunts were unintelligible. Her right arm was swollen, taut. On the right side of her torso, front and back, the flesh was swollen and hard.
“Where’s the sore that needs dressing?” I asked Mike.
He responded by pointing to Corky’s right arm. “There, under her arm.”
The flesh was so tightly swollen that Corky could not raise the arm. When I attempted to help her, she screamed obscenities and rocked in pain. Mike finally talked her into cooperating. A deep, black crater the size of a cantaloupe oozed thick, sticky fluid and an unpleasant odor. Mike appeared calm and unconcerned, confident that we would find a way to make things better.
When the job of irrigating the wound and packing it with gauze was finally finished, I drove back to the office exhausted and apprehensive. That same treatment would have to be repeated two or three times a day. She really needs to be in a skilled nursing facility of some kind, I thought.
“Absolutely not!” Mike said when I approached him with the idea. “I’ll take care of her here.”
Faithful to the End Twice-daily nursing visits were scheduled, and aides provided bed baths and light housekeeping services. Mike was there 24/7, giving her pain medicine, comforting her tenderly, and urging her to eat and drink. Many times the promise of a spoonful of ice cream cajoled her into cooperating. Though she frequently made remarks about their special relationship, abusive swearing was usually the only reward Mike received for his tenderness.
Still Mike refused to consider placing Corky in a nursing home. “They couldn’t put up with her,” he said. “The first thing you know, she’d ‘fire’ them and cause so much trouble that she’d be out on the street again. I understand her. I can take care of her.”
So Corky remained in the trailer with Mike. The rest of us involved with her care did what we could to help, following the care plan and providing occasional respite. But Mike carried the lion’s share of the load. When I stayed with Corky, I discovered 10 minutes was about the maximum amount of time she would rest before calling for Mike. I was exhausted after an hour or two; Mike did it around the clock, day after day.
I have seen death many times, and I recognized its approach. “How soon do you think it will be?” Mike asked.
I gently walked him through the process, describing the usual scenario. “Within the next day or two you’ll notice long pauses between breaths, with a sort of gasping when she breathes again. Then she’ll just stop breathing; she won’t experience any pain.”
We talked a bit more before I carried my bags to the car. Just as I pulled out of the driveway, Mike came running out the door. Gesturing wildly, he shouted, “She’s doing it; she’s doing what you said!”
Corky took one last gasping breath. I looked at her still form, totally peaceful at last. Her ordeal was over. I looked at Mike. He stared at her silently, tears running down his cheeks and dripping from his chin. His suffering affected me more deeply than Corky’s death.
Choking back sobs, I mumbled some sort of condolence and finished by saying that he had done more than most husbands would have done under the circumstances, that she could not have doubted his love.
“Husband?” He looked at me sharply. “I’m not her husband. I hardly knew her.”
Seeing my startled look, he went on: “She lived on the street; that’s where I found her. She didn’t have anyone who cared about her. I knew she was dying, and I bought this place so she’d have somewhere to go. If I hadn’t taken care of her, who would have? She had no one else.”
Mike was standing there, but I saw the face of Jesus.
Diana Dyer lives with her husband, Richard, in Adams, Nebraska, United States. She enjoys talking to people about Jesus.
A Place of Worship for All Balancing cultural and ethnic congregational life By Don W. McFarlane Our cultural preferences can be used by God for His kingdom.
Thirty years ago the word “diversity” was not used much within the Seventh-day Adventist Church community in the British Isles. The one cultural distinction, often highlighted, was the difference between those referred to as Anglos and those referred to as Caribbeans. Whenever that subject was discussed, various negative motives were often attributed to one group for not wanting to worship with another. Much of the behavior that was blamed on prejudice and intolerance was largely the result of cultural preferences. Some underestimate the importance of culture, holding to the view that all people, if they are children of God, should worship together. If they choose not to, the conclusion is clear: They are not truly children of God. But the truth may be more complex.
Worship Matters Worship is most meaningful within the context of one’s own culture. And reluctance on the part of members of one population to fellowship with another may be nothing more than a desire to worship in circumstances with which they were familiar. Several Adventist churches in the British Isles have been loosely described as Caribbean churches. However, in numerous cases, these churches are made up largely of members from a particular country, a particular parish, even a particular village. So that just as Caribbean people coalesce according to their particular mores and folkways, it is reasonable that people from other cultures may also wish to do the same, and worship with people who sing like them, eat like them, pray like them, preach like them, and understand their way of life.
The Ghanaian Example In 1992 a group of Ghanaians asked the South England Conference to recognize a Ghanaian fellowship, and organize the fellowship into a church for the purpose of nurturing Ghanaian Adventists and evangelizing the wider Ghanaian community. So was born the era of what are generally called “ethnic churches.” Since the London Ghana Adventist Church was established in London in 1992, several other ethnic churches have been set up; among them are congregations that have services in Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Bulgarian, and Romanian, not to mention congregations from other African nations and the Philippines. The conference recognized that if the church was to be even mildly effective in London, it would need to shift from being monocultural to multicultural. It needed to broaden its appeal and provide different congregations for different kinds of people. It would have been ideal for existing churches to become multicultural churches, not merely in membership but in the manner in which things were done. But that was easier said than done. In nearly all the churches, a long pattern of worship and witness was already established. Changing that to accommodate the needs of multiple cultures was a tall order. Further, forcing different cultural or ethnic groups to worship together, even regardless of color, could result in an approach to worship that would frustrate many. Many would cease attending church, as many had before the advent of the ethnic churches. Some might say that having ethnic churches is religious apartheid, but the facts do not support it. In the British Union, people are free to worship where they wish. People worship where they prefer the style of worship they encounter, where they are treated with love and warmth. In fact, worshippers from all ethnic groups can be found in congregations of other cultural groups. Ethnic congregations provide a wider choice to worshippers and would-be worshippers. They provide a bigger platform for presenting the gospel in a diverse and sophisticated community. Ethnic churches are among the fastest-growing congregations in the British Union.
Demographic Earthquake Since the year 2000 thousands of Adventists have arrived from Southern Africa and Eastern Europe, seemingly overnight. The arrival of these new members, the greatest number being from Southern Africa, has brought several visible benefits to the British Union: small churches that were struggling have been revived; the musical ability of the new members has enhanced many a service, and their commitment to the mission of the church has been refreshing; their warm and friendly disposition is also a particular blessing. When I first entered church administration, leaders were concerned primarily about nurturing members of the church’s majority population. Today its concern is to minister to a wide spectrum of members, without being partial to any particular cultural group. The church will never be the same again. Nor should it be. We are still very much concerned with reaching the majority population with the gospel, in that they compose more than 90 percent of the people who live in the British Isles.
