Adventist World - June 10, 2023

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Jun 10, 2023

Healing the Wounds Page 12

The Prayer for the Sick Page 14

Anticipating the Resurrection Page 26

ISSN 255003/09614

Hope in the Midst of Grief

The Secret of Silence

Two patriarchs were beloved by God. Both were rich with crops and livestock and were living in about the same region and about the same period of earth’s history. Both had profound relationships with God, and both heard His voice.

One was the father of many, who eventually became alone; the other was a father of one, who would eventually become many. The former has a whole book ascribed to him; the latter is mentioned relatively briefly, while his descendants would become the main characters of the Bible. One was made an example in front of the universe; the other was made a blessing before all the nations. But in the end, both were asked to sacrifice and suffer.

Job was a man who feared God and turned away from evil. Yet when his children, household, goods, and health were taken away, he grieved and mourned, wishing for his own death. Three friends came to argue, in a cycle of three debates, until—after more than 30 chapters—God finally explained that humanity could not understand everything. Job’s response was to be obedient.

Abraham was also a man who feared God and was called the friend of God. He was to be the father of God’s people, protecting and guarding the sacred law. He was promised more descendants than the stars and the sands of the seashore. But in Genesis 22, God desired his son to be a sacrifice.

What is so disturbing about chapter 22 is that there is no cycle of three debates, or any debates at all. No questions, no complaints, no discussions. Rather, we see a painfully quiet step-by-step journey to the top of Moriah. We hear that quiet hike up the mountain. Genesis does not record any rationalization, cursing God, hint of bitterness, seeking alternatives, second guesses, or misunderstanding. We hear only silent obedience.

We may either mourn for 30-plus chapters or walk silently up a mountain, but the outcome is the same. Christians are to trust and obey. Obedience does not need to be understood, but just done by God’s grace and strength. Many times there is no immediate, recognizable, or seemingly worthwhile advantage in obedience, and the world calls it foolishness. Even the rationale may not be understood, for human reason and rationale have their limitations. In the world of faith, obedience does not always appear reasonable and rational. It didn’t, surely, to Abraham on Moriah.

Though we may not understand, we must keep walking and say, “I will follow Thee, my Savior.” This is what Jesus did every hour of His life. This is the secret that every Christ follower knows: God, His power, and His goodness. And when you know Him, you’ll love Him. And when you love Him, you don’t think about obeying Him . . . you just do.

10 Caught in the Middle 12 Healing the Wounds 14 The Prayer for the Sick 16 The Real End of Suffering 17 Millennial Voices God’s Bottle Frederick Kimani 18 Global View 8 Million Trees Sam Neves 21 Looking Back “I Will Keep the Morning Watch” Edward Allen 24 Devotional God in the Unknown Charles Evans 26 Bible Questions Answered Anticipating the Resurrection 27 Health & Wellness Oral Health 28 May I Tell You a Story? “We Need to Make a Home” 30 Growing Faith Josie’s Destiny
Cover image: Ian Chen Gaspar Colón Tamara Conway Frank Hasel Thabo Mlotshwa
2 June 2023
We believe in the power of prayer, and we welcome prayer requests that can be shared at our weekly staff worship every Wednesday morning. Send your requests to, and pray for us as we work together to advance God’s kingdom.

Adventist World Radio in the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (SID) produced several hours of live online programs directly from the hotel in Johannesburg where Hope Channel held its Network Leadership Conference at the end of April. About 120 representatives of Hope Channel stations from around the world met to be trained under the motto “Building Bridges for Mission.” Noluthando Nkwali, an AWR presenter at SIDmedia, an entity of SID, was one of the program hosts.

News Moment
3 June 2023

—David Trim, Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, about a new podcast called Mission 150, which reflects on the story of 150 years of Adventist mission to the world. Hosted by Trim and General Conference Communication associate director Sam Neves, the Mission 150 podcast explores the past and present of the Adventist missionary enterprise.

More Than 600

The number of people that were baptized at the end of a nine-day evangelistic series that took place at several sites in the Southeast Dominican Conference (SDC) in the Dominican Republic. The baptismal ceremonies crowned an ongoing partnership between the Atlantic Union Conference in the northeastern United States and the Dominican Union Conference. Twenty-five pastors fanned out across the SDC territory, conducting the series at various locations under the theme “Rescue of Love.”

Pain and Suffering

Church members were asked if they felt a deep sense of responsibility for reducing pain and suffering in the world.




The number of church members that participated in the Adventist Church’s West and East Indonesia Sabbath School summits. The Adventist Church in West Indonesia held its Sabbath School summit in Siantar, North Sumatra, from April 5 to 9, while in East Indonesia, the summit took place in Manado, North Sulawesi, from April 12 to 16. Each summit included a program suited to a diverse audience. It featured inspirational sermons and vibrant discussions centered on the theme “I Will Go—Be His Witness.”


In the April issue the colors of the graph entitled “Engagement in Mission Service” were inverted with those in the ledger.

—Delmar Reis, Albanian Mission president, about the digital evangelism training that took place in Albania on March 20 and 21. The training shared the Adventist World Radio (AWR) Digital Missionary evangelism application. It is an evangelism chat app, currently used in more than 20 countries. From this platform digital missionaries can chat directly via text and audio with contacts on other chat platforms, such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, Signal, and Facebook Messenger. Additionally, digital missionaries can easily send Bible studies to contacts, mark the responses, and provide helpful feedback.

News in Brief
“I see it as a project where all members can get involved and is a way of helping them connect with new people, meet their needs, pray for them, gain their trust, and find opportunities to introduce Jesus.”
“Even before the Seventh-day Adventist denomination was founded in 1863, Seventh-day Sabbathkeeping Adventists had begun to ask whether they should be conducting mission outside North America.”
47% Often 22% Sometimes-Often 18% Sometimes 7% Rarely 6% Never 4 June 2023
Source: 2017-18 Global Church Member Survey Data provided by the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research

—Glenn Townend, South Pacific Division president, about the fourth ELIA Wellness Summit, which was held March 24-26 at Sydney Adventist Hospital’s Clinical Education Centre in Australia. The event featured inspiring presentations, informative workshops, and the opening of a lifestyle medical center. The new ELIA Lifestyle Medicine Centre is aimed at tackling chronic diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The years that Mission 360, the official mission magazine of the Adventist Church, is celebrating. The quarterly publication was established in April 2013 as the place to find information about a full range of official Adventist Church mission initiatives, including international missionaries, short-term volunteers, Global Mission pioneers, and tentmakers. The magazine showcases the broad range of mission initiatives that are supported by mission offerings.

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The number of people that benefited from an outreach initiative of the Adventist Church at the Vila Velha II State Prison in Vitória, Espírito Santo, Brazil. The event was for people who were visiting their imprisoned relatives. The Love Fair, as it was named, took place on March 5 outside the prison. Services included legal advice, pastoral counseling, aesthetics and grooming, health advice, and pedagogical support for children.

News in Brief South American Division News (->)
“[Lifestyle medicine] is huge in the United States and other parts of the world. It is coming to Australia, and we want to be at the forefront of it.”
5 June 2023

Mission Is Our Calling

On April 11, on the second day of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Spring Meeting, Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the church’s General Conference and the meeting chair, introduced the first official Mission Refocus report. “Mission Refocus [is] . . . helping to finish God’s work. I firmly believe that the end of this earth is in sight and that Jesus is coming soon,” he said.

Erton Köhler, General Conference secretary and advisor to the Office of Adventist Mission, presented the report.

“Is Mission Refocus a project? Is Mission Refocus an initiative? What exactly is Mission Refocus?” Köhler asked in his opening remarks. “Yes, Mission Refocus is a project . . . an initiative, a movement, but more than [anything], Mission Refocus is a call for integration.”


Integration was emphasized throughout the segment, as Köhler appealed to Adventist world leaders to turn to the prophetic mission of the church in the face of crises and conflict. “Behind this movement is a prophetic movement. As this world is falling apart, God is

raising a movement in which we are working integrated.”

This integration, Köhler noted, is a collaboration in which the entire church must be involved, not growing complacent and celebrating the Second Coming while focusing on the negative signs unfolding around it, but remembering that “the main signs, the positive signs, are related to a church that is rising mightily to fulfill the mission.”


Köhler explained how the initiative is moving worldwide through two major steps, or “wings.”

The first “wing” of Mission Refocus began in January with the reorganization of Code 1 International Service Employees (ISEs), or missionaries who serve outside of their home division, which required careful analysis of divisions, unions, missions, and entities. Meetings with each division will take place to help reorganize 70 percent of resources to frontline work.

