Imagine the challenge of catering food for the largest convention center on earth. Within this vast building housands of different groups are meeting, and they all need to be fed.
Feeding the 5,000 Times 500,000
Serving the four largest unreached population groups
By James H. Park
LET THEM COME: An educational tutoring program in Myanmar helps students to excel.
Imagine the challenge of catering food for the largest convention center on earth. Within this vast building housands of different groups are meeting, and they all need to be fed. The people are hungry, you have good food, but there is a huge problem. Despite doing your very best to feed that hungry throng, rarely do any of the multitudes show even the slightest interest in your best recipes! So one day your tiny catering company gets word from the world headquarters that special funds2 will be made available to select and train 60 chefs over a five-year period.3 The goal is to come up with tasty dishes for each of four major groups that are meeting in the convention center.4
Creating Local Cuisine
By now you must have realized that this article is really not about a real catering company or the training of chefs. Rather it chronicles a God-guided initiative to reach four major groups, Buddhists, Chinese, Muslims, and urban dwellers located in Asia. It is also the story of a small educational institution, the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS), located in the Philippines, dreaming big and being blessed with special funds from the tithe blessings received at the General Conference in 2007.
By a miracle of God’s grace, the first class begins on Monday, September 20, 2010, with exactly 60 pastors. The best chefs, professors, from all over the world are brought in to teach the students how to prepare tasty food for each of the groups. About a third of the students focus on spreading tasty treats for Buddhists, a third zero in on ringing the Chinese cuisine bell, and a third go to town trying to figure out what would delight the appetite of Muslims.
While three of the years are spent together on the central campus, one of the annual gatherings found the Buddhist’s chefs in Bangkok, Thailand, the Chinese cooks in Hong Kong, and the Muslim menu makers in Jakarta, Indonesia. They spent six weeks trying to catch the tastes of the urban dwellers and hone their cooking skills together. The pastor chefs were divided into small groups to create simple and easy-to-use recipes for the millions of member chefs that are trying their best to feed the group of more than 2.5 billion (5,000 times 500,000)5 hungry, unreached people in the convention center.
Many missionaries from various denominations have spent more than 100 years trying to interest native Thai Buddhist people in Christian food with little or no success. Billions of people in China have never even met one Christian in their entire life. Such high theological and sociological barriers have been erected between ristianity and Islam that providing loving service has become extremely challenging.
On top of these challenges, the limits of a tiny Adventist presence in that vast constituency make our attempt to cater a meal in the 10/40 window like putting a small table of food out in the parking lot during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl or the second half of the World Cup soccer final. Consider the figures from an abbreviated table noted in the General Conference’s 2012 Annual Statistical Report, which shows how small our footprint is in this vast and extremely diverse area:6 Until a few years ago, the only way to produce attractive, colorful brochures and materials (appropriate to interest the local population) was to engage a publisher with a big printing press that needed to run many thousands of copies.
With the advent of the laptop and the affordable inkjet printers now available in Asia, local pastors can create and print materials for the extremely low cost of 500 copies per US$1. Therefore, this print revolution has led to a dramatic decentralization of the production of materials. Local chefpastors, many of them with master’s degrees, should be encouraged to start making “dishes” for their own local communities. This creation of local, contextualized materials is exactly what Jesus did when He walked and taught in Israel. According to Ellen White, “the prince of teachers, [Jesus] sought access to the people by the pathway of their most familiar associations.”7
The Big 4 Student Projects As part of the creative process of focusing upon the challenges of the Big 4 communities within the 10/40 window, each student had to develop either an individual or a group project of contextualized materials for their particular ministry situation. In 2013 AIIAS professors visited all of the students in their field in order to ascertain the challenges and help guide them in the selection and development of an appropriate project.
Each student or group had to write a concise academic paper that explained the principles they used to develop the materials. Professors evaluated each project (including the paper and the developed material) and signed an approval sheet. Following the completion of their projects, Big 4 students put on a successful ministry fair on the campus of AIIAS on March 6, 2014, that led to more discussion of creative ministry approaches and inspired other students to think creatively of contextualized mission.
Some of the best projects were later presented to Adventist world leaders during the Annual Council’s focus on evangelism on October 11, 2014. Here is an overview of some of the projects, which were developed and are currently being used to reach out to the peoples of the 10/40 window.