General Observations The church in the British Isles has become much more conservative, particularly with respect to other forms of diversity. One that comes easily to mind is gender diversity. What was once a growing acceptance of the equality of men and women in ministry has slowed down. The task of reaching the majority population with the gospel has become more challenging. The British Union is one of the few places in the world in which the composition of the church is in reverse proportion to the composition of the general population. In most other countries witnessing comes naturally, as people share their faith with others like themselves, while in Great Britain sharing faith involves more cultural bridging. Additionally, the traditional evangelistic approaches emphasized do not appear to be the most ideal methods for reaching the majority population. Managing growing diversity requires that: n all newcomers be warmly welcomed, and everyone made to feel part of the family. n ongoing diversity seminars provide opportunities for leaders of various culture groups to dialogue so as to understand one another. n ministers be employed to meet the needs of different culture groups—most pastors taken on in the past 10 years are originally from Africa, Eastern Europe, India, and South America. Local churches have been asked to involve new members in the life of the church to heighten their sense of belonging.
Major Implications The Adventist Church in the British Isles has become irreversibly multicultural. In this new context, all cultures represented in the church share the responsibility for caring for all other cultures. By way of example, no more than 20 percent of Seventh-day Adventists in the British Isles are British. In the same way that Portuguese, Russians, Bulgarians, and Ghanaians are now able to, the British also care about worshipping in a manner they find comfortable and appropriate to their culture. For the church to have its most significant impact on its society, emphasis must be placed on cross-cultural evangelism and outreach. Pastors and members have to be trained and encouraged to witness outside their own cultures. The church has to be sensitive in its appointment of leaders, and ensure that the broad cultural makeup of the church is considered, as well as the makeup of society. As we celebrate the richness and variety that people from nearly every country in the world bring to our spiritual table, we may also explore and appreciate the complex interplay between people of different cultures and marvel at the wisdom of God that makes us all so different and yet all one in Him. n
Don W. McFarlane is pastor of administration for Sligo church in Takoma Park, Maryland, United States. Before that, he was president of the British Union Conference.
Adventists in India are using education to build the church.
By Rick Kajiura
Symbols of India’s colonial past still stand tall in Mumbai’s harborfront. Yet India today is a mix of the past and the present. The latest in modern technology is available in every major city, while in rural areas people still use the implements and technology that worked for their forefathers. While most of India’s population is Hindu, there is a large Muslim population; and Buddhism also traces its roots to India.
Despite its ancient history, this country of more than 1 billion people is moving rapidly through a new gateway, a gateway into the future—a future that looks to its children.
In India, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is investing in the future through Adventist education. Today the church operates some 129 secondary schools with more than 93,000 students.
At Adventist schools in Khurda, children are getting an education that will better prepare them for the future. Here students live their daily lives, eating, studying, and doing their daily chores. They are fed physically, intellectually, and spiritually, while learning about a God who loves them. Even though many students come from poor families, they still give their offerings to help others learn about Jesus. Of some 900 students attending this school, only about 400 come from Adventist families.
Behind the dreams and hopes of each child are stories of loss and pain, of hope and miracles, of love and happiness. And their stories are still being written.
Their Stories JyotiJyoti, Fulmani, Menka, and Aishish are four students at the school who are studying hard to make their dreams a reality.
When she was 6, Jyoti remembers her mother getting sick and going to the hospital. She never came home again. Jyoti’s father and aunt sent her to a Christian boarding school where she learned about God.
Eventually she came to this school and became an Adventist. Jyoti prayed that her parents would become Adventists too. Then Jyoti’s father was sent to jail. While there he gave his heart to God. Last year Jyoti’s father and stepmother were baptized.
FulmaniFulmani remembers when she was 7 years old trying to take care of her two younger brothers while herding the cows and buffaloes. Her father had died, and her mother had remarried. Then her mother died also. Fulmani was invited to an Adventist school to study. But when she turned 12, her uncle wanted her to get married. Fulmani didn’t want to get married so she worked hard doing manual labor to earn money to stay in school, but it wasn’t enough. Fortunately, this school was able to offer her financial aid. Now she’s already planning for life after she finishes her education. Fulmani says, “My aim is to become a nurse and help others, just as I’m getting help.”
When Menka was young her father moved away, and she lived with her mother. She remembers that one day her father took her away without telling her mother. Menka wasn’t happy with him. Her only friend was a dog she called Rahni. One day at school she saw Rahni and followed him to the train station, where he disappeared. A voice told her, “get on board,” so she boarded the train.
The rhythmic sound of the train going down the tracks put Menka to sleep. When the train came to its next stop and she disembarked, she had no idea where she was. She spotted a kind man who told her the name of the village. Menka was amazed to find herself back in her mother’s village. The man knew her mother and took her to her home. (Menka’s full story is told in Mission, the church’s quarterly mission magazine, also available online: www.adventistmission.org/article.php?id=45.)
Thanks to her furry “angel,” who put her on the right train, Menka was able to live with her mother, who sent her to study at an Adventist school.
When she grows up, Menka wants to be a doctor, but not just any doctor; she wants to be an eye specialist.
Protected for a Purpose AishishAishish was doing afternoon chores at the Adventist school campus he attended as a student. A violent storm the night before had scattered branches and debris throughout the grounds, and a drizzling rain was still falling. Aishish picked up a large branch and threw it over his shoulder and dragged it to a trash heap. He tried to throw the branch like a javelin, but as he lifted it, it struck a high tension electric wire. The surge of electricity knocked him unconscious, and he fell to the ground.
A staff member in his house heard the crackling noise and ran outside to find Aishish lying on the wet ground. Picking Aishish up he was still able to feel the lingering electrical charge in his body. He carried Aishish to the closest classroom and started praying and applying first aid. A few moments later Aishish coughed and asked, “What happened to me?”
Today Aishish is an active young man. He shows where his hand and feet were burned. He doesn’t know why he survived, but he believes God has a plan for his life and he’s dedicated his life to serving Him.
These are just a few of the many stories of children in India who attend Adventist schools, children with hopes and dreams for the future. Thanks to Adventist education they have opportunities for a better future.
But not all children have hope. Not all of India’s children have the opportunity of receiving a Christian education. Many generous individuals and Adventist organizations have supported this school and its students with their donations. Thank you for your prayers and financial support of Adventist mission work around the world. Thank you for investing in the future of India.
And thank you for supporting the Thirteenth Sabbath Offerings, which benefit projects such as this one in India.