The second wing necessary to mobilize Mission Refocus throughout the world’s territories is adopting nonreached and low-reached areas by prioritizing 30 carefully

chosen groups first. The report identified 10 countries, 10 urban areas, and 10 people groups from three missionary windows: the 10/40, urban, and post-Christian windows. Commenting on this action plan, Köhler said, “Mission Refocus is not a project that we are organizing and expecting something from you. We don’t have a time limit. We don’t have a number of people. We don’t have an exact place that you need to go to or adopt. We are just trying to raise a culture of worldwide mission—everybody supports everybody, because our global mission is the responsibility of each one of us.”


Köhler invited Roger Caderma, president of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD), to the stage to share how Mission Refocus has moved in his territory since it was first introduced at the 2022 Annual Council.

Explaining how SSD organized and encouraged its institutions to become involved in mission, Caderma recalled a mission summit in Thailand attended by 500 church leaders from across the division. Of the event he said, “The motivation was simple: accept the challenge of the world church.”

In response to this challenge, SSD committed to sending 52 missionaries total, with 18 leaving SSD, to minister to the most vulnerable, unreached, and low-reached areas.

Köhler closed the Mission Refocus report by making it clear that the initiative is more than a movement. “It is an appeal for God’s church to turn toward His coming and His mission,” he said.

Enno Müller/AME News in Depth
Erton Köhler presents the first official Mission Refocus report at Spring Meeting.
6 June 2023
Erton Köhler, General Conference executive secretary, presents the Mission Refocus Report at the 2023 Spring Meeting.

Pathfinders Flock to the Field for Baptismal Commitment

Young people responded to a call for baptism as Andrés Peralta, associate director of Youth Ministries for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, spoke at the end of the third day of the fifth Pathfinder Camporee of the Inter-American Division (IAD) in the Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium in Jamaica on April 6.

“I have a burden in my heart tonight,” Peralta said. “I want one person who came to this camp, who is not an Adventist and is not baptized, to come forward, and I will pray for you.” One person responded, then another, and in a few minutes more than 100 had come from their seats.

“You might be afraid because you are going to face battles in life. Trust me, we all have battles to face, so the question is What kind of battles are you facing tonight?” Peralta asked.

Even when God had assured Gideon that He would win the battles, Gideon still struggled with his own battles. “Some people fight battles they are not supposed to fight,” Peralta said. “What kind of battles are you facing at home, or what kind of battles are you facing silently?”

Battles can take any form, such as relationship pressures, inner battles, doubts, abuse, trauma, or fear, Peralta said. “The internal battle is the greatest battle to face,” he said. He reassured the large crowd that God in His mercy and greatness comes to the rescue. “Even though we have doubts while we are facing our battles, God comes to meet us where we are, much like Gideon’s experience.”

Andrae Walters, a bus driver who had been transporting groups

of Pathfinders and their leaders to the campgrounds, surprised a group of campers from Belize when he showed up to get baptized at a pool close to the stage. His interactions with the Pathfinders, especially those from Belize, revived an internal battle he was having.

“I normally have questions,” Walters said. “I believe in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Bible speaks about the Sabbath. Sunday worship [comes] from the sun god days, so why celebrate Sunday?” he said.

He attributes his move toward baptism to the conversations he had with the Pathfinders from Belize.

“The folks from Belize encouraged me a lot. Whenever we went out, these folks, instead of enjoying themselves, would sit and talk with me about God, saying, ‘Come on, Andre, do it tonight. We are not forcing you; just go home and think about it.’ ”

Walters kept thinking about it. When he arrived home Thursday night, he called his mother and

told her of his decision. “I didn’t tell anyone else. I’ve had a lot of questions, but my heart feels comfortable here,” Walters said. As he entered the stadium, Walters ran straight to the pool.

After seven Pathfinders were baptized, it was Walters’ turn. Pathfinders cheered as he was baptized. As he exited the pool, he was greeted by his mother and the Pathfinders from Belize.

“I feel brand-new,” he said.


Almost 10,000 Pathfinders from 51 countries attended the IAD Pathfinder Camporee April 4-8. Voices, cheers, songs, and shouts were heard while the sun was setting, and the breeze waved dozens of flags for the opening night ceremony on April 4.

The event closed on April 8 with a worship service and another baptismal ceremony. A total of 120 Pathfinders were baptized during the event.

News in Depth
Daniel Gallardo/IAD Inter-American Division Camporee sees scores of baptisms. Seven Pathfinders are baptized in one of several baptismal ceremonies during the Inter-American Division Pathfinder camporee.
7 June 2023

Power to Heal Summit Nudges Health Advocates Into Action

Approximately 200 Seventh-day Adventist Health Ministries leaders from across the North American Division (NAD) met in Lexington, Kentucky, United States, to reflect on best practices, get training and tips, and be inspired to action, from April 2 through 8.

The Power to Heal health summit connected leaders at local church, conference, and union levels, as well as lay members, who are using their expertise and knowledge to reach out to their communities wholistically for Jesus.

“God’s health laws and instructions originated in the environment and practices of Eden,” Adventist Health Ministries director Peter Landless reminded attendees in his opening-night keynote address. Also, “Jesus’ healing miracles included the spiritual, physical, and mental dimensions,” he added. “Salvation and healing are inextricably linked in Jesus’ ministry.” This idea is the basis of the wholistic health model that the Adventist Church champions, Landless emphasized.

The Adventist wholistic message is also based on the counsel of church cofounder Ellen G. White, who repeatedly emphasized the

key role of health ministries in the denomination’s evangelistic endeavors. Quoting from one of White’s letters, Landless read, “No line is to be drawn between the genuine medical missionary work and the gospel ministry. These two must blend.”

NAD Health Ministries director Angeline Brauer agreed. “Health [ministry] works, because God works through healing,” she said.


The Power to Heal summit also served to highlight several ongoing programs and resources that align with the NAD theme “Health Everlasting.” Continuing education credit was also included for those interested in specific training courses.

Carmelo Mercado, a general vice president of the Lake Union Conference of the Adventist Church, reviewed some of the latest health-related initiatives that involved local church pastors and members. Among them, he mentioned Pathway to Health Indianapolis, an event that saw thousands of community residents receive free health care provided by hundreds of Adventist volunteers in April 2022. The initiative led to meaningful en-

North American Division event offers reflection, training, and inspiration.

gagement with the community and ultimately brought new members to the Adventist Church.


Besides offering continuing education and training opportunities, the Power to Heal summit was a deeply spiritual event, which connected Bible principles with the practice of health-related initiatives in local churches and communities. Participants spent considerable daily time in Bible study, prayer, and worship.

International speaker Sebastien Braxton led the evening devotional messages, which focused on Bible-based principles to make health ministries initiatives more effective in reaching others for Christ.

In his April 3 presentation

Braxton explained that there is no question the Seventh-day Adventist Church has “unparalleled truth” as regards God-given health principles. “We are very good at having health knowledge and health truth,” Braxton said. But at the end of the day, people could potentially find that information anywhere, he said.

According to Braxton, what makes the Adventist health message different is to see it as a gift from the Holy Spirit, as detailed in 1 Corinthians 12. He emphasized that in verse 31 Paul tells us to “earnestly desire the best gifts.” And in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul makes very clear that without love, nothing has real value, Braxton said.

“Without love, you are going to attract a lot of attention, but its impact will not last,” Braxton told attendees interested in implementing health ministries initiatives in their communities. “The power to heal is in your love.”

News in Depth
North American Division health ministries director Angeline Brauer addresses those attending the Power to Heal Summit. Marcos Paseggi, Adventist World
8 June 2023


Membership of the Middle East and North Africa Union Mission (MENA) as of March 24, 2023

“We have the joy and burden of sharing our beautiful message with more than 600 million people who do not know Jesus in the same way we do, but God is at work. Even though we labor in one of the most challenging environments in the world, almost every day we have the incredible opportunity to see the hand of God moving on the hearts of people. Our job is simple: to be personal lampposts in the populated places of the 20 countries we serve, to be diligent in our work, and to pray. When we join God where He is already at work, we get the joy of seeing lives changed. What is needed? More people to serve as lampposts all over the MENA region!”


The number of languages that Hope Channel MENA creates and shares content for. These languages are Arabic, Kabyle, Sudanese, Turkish, and Persian.

The number of countries that make up MENA. Combined, these countries have a total population of 600 million, 95 percent of which are non-Christians, as of December 2022. The ratio between the population and Adventists is 1:93,370. In 2012 the ratio of Adventists to the general population was 1:172,000. Of the 20 countries, the Adventist Church has no frontline gospel workers serving in four of them, and 14 cities of more than 1 million people have not heard the gospel of the three angels’ messages.