Reaching Buddhists Mongolia: Rainbow Bible Study Guides: These introductory Bible study guides were developed by a pastor from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. This is the first set of Bible study lessons developed for the newly emerging field of Mongolia, and is based on the colors of the rainbow. The rainbow has deep cultural meaning in Mongolia, and each of the different colors illustrate a biblical truth. Thailand: Small Group Training Materials: These small group training materials were developed by three pastors from Thailand. Sensing the need of developing small groups in the urban centers of Thailand, these pastors created dynamic, contextualized materials to train pastors and members in starting and nurturing small groups. Reaching Chinese Shanghai: The Year of the Horse Bible Studies: This is a bound book of Bible studies developed and printed by the wife of a principal of a Seventhday Adventist music school in Shanghai, China. The studies are based on the year of the horse and are wonderfully illustrated and printed locally. Indonesia: Chinese Family Network Goal Device: The pastor of a Chinese church in Makassar City, Indonesia, built a device that attempts to capitalize on the extensive family networks within Chinese communities.
Through this device his Chinese members are encouraged to list all their immediate and extended family members and pray and work for their conversion.
HOPE ON WHEELS: This van is used in health ministries to reach Chinese people living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Malaysia: China the Wonderland: This engaging resource was developed by a student from Malaysia. It features a complete Vacation Bible School program in both Chinese and English based on famous landmarks of mainland China with a vibrant program, songs, crafts, and teacher guide.
Philippines: The Eight Big Blessings: These eight colorful brochures were developed by two college teachers and a staff worker for Philippine Frontier Mission. These brochures take the traditional Chinese blessings such as wealth, family, and prosperity and give them a more genuine spiritual and biblical basis.
OLD AND NEW: This very creative approach taken by a pastor in Indonesia uses well-known traditional Javanese folk puppets and traditional stories with a new twist that plants the seed of faith.
Reaching Muslims Indonesia: Bible Study Guides: Four pastors from Indonesia developed a highly contextualized series of Bible studies based on a folk hero of a minority people of central Java. They also filled an inexpensive MP3 player with local songs and materials to give lessons to people who are unable to read. Indonesia: Javanese Folk Puppet Show: A pastor developed a wonderful outreach based on traditional local puppets, which are still extremely popular in the open-air markets. Taking as his point of departure wellknown traditional stories, he has transformed these stories in ways so that people can begin to understand the basics of faith. Malaysia: Famous Food Bible Studies: A worker from the Sarawak Mission created a colorful and creative study tool featuring famous foods from his region. A background of the food is given, as well as a picture and the recipe. Spiritual lessons are then drawn from the food, providing a unique avenue to engage the local population.
OLD AND NEW: This very creative approach taken by a pastor in Indonesia uses wellknown traditional Javanese folk puppets and traditional stories with a new twist that plants the seed of faith.
Philippines: Muslim Student Outreach: A Filipino pastor, together with a college administrator, created a series of lectures for students of a major Muslim university in the southern Philippines called Ayat Allah (“Verses of Allah”). Through these 12 lectures, which includ a professional handout with a test, Muslim students are introduced to genuine spirituality through verses of the Koran.
DIVERSITY AND CREATIVITY: Four examples from Indonesia, Malasia, Mongolia, and the Philippines of using contextualized approaches for telling the “old, old story.”
Looking Toward the Future
The original Big 4 funding provided a budget for the rollout of these projects. AIIAS has been working diligently with the students and various Adventist Church departments within the region to make sure the students and projects are properly supported. Through careful management of the original funding, US$150,000 was left over to implement the rollout of the projects and add to the AIIAS library acquisitions in this area.
The 2014 Metro Manila outreach with General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson was strongly supported by providing training modules. Major research into nderstanding and ministering to Buddhists during their funeral services has already begun. Three years will be given to develop a specific curriculum for Buddhists, Chinese, and the work with Muslims in the 10/40 window. A cost-sharing plan has been developed between the Big 4 program, the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and the Center for East Asian Religions, located in Bangkok, Thailand, in order to enhance the effectiveness of the funds.
