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The International Paper for Seventh-day Adventists

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22 Justice for All 24 In the Trenches 42 A Safe Place

I Was a



Sabbath, June 18


World Refugee Day S E E PAG E 1 0

North American Division | n a d

June 2016 M A I N


I Was a Stranger

This month we focus on the challenge of serving in Christ’s name the millions who have had to flee violence and oppression in their home countries.

As long as there are refugees, Christians have a responsibility.

24 In the Trenches

Remembering our own refugee status

22 Justice for All

By Maja Ahac

Real stories about trying to make a difference

28 I Was a Refugee

By Blia Xiong as told to Terri Saelee

Jesus loves us before we know Him

God is a God of justice: a useful reminder when faced with the world’s injustice.

30 Trauma and Loss


By L. Ann Hamel

The needs of refugee children are huge.


By Julian Melgosa

Our obligation to those who have lost almost everything

32 Refugee Children


By Stefan Höschele




World Changers Wanted

By Amy D. Prindle

Every other year youth and young adults from throughout North America gather to learn about prayer and service.

8 Complete Compassion V I S T A

By Melak Alemayehu

By Benjamin D. Schoun



10 World Refugee Day—Why?

20 The Basket


By Ted N. C. Wilson

The compassionate Christ is more than an ideal. He’s a role model.




3 News Briefs 6 News Feature 11 NAD News 14 NAD Update 17 NAD Perspective 18 NAD Letters

19 W O R L D H E A L T H The Refugee Plight

29 S P I R I T O F P R O P H E C Y Church Trials 42 B


A Safe Place

43 B I B L E S T U D Y Never Give Up 44



Your support for refugees is urgently needed. Monetary donations are the best way to help, because they empower emergency teams to respond quickly in changing conditions.

To donate, go to Available in 10 languages online The Adventist World® (ISSN 1557-5519), one of the Adventist Review® family of publications, is printed monthly by the Pacific Press® Publishing Association. Copyright © 2016. Send address changes to your local conference membership clerk. Contact information should be available through your local church. PRINTED IN THE U.S.A. Vol. 12, No. 6, June 2016.


Adventist World - nad | June 2016

A Shelter in the Time of Storm His body shook with sobs as my arm circled his shoulders. He had tried to stay composed as he told me an almost unbelievable story of threat, violence, flight, and asylum-seeking. But prayer dissolved his last defenses, for nothing is hidden from “the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13, KJV). Halim* embraced me after prayer with a grip that wordlessly pleaded, “Please don’t let go.” Months of loneliness, fear, and waiting had brought him to the small, vibrant Adventist church plant in this midsize city—oddly enough, through the kindness of a Pentecostal Christian—and the joy he found in fellow Adventists creased his tear-stained face. “I am so happy to be with them,” he murmured. When mob violence and reprisal killings targeted young Christian men in his far-off neighborhood, he and his family had fled, ultimately concluding that he would go ahead to seek asylum in Europe. When he could, he would send for his wife and 6-month-old daughter. Now 10 months and much paperwork later, he waits on the generosity of a government overwhelmed by unanticipated refugees, finding hope in the circle of Adventist believers who have welcomed and loved him. Halim’s still-unfinished refugee story brought hundreds of news articles and photos into clear focus for me. We see massed peoples boarding boats, being refused at national borders, waiting in interminable lines. We count by thousands and tens of thousands. But each is a unique narrative of loss and danger and hope and tedium. Not surprisingly, fellow Adventists are among those who have been swept up in the economic and political chaos now gripping whole world regions, pushed against their will into a future filled with question marks. Their stories meet and mingle with millions of those of other faiths and no faith, all of them “strangers” we are called to love and serve. As you read this special edition of Adventist World, let your heart be moved by the Spirit to do more than simply read. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). *Not his real name

WORLD REPORT By Andrew McChesney

Saw Samuel

Elected SSD President


aw Samuel, who was elected president of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) on March 22, 2016, said he would seek new ways to reach the many Buddhists and Muslims in his region, even as he seeks wisdom from God to value each day as a precious gift to be used wisely. The General Conference’s Executive Committee, the top governing body of the Seventhday Adventist Church, unanimously elected Samuel to replace Saw Samuel with his wife, Leonardo R. Asoy, who succumbed to a rare bone marrow Orathai Chureson, and their disease in January. children, Amanda, 12, and Samuel, who previously served Sorawin, 10. as executive secretary of the S S D Southern Asia-Pacific Division, said he had a particular burden to share the gospel with unreached people in his division, which encompasses 14 countries with a population of 1 billion but only 1.3 million church members. “My main burden is to engage and involve our young people and professional and nonprofessional lay members in reaching out to the unreached Chinese, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and secular urban people,” Samuel said. “I also have a great concern for dropped, missing, and backsliding members.” Samuel’s remarks indicate that he intends to pursue the course of Asoy, who was elected president at the General Conference session in San Antonio, Texas, last July. Asoy said at the time that he was especially eager to find ways to reach Buddhists and Muslims. Asoy passed away on January 12, 2016, of complications from myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare disease in which the bone marrow is unable to produce adequate healthy blood cells. Asoy, 56, had been elected to replace the ailing Alberto C. Gulfan, Jr., who served as president for 12 years and died of cancer on September 26, 2015, at the age of 64. Samuel, the first Burmese to serve as an Adventist division president, said his vision for the Southern Asia-Pacific Division was to mobilize, unite, and use its God-given resources of young people, professionals, Continued on next page

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regular church members, and media and technology to spread the gospel. His favorite Bible passage is the prayer of Moses in Psalm 90, particularly verse 12, which reads, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (NKJV)*.” “Life is short and precious,” he said. “We need wisdom from God [to know] how to use our time, health, and strength, and our God-given resources.” Samuel, who had served as acting division president since January, was first elected executive secretary of the division in 2010. Before that, he worked for two years as ministerial secretary of the Southeast Asia Union Mission in Singapore. The rest of his career as pastor and administrator was spent in Thailand. Samuel graduated with a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies in the Philippines in March. Samuel is married to Orathai Chureson, the Southern Asia-Pacific Division’s children’s and family ministries director. They have two children, Amanda, 12, and Sorawin, 10. “He is a very spiritual, respectful, humble, and mission-minded servant leader whom God will use mightily as the Southern Asia-Pacific Division team and all members in that great division keep their eyes upon Christ as the leader of the church,” Adventist Church president Ted N. C. Wilson said. He encouraged Samuel “to be strong in the Lord as he humbly moves forward with the work assigned to him.” “He will need to lean on Christ daily and claim the promise of James 1:5 every day, just as I try to do,” Wilson said. “It is only through God’s wisdom that we can humbly and effectively work.” n


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P H O T O S : T E D


Left: Refugees learning to ski in Sweden. Right: Refugee children baking bread over a campfire at an Adventist event in Sweden.