—Sara,* about how she ended up studying theology at Middle East University in Beirut, Lebanon. She grew up going to Sunday school with her grandfather. Through a series of events she received Bible studies and attended an It Is Written evangelistic series, which led to her baptism at 16. After high school she desired to go to university to learn how to better prepare for ministry.

*Last name withheld for safety reasons.

News Focus Middle East and North Africa Union Mission (MENA)
“He is the one who has put the burden in my heart to prepare for ministry. He is the one, too, who will make it possible. My part is to lean on God as God prepares me for what He wants me to do.”
9 June 2023
Florian Wehde

Caught in the Middle

The cosmic battle for the human heart

Everyone has encountered pain and sorrow. It is a universal reality. Suffering is all around us. It doesn’t take much browsing through television, social media, and news channels to learn about famine, natural disasters, pestilence, pandemics, human trafficking, sickness, death, domestic violence, drug abuse, war, persecution, genocide, xenophobia, mass shootings, climate change, economic disasters, and religious persecution, to mention a few.

The burning question that is asked most often is: “How is it that a good, all-powerful, and all-knowing God allows so much suffering in the

world?” If He is all-good and all-loving, why does He allow babies to die, wars to take their toll, and good people to suffer? If He is all-powerful and all-knowing, why doesn’t He stop it? Far too many of us conclude that, considering all the suffering in the world, there can’t be a God.


In the first two chapters of Genesis we read of God’s original creation: a perfect world, free from suffering, in which people had a direct relationship with God. God made a good world, but He allowed people to make choices, and the choices they made

JR Korpa

ultimately ruined it. Suffering began with people rebelling against God.

When God made the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, He provided them with a perfect, good world with everything they needed in order to live happily forever. They had unlimited access to God and everything He created except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2; 3).

Having provided this test of loyalty, God lovingly established the fact that humanity was endowed with power to choose good or evil. Satan insinuated that, by warning them away from that tree, God was depriving them of their right to provide for themselves and be their own god. They would no longer need to depend on God. They could provide for themselves, resulting in a perpetual quest for self-dependence and self-centered gratification (sin).

Through that choice, humankind broke their relationship with God and brought imperfection, suffering, and death into the perfect world He made. God preestablished a rescue plan to defeat sin by providing His unique Son (John 3:16), who would defeat Satan (Gen. 3:15) by taking upon Himself the penalty of sin— death—and rising again to provide all who claim His victory as their own with eternal reconciliation with God.

In the meantime, while we stand amid the battle between good and evil, we see the consequences of sin around us, and we know that these are perpetuated by Satan’s deception. But God provides a divine plan of salvation through Jesus. He also inspires His redeemed to be involved in providing relief for those suffering from the inevitable collateral damage in the war over humanity’s hearts.


Satan wants us to see the suffering he produces in the world as a shortcoming on God’s part. We find throughout Scripture, however, that God constantly urges His followers

to reflect His character by partnering with Him to relieve suffering and care for those caught in the middle of the cosmic struggle between good and evil. Note just a few examples of how God leads His followers in providing healing.

We see God’s promise to Abram that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him (Gen. 12ff.). God uses the misfortune of Joseph’s sojourn into slavery to rescue Egypt from famine and his family from starvation (Gen. 37-50).

God expresses to Moses His desire to rescue His people from captivity in Egypt by saying, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey. . . . So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Ex. 3:7-10, NIV).

Job testified of himself that he rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. He was a father to the needy and took up the case of the stranger (Job 29:11-17). God repeatedly calls His followers to be instruments of healing during suffering. He challenges His people to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31:8, 9, NIV).

Jesus Himself characterized His earthly ministry by quoting Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18, 19, NIV). Thus, we see Him as the embodiment of the

Jubilee, bringing healing to the world by rebooting the social and economic structures that oppress.


The everlasting gospel celebrates the fact that we are saved from sin by God’s grace. That Jesus lived a life of service and complete dependence on His Father. That He died on the cross, taking upon Himself the penalty of sin—death. That He rose again, conquering death and providing “whoever believes in Him” everlasting life (see John 11:25, 26).

He has promised to return to redeem His followers. As His followers await His second coming, they are called to proclaim this everlasting gospel and reflect God’s character, spending themselves in loving service for “the least of these” (Matt. 25:31ff.).

While so many of us are looking for whom to blame for the suffering we experience and witness around us, we are called to reflect the healing love of God. He calls us to choose whether we will perpetuate the ravages of sin in the world, or side with the One who offers healing and restores His image in us.

Gaspar Colón, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a retired minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
11 June 2023
While we stand amid the battle between good and evil, we see the consequences of sin around us.

Healing the Wounds

God’s plan for restoration

One of the most powerful verses in Scripture is Jeremiah 33:6: “But I will most surely heal the wounds of this city and restore it and its people to health” (NET).* Healing and restoration are a part of God’s purpose for His children. We don’t always recognize we need it, however. Some wounds are inherited, while others are cultivated over time. Some feel deep and untreatable, leaving us to carry grief, regret, guilt, and shame. Somehow God’s hand reaches these deep caverns and leads us to a place of freedom. I had one of those moments many years ago while attending a suicide-prevention training.


I was a young adult with a full-time job and in school again part-time at the local community college. I was trying to recover

Photo: Karsten Winegeart

and put my life back together from a traumatic experience a few years prior. A friend invited me to join her in the evenings as part of a team of suicide-prevention specialists answering phone calls from people contemplating or threatening suicide.

I had always wanted to help people, and this would be a start. Before we began answering phones, we had an extensive training session. When my friend and I arrived at the community clinic sponsoring the training and providing space for the call center, it was packed. People from all over had come to be trained as volunteers for this important work. Suicide was touching so many, and something needed to be done to help. It was a sobering reality check. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew it would be a learning experience.

Once we had a bit of training, we were placed into groups of about seven or eight and participated in a type of role-playing. The groups became animated, voices abuzz all around the room. These circles of strangers coming together would eventually become our safe spaces. We were instructed to share something about ourselves that no one knew or that we had never discussed with another person. At first, everyone was a bit hesitant. We didn’t know each other, and we were getting ready to divulge some very intimate or deep information that perhaps we had determined never to tell anyone.

I can’t say we were enthused, but once someone began, the momentum picked up. Some folks seemed a bit more at ease with sharing than others. There is something about the dynamics when one person takes the plunge: it opens the sea of possibilities in transparency that I believe everyone yearns for. Soon more and more people began to share. We witnessed those around

us experiencing their burdens being lifted.

This was supposed to be about us learning how to help others, not us coming to get help. We are all fine, I thought. It’s the folks who will be calling in to the hotline that need help. This isn’t for us, is it? It was almost my turn. I watched and listened intently, determined that when it was my time to speak, I would just share something superficial. They won’t even know the difference, I thought. I mean, they don’t know me, so who cares? Plus, I don’t know them, either, and what good would it do for me to share here, anyway Is this necessary? I wondered. Before I could rationalize my way through what I would say, it was my turn. I sat there for a moment, then decided, You’ve come here, and you’ve heard all these folks share from their heart. Don’t cheat; be real, be honest.

My heart was beating fast, and somehow I knew this was going to be a pivotal moment for me, one that would change my life forever. It wasn’t just about the possibility of talking suicidal people down from an emotional ledge. It was also about taking a leap of faith when it came to walking through my own door of freedom, one that I had never imagined could be opened.

I would be taking a leap into a life in which I told the truth first to myself and then to others. That wasn’t my norm. What better place to tell the truth for the first time about myself, my state of mind, and my life than with people I didn’t know and who had no stake in what I would say?

It wasn’t until that thought hit me that I finally realized this was the chance of a lifetime. I had a perfect opportunity to just say it without fear of repercussions. I took the first step forward in my choice to heal. “My name is Tammy. I was molested, and experienced physical and emotional trauma.” It was the first time I had said it out

loud in my entire life. And you know what? It felt good.


That night I realized those calling the hotline would be carrying grief, regret, guilt, and shame, as I had all those years. But this wasn’t a new thing. God was the originator of the first “suicide-prevention hotline,” found in James 5:16: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (KJV). Healing is an individual and corporate event, creating cycles of growth. Grief, regret, guilt, and shame are destroyed in this kind of environment. The enemy hates when we acknowledge the sins we’ve committed, as well as those committed against us.

If you’re carrying a similar heavy weight, take the first step. Pray and ask God to lead you; talk to your pastor, or a trusted family or church member; text/call someone; talk to a mental health professional or licensed therapist and walk through the door of freedom. Maybe you’ll be the one to begin the cycle of healing where you are.