The project also envisions annual training programs for pastors in Myanmar, mainland China, Indonesia, and Malaysia. In Indonesia, pastors will be taught how to better understand Muslims and present God’s love in this particular context. Many years ago, at the end of a very long day of ministry, Jesus asked His weary disciples to feed 5,000 men (plus women and children) in a remote place. With time fast running out, all they were able to muster was a boy’s half-stale lunch of five barley loaves and two small fish. But as their humble human hands placed that meager meal into the mighty miracle hands of Jesus, there was a brilliant flash of Genesis creative power, and the tiny pittance was multiplied until “they all ate and were filled” (Matt. 14:20).
The sun is about to set on the big convention center. There are billions to feed, and our resources are scant. Let’s bring with the same faith whatever we have and place it in the nailpierced hands of Jesus, who can infinitely multiply the tiniest morsel into warm, fresh loaves to feed the 5,000 times 500,000.
James H. Park, is professor of discipleship and mission in the Applied Theology Department of AIIAS and also serves as director of the Big 4 project. He ministered in the Los Angeles area for 25 years before accepting a call to teach at the Theological Seminary of AIIAS.
1 The Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) is a General Conference institution located near Manila in the Philippines. It offers graduate degrees in business, education, health, and religion.
2 AIIAS wrote a proposal in 2009 to receive specially designated tithe funds to educate 60 pastors and develop materials for Asia. 3 This program, which involved AIIAS giving a master’s in ministry to 60 pastors, was called the Big 4 project because it gave practical instruction on how to reach Buddhists, Chinese, Muslims, and Urban dwellers within the 10/40 window. 4 For an excellent article citing the immense challenges facing the SDA Church in the 10/40 window, please read Mark A. Kellner, “Statistics Reveal Massive Adventist Missions Challenge, Leaders Say,” at http://archives.adventistreview.org/article/6675/archives/issue-2013-1527/27-cn-statistics-reveal-massiveadventist-missions-challenge-leaders-say. 5 While there are currently almost 5 billion people living in the 10/40 window, half of these, or 2.5 billion (5,000 times 500,000), are considered “unreached.” See the Joshua Project for an excellent overview of the number of unreached peoples at http://joshuaproject.net. 6 http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR2014.pdf. 7 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, are introduced to genuine spirituality through verses of the Koran.
Please pray for my grandparents; they are having serious health problems and need healing. And pray for me to find a job with an Adventist institution. Katty, Peru
Please pray for my wife, who is going to give birth soon. I need financial aid for her. Thank you! Win, Myanmar
Pray for me and my ministry. Shiful, Bangladesh
I am having financial difficulty and am unable to meet the needs of my family. I am working on several projects to help alleviate the situation. Please pray that God gives me faith, courage, strength, and wisdom to get over this situation, and that I have tremendous success with the projects. Clint, Trinidad and Tobago My faith is wavering, and I feel a gap between God and me. Please pray! Geoffrey, Kenya
Pray that our ministry has the means to achieve its goals of spreading God’s unconditional love to all. Bandao, Togo
Please pray for permanent residence in Australia for my family. We also need prayers for Christian education. Ekevati, Australia
I am studying theology but am finding it hard to fund my schooling. Pray that the Lord helps me. Enock, Zambia
Giving Light to Our World—GLOW—is an outreach initiative that originated in California, United States, but is now branching out to other world divisions. It’s based on the concept of church members distributing GLOW tracts—free of charge—at every opportunity. The tracts are currently being printed in 45 languages. Here are two short stories from Germany and South Africa that depict lives touched by GLOW: GERMANY: While traveling by train from Germany to the Czech Republic, a young church member met and had an enjoyable conversation with his former Czech language teacher. He gave her a copy of The Great Controversy in Czech, and a “Steps to Health” GLOW tract in German and Czech. She thanked him especially for the GLOW tracts and said that since they were already printed in both languages, she would plan to use them as translational course material for her next class.
SOUTH AFRICA: A couple living in South Africa were out shopping when the husband handed a young man a GLOW tract titled “Talking to God.” The young man looked at the tract and said, “I learned just this morning that my son has died.” After expressing sympathy for his loss, the husband handed him another tract—the only one he had left—titled “Is There Hope After Death?” Both tracts were written in Afrikaans, the young man’s home language. The wife later called the encounter “a divine appointment.”
Stories are compiled by Pacific Union Conference, United States, GLOW director Nelson Ernst and International GLOW coordinator Kamil Metz. To learn more about GLOW, go to sdaglow.org. To watch video GLOW testimonies, go to vimeo.com/user13970741.