Refugees Get

By Göran Hansen

Free Ski Lessons

Swedish Adventists welcome 100 refugees with open arms.


hen members of the small Seventh-day Adventist church in Nyhyttan, Sweden, learned that a group of refugees would arrive in their town, they decided to welcome them with open arms—and free ski lessons. Church members teamed up with other organizations in Nyhyttan, an isolated community located a threehour drive west of Stockholm, to find ways to help their new neighbors adjust to life in Sweden. They decided to offer Swedishlanguage lessons, classes in Swedish culture, walks in the forest, and free clothing from a shop that collected donations from the community. Their plans went into action this past September when about 100 refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Eritrea moved into a government-operated refugee center, a former health center once owned by the Adventist Church. But life in Sweden proved very different from the refugees’ homelands, especially with the onset of winter. Many refugees saw snow for the first time. So the community collected skis, boots, skates, and winter clothing to lend to the refugees for free lessons. “It was a little scary and cold for

them, but a lot of fun with the skis and skates,” said Lars Gille, a retired Adventist pastor and a community coordinator with the refugees. “This has become a very popular activity, especially when the sun shines, because it can be so very beautiful.” After the snow melted, refugees swapped skis for bikes and soccer balls. Bicycles have been made available for free rental, and soccer has become a popular community sport. The Nyhyttan church’s Pathfinder Club, which offers crafts and honors, has swelled by 25 children, and the church has opened a preschool for younger children. The church faced initial suspicion from refugees when it began hosting events on its premises. Some refugees refused to set foot in the building, but this has changed over time. About 40 refugees attended a Christmas concert in the church, and others visit a church-run café that provides a place to talk and mingle. Church members regularly invite refugees to their homes to experience Swedish life firsthand. Some refugees have asked Gille what he does for a living. They express surprise when he replies that he is a pastor. But their surprise has also turned to respect. n

By Victor Hulbert

Adventists Help Refugees

Seeking Entry Into Britain A group of volunteers travel eight hours every week to the Dunkirk camp in France.


aking up at 4:00 a.m. for a long drive and a ferry crossing is a minor inconvenience for Sasha Becejac, one of four leaders at the Newbold Seventh-day Adventist Church in southern England. Every Sunday he fills a car with volunteers, food, and clothes for the eight-hour round trip to a refugee camp in Dunkirk, France. Teaming up with members of the small Dunkirk Adventist Church, they provide lunch, love, and a listening ear to some of the thousands of refugees trying to find a way across the English Channel—often illegally—to claim asylum in Britain. P H O T O S : T E D

Left: Omar, 45, from Iraq, says he is looking for something better in life. Right: Mohammed, 15, from Iraq, standing outside his mud-surrounded tent.

While the Adventist volunteers cook food and provide fresh fruit, their main goal is to provide emotional first aid “by simply telling someone that they are not alone, that we have a whole congregation in England, the land that they are desperately trying to reach, praying for them,” Becejac said. How do the refugees respond? “Most are Muslim, some are Christian,” Becejac said. “But when you are living for months in a rat-infested swamp, you don’t mind which religion is praying for you, as long as they are there in front of you telling you that they do care and that they are praying.” Some people have asked why Adventists would get involved with a refugee camp where many inhabitants are openly defying the law by seeking illegal entry into Britain rather than claiming asylum at their point of entry into Europe. Some have argued that the assistance simply supports human smuggling and other illegal activities. Becejac is sensitive to that view. “Many volunteers come unconvinced, and a few leave unconvinced, feeling that the refugees should organize themselves better, clean their camp better,” he said. “I do not judge anyone’s opinion. All I know is that the longer I spend with these people who live surrounded in squalor yet look more presentable than me on most days . . . the more I realize that

Top: Tim Den Hertog, right, helping to distribute fruit at the Dunkirk camp. Bottom: Adventist volunteers sloshing through mud as they visit refugees at the Dunkirk camp. P H O T O S : T E D

they are just like us. They simply yearn for a better life and a future.” Mohammed, 15, stood outside his mud-surrounded tent. He told how his parents were killed by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq. Despite his miserable surroundings, he says he has hope for the future. He said the assistance provided by the Adventist volunteers was a lifeline to him. Another camp inhabitant, Omar, has been in Dunkirk for four months. He is 45 but looks older. A bomb exploded near him in his hometown of Mala Abdullah, Iraq. He said he was looking for something better. Becejac said this desire of Omar and other refugees has prompted him and the other three Newbold leaders—Tim Den Hertog, Jeff Muckle, and Newbold’s associate pastor, Vili Costescu—to keep organizing the weekly trips to the camp. “That is why I feel compelled to help these people,” he said. “Because they are just people like us, trying to find a better future.” n

June 2016 | Adventist World - nad



A Refugee and

By Ruben Grieco

His Adventist Friend

An Eritrean tells why he fled to Germany, and a German explains why she helps him.


ho are the refugees in Germany, and who are the Seventh-day Adventists who are assisting them? I found answers to both questions during a conversation with Ermias, a 20-year-old refugee from the restive African country of Eritrea, and Sylvia Kontusc, an Adventist volunteer who coordinates the Adventist Church’s work with refugees in the South German Union. We spoke at a weekly meeting where refugees gather at an Adventist church to practice their German-language skills.

Interview With Ermias

Ermias, how did it happen that you decided to leave everything behind and flee Eritrea? I was a professional soldier in Eritrea. This was not a decision that you make by yourself. I would rather have worked as a mechanic, but I was forced to become a soldier. I had to care for the needs of my family as soon as my father died in 2000 because of the war. I was responsible for my mother and four sisters. A single event changed my life


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completely. A truck carrying weapons exploded, killing four fellow soldiers immediately. Another lost his feet. I spent a year in the hospital with metal shrapnel in my head and leg. My one ear was nearly deaf. I was freed from my service for a few days to attend my wedding. Then I extended my absence to five days to make some money to help my mother. I was put in jail for this. The prison consisted of five containers, each holding 38 people. No windows, no water, no toilets. Soldiers put me in handcuffs for the first month. They dragged me outside three times, beat me to the ground, doused me with cold water, and put me back into the container, dripping wet. During the eight months of my imprisonment, I received two slices of bread and a cup of tea every morning. In the evening I shared a simple dinner with nine other people. We were allowed outside to go to the toilet once a day at 6:30 a.m. I realized that I would likely die either in prison or trying to escape. So I chose to escape, because I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to be able to come back to life again.

How did you escape? Armed soldiers surrounded the container doors. A friend and I agreed to escape together one morning. We started running at the same time in different directions. I looked where the soldiers were located and ran in the direction of the soldier with the worst aim. Although the soldiers aimed at our legs, they missed. I reached friends who gave me a pair of pants, a jacket, and the fare for a bus ride to the border with Ethiopia. From there I walked three days toward the capital, Addis Ababa. That same night my mother was detained and held prisoner for two months. In the Ethiopian capital the military took me to a refugee camp, where I spent six months. From the camp I went back to the capital and found a job that paid for me to go to Sudan. How did you reach Germany? In Sudan I heard from a friend who lived in Germany. He told me he was living in peace and security, and had good prospects. It became clear to me that my hope was in Germany. I worked for seven months as a driver to save the money for the trip.

I paid US$1,600 for a seven-day ride in a truck with 148 children, women, and men from Sudan through the Sahara. In Libya the truck was stopped by the military. They seized everything: our remaining money, mobile phones, and all our papers and identity cards. I spent five months in prison with 400 other Eritreans. Some were forced to load bombs and weapons into vehicles. A friend was carrying a bomb on his back when it exploded. One night I was able to escape and walk to the coast to take a boat for Italy. For two days I sailed with 329 people on the small boat. The Italian navy picked us up and took us to Italy for processing. After three days I managed to take the train to Munich, Germany. From there, authorities sent me to Meßstetten, then to special housing, where I live now. How did you start to attend the refugee meeting at church? Friends told me that conversation classes were being held at the church. There I met Sylvia. Without Sylvia, I wouldn’t have succeeded with the German-language classes. Without her help, I would have been sent back to Italy, and I wouldn’t have survived that. Sylvia brought me to a doctor who was able to help. I now attend the church meetings every week. I am waiting to find out whether I can stay in Germany. What do you wish for your future? I am always afraid that I’ll be sent back and have to live all those bad experiences again. I hope to stay and find work soon. I wish that my wife could come here, and that I could get to know my 4-year-old daughter. I’ve never seen her. I was in prison when she was born.