* Scripture quotations credited to NET are from the New English Translation Bible, copyright © 1996-2023 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Tamara Conway, certified grief counselor, is a pastor’s wife and mother of four. Her book Kill the Girl will be released this summer.
13 June 2023
Healing is an individual and corporate event, creating cycles of growth.

The Prayer for the Sick

Not only for physical health

It happened shortly after I had moved to a new district. A member of my church called and requested an anointing service. Klaus1 was an active member in the church. He was a father of two teenage daughters, and he was sick. His cancer had already spread to different parts of his body, and his bones were literally riddled with holes, as could be seen in his X-ray and CT scans. The medical doctors at the university hospital in a nearby city had scheduled an important checkup with him to see how his cancer was progressing so that they could determine the next steps. His situation was serious. Medically speaking, there was no hope for him to live much longer. Klaus knew about the

Photo: John Tyson

urgency of his situation and wanted a special prayer for the sick, as is described in James 5:13-16.


I informed the elder of the church, and together with the head deacon and a few committed members from our church we headed to Klaus’ home to perform the anointing service. It was a humble meeting. Nothing spectacular. In sincere faith we recommitted Klaus’ life into God’s hands, trusting that He knew him best, trusting that He can heal, trusting that Klaus would be safe with God no matter the outcome. When Klaus had his next checkup examination at the hospital a few days later, the cancer was gone. The holes in his bones had disappeared. He was healed. The medical professionals at the public hospital, who were not Christians, could not believe their eyes. According to them this was nothing short of a miracle. This experience taught me that God is still alive, that miracles do happen even in our times, and that a humble act of faith can give God the opportunity to do remarkable things for us.

Now fast-forward a couple of years. This time a committed woman in her mid-40s, a mother of three teenage boys, was diagnosed with cancer. She also was very active in the church and exemplary in her trust in God. She too battled an aggressive cancer that was threatening her life. She was my wife. At the beginning of her sickness, she requested an anointing service. We asked the pastor of our church to conduct her anointing, and together with the elders of the church and a few faithful friends we met in our living room to pray and to anoint her. Our faith was sincere. Toward the end of her ordeal, when, humanly speaking, things did not look very promising anymore, she requested a second anointing. Again we met in earnest faith. It was a moving

meeting in which we recommitted her life to God. We prayed in earnest. We fully trusted God and knew that He can heal. She entrusted her life into God’s hands. We knew that God heard our prayers; we knew that He cared and loved us and that she was safe in His hands. A couple weeks later my wife died!2

After anointing services I have seen people miraculously healed, and I have seen people with great faith die. The anointing service obviously is not the silver bullet that brings physical healing all the time. It seems we often look at this ceremony through the eyes of church tradition. The sacrament of anointing a sick person is one of the seven holy sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church that are seen as mystical channels of divine grace, and it is usually conducted as “a last rite” when the death of a person is imminent. Hence in the Catholic tradition the anointing of the sick is also called “Extreme Unction.” The biblical account in James 5:13-16, however, presents a different picture.


James describes the anointing for the sick as not only for the terminally ill. The Greek word that is used in James 5:13 for the English word “suffering” is kakopathei. It not only describes physical sickness but also includes experiencing harm or emotional pain and is used to describe suffering misfortune and bearing hardship patiently. In other passages in the New Testament the same or related words describe mental and psychological suffering (2 Tim. 1:8; 2:3, 9; 4:5; James 5:13). This is supported in James 5:14, where the Greek word for “sick” is asthenei. It is a broad term that describes sickness but also being weak or being in need. In the context of this passage James mentions Job (verse 11) and Elijah (verse 17). Job was physically sick, and Elijah fell into a depression after God’s mighty acts at Mount

Carmel. The prayer for the sick is for all who suffer sickness and are weak and in need.

The Bible tells us that the prayer that is offered in faith (verse 15) will save the sick. The Greek word to “save” not only is used for physical healing but also is the same word that expresses our salvation in Christ. The Lord will raise the person up. God promises to awaken and lift up the person in need and place him or her in an upright position. This can include physical healing, but it also encompasses other connotations, as the reference to the forgiveness of sins in this verse indicates.

When we desire healing from God, we must learn to understand that while God sincerely desires to heal all of us, we also have a responsibility to live in harmony with the principles of God’s Word. We also must keep in mind that there is something even more important to God in the cosmic conflict between good and evil than our physical health and healing: it is our spiritual health and our faithfulness to Him. We do not know whether the blessings we desire will be best for us. But God knows everything, even things that we human beings with our limited perspective are not aware of. Therefore, we do well not to command God to do things according to our restricted perspective, but rather trust Him and His leading.3 God knows what is best for us, no matter whether He heals us physically or whether He restores us spiritually and forgives our sins so that we have inner peace with Him.

1 I have changed the name to protect the privacy of his family.

2 A short story of my experience of significant loss can be found in Frank M. Hasel, “Dealing With Suffering and Loss,” Ministry, December 2018, pp. 11, 12.

3 An insightful and balanced perspective on the prayer for the sick is found in Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), pp. 225-233. Frank M. Hasel is an associate director of the Biblical Research Institute at the General Conference in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA.
15 June 2023

The Real End of Suffering

Our hope is found in the Second Coming.

One Friday morning in October 2019, friends, work colleagues, and relatives joined my wife, our two daughters, and me as we buried our youngest child. Our daughters were 3 and 4 years old, respectively, at that time. It seemed quite clear that they did not fully understand the events unfolding that day. The very next morning, a Sabbath, my wife and I took our daughters to the baby’s grave to try to explain what they had witnessed the day before.

They had been looking forward to the arrival of their little sibling for months, and now, suddenly, all their big-sister hopes were dashed. I began to explain how one day we would hear the loud blast of a trumpet sound, and then we would see the sky above us rolling back to make way for the King of kings to descend from heaven with angels numbering ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, to awaken those who had died in Christ. I explained how that little grave would burst open on that day and

their little sibling would be raised to life and brought to us by an angel and we would be reunited as a family. The second coming of Christ is a real comfort for grieving believers—and yet it also provides respite for suffering Christians.

Whenever I or a family member or friend goes through an ostensibly unending series of crucibles, it causes me to fervently desire the Second Coming to occur sooner rather than later, because—as a songwriter once stated—”when the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more, and the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair,”1 all variations of suffering will be at an eternal end.

This simple knowledge and firm belief in Christ’s second coming is like a refreshing oasis in the desert of life’s gargantuan challenges. As we experience suffering in whichever shape or form, we must recognize that we are in the company of great men and women of remarkable faith who have all been through great suffering as well. Ellen G. White once noted,

“All who in this world render true service to God or man receive a preparatory training in the school of sorrow. The weightier the trust and the higher the service, the closer is the test and the more severe the discipline.”2

The apostle Paul therefore chose to glory in his sufferings (2 Cor. 12:9) so that the power of Christ might dwell within him. What a wonderful thought to carry through each trial that comes our way, that the more trying the test and the more severe the discipline—the weightier the trust placed upon you by God, and the higher the service to which He calls you. Therefore, while we may suffer, it is with the knowledge that beyond the suffering, Christ shall soon appear.

1 James Black, “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder,” The Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1985), no. 216. 2 Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1903), p. 151. Thabo Mlotshwa pastors four churches in the West Zimbabwe Conference. He and his family live in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Zzvet / iStock / Getty Images Plus/ Getty Images 16 June 2023

God’s Bottle

I’m sorry, Martha;1 there is nothing we can do.”

My heart sank as I broke the tragic news to my 35-year-old female patient. She had come to the hospital with abdominal pain and had a comorbid diagnosis of HIV infection. However, no one could have foreseen what we found when we took her in for surgery. Stage 4 cancer had spread into her lungs, liver, and intestines.

A tear ran down her cheek as she stared silently at me in disbelief. What else could I say? Should I wipe away her tears or let her cry it all out? Should I grieve with her in silence or try to comfort her with words of hope (even though I knew that the cancer would soon kill her)? What morsel of hope could I give her that would make sense to her in such a moment? I paused to reflect on the two young children she had left at home. What would become of them?

About a week later I was abruptly pulled aside in the hospital corridor by my colleague. “I’m sorry to inform you that while you were away [on a business trip], we lost Martha.” I froze, as a flood of emotions engulfed me: shock, horror, surprise, grief, sadness, anger, denial, guilt . . .