Francis Wernick, a former vice president of the General Conference, spent much of his life proclaiming the Advent message of Jesus’ soon coming.
Church Leader Prepares Wife for His Death
By Andrew Mc Chesney, news editor, Adventist World
The Wernicks in an undated photo taken for a church directory.
Francis Wernick, a former vice president of the General Conference, spent much of his life proclaiming the Advent message of Jesus’ soon coming.
These days Wernick, who is seriously ill, is encouraging his wife of 72 years, Mary Sue, to keep her eyes fixed on that hope as he prepares her for his death. Wernick, 95, has lung disease, likely brought on by old age, and has had several close calls, said the couple’s eldest child, Brenda Flemmer, 64.
Wernick himself is ready to go, his children said. But he also wants to make sure that his college sweetheart, who turned 95 on February 3, 2015, and is 10 days younger than he is, is ready to say goodbye.
“My dad is ready to meet Jesus. He wants to go to sleep and rest,” said his son, Robert Wernick, 57.
“When he talks to my mom about this, he reminds her that Jesus is coming soon and they will not be apart very long, to stay faithful, and there is a better life ahead,” he said. “My mom believes this, but after 72 years of marriage it is hard to say goodbye, even for a little while.”
Francis Wernick, a lifelong Seventh-day Adventist born in Lake City, Iowa, met Mary Sue at the library where she worked at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. Within months the two final-year students were engaged, and they married on May 24, 1942, just hours after attending their graduation ceremony in the morning. The wedding, held at the Union College church, was inexpensive, and the decorations were homemade. The officiating pastor was Jerry Pettis, who went on to serve as a California lawmaker in the United States House of Representatives.
Married, With Orange Crates
Two days after the wedding the couple headed to North Dakota so Francis Wernick could begin his ministry. “I never got the feeling they spent a lot of time analyzing whether or not they were right for each other, but both were praying that they would find the right person and trusted God to lead,” said Robert Wernick, who retired in 2012 after 32 years in the energy industry and began caring for his parents at his home in Ooltewah, Tennessee, near Southern Adventist University.
Everything the Wernicks owned was packed into their car for the move to North Dakota, and they started life together with orange crates as furniture. It took some time before they were able to acquire chairs, a table, and a bed. They also rented a room in someone’s house for most of their four years in North Dakota and didn’t own their own home until much later.
“Their thought processes were much different than we have today, in that they saw life as a set of responsibilities both to each other and to God, and they genuinely wanted to faithfully meet those,” Robert Wernick said. “What the world had to offer never seemed very important to them.” After North Dakota, Francis Wernick led churches in Pennsylvania and Ohio and then accepted an invitation to become president of the Adventist Church’s East Pennsylvania Conference in 1958.
Wernick later served as president of the Ohio and Oregon conferences and was president of the Lake Union Conference when he was asked to help lead the world church as a general vice president of the General Conference from 1975 until his retirement in 1985.
The life of church service sometimes presented challenges, but the couple developed a close relationship that no crisis could breach, Robert Wernick said. “I never saw a major crisis in the marriage, although I know at times my mom would have liked to have Dad at home more rather then out in the field supporting the work,” he said.
Mary Sue Wernick never worked outside the home, a decision that allowed her to raise three children, Brenda, Robert, and Carolyn Jimenez. “My parents always believed God founded the marriage,” he said. “They trusted Him to help them keep it together and the home happy. They did their part and let God do the rest.”
But 72 years of marriage is a rarity, especially in rich countries where the average length of marriage before divorce is 13.6 years, according to data published by The Economist last year.
Secret to 72 Years of Marriage
A healthy Adventist lifestyle could certainly be seen as a contributor to the longevity of the Wernicks’ lives—and by extension their marriage. But their son said the secret to their successful marriage is much more: selflessness and a combined commitment to their marriage vows and to the responsibilities that God gave them in this life.
“I don’t think my parents ever felt that life was somehow about them or personal thoughts about what they deserved out of life,” he said. “They never lived selfishly, but always worked for the welfare of each other. They did not always get along, but my mom had a meek and quiet spirit that was a nice complement to my dad’s energy and drive to get things done and make things happen.”