Rick Kajiura is communication director for the Office of Adventist Mission. For more information about this ministry visit:www.AdventistMission.org.
A trip to China gave an Adventist tour group opportunities to share Christ.
By Robert G. Wearner
The group had just cleared customs, and a young woman greeted them with the words, “Welcome to China!” A tour group of 19 American Adventists had just arrived in Shanghai, China, the last day of May 1996. Liu Jun, the smiling young official guide, introduced herself and took them to their hotel. Informed of their desire to attend church the next day, she said that a bus would take them to the large Mu En church.
After seating the group in Sabbath school, she slipped away to do some shopping.
Fluent in English, the 28-year-old guide had led many tour groups during the four years she had worked for the China Rainbow Travel Service. But this was her first Adventist group, and little did she know how, through them, her life would be forever changed.
Open to the Spirit Asked if she had any concept of a supreme being at the time of her first contact with these people, Jun stated flatly, “No!” Then she added, “Well, yes, I believed that a god existed, but I didn’t know who he was. I was taught that religion was not important.”
For 16 days Jun guided the group to the scenic wonders of her country. They climbed the Great Wall, inspected the Forbidden City of Beijing, toured theSummer Palace, walked in Tiananmen Square, took a boat ride down the Li River, visited the famous silk factory in Suzhou, and many other sites.
TOUR LEADER: Liu Jun, tour leader for an Adventist group filming a segment for Mission Spotlight, learned about God from those on the tour. The group spent its second Sabbath at the ancient walled city of Xi’an, meeting in a former Baptist church. The congregation filled the sanctuary while many others sat on benches in the patio, even though it was raining. This time Jun stayed to listen to the robed choir, and heard her first Adventist sermon, delivered by a young lay member about her age.
The tour went by quickly, and before Jun left the Adventist group in Guangzhou (Canton), they almost seemed like family.
As they parted with tears, Jun confided to them her desire to earn a degree in business in theUnited States. The next year, Pastors Carl Currie and John Hanson were invited to join Mission Spotlight to film a program about China. Again, Jun met with them and expressed her desire to attend college in the United States.
In 1998 Pastors Currie and Hanson organized another China tour. Jun was again assigned to guide them through Beijing. As she showed the group the sites of the city, Hanson agreed to visit the American Embassy with Jun to assist her as her sponsor as she applied for her student visa.
They met at the American Embassy at 5:00 on Friday morning. Already 350 people were lined up to apply for visas. By the time they arrived at the front gate of the compound, more than 1,500 people lined the streets.
After waiting eight hours in the hot sun, Jun appeared before her interviewer. The interview lasted less than two minutes, and her visa was denied. Jun was devastated. Pastor Hanson then began “going up the ladder” until he reached the highest authority at the American Embassy to appeal the interviewer’s decision. While the appeal was in progress, the entire Adventist tour group prayed that God’s will be done.
God intervened on Jun’s behalf, the interviewer’s denial was overturned, and the coveted visa was granted. The group had left Beijing and was on the boat cruise down the Yangtze River when word reached them that Jun had her visa in hand.
On this tour, Jun introduced her Chinese family to the group. Jun’s husband, parents, and sister met the Adventists at a restaurant the Saturday night before they left Beijing. All well-educated, Jun’s family expressed their appreciation for what had been done for her.
Leaving Home In July 1998 Jun left Beijing and made her way to America. Tour leader Hanson met her at San Francisco and escorted her to his home in Hahira, Georgia. There she met his wife and attended her first American Adventist church service. She listened to Hanson preach a sermon entitled “Everlasting Love.” At the conclusion he baptized a young person, which provided Jun her first opportunity to observe a baptism by immersion. Even though she didn’t understand all its significance, Hanson told her, “One of these days I want the privilege of baptizing you, Jun.”
Southern Adventist University (SAU) in Collegedale, Tennessee, accepted Jun as a business major. Thelma Cushman Wearner, a retired teacher from SAU, offered her room and board. Their bonding made a great impact on Jun’s life.
“I have always been adventurous,” says Jun. “So when I lived with Mom Cushman, I tried to respect her beliefs, even though at the time they did not make sense to me. I attended religious classes and went to church, but I really did not understand the Bible principles. I observed that the Adventist people were always kind and loving. When I went to visit the Hansons and the Curries, they had such a loving way about them. I shared this with my parents in China, and they were pleased. They could tell a change for good was taking place in my life, and they were grateful.”
After a successful year at SAU, Jun transferred to California’s Pacific Union College (PUC) in the Napa Valley. Eventually her husband was able to get a visa, and he joined her in California. In time the couple welcomed a daughter whom they named Yang Yang.
The former tour guide took their little daughter to her kindergarten Sabbath school week by week. Yang Yang began to learn about Jesus, Friend of children, and her mother and father also began to understand more about the love of the Savior. Life for Jun began to take on new meaning. Members of the pastoral staff of the college church answered the more difficult theological questions, while those with whom she worked at the college store demonstrated Christian love and made a great impact upon her life.
“Over the years, the many friends I made among students and faculty gave me constant support,” she says, “and I found myself more and more interested in religion.”
After earning a degree in business in 2003, Jun was employed as an accountant at the college store. After studying the doctrines of the church, she asked Pastor Hanson, former tour leader, to baptize her. She was baptized in May 2006.
It took almost a decade from her first contact with that Adventist tour group inShanghai to become part of God’s family. Several hundred of Jun’s friends and church family of the PUC church stood as she was baptized and welcomed her into the family of God.
Robert G. Wearner, a retired pastor, writes from Collegedale, Tennessee (USA).
A growing movement is touching lives and reaching people with the gospel.
By Rick Kajiura
In Northern Asia Seventh-day Adventists are answering the call to mission. Here are vast territories still largely unreached with the gospel. Countries such as China, Mongolia, and Japan still have relatively few Adventists compared to their overall populations.
Throughout the Northern Asia-Pacific Division, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is sending out church planters as part of the Pioneer Mission Movement (PMM). Sponsored by supporters of Global Mission, these dedicated church planters leave their homes to start new groups of believers in other countries. Today there are PMM pastors and their families scattered throughout northern Asia carrying with them a message of love and hope.
FROM POLICE OFFICER TO PASTOR: Retired police officer Hwang Haochu (center) is training for the ministry, thanks to the witnessing activities of Achou Chen and Pastor Hyung Taeklim.PMM Pastor Hyung Taeklim and his family arrived in Taiwan three years ago. After spending one year learning Mandarin, he started looking for a place to hold meetings. He met Achou Chen, a Seventh-day Adventist member who told him about a shop that had closed on the ground floor of the building where she lived. Pastor Lim liked the place and soon rented it to start his new church.