We have all been acquainted with grief and suffering, in one way or the other. Perhaps the grief of losing a loved one to death. Or the grief of losing a spouse to a divorce. Or the grief of losing health to a terminal illness. Or suffering the loss of mental peace to depression

and anxiety. For others it may be the loss of a job, a house, a car . . . or even the loss of a dream, expectation, or aspiration because of unforeseen failure. Often with our grief comes the common question “Why, Lord?”

Consider that it may be that God has a divine purpose for our grief. We see it in Jesus’ suffering. “But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands” (Isa. 53:10, NLT).2 Could it be that our grief on earth is part of God’s good plan to usher us into a prosperous long life in eternity?

When we grieve, it is natural to cry. Tears gush down our cheeks as we embrace the pain of death—be it the death of those we love, or the death of a friendship when we suffer betrayal of trusted allies, or the death of an aspiration when we receive news of a failed application, or the death of a romantic relationship during a breakup. Even though our eyes may grow “dim with grief” (Job 17:7, NIV) like Job’s, I am encouraged by the psalmist who reminds us that none of our tears are wasted, for the Lord collects every single one of them in perfect record. David says, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Ps. 56:8, NLT).

I still remember the last words I spoke to Martha before her untimely death. “It’s OK to cry. God loves you so much that He has recorded your every tear in His bottle.” In the depths of our grief and suffering, that is the one sure truth we can cling to. He loves us.

real name 2 Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Frederick Kimani is a consultant physician in Nairobi, Kenya
17 June 2023
Consider that it may be that God has a divine purpose for our grief.

8 Million Trees

Is The Great Controversy project still worth it?

The Seventh-day Adventist Church will try to distribute 1 billion copies of Ellen White’s The Great Controversy around the world, in multiple languages, by the end of 2024. Many Adventists are thrilled and can’t wait to buy the books and start handing them out. However, some wonder about the cost and effectiveness of the project. Consider the following concerns.

The project represents a financial cost that may exceed $1 billion. Members are encouraged to distribute the books personally, representing an immeasurable amount of a valuable resource—time.

Third, the project will impact the planet when more than 8 million trees are felled to create the paper for the books. Finally, some believe the The Great Controversy project might also tarnish the reputation of the Seventh-day Adventist brand as it draws criticism from society.

Is it still worth mobilizing ourselves to distribute 1 billion copies of The Great Controversy, or is the cost too high? Should we also evaluate if this is the best book to share? Is there a more cost-effective method of reaching people?


The last few chapters of the Bible describe the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven as a bride (Rev. 20-22). The saved are in the city, and after the crowning of

18 June 2023
Photo: Emmanuel Phaeton

Christ, Satan leads everyone else to attack the city one last time.

At this point I’m sure we imagine ourselves inside the city, watching with dread what is about to happen. Fire is about to destroy evil and those who choose to cling to it. Imagine our eyes catching a glimpse of the Adventist logo on a ruinous large building. Everything we have ever branded as Seventh-day Adventist is about to burn. There is a dilapidated warehouse full of The Great Con-

troversy books, still in their boxes, undistributed. Our eyes turn to the uprooted forests of the world, also about to be destroyed. Finally, as hell begins in earnest, we set our gaze on the people.

Would we not wish now, with all our hearts, that more of those trees would have been turned into more of those books to be read by more of those people? Perhaps more of them would now be near us, safe and sound, inside the city.

When seen through this lens, our concerns appear in a different light. Our reputations, as individuals and as a church, are secondary if it means helping more people be safe inside that city. Likewise, our money and our time are also expendable. As controversial as it may seem, despite our mandate to care for our planet, the trees also become expendable.

After all, it was on a tree that Jesus guaranteed the salvation of all people. If the value of humanity is measured by the blood of Christ, nothing else should hinder us from helping them be ready for His return, including our reputations, our time, our money, and yes, our trees.


As Seventh-day Adventists, we are blessed to have rich resources in reading material to share with the world—resources on healthy living, family life, education, responsible stewardship, and more. The writings of Ellen White in particular offer incredible insights into the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, including the classic Steps to Christ and The Desire of Ages. While we should not neglect to share these books that have touched the hearts of millions, we are living in very unusual times, and people are looking to the

future with fear and uncertainty. The world seems to be reeling from one crisis to the next, and people are searching, longing, for answers the world cannot give.

The Great Controversy provides solid biblical answers to what has happened in the past, what is happening in the present, and what will happen in the future. It draws back the curtain into an unseen world where a very real, extremely deadly war is taking place. It exposes the plans of the enemy and points the way to eternal life. This is why The Great Controversy was the book Ellen White desired to see distributed more widely than any other of her books.


Despite new technologies and opportunities, there are at least three important reasons to prioritize the mass distribution of The Great Controversy hard-copy book over digital methods.

Digital Censorship. During the past few years the Seventh-day Adventist Church has invested millions of dollars in websites, social media platforms, and applications that would position our digital properties in a way people would find, follow, and download them. This has been done through search engine optimization, content creation, software development, and online pastoral care, leading every online relationship to a face-to-face encounter. We need to advance the use of these technologies and opportunities because they are available now, but this may not always be true. If we still believe in our prophetic eschatology, and that the world will increasingly become a more challenging place to share the gospel, we must rely on other means than digital technology to

19 June 2023

finish our mission. Why? Because of censorship.

The past two years have demonstrated, beyond a doubt, that our social media accounts and applications can be removed from their respective platforms and app stores instantaneously. Websites are no different. In one afternoon it is possible to remove everything the church has ever published online.

It is vital that we distribute The Great Controversy before these events happen, so that every household can access a book in their homes. Millions of Adventists have learned the truth because their families read The Great Controversy at some point. Millions of people will be saved because of this mass literature distribution.

Total Member Involvement. Mobilizing ourselves can be challenging in some places, as our cultures are so different. However, most of us can be motivated to buy a few books and distribute them personally. This decentralized method encourages personal

involvement rather than mailing the books out. The human connection is vital and can be a lifesaving experience for those receiving the books. Considering that the digital distribution of The Great Controversy also counts toward the goal, members versed in digital outreach are highly encouraged to use their skills in this way too. These methods are not mutually exclusive. Economies of Scale. The centralization of mass printing and decentralization of mass distribution makes it possible to achieve a low cost per book. This is achievable only when there is a coordinated effort in a short space of time by many people.


At the core of The Great Controversy project is the belief that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the remnant church of Bible prophecy, tasked with the final proclamation of the everlasting gospel before the second coming of Christ. We believe God has given us first a mission, and then all of our structure, resources, ministries, and assets, which exist to fulfill this mission.

In this movement’s history we have pleaded with loved ones and neighbors, as well as strangers, both near and far, to prepare for the glorious and terrifying day when heaven will break open and Jesus will return. In recent years, however, there has been a growing sentiment among our members that our church is simply another faith community that believes in Jesus. Some Adventists believe labeling ourselves as the remnant is arrogant and pretentious, hindering our mission of making disciples. Others posit that we should stop preaching doom and gloom and focus on the Gospels instead. Present truth should

emphasize only the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. They think our world is so polarized that if we preach present truth as did our pioneers, we will be labeled as just another sect dominated by conspiracy theories.

These arguments tend to resonate with those who have come to believe in the myth of the irresistible church. Those who are convinced that when we create welcoming churches that actively alleviate the suffering of others in our communities, millions will become Seventh-day Adventists by the sheer power of our kindness. This myth is destroying our capacity to fulfill our true mission to proclaim the three angels’ messages as prophesied in Revelation 14. In the history of Christianity there has never been a time when the faithful remnant wasn’t persecuted or sanctioned.

We should, by all means, use the best outreach strategies and live our discipleship in love and compassion. However, if this love doesn’t materialize in the challenge to “follow Jesus” at all costs as we share God’s prophetic vision with others, we are not fulfilling our mission.

Present truth isn’t a thing of the past. Since the time of our pioneers, our vision of the truth has grown. We have a more beautiful and urgent message to give to every human being. Let’s start by buying copies of The Great Controversy to gift to our loved ones, neighbors, friends, colleagues, and strangers. Let’s help as many people as we can to find themselves inside the city on that great judgment day.

Sam Neves is an associate director for communications at the General Conference in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

20 June 2023
We have a more beautiful and urgent message to give to every human being.

“I Will Keep the Morning Watch”

Making Devotions a Priority

The night is divided into three watches on a sailing ship: first, middle, and morning. The middle watch is the most difficult. Everything is dark. The watch comes on duty at midnight and sees only the inky blackness of the waves, hiding a multitude of potential dangers. When the morning watch begins at 4:00 a.m., the darkness is as heavy as it was at midnight, but the morning watch sees the sky begin to brighten, the stars disappear, and the sun emerge from the sea. What had been hidden is now visible. Land emerges from the fog. Dangers that were unknowable in the darkness now menace. The morning watch sees the ship transformed from an inert construction of wood to a living home for sailors and passengers.