Francis and Mary Sue Wernick getting married on May 24, 1942, hours after their graduation from Union College. Family friends spoke highly of the Wernicks’ commitment to God and each other. “They were always together, he providing a strong arm of support for her when she was unsteady on her feet,” said William A. Fagal, 68, associate director of the Ellen G. White Estate, where Francis Wernick serves as a life trustee. “She looked up to him with admiration and love. Their devotion to each other was palpable, as was their commitment to the Lord.”
In an example of their companionship, Francis and Mary Sue Wernick welcomed Fagal and his wife of 43 years, Sylvia, to the Washington, D.C., area in September 2003 by showing up at their front door with a box of homegrown garden produce and an invitation to Sabbath lunch. “When around the Wernicks, I would see her attentively watching him, listening to him as he talked, with an expression of interest, maybe a tiny touch of awe, certainly pride and total support,” said Sylvia Fagal, 71, whose own relationship with the Wernicks stretches back to when her father, Frank L. Marsh, taught biology to young Francis Wernick at Union College.
“It’s the solid, old-fashioned situation of the man being the head of the family and the wife in total support and very important in her role,” Sylvia Fagal said. “They were such a team that even years later she would speak of how lonely she had been without him when he was traveling and she was home with the children.”
Despite the heartbreak of watching her husband die, loneliness appears to be less of an issue these days for Mary Sue Wernick, who is in good health. The couple are together all the time in the same room. They often hold hands. Because they are both hard of hearing, they communicate more through touch. When he speaks, he offers words of hope about the resurrection.
“My mom always wanted him to go first,” said their daughter Brenda Flemmer, administrative assistant at the Biblical Research Institute at the General Conference. “She said she didn’t think Dad would survive without her.”
More than 2,000 are baptized after a first major evangelistic series. By Andrew Mc Chesney, news editor, Adventist World
Thousands of people, many hugging each other and weeping with joy, thronged around a vast lake for a mass baptism that concluded the Adventist Church’s first major evangelistic series in Nicaragua.
Dozens of pastors wearing white shirts and ties baptized 1,884 people in the rippling waters of Lake Nicaragua in mid-March. Another 200 people who could not make it to the lake were baptized in local churches, bringing the total number of nationwide baptisms since October to 12,000.
“May this baptism bless our waters,” Julia Mena, mayor of the nearby city of Granada, told the crowd. Adventist Church leader Ted N. C. Wilson, who stood beside the mayor, said it was a thrilling sight. “It was a privilege to be present at such an impressive scene,” he said.
Dozens of weddings also took place on the shore. Many Nicaraguans live in common-law marriages and have children, but never legally tie the knot. So lawyers donated their time to marry those people in civil ceremonies at the lake before they were baptized. Under Nicaraguan law, a couple cannot be legally married by a pastor. Among the people baptized was a woman whose son, an Adventist pastor, had prayed for 15 years for her to accept Jesus, church leaders said. The mother, in her 50s, made her decision at the lake and frantically began to search the crowd for her son so she could seal her commitment that day. Her son began crying when he heard the news. The pair hugged tightly, not wanting to let the other go. The son later baptized his mother.
The baptisms capped a year-long evangelistic effort that began with the establishment of about 5,000 small groups that studied healthy lifestyles in Nicaragua and neighboring Costa Rica. The groups later studied the Bible, and participants were invited to attend local evangelistic meetings. Evangelist Mark Finley wrapped up the initiative with four days of meetings to nightly crowds of more than 3,000 people in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital. The Adventist Church had 203,698 members in Nicaragua and Costa Rica as of December 2014. Major baptisms are also taking place elsewhere in the region, with 1,500 in El Salvador in mid-March, and 2,530 in Panama between January and mid-March.
Back in Nicaragua, Finley said local administrators and church members were dedicated to the mission of the church, and their enthusiasm rubbed off on the people who attended his meetings. “When public transportation did not run last Friday night, scores walked to the meetings,” he said. “One of our elders rented six taxis at great personal expense to bring Bible study interests to the meetings. Others took buses all night to attend our baptism. What mattered to so many of these Adventist believers was the salvation of their family, friends, neighbors, and working associates, and they were willing to make personal sacrifices to accomplish that dream.” n
Churches Open at Fastest Rate in History Church membership nears 18.5 million.
An Adventist church being opened in November 2014 in Guatemala, where 144 new churches were built last year.