For what are you grateful? During my flight I always prayed at night to God. I thank God that He protected my odyssey to Germany, and that He has accompanied me so far. E U D

What is your work with the refugees? My volunteer activities have become like a part-time job. On Monday and Tuesday mornings I assist a social worker in a refugee home. On Wednesday afternoon I volunteer at a language class that meets in small groups to practice everyday conversations and translate letters. Sometimes we cook together and distribute clothes. I am also a member of a group that helps refugees find housing. I often accompany refugees on their visits to the doctor or to the authorities. What do you think about your work? It gives me great satisfaction to see the grateful, cheerful smile of a refugee. I also like successful moments such as a good conversation with a doctor, a court hearing that goes well, and a successful job search. I am so happy when I realize that I’ve made a difference for a refugee.

Sylvia Kontusc, a volunteer who coordinates Adventist work with refugees. Interview With Sylvia Kontusc

How did you get involved in this work? I have always kept in mind the biblical call to “seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace” in Jeremiah 29:7. Then came the television reports about the refugees, which moved me deeply. So I approached city hall, where I spoke with the integration commissioner. This mission matched my faith. I can express myself. This is me.

What particular challenges do you face? I have to cope with my family and with my real job (laughs)! What advice would you give someone who wants to answer a similar call to mission? I am convinced that you will not succeed if you try to work on your own. It is important to identify the needs of the city and then join existing networks and structures. We Seventh-day Adventists have a huge advantage because of our church structure with its own premises and workers. We have the right social attitude for this job. This is quite valuable. The refugees who come to us are mostly young people. Invite them into your inner circle and allow them to share your social life. n

June 2016 | Adventist World - nad





ne of the greatest themes in the Bible is that of compassion. We see it written on the pages of Scripture again and again, especially in describing the character of God. “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth” (Ps. 86:15). “For the Lord will judge His people, and He will have compassion on His servants” (Ps. 135:14). “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy” (Ps. 145:8). Perhaps one of the most beautiful passages is found in Micah 7:18, 19: “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”


COMPASSION Being like Jesus

awareness of the distress of others, along with a desire to alleviate it.2 Because compassion is such an intricate part of who God is, throughout history Satan has sought to destroy and obliterate that characteristic in God’s children. Wars, famines, violence, and the desensitization of society through various media, powergrabbing, pride, self-centeredness, escapism, covetousness, nihilism, and more—all are calculated to turn our thoughts from the plight of others to ourselves and erase all compassion from our hearts.

A Gift Given to All

The Antidote

Interestingly, of the 50 times the word “compassion” appears in the Bible (27 times in the Old Testament and 23 in the New),1 the first mention of the word involves a person considered a pagan and outsider, a Gentile woman. We are given a glimpse of the scene in Exodus 2:5, 6: “Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. And her maidens walked along the riverside; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it. And when she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, ‘This is one of the Hebrews’ children.’ ” Compassion is not only part of the fabric of God’s character but also a gift He endows to every human being: the ability to have a sympathetic

Jesus provides the antidote for a world seriously lacking compassion. Through His life and teachings, Jesus taught what it means to be “moved with compassion.” In Mark’s Gospel we see a leper coming to Jesus, “imploring Him, kneeling down . . . and saying to Him, ‘If you are willing, You can make me clean.’ Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed’ ” (Mark 1:40, 41). Following the untimely death of John the Baptist, when Jesus and His disciples tried to go to “a deserted place in the boat by themselves,” thousands of people ran to the other side of the lake to meet them. When Jesus saw the “great multitude, [He] was moved with compassion for them,


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By Ted N. C. Wilson

because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:32, 34). Later that day He fed the entire multitude from five loaves and two fish. “So they all ate and were filled” (verse 42). Modeling True Compassion

While the ministry of Jesus certainly involved meeting the physical needs of people, He modeled true compassion by caring for their spiritual well-being and directing them to the only source of truth. Stressing this point in His magnificent sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’. . . Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:31-33). The compassion of Jesus is complete. While He doesn’t ignore the temporal needs of people, His ultimate concern is for their eternal spiritual welfare. This complete compassion is what He calls His followers to exhibit as they seek to minister for Him (see Matt. 9:35-38). Desperate for Hope

Afari3 was from a Middle Eastern country whose dominant religion was hostile to Christianity. Her husband allowed her to work in a beauty salon

they truly need. Spiritual needs are a top priority.” Godly Compassion Not Optional

Because compassion is such an intricate part of who God is, Satan has sought to destroy and obliterate that characteristic in God’s children. where she would interact only with other women. Life at home was miserable. Afari’s husband frequently beat her and humiliated her. Feeling hopeless, Afari seriously considered suicide. About this time one of her clients at the salon noticed Afari’s sadness. Having no one else in whom she could confide, Afari shared her troubles with this woman. The two became close friends, and eventually the woman invited Afari to a secret home group where she learned about Jesus. She was given a Bible and treasured it as her most precious possession. Sadly, Afari’s husband found the Bible and beat her mercilessly, theatening to kill her. Miraculously she escaped and ran to her parents’ home. Afari was able to contact her Christian friend, who quickly helped her escape to a neighboring country. From there Afari entered Europe as a refugee. P H O T O


M .


Finding Compassion

Soon after arriving in Europe, Afari met up with two friends who had fled the same country because of religious persecution. These friends had come in contact with Seventh-day Adventists and told Afari, “This church is exactly what you are looking for.” They found that Adventists not only cared about their physical needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter, but provided the spiritual nourishment they so desperately craved. Afari says that she loves attending the Adventist church. It is where she has “found love, peace, hope, and kindness. They help me understand that I am not alone. I feel safe now,” she says. One of the Adventist leaders in this city explains their compassionate approach: “We know that providing only the humanistic elements doesn’t satisfy. If we focus only on physical and social needs, they don’t get what

For Christians, godly compassion is not optional. Since the beginning, God has called His followers to be like Him, to “do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). In reflecting on the compassionate work given to God’s people, Ellen White wrote: “The unselfish labor of Christians in the past should be to us an object lesson and an inspiration. The members of God’s church are to be zealous of good works, separating from worldly ambition and walking in the footsteps of Him who went about doing good. “With hearts filled with sympathy and compassion, they are to minister to those in need of help, bringing to sinners a knowledge of the Savior’s love. Such work calls for laborious effort, but it brings a rich reward. Those who engage in it with sincerity of purpose will see souls won to the Savior, for the influence that attends the practical carrying out of the divine commission is irresistible.”4 God is calling each one of us, wherever we are, to participate in Total Member Involvement as we show His complete compassion to a world in need. Let’s ask Him to fill us with His Holy Spirit so that we can have the wisdom and compassion only He can give. n 1 In

the New King James Version. from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, www. 3 Not her real name. 4 Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), pp. 109, 110. 2 Paraphrased

Ted N. C. Wilson is

president of the Seventhday Adventist Church.

June 2016 | Adventist World - nad


Sabbath, June 18, 2016



By Benjamin D. Schoun


very minute eight people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror,” according to the United Nations World Refugee Day Web site.1 The past few years have seen about 15 new trouble hot spots where many people have been killed, many other lives have been threatened, and their ability to maintain a safe, peaceful living situation with adequate food and shelter has been removed. Some of these locations include South Sudan, Central African Republic, northeastern Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ukraine, Iraq, and most recently the country of Syria. “As of February 2016, the U.N. has identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, of which 6.6 million are internally displaced within Syria, and over 4.8 million are refugees outside of Syria.”2 Although Turkey is hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees, more than 1 million have crossed into Europe in 2015 alone.3 U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says, “Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me. They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced, and their biggest dream is to be able to live normally again.”4 What Is Our Church Doing to Help?