What Mrs. Chen hadn’t told him was that her own husband had stopped attending church because the place they attended was too far away. When she asked when he would start attending church again, he’d answer, “When there’s a church in this building.”
As a young woman, Mrs. Chen had been a church planter and a lay pastor. She still has a heart for mission.
“I had my training at Taiwan Adventist Hospital,” she says. “They trained us to take blood pressure and share the health message. I volunteered to take blood pressure in the park Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.”
“When I was taking a walk in the park, I saw a woman helping people to measure their blood pressure for free,” says Mrs. Hwang. “So I also joined them. We started to talk to each other. She shared Christianity with me and told me there was a church nearby. She invited me to attend the church, and I went.”
A Family Affair
Mrs. Hwang had been searching for answers. A year earlier she had lost her husband to a heart attack, and now she was recovering from heart surgery herself.
“During that time I was in very bad shape in terms of my emotions,” she says. “It was a difficult time.”
Before long Mrs. Hwang was studying the Bible with Pastor Lim, along with several of her brothers and sisters.
“Six of the nine siblings are attending church,” says Pastor Lim. “My prayer is that the other three will be brought to church, along with their extended family.”
The Hwangs are convinced that God has called their family, so they preach the gospel to their family.
One brother, Hwang Haochu is a retired police officer. “I started to know Pastor Lim, and he took me around when he was visiting and doing evangelistic meetings. Pastor Lim was a very enthusiastic pastor.”
Today Hwang Haochu is back in the classroom studying to become a pastor at Taiwan Adventist College.
The Hwang brothers and sisters have shared their newfound faith with their children and spouses. Today 15 members of the Hwang family are attending church or taking Bible studies.
The Ripple Effect
LEARNING THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE: Hong Insun (right) taught Korean pastors how to speak Chinese. They, in turn, taught her about Jesus. Since being baptized, Hong has become PMM coordinator for the Taiwan Conference.Not far from Taiwan Adventist College another PMM pastor and his wife are reaching out into their community. Pastor Kablim Jong was trained as a physical therapist before becoming a pastor. But he and his wife felt called to serve as missionaries. Now Mrs. Lim offers cooking and health classes and Pastor Lim does massage therapy. They’ve also opened up an upper room as a meeting place.
Hong Insun was the first person in Taiwan to be baptized through the ministry of a PMM pastor. Although she had been attending an Adventist church, and had sent her sons to an Adventist school, she hadn’t yet been baptized. She was the only Korean in the city where she and her Taiwanese husband lived. So she was thrilled when she learned that not one, but five Korean families had moved into the area.
The PMM pastors were studying the Chinese language before beginning their work. One of those pastors, Choi Woonsung offered to study the Bible with Hong. Then he asked her to translate for an evangelistic series. It took some persuading, but she agreed. Soon afterward she was baptized.
“Whenever I thought about my future it was with much uneasiness,” she says. “But since I joined the church, uneasiness has gone away and peace has settled in my heart.”
Today Hong still translates for meetings and serves as the PMM coordinator for the Taiwan Conference. But she does it as a labor of love and donates the money she is paid back to the PMM program.
In Mongolia another PMM pastor is sharing his faith in Ulaanbaatar. One of the people he has helped introduce to Jesus is a young man named Joy. Today Joy works at the Seventh-day Adventist Language center, overseeing the language lab.
After he arrived in Mongolia, Pastor Noyoung Park hired a printer to make some brochures for a series of evangelistic meetings. He met a young man who worked for the printer and invited him to church. The young man visited the church and seemed to enjoy it.
When the brochures were delivered, Pastor Park wasn’t happy with the quality of the work, so he asked the printer to redo it.
What he didn’t know was that his request meant that young Joy lost his job.
HEALTH MINISTRY: Achou Chen (right) uses training received at Taiwan Adventist Hospital to offer free blood pressure readings in the park. That’s how she met Mrs. Hwang, which eventually led to six of Mrs. Hwang’s nine siblings attending church.Park noticed that Joy had stopped coming to church. So he asked around and found out the reason. But something about the young man’s attitude impressed Park.
“Even though he attended church just one week, when I asked, ‘Would you be interested in going out and distributing some handbills and invite people to our meetings?’ he said ‘Yes,’ and we did it together.”
Later he called Joy and offered him a job at the language school. Today Joy leads out in the youth outreach program. Young people from the church and the community meet regularly to play soccer and other sports wearing uniforms that bear the Adventist name. The young people enjoy their time together so much that they play outdoor soccer even in bitterly cold weather.
“Pastor Park treats us as Jesus treated persons; with mercy,” says Joy. “Even though I made a big mistake, Pastor Park showed kindness and mercy, just as Jesus did.”
From Korea to Taiwan and Japan, from Taiwan to Japan, from Korea to Mongolia, and more, PMM pastors are reaching out to people in new countries and communities.
With a message of hope and love they are touching lives and doing their part to tell the world about Jesus.
Taking the gospel to the world’s largest cities often means reaching people individually.
By Daniel Weber
Our church faces a great challenge. And it’s not one that we haven’t seen coming. In 1990 when the Office of Global Mission was established, church leaders identified five key Global Mission challenges. One challenge highlighted at the time was the huge urban areas of the world.
Today, more than half the world’s population lives in cities of at least 1 million people. Cities are growing at an astounding rate, and they’re growing fastest in developing countries—many in the 10/40 window. Today the five largest cities on earth are Tokyo, Mexico City, São Paulo, New York, and Mumbai. By 2015 they will probably be Tokyo, Dhaka, Mumbai, São Paulo, and Delhi.
God calls us all to tell everyone about His love and forgiveness. The big cities of the world can be overwhelming. Reaching out to their inhabitants seems a daunting task. But it can be done, and it must be done. Even if it takes reaching one person at a time, it’s up to us to have a presence here; not only in churches and buildings but in people.
Every success story that comes out of the big cities has one common denominator: Whether it is a Global Mission Pioneer, a frontline missionary, a lay member, or pastor, the personal contact and interaction with the people who live and work in the cities is vital to reaching the masses. One by one, lives will be changed and hearts will be touched.
But by the grace of God we have seen success. People are being reached, but the work is challenging. Here are a few of their stories. To learn more about the challenges of Adventist Mission and how you can be involved, visit www.AdventistMission.org.
Rio de Janeiro: Nearly one third of Rio’s population in Brazil lives in the favelas, or slums, that cover many of Rio’s hillsides. Several years ago, Gilvane Ludgero, along with his wife, volunteered to hand out Bible tracts in one of these favelas. Their work was successful, and he was able to make friends in the community and start Bible studies.