Seventh-day Adventist churches are springing up around the world at the fastest rate in the denomination’s 152-year history. On average, a new building opens its doors to worshippers every 3.58 hours. A record 2,446 new churches opened last year, helping fuel the largest single-year increase in membership and bringing total membership to nearly 18.5 million. Gary Krause, director of Adventist Mission, whose missionaries play a key role in opening new churches, praised God for the growth and called for the Adventist Church to push ahead boldly in its mission to proclaim Jesus’ soon coming. “These statistics suggest that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is heading in the right direction in its mission and must keep that focus,” Krause said. The 2,446 new churches that opened last year is 381 higher than 2013, and tops the previous record of 2,416 churches in 2002, said David Trim, director of the Adventist Church’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research. The Adventist Church ended 2014—the tenth consecutive year in which more than 2,000 churches were organized—with a total of 78,810 churches, compared with 57,850 a decade earlier. Trim said the growth in churches was, from all evidence, an important but often overlooked part of the explanation for the growth in overall church membership. Newly compiled figures from his office indicate that a record 1,167,796 people joined the Adventist Church last year, surpassing the 1,091,222 people who joined in 2013 and the previous record of 1,139,000 in 2011. — Andrew McChesney, Adventist World
A Lomé prison inmate being baptized in the new baptistery.
Hope Channel in French The Adventist Church will launch its first round-the-clock television channel for the French-speaking world thanks to an ambitious plan by its Inter-American Division to start three new satellite channels. The three new channels—Hope Channel Français, Hope Channel Américas, and Hope Channel Caribbean—are expected to launch later this year in the three major languages spoken in the Inter-American Division: French, Spanish, and English. Hope Channel Français, however, will reach far beyond the French-speaking regions of the division because of collaboration between the Inter-European Division, the Adventist Church in Canada, and the French Antilles-Guiana Union. — Libna Stevens, IAD
30 Togo Inmates Baptized Thirty inmates were baptized at a Togo prison chapel built by the Adventist Church after prison officials asked for help replacing a previous chapel that had collapsed in bad weather. The chapel, located in the main prison in Togo’s capital, Lomé, cost $13,000, of which nearly half was donated by the General Conference, the administrative body of the Adventist Church. The baptisms were the result of an evangelistic series led by Bruno Amah, an Adventist member jailed in the prison, said Kwasi Sélom Sessou, executive secretary of the Adventist Church’s Eastern Sahel Union Mission. — Andrew McChesney, Adventist World
17 Families in Middle East Seventeen South American families have arrived in the Middle East as part of an unprecedented effort to share Jesus in a region where Seventh-day Adventists have struggled to make headway. The families underwent a three-week orientation course in Lebanon, which included the cultural shock of learning that the vast desert region also boasts snowy mountains, before scattering across the Middle East and North Africa to begin five-year terms. The missionaries are funded by the South American Division. — Chanmin Chung, MENA
A South American missionary building a snowman during an orientation trip in northern Lebanon.
Left: Hundreds of people being baptized in Lake Nicaragua. Below: Watching the baptisms are Ted N.C. Wilson, second left; Granada Mayor Julia Mena, fourth left; and Mark Finley, sixth left.
I try to read as much as I can about health. Much has been written about vitamin D, and at one point it seemed to be the “miracle” solution for every ailment.
By Peter N. Landless and Allan R. Handysides
I try to read as much as I can about health. Much has been written about vitamin D, and at one point it seemed to be the “miracle” solution for every ailment. Is this so? I am seeing some conflicting reports in some recent articles.
Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” plays a key role in calcium metabolism and bone strength and formation. It’s actually a hormone produced in the body that depends on the exposure of our skin to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun (hence the name “sunshine vitamin”).
Initially, vitamin D was thought to be mainly a nutrient that helps to prevent the childhood disease known as rickets. Rickets is a disease in which softening and weakness of the bones occurs because of vitamin D deficiency and the resultant abnormality in calcium metabolism. When this occurs in adults, bones become decalcified and less dense (or strong). This condition is known as osteomalacia, the condition that precedes osteoporosis.
Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium in the small intestine. It also influences the bone cells to release calcium into the blood to maintain normal blood calcium levels and to stimulate growth. Bone is a dynamic tissue that undergoes change and strengthening all the time; this process is termed “remodeling,” and is especially important in the healing and repair of bone fractures. Research has shown that most of the cells in the human body have receptors for vitamin D, where vitamin D attaches and triggers certain processes in the cells.