The Seventh-day Adventist Church, along with governments and other humanitarian agencies, has chosen to offer services to assist these refugees as they make their way on roads, rail tracks, paths, and seas to a place where they can live in safety. In the extraordinarily large humanitarian movement in Europe two divisions of


the General Conference are directly involved: the Trans-European Division and the Inter-European Division. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is heavily involved, as well as ASI (AdventistLaymen’s Services and Industries) Europe. In January, leaders from these church organizations attended a summit in Zagreb, Croatia, under the direction of ADRA, to coordinate efforts and do strategic planning regarding the most effective ways of being involved. One idea that emerged from this summit was that the Adventist Church should plan a World Refugee Day similar to what the United Nations has on its calendar. Recognition of this day in Adventist churches has the following purposes: 1 to inform the world church of the crisis in Europe and other places, and report what Adventist Church organizations are doing to help; 2 to encourage prayer for the refugees and those actively working to help them; 3 to share some stories and reports regarding the true nature of this humanitarian crisis; 4 to help church members think through the ways they might relate to refugees based on our Christian and Seventh-day Adventist beliefs and values; 5 to convey current needs that Adventist members might wish to help meet, including donations for the work now being done; 6 to reflect on the words of Ban Ki-

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moon: “On this World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity, celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere.”5 A Special World Refugee Day

The U.N. World Refugee Day is June 20. The Adventist Church World Refugee Day will be on Sabbath, June 18. There will be bulletin announcements, inserts, videos, and posters posted on the General Conference Web site, which anyone may download and use in their churches.6 I am grateful that Adventist World has dedicated this June issue to the world refugee situation. As you read, ask yourself: How can I be a neighbor to people like this in crisis? Jesus was clear that responding to such needs is one of the clearest evidences of true Christianity in the hearts and lives of His followers (Luke 10:30-37; Matt. 25:31-46). n 1 War 3 4 5 krKM8. 6 The Web address to access Adventist Church World Refugee Day resources is special-days. Look under June 18. 2

Benjamin D. Schoun is

a former vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He chairs the General Conference European Displaced Persons Coordinating Committee. P H O T O :







ore than 100 student and professional filmmakers, professors, and movie enthusiasts gathered from March 31 to April 2 in Chantilly, Virginia, for the annual SONscreen Film Festival. This festival, which debuted in 2002, gives young Christian filmmakers the opportunity to share their work, network with others, gain exposure, and learn through presentations, workshops, panel discussions, and nightly film screenings. “SONscreen provides the opportunity to celebrate the creativity and diversity that these young Christian filmmakers represent,” says Julio Muñoz, SONscreen Festival director and associate director of communication for the North American Division. “We want them to grow artistically, and to understand the important role their films can play in sharing hope and creating an inclusive community in our world.” At this year’s festival 34 student films were screened. In all, 14 awards were distributed. Two films garnered two awards each: “Mary & Montgomery” received the Best Original Screenplay award for Emily Mastrapa, and honorable mention as Best Dramatic Short for Matt Webster (Southern Adventist University). “Hamilton County K-9” received the Audience Choice and Best Documentary Short awards for Richard Morgan (Southern Adventist University). “The Exquisite Outdoors” received three awards: Best in Festival, Best Cinematography award for Erik Edstrom, and Best Dramatic Short award for Grant Pardew (Walla Walla University). “I was not expecting to win Best Original Screenplay,” said Mastrapa. “It was encouraging to see that people both understood and liked it enough to give me an award. . . . People were

SONscreen Film Festival award-winners pose with their awards. Their films were cited for excellence in presentation and message.

Connections, Stories Important at


able to see my voice through my film, and I think that’s amazing.” SONscreen also presented the firstever Vision Award to Wil Alexander for the documentary “A Certain Kind of Light,” for contributions he has made to the medical field in the area of total patient care. Other festival highlights included the Thursday keynote presentation by Jeff Sheets, director of the Laycock Center for Creativity and Collaboration at Brigham Young University, the Friday screening of the award-winning Loma Linda University Health film “A Certain Kind of Light” (see NAD Update, page

14), and the Sabbath presentation by Dan Jackson, president of the Seventhday Adventist Church in North America. Jackson encouraged attendees to “keep a balance in your minds, but don’t be afraid to push back the boundaries.” After concluding his presentation with the advice “By God’s grace, do for the church and the community what is needed; do not be afraid,” Jackson answered questions and took comments from the audience. n For a full list of award winners, visit —By Kimberly Luste Maran, North American Division

June 2016 | Adventist World - nad



North American Division Hosts

Treasurer Orientation


help. “This will strengthen the church around the world,” she said. Karen Senecal, Ohio Conference treasurer, has served as a conference treasurer for four years, and found the meeting productive. “It’s always helpful to be in a place with others who are doing the same thing you are doing,” she said. Candace Nurse, chief financial officer of the Allegheny West Conference, adds that the meeting exposed “me to a different aspect of my job, and it is allowing me to see the things I need to enhance communication with my executive committee and staff.” Gibson reported that similar events will be held throughout the world in upcoming years, with some already planned in Africa, Australia, and Europe. “The big picture down the road would be all if the officers in the ecclesiastical side of the church would be constantly trained and updated to the major issues that they have to deal with every day,” she said. n —V. Michelle Bernard, North American Division




fter communicating with denominationally employed treasurers around the world, Ann Gibson, assistant to the General Conference treasurer for treasurer training and emerita professor for accounting at Andrews University, says she saw a need for training sessions for new treasurers. That need was realized when the North American Division hosted the first treasurer orientation at the Columbia Union Conference headquarters. Seventy conference treasurers and support staff from around North America gathered for sessions on financial topics, office management, and church structure and to learn about resources available to them, noted Tom Evans, NAD treasurer and event co-organizer. Gibson, who co-organized the event, felt that treasurers working in small conferences often don’t have a support staff. The session provided further training a network of colleagues they can e-mail or call for

Treasurers from throughout North America met to receive training in best practices for handling the church’s finances.


Adventist World - nad | June 2016

LivingWell in the

Blue Zone


fter months of hard work by LivingWell committee members, Castle Medical Center (CMC), in Kailua, Hawaii, has been recognized as the first Blue Zones Project-approved worksite in Hawaii. The project complements Adventist Health’s LivingWell program to help people live longer, healthier lives, and promotes change in communities to make them better places for people to live in. The Blue Zones Project, developed from the 2008 book The Blue Zones, identified five regions where people reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States as a whole.* Now the organization works to develop “Blue Zones” in workplaces and communities across the country. “Castle Medical Center shares many of the same values as one of the world’s original Blue Zones in Loma Linda, California,” said Kathy Raethel, president and CEO of CMC. “We believe Blue Zones Project offers the tools and resources to make meaningful improvements to the health, happiness, and longevity of everyone in our community.” Adventist Health’s LivingWell employee wellness program goes hand in hand with the Blue Zones initiative as it challenges and supports employees in their journey to healthful living.

P H O T O :




Dee Hearn, who serves in respiratory care at Castle Medical Center, blends up a smoothie and burns a few calories using the “blender bike.”