Walking in the favela today, Ludgero still remembers the day armed drug dealers forced him into a car and took him to their leader, who had been wounded in a shoot-out with police. Ludgero prayed for the man, and the drug lord survived. This small act of Christian love opened the door for Ludgero to start a small church in the neighborhood.
“Today we are here, formed by the grace of God,” says Ludgero. “We started with two, now we have more than 50 in the church.”
Buenos Aires: One of the largest people groups in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is the Jewish community. More than 200,000 Jews live here, making it one of the largest Jewish communities outside Israel.
David Barzola, a pastor in downtown Buenos Aires, leads what has become known as the Adventist Hebrew Community. The group of believers meets several times a week, not only for church but for fellowship as well. These meetings have drawn a strong interest within the local Jewish community. The group meets to celebrate an anniversary or to begin the Sabbath on Friday evening. The Jewish community in Buenos Aires feels comfortable here.
“Every culture needs respect for their religious traditions and codes,” says Barzola. “The Jewish faith is one example, and I am happy to be able to help in the bringing up of a community that allows a Jewish person to not stop being Jewish if they decide to become an Adventist.”
Barzola and the Adventist Hebrew Community are part of a network of outreach programs supported by the five Global Mission Study Centers, which are looking at ways to build bridges of understanding between Christians and other world religions.
Phnom Penh: The Adventist Church in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, has established only six congregations, but it has more than 5,000 members. This growth has been spurred by the establishment of small groups among its members.
One group the church is working hard to reach is immigrants who are HIV positive. Typically these people are shunned by society and have to live in extreme poverty. The average wage in Cambodia is equal to only US$2 a day, and those afflicted by HIV make much less. They live in small rooms they rent for about US$20 a month.
In the middle of this extreme poverty, several church members have established small groups to minister to their material, physical, and emotional needs, as well as share the message of hope in Jesus. One of these members is Set Sina. She herself is HIV positive, yet she holds Bible studies with a small group in her own small room. Sharing the gospel has given Set Sina new life.
“God has put the desire into my heart to go out and share the gospel,” explains Sina. “The doctors sent me home to die, but instead I found Jesus, and now I live and share my new life with others.”
Dhaka: In 1971, 1 million people called Dhaka, Bangladesh, home. Today more than 15 million people live here. Only some 800 square kilometers in size, Dhaka is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Large slum areas are packed with people, impossible to count. These poor lack adequate education, health care, food, and water.
In the middle of this growing chaos one man is making a difference. Milan Moskala, not pictured, has been an Adventist medical missionary in Dhaka for more than nine years. An accomplished dentist, his services are sought the city over. From a small dental office near several foreign embassies, Moskala has been able to establish a small but thriving dental practice. Because of its success, Moskala has accomplished something that is changing lives in one of the poorest areas on earth.
Every morning Moskala takes time off from his dental practice to visit several small schools he has set up deep in the heart of the Dhaka slums. These schools provide a simple education to children who otherwise would have no chance to succeed in life. Many of the children receive the only meal they’ll eat each day. Many excel at their studies.
His prayer, “Please, God, one soul for You today,” has been answered 10,000 times over.
By Charlotte Ishkanian
Golden Lapani is a lay Adventist whom God has called to introduce the gospel message to a special group of God’s children in Malawi.
“Every day I pray, ‘God, lead me to one person whom I can lead to You,’” Lapani says. “Even if it means risking my life, I want to reach these people for the Savior.” God has blessed Lapani’s work with almost 11,000 converts in the past 20 years.
Lapani first met the Lord while he became ill while he was teaching school. During his illness he had a dream in which God called him to follow Him and be healed. Lapani knew very little about Jesus. In spite of his parents’ disapproval, he declared himself a Christian, and soon afterward he was healed. He began telling others that Jesus had healed him.
His first convert was his elder brother. The brothers worshipped alone in Lapani’s room. Then his sisters joined them. The little group of believers continued to grow, and two years after his baptism Lapani had raised up five Adventist congregations and baptized 145 new believers. Six years after Lapani was converted, his father accepted Jesus as his Savior. His mother hesitated for another five years before she gave her life to God and was baptized. Today his mother is one of his strong supporters.
The Murdered Chief
A short walk from Lapani’s home lies the village of Damba.* In spite of Lapani’s repeated attempts to make friends in Damba, the villagers resisted his efforts to share the gospel with them. Then one day the village chief disappeared. Rumors spread that Lapani had killed the chief and sold his body. Lapani realized the situation was grave, and that without God’s protection the villagers could take his life. Lapani, his family, and his Bible workers fasted and prayed for 21 days, asking God to reveal the truth of the chief’s disappearance so that God’s name would be honored.
On the twenty-first day Lapani met a man from Damba on the road. He greeted Lapani by saying, “Pastor, your God is a miracle-working God.” The man described how the chief’s body had been found in the river, attached to two huge stones weighing almost as much as the chief himself.
The chief’s brother was eventually convicted of the chief’s murder, and Lapani was invited to visit Damba. When he arrived, the people welcomed him openly. “Tell us about your God, who saved you,” they begged. Lapani visited each home, sharing corn and used clothes with those in need. Next he held evangelistic meetings and more than 80 people were baptized.
Recently the government of Malawi visited Lapani to hear for themselves the story of how the chief’s death had changed Damba. They recorded his testimony and broadcast it over national radio at least three times. Lapani has received requests from a number of non-Christian village chiefs to come and teach the people about Jesus.
The incident in Damba was not the only time Lapani has stared death in the face. He has been stoned and poisoned, and been the victim of witchcraft and attempted drowning. In one town he drank poisoned water. When he began experiencing severe stomach pains, his young cook admitted to poisoning him. Lapani knew he had only a short time to live, so he prayed. Then he took the cook to the police station to report what had happened. “I may die,” he told them, “but I have forgiven this boy. Do not prosecute him.”
Church members prayed, and God healed Lapani, who encouraged his cook to give his life to Jesus. Later that day Lapani preached the gospel and 68 people in the village accepted Jesus as their Savior. Today a church stands in the village, the result of an attempt to kill this faithful witness.
Christ’s Method of Ministry
When Lapani first enters a new area, he visits the chief to announce his presence. Then he and his Bible workers visit in homes, praying with people who have needs. If villagers lack food, he provides cornmeal, the most common staple in Malawi. If they are sick, he prays for them and locates medicine if they need it. He brings clothing for the elderly and children. But most of all, he seeks to make friends and win confidences. Then Lapani asks for permission to hold meetings. Usually the answer is yes. But if it is not, he continues to visit people and love them.