Vitamin D has a very complex metabolism and numerous related compounds. The substance produced in the skin (and also available in food and supplements) is converted in the liver to 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or calcidiol. This is converted in the kidneys to the active form of vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. Vitamin D is fat-soluble and requires fat for absorption. It can be stored for those times we do not have sun exposure (depending on climates, seasons, dress, sunscreen use).
We get vitamin D mainly from sunshine and metabolism in the skin. Only a few foods—oily fish, cod liver oil, egg yolks, and some forms of mushrooms (shitake)—naturally contain vitamin D. Our main dietary sources are fortified foods, such as milk, some soymilks, dairy or soy yogurt, cheese, orange juice, margarine, breakfast cereals, and infant formula.
If you are tested and found to be low in vitamin D after “loading” supplemental doses are given, a typical maintenance dose would be between 800–2000 IU (international units) daily. This must be done under medical supervision; each individual may respond differently to these doses. Follow-up tests are needed to ensure correct dosing.
Exposure to sunlight varies around the world and even within communities. There is also the risk of skin cancer related to excessive sunlight exposure. The following factors may contribute to low vitamin D levels:
less sun exposure in some regions, especially in winter
darker skin (reduces UV penetration)
decreasing ability of the skin to produce vitamin D as one ages
sunscreens (although important in preventing skin cancers, sunscreens can reduce vitamin D production by up to 99 percent)
low intake of fortified foods
obesity (vitamin D may become trapped in fatty tissue)
bowel disorders or surgery
impaired liver or kidney function
Along with bone health, numerous observational studies have connected other diseases and their outcomes to low vitamin D levels. These diseases include asthma, arthritis, various cancers, dementia, depression, coronary artery disease, hypertension, Parkinson’s, and infections. Several large, controlled clinical trials are under way, and the Institute of Medicine is predicting that we will have more definitive answers in 2017. In the meantime, discuss your personal situation and needs with your health advisor.
May God guide you in making wise health choices!
Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department. Allan R. Handysides, a board-certified gynecologist, is a former director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department.
Witnessing in the Power of the Holy Spirit By Mark A. Finley
Have you ever longed to share Jesus with a friend, but were at a loss to know what to say? You certainly did not want to offend them by misspeaking, but you felt guilty at not saying anything. Perhaps you have wanted to be a witness for God but felt powerless. Has your Christian experience become stagnant? You long for something more but just do not know how to find it. There is something missing in your spiritual life. There is a sense of emptiness. Maybe you have been thinking that there must be more to Christianity than what you are currently experiencing. Perhaps you have to become actively involved in sharing with others Jesus’ love through your words and actions. Sharing our faith is a “spiritual vitamin” that gives new life to our souls. This month’s lesson will examine the role of the Holy Spirit in empowering us to be effective witnesses for Christ. 1 What promise did Christ give to His New Testament followers? What impact did that promise have upon their lives? Read Acts 1:8. Witnessing is not something we do by memorizing a canned speech or a mechanical formula. Witnessing is the result of Christ empowering us through the Holy Spirit. We witness in His strength, not ours; in His power, not ours; in His wisdom, not ours.
2 What does it mean to “witness” for Jesus? What did New Testament believers do? Compare the following Scripture passages: 1 John 1:1-3; Acts 4:20; 5:30-32. The disciples shared how they had personally experienced Christ. Jesus had changed their lives, and they could not be silent. Witnesses tell what they know; they share what they have seen; they testify about what Christ has done in their lives.
3 Read the story of the Samaritan woman Jesus met at Jacob’s well (John 4:5-42), and the man Jesus delivered from demons (Mark 5:2-20). After they were converted, what did they have in common? What was their first response to the gospel? Ellen White observed, “No sooner does one come to Christ than there is born in his heart a desire to make known to others what a precious friend he has found in Jesus; the saving and sanctifying truth cannot be shut up in his heart. If we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ and are filled with the joy of His indwelling Spirit, we shall not be able to hold our peace.”*
4 What did Andrew do when he found the Messiah? Read John 1:40-42. When we come to Jesus, and our lives are changed by His grace, we cannot help sharing what Jesus has done for us. The Holy Spirit places within our hearts the desire to tell the story of Jesus to those with whom we come into contact.