—Shelby Siebold, Adventist Health

Nursing Students Post

Perfect Pass Rate


hen all of Union College’s December 2015 graduates passed the NCLEX-RN® national nursing licensure exam on their first attempt, graduate Amber Alas knew it wasn’t a fluke. “I knew the material. I remembered learning it in class,” she said. “I talked to friends from other schools, and they told me they hadn’t seen half the stuff on the test.” Nationally, only about 85 percent of nursing graduates pass the NCLEXRN® on their first attempt. Union’s first-time pass rate for 2015 is the best in the state of Nebraska. “This achievement demonstrates the hard work of our students as well as the high-quality professors who teach in the Union College nursing program,” said Nicole Orian, chair of the Division of Nursing. Now set to start her dream job in the neonatal intensive-care unit at

Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital in southern California, Alas felt thankful for the preparation she received at Union. “When I was 13, my grandpa passed away from cancer after spending two months in the hospital,” Alas remembered. “I was very interested in what the nurses were doing, and as we got to know them, I saw how much they cared for my family. I wanted to be that person for someone else’s family. I felt God calling me.” Although she grew up in southern California, Alas decided to visit Union at the suggestion of one her mother’s coworkers. She was attracted to the Christian atmosphere, the track record of success, and the friendliness and openness of the students and teachers she met. “I decided that if I was accepted, I would attend Union.” After passing the NCLEX-RN®, Alas

was selected for a competitive residency program at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital. During the selection process, interviewers were intrigued by an Incident Command Structure certification on Alas’ résumé, part of her Disaster Nursing course. “You have a very impressive résumé,” they told her. “You’re the first person we’ve interviewed with this kind of training.” “I like to think that is one of the reasons I was selected for the residency,” Alas said. “It’s unusual for a new graduate to have an opportunity like this.” For Alas, a first-generation college graduate, the small classes and personal attention from the instructors made all the difference. “I didn’t realize how important my professors would be until I was in the program,” she said. “They really care about you as a person.” Learn more about Union College and its nursing program at https:// n —Ryan Teller, Union College C O L L E G E

“To have the support of Castle Medical Center as the first Blue Zones Project-approved worksite in Ko’olaupoko demonstrates how committed the hospital is toward improving the health and well-being of the members of our community,” said Andrade. “Partnering with the only primary health-care facility in Windward, Oahu, will continue to strengthen the Blue Zones Project’s goal of helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.” n


LivingWell offers onsite biometric screenings, weight management and nutrition coaching, tobacco cessation, onsite fitness classes, and access to dietitians or personal trainers. In March, CMC hosted a Blue Zone recognition ceremony where guests could sample healthy appetizers and blend their own smoothies using “blender bikes.” Raethel and Cherie Andrade, community program manager of Blue Zones Project Ko’olaupoko, in northern Oahu, performed a maile lei untying ceremony (akin to a ribboncutting), signifying the beginning of CMC becoming a Blue Zone worksite.

Amber Alas, one of the Union College nursing students who passed the NCLEX-RN® national nursing licensure exam on their first attempt, will begin her career at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.

June 2016 | Adventist World - nad







he last thing that dies is hope.” Those are the words uttered on camera by 94-year-old Wilber “Wil” Alexander as he walks down an evening-lit hospital corridor after talking to the last person on his hospital rounds, a terminally ill man. In the new documentary “A Certain Kind of Light,” Alexander faces his own mortality as he serves patients and healthcare workers at Loma Linda University Health (LLHU) and the Center for Spiritual Life and Wholeness, and reflects on his vision for transforming lives through whole-person care. The documentary was screened by student filmmakers, professors, health-care workers, and church leaders from the North American Division on April 1, 2016, at the SONscreen Film Festival held in Chantilly, Virginia. For the past 40 years, Alexander has lingered at the bedside of the sick and dying, urging them to tell their stories, and helping in their search for meaning. The 40-minute documentary, directed by Brandon Vedder and produced by Carla Gober-Park at LLUH and Keith Wakefield, captures the twilight hours of Alexander’s lifelong career in hopes that others can learn and replicate his methods within the health-care setting. “Just telling people his story isn’t the same as showing them,” says Gober-Park. “I know, I’ve tried. It just isn’t the same at all.” After the screening, the audience engaged in a question-and-answer period with Alexander and GoberPark. During this session Gober-Park explained how the film developed. “I met Wil when I was a student in my 20s. . . . When I followed him as director of the center, I began to ask the question: How can we capture this?

Wilber Alexander (second from right) receives the Vision Award at April’s SONscreen Film Festival in Virginia. On hand to make the presentation were Dan Weber, communication director for the NAD, and Dan Jackson, NAD president. Carla Gober-Park helped produce the documentary, “A Certain Kind of Light.”

By Kimberly Luste Maran, North American Division Office of Communication

SONscreen Attendees See

“A Certain Kind of Light” Documentary film highlights the ministry of Wil Alexander.

Even though Wil still does rounds each week at 94, we wanted a way to capture the power of story for the future.” Gober-Park explains, “For years he preferred not to be filmed; he thought it would hinder what was happening in the clinical setting. But the day came when we all realized the significance of capturing his work for future generations, and Wil became more open to filming the whole-person-care rounds (Love Rounds), including his

Adventist World - nad | June 2016

interactions with patients. In Brandon Vedder we found the kind of filmmaker who could capture the importance of story through the life of Wil, and do it in a way that would be poetic and truthful. “Understanding Wil’s age and the need to capture his work, LLUH’s own advancement team was supportive, stating, ‘Not a problem. Let’s work together. Let’s contract the filmmaker, and let’s get this done.’ ” Since this past fall, the documen-

tary has been screened at health-care events and shown at 16 film festivals, including SONscreen. It has garnered seven awards. Alexander picked up one more as he was presented with the SONscreen Vision Award. “Vision is something that the world looks for and that the world needs. But when vision pierces into the mind and the soul, it becomes heavenly vision,” said Dan Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, as he presented the award. “As I watched the film, I was thinking that Dr. Wil Alexander was moving into the mind and into the soul, and helping it express itself. It liberates; it allows people to express this. That kind of vision is heavenly vision.” n

Excerpt The world floods in on all of us. The world can be kind, but it can be cruel. It can give us good reason to hope, good reason to give up all hope. In our lives in the world the temptation is always to go where the world takes us, to drift with whatever current happens to be running strongest. Instead of being whole, most of the time we are in pieces and we see the world all in pieces. Full of darkness in one moment, full of light in the next. It is in Jesus, of course, that we see another way of being human, which is the way of wholeness. No matter how much the world shatters us to pieces, we carry inside us a vision of wholeness that we sense is our true home and that beckons to us.

—Wil Alexander, Ph.D., narrating the beginning of the documentary “A Certain Kind of Light.”



Whether you’re looking for resources for your Pathfinder Club or you need new ideas for family ministries, stewardship or the youth group, AdventSource has you covered.