After evangelistic meetings one of Lapani’s five Bible workers remains in the area to nurture and teach believers for at least six months. Lapani urges the new converts to build a church. He obtains land from the local chief and instructs the believers how many bricks to form and burn, how much sand to gather, and how large to make the church. Then he raises funds to buy sheet metal to roof the church.
Thus far, Lapani has led almost 11,000 people to Christ and built 43 churches in his region of Malawi. He tries to visit each church at least three times a year, makes note of who is not attending, and visits each one to encourage them, help them, and pray for them if they are sick. He returns regularly to hold revival meetings, which have added many more believers to the churches he has established.
In 2004 a drought hit Malawi while Lapani was holding meetings. The people watched their crops wither and die without rain. Lapani and his team prayed for rain for three days, then the heavens darkened and heavy rain fell. But it rained only in the morning, not during the afternoon when meetings were scheduled. At the end of the series 38 people gave their lives to Jesus.
Paramount Chiefs Bow to Christ
In 2001 Lapani joined a missionary pastor to hold evangelistic meetings in one area that had resisted efforts by other Christians to spread the gospel. They taught cooking classes and needlework to the women and showed a video on the life of Jesus to help bring the people to the meetings.
More than 20 people in this region gave their lives to Jesus, including a principal chief and his wife. Follow-up meetings brought 25 more believers into this congregation. The believers have built a church that includes a large garden of sweet potatoes. Church members tend the garden and sell the produce to support the church.
Two years later more than 50 people, including another important chief and his wife, joined the Adventist Church when Lapani held meetings in their village.
“As long as God gives me strength and provides the funds, I will continue this work,” Lapani says. “The devil has tried to put me down, but God is stronger than the devil, and He prevails.”
“Pray for me,” Lapani pleads. “Pray for those who have become Christians through our work. Pray for our enemies, too.”
Our mission offerings provide resources and materials to help strengthen new believers in Malawi and around the world.
* Damba is a fictitious name, but the village is real.
Charlotte Ishkanian is editor of Adventist Mission and Children’s Mission. For more stories about Adventist Mission, visitwww.AdventistMission.org.
APort-au-Prince ghetto where 18,000 people live in tents, bathe in streams, and eat what they can find is a place you’d expect to be overridden with the burdens of life’s struggles. In many ways, it is. Yet despite the absence of Hot Wheels, Barbies, and video games, the children living in the relief camp provide a refreshing splash of joy.
BOUNCING BACK: Despite being displaced and forced to live in a relief camp, these children are receiving an education; thanks to classes taught by ADRA staff and volunteers.As I snapped pictures of their glowing eyes, they’d point excitedly and shake with laughter as I turned the camera to let them view the digital image. They don’t yet understand the harsh challenges life will present them; they’re too busy singing, smiling, and playing with toys made from plastic bottles, sticks, and cardboard.
After a devastating earthquake shook Haiti in January, countless individuals, businesses, and relief organizations stepped in to sustain a country that simply could not support itself. My employer—San Joaquin Community Hospital, an Adventist Health facility located in Bakersfield, California, United States—was quick to act. The hospital regularly supports mission work around the world by matching employees’ hours used for mission trips, as well as sending medical teams and supplies to developing countries. Through an initial corporate gift and employee matching fund, it donated more than US$70,000 to aid the efforts in Haiti.
As a thank you, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) graciously offered to host us for a short visit. In five days of hiking through relief camps and interacting with the beautiful Haitian people, the four of us who went witnessed a paradoxical degree of grief and resolve that forever changed each of our lives. We also left with a profound respect and understanding for the mission of ADRA.
Building and Rebuilding
With a presence in more than 120 countries around the globe, the reach of ADRA is truly unquantifiable. After the 7.0 earthquake, ADRA was one of the first nongovernment organizations (NGOs) on the ground in Haiti. One of only five NGOs chosen to partner with the World Food Program, ADRA helped in a massive food distribution program that delivered 4,802 metric tons of food and reached more than 776,000 people. Across the country, ADRA continues to supply clean water to Haitians who have no access to safe hydration. In addition, the agency operates primary health clinics, provides literacy classes, and runs camps for displaced persons.
Perhaps no operation is as important or impactful as ADRA’s shelter project. Immediately after the earthquake, a database was compiled of more than 12,500 displaced families. Each of these families was issued a card stamped with a serial number and fluorescent ink. These cards are the keys to their new home.
BEGINNING AGAIN: Anton De Vries, manager for the ADRA shelter project, gives an overview of the building process for the homes ADRA is providing to earthquake victims.According to Anton De Vries, manager for the ADRA shelter project, 160 to 180 finished shelters are delivered to families each week. That’s quite the feat, considering, because of unmanageable or absent roads, workers must deliver building materials for the 14-square-meter shelters by hand. This often means lugging plywood and bags of cement up a mountainside.
After a day of transporting, the building begins. The family who owns the land works to prepare the plot with guidance and tools given by ADRA. From there, the shelters go up in two days: one day for building the frame and another for painting and pouring the cement floor. Despite the quick turnaround, ADRA refuses to sacrifice quality. Initially designed by engineers, the wooden shelters even feature safeguards to protect against hurricanes.
“We designed these shelters to last for at least seven years,” De Vries said. “This is where these people will live for the foreseeable future, and for many of them it’s a better home than they had before the earthquake. We’re very proud of the quality we provide.”
When the shelter is complete, the building team gathers the family for a dedication prayer to thank God for the new home. But, the relationship doesn’t end there. ADRA makes a point of staying in contact with each family, many of whom are now active in local Adventist churches. Despite the enormous workload and seemingly hopeless circumstances, for De Vries and the ADRA team, providing a new home to a needy family makes the entire effort worthwhile.
“These shelters save lives not only in human flesh, but for God as well,” says De Vries. “Do you know how much joy it brings to hand over a shelter to a family that never had anything before? It’s absolutely fantastic. It gives me a kick.”
The first phase of the shelter project will provide homes to 2,500 families. Phase two, which is still in need of funding, will build 8,000 homes. At US$1,800 apiece, the current need is enormous. And this is only one project, meeting one type of need, for a people whose needs are literally a matter of life and death.
From an outside perspective, the situation in Haiti as a whole appears bleak, perhaps hopeless.
One Life at a Time
Interested in bringing hope to Haiti? Donate to ADRA online by going towww.adra.org/haiti. You can also donate by check; just make sure to write “Haiti Earthquake Fund” on the memo line.