5 When we are afraid we might say the wrong thing, stumble over our words, or misrepresent Christ because we have nothing meaningful to say, what assurance does the Holy Spirit give us? Read 1 Corinthians 2:12, 13; Luke 21:15; and Isaiah 51:16.
6 What word did Jesus use to describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives? Read John 14:16; 15:26; and 16:7. The Holy Spirit is our “helper.” From our New Testament Greek we get the word paraclete, which means “one who comes along side for the purpose of helping.” When we share our faith with others from a sincere heart, the Holy Spirit stands beside us, prompting our words, guiding our actions, and empowering our witness.
7 Read Matthew 28:18-20. What promise did Jesus give all believers to the end of time? As we witness in Jesus’ name, sharing with others what He has done for us and what He can do for them, He promises to be with us. Through His Holy Spirit He stands by our side. Christ, through His Holy Spirit, flows through us to bless the lives of others. There is no greater joy, no higher privilege, no greater calling, than to be transformed by His grace and witness to others the saving grace of our Lord. n
"I like teamwork, especially from church leaders! It shows a Nehemiah spirit." —Robert Gichana Nyamori, Nairobi, Kenya
Top Adventist Leaders Build a Church I’m writing about Libna Stevens’ article “Top Adventist Leaders Build a Church” (March 2015). I like teamwork, especially from church leaders! It shows a Nehemiah spirit. Robert Gichana Nyamori Nairobi, Kenya
Inspiring! I’ve read nearly the entire February 2015 Adventist World, which rarely happens for me with other issues. I give it an “I” rating for inspiring. Thank you for the wonderful stories of how God is working in miraculous ways around the world. It makes me look forward to what He will do in my corner of the world. Donovan Davis Kernersville, North Carolina, United States
Happenings in Iraq I’m writing in regard to the news article “ ‘Many Wonderful Things’ Happening in Iraq” (February 2015). Praise God, this message shall be preached in all the world as a witness, then shall the end come! The devil is like a roaring lion, seeking to devour the people of the Middle East. But God is in control and the three angels’ messages cannot be stopped by the forces of evil. I will continue to pray for my brothers and sisters in Iraq: that God will strengthen, protect, and provide for them. May God bless and provide for the Kurds. Jeannette Beverly via e-mail
Group Dynamics I read Bill Knott’s editorial “The Way of the Cross” (January 2014). Says Knott: “This crucial (cross-bearing) teaching of Jesus cannot be heard often enough among us as we near the decisive conflicts of earth’s final days. Unless we regularly repeat these words to each other—study them, pray them, build this movement’s processes upon them—we will inevitably mimic the painful power structures of this world that already wound and oppress too many.” Many thanks for this article! Sampson Opare Mamprobi, Accra, Ghana
99 Years Ago When I saw W. A. Spicer’s picture in the December 2014 Idea Exchange (see “99 Years Ago”), poignant memories of his kindness and Christian love for a teenage girl came rushing back. I was the Sabbath school superintendent of Takoma Academy and lived across the street from him. Spicer was so gracious and helpful in providing my program with mission stories. He walked everywhere he went—and he was then in his mid-70s. Spicer was the grandpa I never had growing up. He truly was a man of God, one of His saints! Jean S. Murphy Fletcher, North Carolina, United States
One Team, One Mission Thank you for publishing Manuel A. Gómez’s article “One Team, One Mission” (November 2014). It is a great article! As a football follower I was interested in the article. After reading it, I’ve gained understanding in regard to the topic of unity. The article contains a wonderful analogy; and it helps us appreciate our mission on this earth, playing for God’s “team.” Roberto O. Villarreal San Martín, Argentina
60th Session This year’s General Conference session will be held in San Antonio, Texas, United States, July 2-11. Of the first 34 General Conference sessions, 27 were held in Battle Creek, Michigan, United States. The session has been held outside the United States only three times: Austria (1975), the Netherlands (1995), and Canada (2000). Adventists from around the world can attend the meetings in San Antonio, but only official delegates can comment and vote in the business sessions.
Revived by His Word A Journey of Discovery Together Through the Bible God speaks to us through His Word. Join with other believers in more than 180 countries who are reading a chapter of the Bible each day. To download the daily Bible Reading Guide, visit RevivedbyHisWord.org, or sign up to receive the daily Bible chapter by e-mail. To join this initiative, start here: June 1, 2015 • Hebrews 8