The image of the morning watch became a metaphor for the Christian’s personal time with God in the morning. The practice of the Morning Watch first came into focus in the life of Handley G. C. Moule, principal of Ridley Hall, an evangelical theological training school at Cambridge in England. Moule and Ridley Hall were part of an interdenominational movement that drew from many traditions in the English church.

Shortly after Moule became principal in 1880, Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey arrived in Cambridge. Moody had been reluctant to speak at the great centers of English education, since he had very little formal education. His simple heartfelt messages made a deep impact on a wide variety of students, however. The students at Ridley Hall, impressed by Moody’s ministry, soon noticed that Moule was up at 6:30 a.m., walking the

Photo: Paul Melki

garden path of the school. When they asked, Moule told them he had discovered that he could pray best when walking.

Seeing him in communion with God, students began to ask themselves, “How can I lie in bed when that dear old saint is walking and praying in the garden?” As a result, the students formed a club and named it the Ridley Hall Morning Watch Union. They signed a declaration that read, “I will endeavour, God helping me, to set aside at least twenty minutes, and if possible one hour, in the early morning for prayer and Bible study, and also a short but uninterrupted time each evening before retiring to rest.” 1


When John R. Mott, chair of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions (SVM), visited Cambridge in June 1894, Moule recommended the Morning Watch to him. Following their conversation, Mott began to promote the keeping of the Morning Watch within the SVM. The SVM gained the attention of Seventh-day Adventists shortly after it was founded in 1886. Students at Battle Creek College formed a foreign missions group in 1890 and soon began a correspondence with Mott. In 1891 Frederick Rossiter, the leader of the Battle Creek group, attended the first international convention of the Student Volunteer Movement, held in Cleveland, Ohio, along with eight other Seventh-day Adventists associated with Battle Creek. Mott visited Union College and spoke at its chapel.

Milton E. Kern, a student at Union College, was sent as the delegate to the SVM Convention in 1898. With 1,600 attendees, the convention was one of the largest student conventions held up to that time. Kern heard Mott give an impressive address to the convention on the Morning Watch. In a later address Mott argued that “the source of the power of any spiritual movement is God, and the energies of God are released in answer to prayer.”2

The Morning Watch was for all Christians seeking to be effective for the cause of Christ.

Mott believed that missionaries would be empowered and sustained in the mission field as they established a firm relationship with God in direct communication with Him and in the reading of His word during the Morning Watch. However, the Morning Watch was for all Christians seeking to be effective for the cause of Christ. In its coverage of the 1898 SVM convention, the Review and Herald highlighted this address by giving a lengthy summary of it.3

Kern was a Union College faculty in 1907 when he became the first secretary of the General Conference Young People’s Department. On Kern’s insistence, it was officially renamed the Seventh-day Adventist Young People’s Society of Missionary Volunteers (YPMV). As head of the YPMV, Kern took an active role in promoting the Morning Watch.

The three purposes declared by the YPMV at its first convention in 1907—“to develop devotional life, missionary endeavor, and educational activities”—were like the emphasis Kern observed at the 1898 Student Volunteer Convention. Utilizing texts selected by YPMV corresponding secretary Matilda Erickson, Kern published a Morning Watch calendar for 1908 that included “a Bible text to read each morning, and encouragement to follow with meditation and prayer.” The Missionary Volunteer Law developed under Kern’s guidance became the Pathfinder Law that begins with the pledge “I will keep the Morning Watch.”

The Pathfinder Law, recited by countless Pathfinders over the past hundred years, begins with a promise to God to watch for Him and His work in their lives. Could it be that Pathfinders who make this promise central to their lives will flourish and their relationship with God will thrive?


How do you develop the practice of spending personal time with God? Over the years the following suggestions have been helpful to those who have succeeded in keeping the Morning Watch. Make time with God a priority and observe it regardless of life circumstances. Moule was a very busy man, often called upon late at night. Nevertheless, he was up pacing the garden paths at 6:30 every morning. The students at Ridley Hall knew that his spiritual power came from those morning walks with God. Morning makes a difference. In his 1898 address Mott gave some reasons one should meet God in the morning. That is when the mind is in its most receptive state. If we seek God later in the day, our minds are already preoccupied with other matters, and it is harder to focus on Him. If we seek God first, we are prepared for the day’s conflicts. We are not caught unprepared for spiritual battle. If we put it off, we may never get to it. Watch for God. Don’t badger and berate yourself for your sins and shortcomings. If we discipline our minds to focus first on God’s mercy, grace, and power, these will permeate the rest of our time with Him. We then see our sins and shortcomings from the perspective of His grace and power. We confess our guilt and failures to Him, but then we receive forgiveness and new energy to follow His way. Encounter God in His Word. Meditate on Scripture and allow His spirit to impress us with its meaning for our lives. We are then motivated to yield ourselves to Him in obedience. He comes near, and we sense His presence. Many have testified of the joy, peace, and sweetness of time spent with God. But these feelings are not the goal. They are merely the byproducts of our time with God.

As we spend time with God in His Word, our lives are enriched and filled so that the fullness of His grace overflows and impacts our world. We intercede for our loved ones, our neighbors, and our world. But that intercession is not formulaic, merely asking God to be with them and bless them. Rather, we seek to watch for where God is already working so that we can join Him in what He is doing in their lives.


The Morning Watch can become just a ritual if we focus primarily on the study and analysis of information rather than on the transformation God can bring about. If the Morning Watch is a promise made, and more likely broken than kept, it can promote guilt. Perhaps it is better not to make the promise than to break it.

On the other hand, the Morning Watch can be seen as God’s promise to meet with His children. To the extent that we respond to His invitation, we realize the incredible benefits of His presence in our lives. The Morning Watch thus becomes a time that the darkness of our night fades and the light of God shines upon our world. Dangers and opportunities are seen from the perspective of God’s Word, and we are prepared to meet the challenges of sailing through the day with Him.

1 John Battersby Harford and Frederick Charles MacDonald, Handley Carr Glyn Moule, Bishop of Durham: A Biography (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1922), pp. 97, 101. 2 John R. Mott, “Prayer and the Missionary Enterprise,” in WorldWide Evangelization: The Urgent Business of the Church (New York: Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, 1902), p. 241. 3 John R. Mott, “The Morning Watch,” in The Student Missionary Appeal (New York: Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, 1898), pp. 233-239; W. E. Cornell, “The Volunteer Convention,” Review and Herald, Mar. 15, 1898, pp. 10, 11. Edward Allen is dean and professor of religion at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.
23 June 2023

God in the Unknown

The story of Ruth begins with the pragmatic move of Elimelech, Naomi, and their sons, Mahlon and Chilion, to Moab as they sought to escape the famine that plagued their homeland. This move made common sense—it was logical, it was practical. With the mass migration that characterizes much of the world today, people still move with a view of finding an easier, better life. Migration has become so commonplace that it can be seen as conventional wisdom to move to cities in your homeland or to more economically advanced countries as you search for a better, more prosperous way of life. Those who do not aspire to make such moves—whether in search of opportunities or to capitalize on open opportunities— are often seen as unduly lacking ambition. Often, they may also be judged as being unpragmatic and unwise. These are some of the issues that people grapple with as they are confronted with a decision to move or not. At its root, the challenge is about securing the best possible lifestyle. This was what Elimelech and his family faced. This was the same challenge that Naomi, Ruth,

and Orpah encountered. What specific path would lead to the best possible life for each of them?


Naomi told her daughters-in-law, “Go, return each to her mother’s house. The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband” (Ruth 1:8, 9). As for her, she would return to her homeland. As far as conventional wisdom went, returning to their respective families was the most pragmatic move for Naomi and her daughters-in-law to make. Naomi saw the repatriation of Ruth and Orpah to their families and communities as the best opportunity for them to find new husbands and a new and better life. How did they respond?


The tears that accompanied their parting were a clear indication that Orpah loved Naomi and vice versa. We might even safely deduce that she respected her motherin-law. So her decision to return home could have arisen

The story of Ruth Devotional
24 June 2023
Photo: Pearl / Lightstock

from both love and respect for Naomi. Orpah may have further reasoned and agreed with Naomi’s argument that the move home would indeed offer her the best possible opportunity for a good life yet—crowned perhaps with a husband and children. Whatever her actual reasons, Orpah decided to return home.


Ruth’s decision seems conflicted— her reasoning was contrary to conventional pragmatism. Her resolve directly challenged Naomi’s logic. At face value she seemed to have less respect for Naomi’s thoughts than Orpah did. Ruth had no apparent thought or concern about how she would survive. She was young—would she remarry? What would happen to her? Would she find a job?