Contact us today to learn more! 402.486.8800 |

June 2016 | Adventist World - nad




Loma Linda Report

June 2016


Children’s Hospital Foundation Gala raises more than $1.3 million for Vision 2020 Team report


he 23rd annual Children’s Hospital Foundation Gala, titled “Illuminate: The Path to Vision 2020,” resulted in $1,312,165 raised to support children in California’s Inland Empire region and beyond. The event, held on Thursday, February 11, at the Riverside Convention Center, was attended by about 1,000 guests. “Each year we are both amazed and blessed by the outpouring of support from our community for our gala,” says Jillian Payne, executive director of Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Our event has grown from 800 to 1,000 guests in the past two years—a change we welcome because it translates into more Inland Empire residents knowing what takes place at our Children’s Hospital every day.” To begin the formal program, Mt. Rubidoux Seventh-day Adventist Church Children’s Choir formed a joyful procession to the stage. They delighted the audi-

ence with their rendition of “This Little Light of Mine,” followed by “The Star Spangled Banner.” Radio personality Heather Froglear, whose own daughter, Peyton, received reconstructive heart surgery as an infant at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, served as emcee for the evening. Chef Robert Irvine, who hosts a number of shows on the Food Network, also made an appearance and helped with the live auction, at one point pledging $10,000 of his own money if someone in the audience would match it. Perhaps the most moving moment of the evening came during a video focusing on Mariah Salomon, who was attacked by a family dog this past August when she was 2 years old. The bite removed much of her nose and cheek, leading her mother, Veronica Peña, to wonder if she would survive and, if she did, what her future might be with a major scar in the middle of her face. Surgeons Paul Walker, MD, and Nathaniel Peterson, MD, were able to re-

Approximately 1,000 guests were on hand to help Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital Foundation raise $1,312,165 toward Vision 2020: The Campaign for a Whole Tomorrow. The gala was titled “Illuminate: The Path to Vision 2020.”

attach her face, reconnecting blood vessels and nerves over five hours of intensive work under surgical microscopes. The groundbreaking surgery was a success. Within three weeks of the accident, little Mariah was off the ventilator and able to go home. She and her mother were present at the gala and received an enthusiastic welcome from the audience. To view the video, visit com/watch?v=wBb2PTHAQt8. To give to Vision 2020: The Campaign for a Whole Tomorrow, visit: lluh

Mariah and her mother, Veronica, join Paul Walker, MD, one of Mariah’s surgeons.

The Silhouettes, a group made famous by appearances on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, provided a memorable performance highlighting Vision 2020 and wholeness at Loma Linda University Health. Above, the group helped celebrate to final tally.



That Give Us


sleep is hard to grasp. Those of us who believe in death as sleep are comforted by a concept that allows us not to worry about the uncertainty of our loved ones’ eternal condition. Explaining the Adventist belief that a person doesn’t go to heaven upon dying is sometimes challenging.

By Dan Weber


hen a Seventh-day Adventist entered the United States presidential campaign earlier this year, we expected lots of questions from the public about the church. Our list of possible questions we might be asked included end-time events, our health message, and creation. When the media came calling, it focused almost exclusively on two topics: the Sabbath and what happens when someone dies. In talking about the Sabbath, the secular press seemed confused by our not keeping Sunday as a holy day. But religious reporters quickly accepted our observance of the seventh-day Sabbath. When I explained that the Sabbath was part of a deeply personal experience that each member or family interpreted as their own special tradition in their relationship with God, many reporters expressed appreciation for helping them understand it better. One example I used was a tradition from the German side of my family. Each Sabbath evening as the sun set my family gathered for worship. We shared a Bible text, prayed together, then sang a song in German simply translated “All Is Well.” I never learned to speak German, but to this day I can still sing the words to this song. Last December we held a memorial service for my aunt. At the conclusion of the service my family gathered in a circle, and we closed the Sabbath by

singing this song. It brought back a flood of tears, childhood memories, and a longing to relive this Sabbath tradition. The North American Division has created a series of videos about the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In the segment about the Sabbath a young man named Jared shares his desire to serve others on this special day. He and his friends spend the Sabbath visiting people who are homebound, reading the Bible, singing songs, and talking about Jesus with them. You can see the video on the Web site Regarding our biblical interpretation of death, I was surprised that secular reporters didn’t focus more on this. I was even more surprised when religion reporters insisted on an explanation of this belief. Here is how the church presents Fundamental Belief 26—Death and Resurrection: “The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later.” To those who understand death as the beginning of a journey to either heaven or hell, the concept of death as

In a troubled world, our beliefs ground us. I firmly accept and embrace our beliefs, but telling someone looking for peace that a loved one isn’t in heaven can be difficult. The presenter we worked with while producing our video on death and resurrection did an excellent job. She shared the story of her best friend who was killed in a traffic accident in her early 20s. At the funeral, as her friend’s family struggled to deal with this tragic loss, what gave her hope was the understanding that her friend wasn’t up in heaven looking down and seeing the pain and suffering her family was going through. She knew her friend was sleeping peacefully in Jesus, waiting for resurrection morning. Our beliefs are designed to give us hope. In a troubled world, they ground us. Because the world can easily distract us from having a relationship with Jesus. Reexamine the Fundamental Beliefs for yourself, and see what they mean to you as a believer. n

Dan Weber is director of

communication for the North American Division.

June 2016 | Adventist World - nad


NAD Letters

Who has not gone through a hurt? and When are we going to accept more “Amandas” into our churches?

Personal Experiences Unite

What a blessing the February 2016 edition has been with its numerous personal experiences shared of God’s faithfulness. Thank you to all who shared from their hearts. You encouraged and inspired us. Editors, please continue including personal testimonies from around the world. They unite us in Christ. LaRenne Lacey Washington Amanda Shaver going to accept more “Amandas” into our churches? Thank you for this article. I pray it opens our churches to have Celebrate Recovery as active ministries. Mirta Brady South Carolina Growth Is a Blessing

Let’s Be Amandas

I appreciated the article “He Carries Me Through” (February 2016). I pray that our churches will interpret the hidden codes and masks worn and accept everyone as they are when they come to our church. I was glad to read how Amanda took the Celebrate Recovery ministry to parolees. The questions I have for our churches are: Who has not gone through a hurt? and When are we


“The Joseph Files,” by Gerald Klingbeil (December 2015), truly blessed me. Klingbeil made three profound statements. He said, “Growth is the result of successfully overcoming a crisis or obstacle.” Later he wrote, “Crisis and testing lead to growth and transformation.” Then: “Crisis is the catalyst for growth.” Thank you for the inspiring and challenging article. I was truly blessed. Lois Moore via e-mail Glory

Regarding Angel Rodríguez’s comments in “The Glory of the Lord”

Adventist World - nad | June 2016

(January 2016) about Exodus 33:18, 19, 22; 34:6, 7: I cannot know what was in Moses’ mind, yet to me a clearer understanding on these passages hinges on the definition of “glory.” “Glory,” in Webster’s dictionary, means “honor, distinction, renown; source of honor, admiration; resplendent beauty; state of absolute happiness, gratification”; as well as “splendor, magnificence.” The source of God’s outshining resplendence is His character. God upped the revelation of His glory while shielding Moses from its sindestroying brilliance by narrowing the revelation and stating He would reveal “His goodness.” I highly appreciate Angel Manuel Rodríguez’s “wrestling” with the truth. Keep it up! Gayle R. Wilson Oregon


By Peter N. Landless and Allan R. Handysides


Plight REFUGEE What can the church do?