Walking through one of Haiti’s 150 relief camps, I felt a tug on my right hand. Nearly two feet below me was a young boy holding a yellow toy camera, wearing a shy smile and a Florida Panthers hockey jersey. For the next hour, my little photographer friend held my hand as we toured the camp. When I’d let go to snap a shot, he’d wait by my side and resume his grasp the moment I finished. Though he never spoke a word, when I’d take a picture, he’d mimic the action with his own camera.
During that hour, I saw Haiti in a different light. I cannot save an entire country. Neither can you. Neither can ADRA. That’s exactly the temptation: to view Haiti—and every other country devastated by disaster and poverty—as a hopeless collective already relegated to its destiny.
But that’s not Haiti. Haiti is the physician living in a tent outside the Adventist hospital. Haiti is our driver, Fred, who cried every time he pointed to a building with earthquake victims still trapped inside. Haiti is my young friend with the yellow camera, whose life I can change by holding his hand, giving him a piece of gum, or helping fund a new home for his family. Haiti is not a hopeless collective; it’s a collection of individuals.
Though it may cost nearly US$15 million to build 8,000 shelters, it costs only US$1,800 to change the course of life for one family.
That’s the hope for Haiti.
Jimmy Phillips is marketing and communications coordinator for San Joaquin Community Hospital in Bakersfield, California, U.S.A.
Taking the gospel to unique cultures requires unique methods.
By Daniel Weber
The Trans-European Division (TED) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is a territory that encompasses one of the largest geographic areas of any of the church’s 13 divisions. From the northern tip of Norway to the mountains of south Sudan, the Trans-European Division is made up of 41 countries that represent almost every people and religious group in the world today.
A HIGHER EDUCATION: John was enrolled in Nile Union Academy over the protests of some on the Admissions Committee. Now he’s decided to serve God by being a pastor.
More than 604 million people live in the countries of the TED, making it the fourth most populous division in the church. When you consider it is the smallest of the world divisions in terms of membership, it is easy to imagine the immense challenges facing the church here. Secularism has established itself in the developed areas of the division, while other religions have started to grow outside their traditional areas.
Despite these challenges, the church in the TED is striving to tell everyone the good news of Jesus.
Welcome to EgyptThe land of ancient pyramids, camels, and vast deserts is also home to a multitude of people. One of them is a Seventh-day Adventist reaching out to the people of Egypt.
“God has many precious souls in Egypt, and the message has to be told,” says Samir Berbawy, president of the Adventist Church in Egypt. Berbawy was an educator living in the United States when he decided he had to return to his native Egypt to help the church. Here the church has fewer than a thousand members in a country that boasts a population of more than 75 million; that’s one Adventist for every 90,000 people.
One of the most effective ways of reaching out to the community is through education. “I’ve not met [so many] young people who are eager to study the Bible, to serve, to understand more, as I’ve seen in Egypt,” Berbawy says.
Not far from Cairo is Nile Union Academy (NUA), a small boarding school that is accomplishing big things. More than 90 students live, work, and learn in an environment that can easily be described as an oasis. The school teaches classes up to the twelfth grade and offers a subject not often taught in Egypt—English. English classes at NUA draw students from all over the country as they try to improve their language skills. While learning English, students also learn about Christianity and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Some students find their lives turned around.
Dwight Rose, principal of NUA, remembers one student in particular: “One of the teachers in the Admissions Committee said, ‘Let’s not accept this kid; he’s nothing but trouble.’ But we accepted John, and now he has chosen to become a minister. He’s excited about Jesus, and he’s one of our main leaders. It’s just amazing the transformation that has taken place.”
Speaking about his experience at NUA, John says, “I discovered everything about God—how He loves me, how He came to save me; all these things impressed me about God, about serving Him. If He gave me this much love, why shouldn’t I share it with others?”
For the students at NUA, school means a chance to create a new life for themselves. Whether it is trying to escape poverty, attain a new religious understanding, or just learn a new language, the lives of the students of NUA are being changed.
Welcome to HollandFor most people the Netherlands brings to mind images of windmills, flowers, canals, and bicycles. This country in northern Europe is known for its tolerance and acceptance. Its people are friendly and open to new ideas and ways of living. This atmosphere of openness has created a culture in which some 50 percent of the population has no use for religion. The Seventh-day Adventist Church here is implementing a program of church planting to introduce Dutch people to Jesus.
ON PURPOSE: Maresol Hule, introduced to Christ by members of X-preszo, tells of the difference Christian faith has made in her life: “Now I can feel Christ in my heart,” she says.
Dwight Van Ommeren, pastor of the Crosswalk church in Rotterdam, describes the strategy practiced in several cities: “A church plant is actually a small group of people coming together, sharing the gospel in a different way; either praising God, reading, or giving simple kinds of exercises to those who have not found Christ yet.”
One of these groups is the X-preszo church plant in Rijswijk, on the outskirts of The Hague. Here a group of 60 young Adventists meet each Sabbath. They worship and have an open dialogue with friends and coworkers they have introduced to Jesus. Formed more than a year ago, this group is fueled by a desire to share their love of Jesus with those they come into contact with every day. Several group members travel more than one and a half hours each Sabbath morning to help lead out. Besides meeting each Sabbath, the group also holds Bible studies in members’ homes each week.
Renate Hazel is a worship leader at X-preszo. “We come together in small groups during the week—one on Tuesday, two on Wednesday, one on Friday,” she says. “Every month we have a party, and when I say ‘party,’ it’s really a party. We have a barbecue and lots of crafts for the children, and we invite the whole neighborhood. When they come they ask, ‘Why do you do this? Who’s paying for it? Who are you guys?’
“We say, ‘We are X-preszo; we are a new church in the area.’ I give them my card and say, ‘If you’re interested, please come.’”
One person attracted to X-preszo was Maresol Hule. She was introduced to the group by Renate and says that her life is now different from before. “Now I can feel Christ in my heart. Before that it was not so; my heart was not as warm as it is now.”
Renate says that sharing her love of Jesus is easy to do, and she hopes every church member around the world would catch the vision of telling the world about Jesus. “This is my way of life,” she says. “Everything I do has to do with ‘Can I tell this person about Jesus, can I invite them to a party, can I invite them to a small group? Maybe they are ready for the Sabbath.’”
Church members in the Netherlands are reaching out to their communities by directly touching the lives of those around them. By being living examples of Christ here on earth they are sharing the story of His love and the new life found in Him.