It is almost as if Jesus was reflecting on Ruth’s story when speaking in Matthew 6: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on” (verse 25). All that Ruth seemingly cared about was Naomi and her God: “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16). This is audacious faith, which places greater value on a relationship with God than on conforming to conventional human wisdom. Again, Matthew 6:33 summarizes Ruth’s faith: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” And didn’t the story of Ruth hereafter prove the veracity of this verse!


It’s significant to note that Orpah’s decision to return home meant turning her back on the God of heaven, because as the text said: “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods” (Ruth 1:15). This is instructive, as it gets to the heart of the implications of many decisions we make today. Many times God is left out of the details. Many times we’re not careful to ensure that at the end of a course our relationship with God is enhanced. Many times we resist the change that we could experience, because the religion of our parents is the religion we know and are comfortable with.

We should note that not all change is good and not all movement is progress. Sometimes we might be willing to move but still stubbornly hold on to our old ways, and sometimes we change but not for the better. There are many directions our lives could take when God isn’t at the forefront of our choices.

As you go through the story of Ruth, it’s not likely that you will find any hint of open resistance to God on the part of Orpah—she simply didn’t seem to care

enough to insist on following a path that would lead to a better relationship with Him. She chose to go back to her old ways, to her old religion. Scripture encourages us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (see 2 Peter 3:18). When we grow in grace, we experience change. This verse also speaks of growth in knowledge—learning. Changing and learning are linked: Learning, in one sense, is changed behavior. So as we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we change.


The seemingly obvious calculation in Ruth’s decision to go with Naomi was:

She resolved to go wherever Naomi went. This is so much like Moses, who chose to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (see Heb. 11:24, 25). There’s something about being attracted to God’s people once we begin to turn to Him.

She left the outcome of her life in God’s hands. Even to the point of death, Ruth was content to cast her lot with God. How consoling that Jesus later reassures us, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25). Ruth probably had a hint that a glorious future awaited her. It wouldn’t have been instant—she had to embrace it by faith.

Ruth was a changed person. No longer would she be comforted by the culture and customs of home. She needed something new. She needed God. Though she didn’t know the future, she knew enough about the God of the future to embrace the unknown with Him.

Charles Evans is an enrollment officer at Northern Caribbean University.
Many times, we resist the change that we could experience, because the religion of our parents is the religion we know and are comfortable with.
25 June 2023

Anticipating the Resurrection

What happened to those who were resurrected when Jesus died?

According to Matthew, when Jesus died “the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Matt. 27:51-53). This event is recorded only in the Gospel of Matthew and raises a number of questions for which we do not have final answers.


The text establishes a number of things that are quite clear and that we can affirm. First, it ascertains that Jesus died and was resurrected. Second, there was an earthquake that opened tombs, and some of God’s people were resurrected. Third, their resurrection occurred in conjunction with the death and resurrection of Jesus, indicating that the resurrection of Jesus will benefit past generations. Fourth, this was a bodily resurrection, not a nonhistorical symbolic one intended to affirm that Jesus had power over death. Fifth, the fact that the resurrected ones went to Jerusalem and “appeared to many” suggests that they did not remain among the living to die again, but that they were resurrected into eternal life.


The passage raises many questions. Who were they? Many Christians believe the resurrected saints included Adam, Joseph, Moses, and Job. Some modern commentators suggest that among them were patriarchs, prophets, and martyrs. Other scholars have asked about the criteria God used to choose those who were resurrected, and some have suggested that they were

martyrs.1 The suggestion appears to have some theological value in the sense that those who willingly gave their life for the Lord are the first ones to receive their life back through the death of God’s Son. Were the saints resurrected when Jesus died or when He was resurrected? The NKJV appears to suggest that they were resurrected on Friday but stayed inside the tomb until after the resurrection of Jesus. In that case and for all practical purposes they were still dead—unable to come out of the tomb. The text could also be translated, “The tombs were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised and came out of the graves after His resurrection.” The tombs were opened on Friday, but the resurrection occurred on Sunday, after the resurrection of Jesus.2


Matthew states only that the holy ones appeared to others in Jerusalem, probably to testify about the resurrection of Jesus. If they were resurrected to eternal life then, they would have gone to heaven when Christ ascended. The statement of Paul in Ephesians 4:8 could be helpful: “He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” The verse describes two benefits of the work of Christ: At His ascension He gave the gifts of the Spirit to His people and took with Him a host of captives, leading them to heaven as trophies of His victory over Satan and death. Christ is the firstfruit of the dead (1 Cor. 15:20), and those who were resurrected with Him are the first expression of His power to give eternal life to the dead. Their resurrection anticipates the eschatological resurrection of the righteous at the Second Coming.

1 Ellen White supports this suggestion; see The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898, 1940), p. 786. 2 See ibid., p. 787. Ángel Manuel Rodríguez, Th.D., is retired after a career serving as pastor, professor, and theologian.
Bible Questions Answered
26 June 2023

Oral Health

I’m in dental school and excited about one day possibly serving the mission of our church. Would you please share more about dental mission opportunities as well as general information on dental and oral health?

Thanks for this needed question and the nudge to share more information!

The Adventist Church has 125 denominationally sponsored dental clinics and practices in more than 60 countries. We also have five dental schools around the world. There are many work opportunities available in the network, and you would be welcomed! General Conference Adventist Health Ministries, in collaboration with Loma Linda University School of Dentistry (LLUSD), oversees and nurtures the denominational dental initiatives directed by Dr. Doyle Nick, a dentist practicing in Loma Linda, California, USA.

Oral health is an integral aspect of wholistic health and well-being and dependent on numerous factors. These include dental hygiene habits, diet, genetics, and access to dental care. Naturally occurring mineral fluoride plays an important preventive role in dental health through strengthening tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay and cavities. Fluoride may be added to water, toothpaste, and even foods. Community water fluoridation is an effective way to ensure that people receive an adequate and safe amount of fluoride. In addition, fluoride treatments administered by a dentist can provide an extra layer of protection against tooth decay.

Regular brushing and flossing are essential for maintaining oral health. Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily help remove plaque and food particles that can lead to decay and gum disease. Consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins can help maintain oral health by providing essential nutrients to teeth and gums. Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can contribute to the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth, leading to decay and cavities.

Access to dental care (dentists and dental hygienists) is also an important factor in maintaining oral health. Regular dental checkups and cleanings can identify and address issues before they become more serious. Prevention is better than cure, and less painful!

In addition to these important factors, there are several other considerations. Smoking and tobacco use can impact dental and oral health, causing discoloration, bad breath, gum disease, and oral cancer. Certain medical conditions can impact dental and oral health. People with diabetes may be at higher risk for gum disease, while people with HIV/ AIDS may experience more frequent infections and other oral health issues.

In summary, maintaining good dental and oral health requires attention to several important factors. Fluoride, dental hygiene habits, diet, genetics, access to dental care, avoiding smoking and tobacco use, and understanding the side effects of medication use (such as a dry mouth) all play a role in maintaining oral health. By taking steps to address each of these factors, we can help maintain good oral health and overall well-being. Dr. Nick has agreed to contribute two following columns addressing adult and pediatric issues, respectively, to assist in our quest for the best dental health.

Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.

Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.

Health & Wellness
An important aspect of well-being
27 June 2023
Photo: Carlos Magno

“We Need to Make a Home”

“May I Tell You a Story?”

We cannot care for them all!”

“You’re right. But maybe we can care for a few.”

Dr. Saleem Farag, his wife, Grace, and their three daughters spent three and a half years as missionaries in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, and then for nearly 20 years he directed the Department of Health for the state of California. Then the phone rang.

“Dr. Farag, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists would like for you to move to Zimbabwe and serve as health director for the Trans-Africa Division. As you know, there is a new disease sweeping across the continent, and we’re hoping your creative expertise can help slow it down.”

It seemed like everyone in the world was arguing about AIDS, disagreeing about what it was, how it was transmitted, and how

the disease should be attacked. Challenged to face the epidemic directly, Dr. Farag accepted the new assignment and moved to the capital of Zimbabwe, Harare. AIDS, he believed, was a sexually transmitted disease that must be attacked through lifestyle choices rather than just condoms and drugs.

“Conduct, not Condoms.”

The slogans began showing up on billboards across Africa, printed on posters in convenience stores, preached from the pulpits of many denominations, and taught in classrooms by teachers of every grade level.