The ongoing saga of the refugees entering Europe has been so much in the news. What are the predominant health challenges they face? Are we as a church assisting with this crisis?


he plight of refugees has been described as a humanitarian crisis, which indeed it is. Desperation, fear, and hopelessness drive people to flee the countries of their birth and seek asylum and new beginnings elsewhere. One can hardly imagine the despair that motivates people to leave their loved ones, homes, and familiar surroundings and head for—well, they cannot be sure; wherever might accept them. Such pain and uncertainty are difficult to grasp. It has been heart-wrenching to witness the undiluted suffering, stress, fear, and uncertainty that characterize the news coverage of this human tragedy. The tragic death of a young child whose body was found on a Turkish beach has become an international symbol of the heartache. Respiratory (lung) infections, including pneumonia, are the most common diseases seen in this special population. Additionally, accidental trauma is common and related to the cramped space in crowded, often unseaworthy vessels; rough seas; and uncharted or unavoidable rocks in the ocean and on the coasts. Dehydration and hunger are also significant issues that need to be addressed. ASI Europe has successfully operated mobile clinics on specially modified busses, which are equipped with emergency and operating facilities. What a blessing these services have proved to be! Mental and emotional well-being are always challenging under these cir-

cumstances, and often complicated by grief and anxiety. Unfortunately, because of sheer numbers and sparse resources, these needs are not adequately addressed. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been encouraged to embrace comprehensive health ministry. This

this current situation he had seen religious people who were not godly; but after being medically helped in Greece, he had now seen godly people in practice! What a testimony to being the hands of the Master Physician. Can you and I make any difference in the lives of refugees? We can ear-

Not all can interface with the refugees, but we all can make a difference. modern-day term for medical missionary work may be described as meeting people’s needs in a practical way by demonstrating God’s love and compassion. The church we love and serve is also active and engaged in meeting the needs of refugees. The needs are so great that sometimes even our best efforts may seem as proverbial drops in the bucket. But ADRA International (and its agencies serving the affected countries) and ASI Europe continue to touch the lives of refugees, one person at a time. Joining hands with these agencies are Seventh-day Adventist volunteer health-care professionals from around the world, donating their time and expertise, but more important, sharing the love of Jesus in practical ways by meeting the needs of people, fellow pilgrims on this broken planet. Efforts of church-affiliated agencies to coordinate a health response have witnessed amazing scenes, including a female Jewish physician treating Syrian women refugees. A popular Christian periodical quoted a Muslim refugee as saying that prior to

nestly pray for them and plead that Jesus will soon return and end the suffering, sickness, heartache, displacement, and death. We can donate to ADRA and ASI Europe to assist the valiant and necessary initiatives in which they are engaged. Not all can go and interface with the refugees, but we all can make a difference by sharing our means and being a Matthew 25 church, described in the words of Jesus: “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ ” (Matt. 25:40, NIV). n

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.

June 2016 | Adventist World - nad



By Melak Alemayehu

The Basket A

s the book of Ruth portrays the account, Ruth’s life clearly captures the sorrows as well as the joys that one may encounter as a refugee. Starting life as a poor widow in a foreign land was a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Yet, as the journey continued, the Lord “under whose wings” (Ruth 2:12) she had come to take refuge filled her empty basket through the generosity of Boaz. Indeed, Boaz was a tangible refuge for Ruth and epitomized the ultimate Refuge—the Lord Himself. Interestingly, the image of God as a refuge is found in the book of Psalms nearly 50 times. In fact, as part of His covenant laws, God clearly revealed how His people should treat the refugee (or stranger) in their midst. One of these laws is the law about the firstfruits ceremony in Deuteronomy 26:1-11. In it we find a basket; a basket filled with the firstfruits of the harvest; a basket brought to be presented before the Lord first, and later to be eaten together with the priests and strangers. Certainly the principles underlying this ceremony help us discover God as the ultimate Refuge for any refugee. Commenting on this law, Ellen White writes, “These directions, which the Lord gave to His people, express the principles of the law of the kingdom of God, and they are made specific, so that the minds of the people may not be left in ignorance and uncertainty. These scriptures present the never-ceasing obligation of all whom God has blessed with life and health and advantages in temporal and spiritual things.”* The following paragraphs point out some of these principles:

Recognize. The law about the offering of the first fruits begins by indicating when it should be done, i.e., “when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell


Adventist World - nad | June 2016

in it” (Deut. 26:1). This was the time sojourners finally reached the Promised Land. All their hopes and dreams and wishes were about to become a reality in their own land. Unfortunately, in moments like these many of us tend to forget the journey we took to reach the pinnacle of our success. But the opportunity this ceremony offers to reflect on our life’s journey helps us to remember two important things: (1) who we were; and (2) how we reached the place we find ourselves. This will ultimately lead us to recognize that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Express. This ceremony highlights the important concept that recognition must be more than mere mental assent. The recognition was expressed by offering a basket full of the firstfruits. Apart from being the first chronologically, firstfruits symbolize a desirable product quality. Hence, no matter how eager a farmer is to test the fruits of his labor, yielding the first of his harvest is a fitting expression of putting first things first. Just as the Lord abhors a heartless offering, He appreciates a sacrifice that overflows from a grateful heart (see Luke 7:36-50). Focus. The focus of this ceremony should be on God. The name Yahweh (or “Lord”) appears 14 times in this section, depicting Him as the focal point of all the details of the ceremony. It should be noted that the basket was first placed in front of “the altar of the Lord your God” (Deut. 26:4). Here is a crucial lesson: any religious practice should be focused on God if we hope for a lasting impact. Utter. With the presentation of the basket before the Lord the participant had to utter what is known as the “firstfruits recitation” (verses 3, 5-10). These utterances that God prescribed are loaded with important messages. Worshippers recall publicly the dismal state wherein their ancestors found themselves as foreigners. This is an experi-

The principles underlying this ceremony help us discover God as the ultimate Refuge for any refugee. Perhaps she had an empty basket in her hand and the following question on her mind. Will I, a foreigner, be able to find favor in someone’s sight and fill my basket today? ence with which all humanity under the bondage of sin can identify. In addition, the utterance mentions how the oppressed cried to the Lord and how the Lord heard their voices and looked on their affliction. This divine intervention put a ray of hope on the horizon. As the redeemed continue to utter the praises of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light, they become reflectors and allow the same light to shine into the darkness that many others around them experience (1 Peter 2:9). Glorify. After presenting the basket of the firstfruits and uttering the testimonies, the participant would worship (literally, “prostrate”) before the Lord (Deut. 26:10). This worship gesture demonstrates the attitude of humility and self-denial that we have to experience when we truly

want to glorify God. As we worship in humility we are reminded that we were created from the ground; nothing in us warrants pride. In reality, only a life lived for the glory of God by sharing His blessings with others has lasting worth. Embrace. Celebration marks the end of this ceremony. Participants rejoice by sharing their blessings with family and two specifically mentioned groups of people— Levites and strangers. It is important to note how strangers are embraced in this celebration. They are what the host of the feast used to be. During the presentation of the basket before the Lord, the stranger’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs are addressed. They too now have the opportunity to experience the blessing of Yahweh as their refuge. Where Is Our Basket?

There are many baskets out there. Some are full of the “firstfruits” of fortunes, while others are empty in the hands of the unfortunate. Recognizing the true source of our blessing and expressing our gratitude by focusing on the Lord, uttering His testimony, glorifying His name, and embracing the unfortunate will place the overflowing basket and the empty one on the same table. Remember, we are called to be a refuge for refugees. n  * Ellen G. White, “ ‘How Much Owest Thou?” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Dec. 25, 1900.