Get InvolvedPart of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering for the second quarter of 2007 will help build a vocational training center at Nile Union Academy and a new church in the Netherlands to house a large Ghanaian congregation established outside Amsterdam. Your faithful support of the mission offerings each week helps support the work of the church around the world. Thank you.
The members of the Trans-European Division face many challenges, yet they continue to share the message of hope in Jesus. Please pray for the members, pastors, and leaders. And when you pray, ask God to show you how you can touch the lives of those you meet every day.
Today’s believers are building on the foundation laid by former generations of missionaries.
By Jean Thomas
When he arrived at our front door, he was dressed not in a red Masai blanket, but in well-worn trousers and a jacket, carrying a laptop computer instead of a hunting spear.
“I am Solomon,” he said. “You have been inquiring about my work?”
“Come in,” we said.
As he placed his computer on the coffee table he explained, “A doctor on a mission trip from North Dakota gave this to me. I thought you’d like to see a few pictures of the members of one of my churches.”
And there they were, Masai women sitting in a group under a thorn tree, dressed in brightly colored wraps, wearing traditional beaded necklaces and ear pieces.
“How many members are in your church?” we asked.
“One church has about 300, including children, and the other about 120 members,” he replied. “Masai men think religion is only for their wives, so our congregations are made up mostly of women and children. But with God’s help this perception will change.”
Those of us who worked as missionaries in Kenya and Tanzania in the late 1950s see today’s progress as a marked evidence of God’s grace, a demonstration of the power of the gospel. People who, until recently, have not been exposed to the gospel are learning to trust the true Ngai, the ruler of heaven and earth.
Blazing a Trail When missionaries first came from England in the early 1900s to establish mission work in East Africa, they found that the colonial government in Kenya was allocating specific areas of the country to various missionary bodies.
Adventists were given the territory around Lake Victoria among the Luo and Kisii tribes. That area became predominantly Adventist. The Gendia Mission, the East African Publishing House, and Kendu Mission Hospital were established among the Luo people; and Nyanchwa Mission and Kamagambo Training School were located in Kisii country. Masai land bordering these two areas was placed out of bounds, to be left untouched by mission outreach.
By the mid-1950s, with many churches now established among the Luo and Kisii people, church leaders were led to share the gospel with their Masai neighbors. However, the government had mandated that this tribe not be evangelized. On several occasions the matter was discussed by the South Nyanza Field (Kisii) committee.
They came up with a plan to open a medical clinic just inside the Masai border and invite Kendu Hospital medical staff to participate. The doctors were enthusiastic, and soon a monthly medical clinic was in operation. For several months the doctors, accompanied by mission personnel from Kisii, worked together providing medical aid to the Masai who came from the surrounding villages.
But one day a letter arrived from the district commissioner in Kilgoris, headquarters for monitoring Masai concerns. “It has been brought to my attention,” the letter stated, “that you are entering Masai territory illegally. Therefore, as of this date, you are to cease and desist from crossing their border or interfering with their lifestyle.”
That ended the first outreach endeavor to the Masai from its northern border. But by a strange turn of events, a change soon came about.
While on one of his trips from the Kisii mission to Kendu Hospital, the mission president, Fred Thomas (who had helped initiate the medical clinic), was surprised to meet a Masai chief at the hospital.
“What brings you to Kendu Hospital, Mafuta?” Thomas asked.
“I became very sick and went to every hospital I knew of, even as far as Nairobi. But I found no doctor who could cure me, so I came home to die.
“Then my wives, concerned about their future welfare, said, ‘There’s one hospital you haven’t been to.’
“‘Which one?’ I asked.
“‘You haven’t been to the hospital at Kendu Bay,’ they said.
“‘No,’ I told them. ‘I could never go there. We Masai despise the tribe that lives near that hospital. And in any case, I was the one who had asked the district commissioner to put a stop to the medical clinic they started in our district.’
REUNION: Fred Thomas, retired missionary, stands next to Solomon Lenana (in gray coat) and other Adventist Masai who have come to know Jesus and the power of the gospel.“My wives just laughed. ‘Go,’ they said. ‘Since you have no hope of living long, you might as well take your life in your hands and go there.’ So, here I am, and these doctors are healing me. I will be going home soon.”
Forward Progress Back in our living room, lay pastor Solomon Lenana told us his story. He was born to a traditional Masai family and was expected to spend his childhood and youth herding cattle on the hills around his father’s manayatta (“hut”). But Solomon had noticed that young men with an education were no longer herding their families’ cattle and goats, but were holding down good paying jobs.
When Solomon told his parents about his desire to get an education, his father objected. His mother, however, used her powers of persuasion. They sold several cattle to enable Solomon to attend a boarding school in Nairobi.
“There was only one other Masai youth in my school,” Solomon said. “The other students were from tribes whose background was different from ours. Their customs and beliefs were very foreign to ours.”
After completing high school in 1989, Solomon went looking for work. Maxwell Adventist Academy, a boarding school for children of missionaries in East Africa, was being relocated out of the city of Nairobi. With a working knowledge of English and other skills he had acquired in school, Solomon applied for a job and was given the responsibility of keeping track of building supplies as they were delivered to the new campus.
The lifestyle of the missionary teachers he worked with so impressed Solomon that he expressed a desire to learn more about their beliefs. His questions led to Bible studies and eventually baptism. In the excitement of finding such joy and satisfaction with what he had learned, he began sharing his faith with other Masai, some of whom were living on the hill directly behind the new school. Solomon and a missionary named Gwen Edwards began holding classes with these villagers, teaching them how to read the Bible.
In 1994 the first six converts from that group were baptized in the little pool built at the base of the school’s amphitheater. But once the school building projects were complete, Solomon’s employment came to an end.
“Then what happened?” we asked.
“I was sent to the ASI-operated Riverside Training Institute in Zambia, where I was given a six-month course in theology and health studies. Now I work as a self-supporting pastor. I travel around Masai country making friends, interesting them in God’s Word, and teaching them about cleanliness, health, and AIDS prevention.”
With Masai territory mostly rural, and undeveloped areas stretching for hundreds of miles across Kenya and Tanzania, paved roads are few and often impassible except in four-wheel-drive vehicles. This means that Solomon, who has no transportation of his own, travels where he can on buses, then walks long distances to reach interested people. Both of his churches are difficult to reach. He spends many nights away from home holding health seminars and Bible studies. This is all done on a volunteer basis with no remuneration from the church.
The poor roads and lack of communication make it difficult to get an accurate count of how many members and churches are in Masai land today, but lives are being changed by the gospel.
Jean Thomas recently returned from Kenya, where she and her husband, Fred, served nine months as volunteers at Maxwell Adventist Academy.