The government of Zimbabwe saw the effectiveness of Dr. Farag’s approach and asked him to become the interdenominational AIDS director for Zimbabwe. That role included serving as the country’s representative at the United Nations conferences on AIDS.

“He was busy, too busy,” his wife, Grace, says. “But he loves doing things that are impossible.”

“Impossible” included AIDS orphans.

There were children everywhere, all trying to find their way without parents, and Grace’s heart reached out to every one of them. Though she and Saleem were ready to retire and move back to the United States, they felt God calling them to one more service ministry. They listened, and decided to open an

orphanage in Zimbabwe.

“We need to make a home for children on about 25 acres close to an Adventist school,” Dr. Farag decided. So he and Grace drove all over Zimbabwe and came home without finding the right place. One Sunday Saleem decided to see what he could find around the capital city of Harare. He spent the day driving, asking advice, looking in every possible place. Around sundown he decided to give up and drive home. On the way he noticed an area of empty ground on Amalinda Road. He slowed down and saw a man guarding the land.

I wonder what he’s guarding, Saleem thought. The land is empty!

“What are you guarding here?” Saleem asked.

“This land belongs to the Crest Breeders,” he answered. “They’re chicken farmers, and I am guarding their land.”

“You have a lot of land here,” Saleem continued the conversation. “Do you think these people would be willing to give some land for an orphanage?”

The guard thought for a moment, and then said, “If you ask Mr. James, I think he would be willing to work with you on that. Let me give you his phone number. Now, be sure to call before 7:30. Mr. James gets real busy after that.”

Saleem drove home with his heart full of hope. “God has guided

Photo courtesy of the author 28 June 2023

and protected us in every project we have done with Him. If He wants this orphanage to happen, all will go well.”

Saleem called at 7:30 a.m. “I’d like to make an appointment to talk with you about a very important issue.”

“What important issue?” Mr. James responded. “Tell me on the phone.”

Dr. Farag prayed to the Lord and made his request to Mr. James.

“You own some land close to a school, and I would like to have that land so I can start an orphanage on it.” The phone was very silent. Then Mr. James spoke.

“That’s not really a problem. Could you meet me at the site tomorrow at 7:30? How much land do you want?”

“Twenty-five acres would do.”

“I think that will be OK.”

The next morning they walked the land together, and before evening Dr. Farag had a signed letter granting him 25 acres for the Newstart Children’s Home. There was, by the way, no guard at the property.

Friends from Germany, America, and Africa helped fund the building, but there were no desks, beds, blankets, dishes, kettles, cutlery, and a hundred other essentials. The Farags prayed for God, once again, to do the impossible. And the phone rang.

“I’ve got a 40-foot freight container waiting for you down here at the docks. Can you come get it right away?”

Neither Saleem nor Grace knew anything about a container, but they dashed to the docks to see what God had brought. When they unlocked the container’s steel doors, they found beds, mattresses, sheets, towels, blankets, desks, and everything else on their “must have” list. There was no “from” address on the container. “Angels again,” Grace says.

That was 1997. Twenty-five years later more than 170 children have called Grace and Saleem “Mom” and “Dad,” and 70 fill Newstart Children’s Home today.

“One day we received a call from Social Services asking us to take responsibility for nine orphan children,” Grace remembers. “We knew we couldn’t

handle all of them, but agreed we might be able to take three. We went to the hospital, chose three, and then I noticed one other small boy in a corner.”

The boy was 1½ years old, lying alone in a corner on a wire bed with a blanket. His legs and arms weren’t normal, and he was utterly dejected. Grace picked him up to give him a hug, but he clung to her so tightly that she couldn’t pull him loose.

“You don’t want him,” a doctor said. “He’s sick. He will never walk. He doesn’t have a brain and won’t be able to do anything. Ever. Put him back.”

Grace named him “Elisha,” and took him home, where she and Saleem filled him with love. Every morning Saleem took care of Elisha’s needs. He made a special brace for his legs, held him up to stand, helped him stumble forward, and cheered when Elisha finally walked all by himself. Elisha is now 17, and a musician on scholarship at school.

One more story for you today. When “Shepherd” arrived, his umbilical cord was still attached. He had been found in a toilet on a train and had never opened his eyes. Grace pulled him close, named him, and fed him every 15 minutes from a medicine dropper. For days he never made a sound. Then one night Shepherd made a small noise.

“I jumped out of bed like a rocket,” says Grace, “shouting that Shepherd had made a noise!”

Shepherd is 9 years old now, a healthy young man who is a good singer and a bright student.

“Remember,” both Saleem and Grace say, “each of these children has been brought to us for a reason. The Lord has a plan for each of them. We just pray that we will make the very best home for them, as God has called us to do.”

Dick Duerksen, a pastor and storyteller, lives in Portland, Oregon, United States. For more stories about Newstart Children’s Home and the ministry for orphans, visit


The Adventist World, an international periodical of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The General Conference, Northern Asia-Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists®, is the publisher.

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To Writers: We welcome unsolicited manuscripts. Address all editorial correspondence to 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600, U.S.A. Editorial office fax number: (301) 680-6638


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Unless otherwise indicated, all Bible references are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Bible texts credited to NRSV are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission.

Adventist World is published monthly and printed simultaneously in Korea, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, Germany, Austria, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States. Vol. 19, No. 6

29 June 2023

Josie’s Destiny

Can we come tonight to see Josie?”

“It will take you two hours to get here. Maybe we can do it later in the week.”

Cindy got off the phone with April. She just wasn’t ready for the visit. Josie had been part of their family for two years.

Josie is a purebred German shepherd. Cindy and her husband, Tom, bought Josie so she could be a watchdog for them and to help keep deer and other animals out of their large garden. But that’s not what Josie likes to do. She loves people— which is a good thing. But if her owners aren’t home, she will get

loose and go to their neighbors’ homes to find friends—which isn’t always a good thing.

Cindy struggled with whether or not it was best for Josie to live with them. She was such a loving dog, yet she wasn’t very helpful in the ways that they needed her to be. They needed an outdoor dog. If Josie had her way, she’d lie on her rug inside the house and just listen to the humans talking.

Was there someone who would love Josie the way they did, where she could be an indoor dog?

Cindy decided to place an advertisement online to see if

anyone who could provide Josie with a new home. She prayed that God would lead someone to them who would be a perfect fit. She prayed on Tuesday morning. That day Cindy received an email from April and called her that evening,

“Can we come see Josie tonight?” April asked.

Cindy wasn’t ready to let Josie go yet. They hung up, and Cindy thought that maybe she could come back early from her doctor’s appointment on Thursday. But that would mean Tom couldn’t meet April and her family. So they decided to call April back and tell them they

Growing Faith Fun-filled pages for younger ages
Illustration: Mugi Kinoshita 30 June 2023

could come that night.

April’s husband, Chris, replied, “I was just going to call you to see if we could come tonight. I have the next three days off work, and it would be perfect to have that time with Josie, if it works out that we can take her.”

Chris, April, and one of their four children arrived close to 9:00 p.m. After they talked about Josie, Cindy and Tom decided this was the family God had sent to them. They said their sad goodbyes, and Josie went to her new home.

Chris and April sent Cindy and Tom pictures of Josie in her new home, playing with their four

Bible Treasure

children. Josie looked so happy. She had her bed in the corner of the family room where she could be with all the children. Josie also had 32 acres surrounding her new home if she felt like exploring. Chris and April also told Cindy and Tom that they could contact them anytime.

But here’s the incredible part of the story: April said that Josie slept at the foot of her bed that first night. Whenever April got up to go somewhere, Josie was right next to her. April has a health condition that doesn’t cause her a lot of problems at the moment, but she knows that her condition may get worse as she gets older.

So April could have Josie trained as a service dog if her condition gets worse. And Josie is the perfect dog for this, because these types of dogs must stay close to their master!

We know that God has plans for our lives, but I think God has plans for His animals’ lives too. God used Josie to be a joy to her new family and to be a service to her new master. Josie is living out her purpose. The question for you to think about is “Am I living out my purpose by using my abilities to serve others?”

God wants us to serve others so we can bring joy to them and to ourselves—just as Josie did.

“Like good stewards of the . . . grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”
1 Peter 4:10, NRSV
31 June 2023


Inspire others with your storY

What do you love about the Sabbath? Is it the chance to get out in nature? Perhaps it’s being able to switch off from the stress of work or study?

To rest and re-energise. We know it’s good for our mental health and builds relationships. The Sabbath is truly a gift that transforms lives.

So what does the Sabbath mean to you? Create a short video or social media post and share the gift of the Sabbath. We’re aiming to reach 10 million people this June. It’s easy to get involved and there are prizes to be won!

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