Melak Alemayehu  is a doctoral candidate in Biblical Studies/Old Testament at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies in Silang, Philippines. Melak and his wife, Mihret, and their two children, Pheben and Paulos, are originally from Ethiopia. June 2016 | Adventist World - nad




NUMBER 19 By Stefan Höschele



aving grown up in an Adventist family, I have always wondered how some people can claim that the Ten Commandments are “no longer valid.” No longer valid? What would be the advantage of stealing, having other gods, destroying marriages, making idols, working seven days a week, or giving false testimony? Perhaps I am oversimplifying things a bit, but honestly, I don’t see the point of those who claim that as Christians we are no longer under the law, and that the Decalogue should no longer be the point of reference for our actions. Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not a legalist. We cannot earn anything before God by merely following the words written in Exodus 20. And I hate it when some folk think they are the only and final interpreters of how to implement certain biblical stipulations today. But when you challenge me about the legitimacy and authority of the norms written on the two stone tablets, I will relax. There is simply no good argument against such basic obligations of believers in the Creator. In fact, they are so basic that it’s reasonable to view them as mere minimum requirements when taken at face value. After all, the rich young man could assert, “All these things I have kept from my youth” (Mark 10:20). And Jesus did not answer, “Let’s analyze this a bit. Actually you’re wrong.” For my great-great-grandmother this was the reason to become one of the first Adventists in her region. She reflected a long time on the text that says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). When she realized that the Decalogue is a bare minimum standard of justice to abide by, her decision became crystal clear.



know that powerful principles protect human dignity and stipulate citizens’ obligations. God’s commandments, likewise, apply to all people. If fairness were fairness only for some, what kind of justice would that be? Thus the Sabbath command, the centerpiece of the Decalogue, demands that not only Israelites but also foreigners and even animals are to be exempt from work on the seventh day (Ex. 20:10). This doesn’t mean that everything is well in this world just because the basic principles of the moral code of Exodus 20 are followed. Most societies are far from offering equal opportunities for all citizens. But how would they look like without standards derived from God’s law? Both as members of communities and as Christians, we need a sense of minimum requirements that prevent the worst injustices.

For All

An Example

In the country in which I live, law is very important. Don’t ever try to bribe an official to circumvent it; you would be in real trouble! The law is valid for everyone. The reason is quite simple: justice is only justice when it’s justice for all. Not everybody likes the many state laws we have to follow, but when serious conflicts arise, it’s good to

The situation we currently experience in Western Europe illustrates this. In my country alone, about 1 million refugees arrived in 2015. Most of these families mourn the death of family members or friends. Many of them face persecution or threats in their home countries just because they belong to the wrong sect, political party, or family.


Adventist World - nad | June 2016

Christ’s logic is the opposite. He translated the prohibitions that are to safeguard society into sacrifice. What is a fair way of receiving these refugees who come to us with the hope of being treated impartially? What is the Christian attitude we should demonstrate? How can the principle of Sabbath justice be applied in this humanitarian catastrophe? It’s good to remember that the Ten Commandments were given to people who migrated from one country to another. What’s more, Jesus Himself was a refugee in Egypt, and in His famous judgment speeches He said, “I was a stranger and you took Me in” (Matt. 25:35). Jesus truly demonstrated that keeping God’s commandments in the right spirit is much more than simply refraining from murder, theft, or adultery. Instead of stealing, Christians rejoice in voluntary simplicity. Instead of coveting, they share, even with those who differ in faith, such as the many Muslim refugees who now arrive in Europe. And rather than killing, Christians give their lives, even for enemies. Loving your neighbor isn’t always easy, and you can’t choose all your neighbors. But a minimum standard is valid always and for everyone. Some here in Germany forget this; they want to return to a time several generations ago when there were no foreigners in the country. They fill


social networks with hate speech and burn asylum centers. They demand that migrants be shot at the border, all in the name of “protecting the Christian Occident.” Christ’s logic is the opposite. He translated the prohibitions that are to safeguard society into sacrifice. Do not misuse God’s name: not even for defending your ideas about what a nation should look like. Prefer to be cursed for following Jesus. Do not work on the Sabbath: give one day of rest to everybody, and work six days a week for the kingdom of God to become visible. Do not bear false testimony: speak blessings and words of hope to all, especially those whose lives are in ruins. Law and love: we need both. One because there is a standard below which no one must fall, the other because Christ showed us the true intention of God’s commandments. n

Stefan Höschele, Ph.D., a former missionary to Algeria and Tanzania, teaches systematic theology and mission studies at Theologische Hochschule Friedensau, Germany.


The great principles of God’s law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ. They express God’s love, will, and purposes concerning human conduct and relationships and are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God’s covenant with His people and the standard in God’s judgment. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit they point out sin and awaken a sense of need for a Savior. Salvation is all of grace and not of works, and its fruit

is obedience to the Commandments. This obedience develops Christian character and results in a sense of well-being. It is evidence of our love for the Lord and our concern for our fellow human beings. The obedience of faith demonstrates the power of Christ to transform lives, and therefore strengthens Christian witness. (Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 28:1-14; Ps. 19:7-14; 40:7, 8; Matt. 5:1720; 22:36-40; John 14:15; 15:7-10; Rom. 8:3, 4; Eph. 2:8-10; Heb. 8:810; 1 John 2:3; 5:3; Rev. 12:17; 14:12.)

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In the



t all started as a normal day of rest. The autumn Sabbath was warm and full of sunshine. We went to church in the morning, and afterward had lunch with friends. Then I received a phone call: “Get prepared,” said the voice on the other end. “What we just assumed yesterday is turning into reality today. Several thousand refugees are approaching the Slovenian border.” There was never a question in my mind or in the minds of my other team members as to whether we would help. The only question was how to serve and to provide humanitarian aid in the best way possible. A few hours later we welcomed the first people into our country. They looked so tired. Many carried small plastic bags containing all their possessions. I tried to talk to some of them, but there was a language barrier. Finally I found a teenager who spoke English. We sat down together, along with some of his friends. I asked why they were here, facing this difficult journey. “I had two options: kill or be killed,” one young man said. “I just want to finish school and live.” I was glad it was dark, because I didn’t want him to see my tears. The tragic situation with refugees had become “real” and personal. This young man was about the same age as my oldest son, but he was fleeing war and simply trying to stay alive. His family had gathered all the possessions they had and sent him away so that at least one person in the family would survive.

Where no human being is illegal


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C E L I N E ,



Can’t Close Our Eyes

It would be so easy to pretend that the refugees are not here, that they are not “worthy” of our help. They are often labeled not only as refugees and migrants but also as terrorists. But to simply believe many of the conspiracy theories and see people as threats is not a solution. During the past six months of working with refugees I have not encountered even one for

By Maja Ahac

M I L A N V I D A K O V I C’ ,



ADRA Slovenia providing water, food, and cold weather essentials to transiting refugees at Dobova train station in Slovenia.

whom Jesus didn’t die, no matter how dirty, scared, cold, hungry, smelly, sick, small, or badly treated they were. These people are just people. Nothing more, nothing less. Every human deserves the opportunity not only to survive but to thrive. I dream of a day when we will welcome every person into God’s family, regardless of the country they are coming from, and without using invalid excuses about why we

shouldn’t accept them. It is not for us to decide who deserves the opportunity to live; we’re only human. It’s our responsibility to provide basic care, to share what we have been given, to raise voices for the voiceless, to empower the powerless, to be a blessing to humanity—just as Jesus was. Not Alone

During the past few months I have met many people and heard their sto-

ries. I’ve experienced sleepless nights, busy days, conflicts, shortages of funds and food, not enough blankets, never enough shoes, and many other challenging situations. What inspired me most throughout this, however, is that I was not alone. Many others—I call them angels—joined us along the way. They came, it seemed, from nowhere. Groups and individuals were willing to give personal time, money, and effort for thousands and thousands of refugees. They provided encouragement. Many shared their memories with me. What was common to all of us was that we felt we had received more than we had given during our volunteer service. Happiness came from little

ˇ ehovin, coordinator for public relations and fund-raising for ADRA Slovenia. Stories compiled by Urška C



Refugees and volunteers tell their stories.

As I met and talked with refugees traveling by train through Slovenia, I learned much about their journeys. Here are a few of their stories.—Urška Cˇehovin.

AAMIR: “I’m from Afghanistan, and I want to go to Germany. I’ve been traveling with my family and a friend for a month now. First we traveled by car, then by bus and boat, and now we’re on the train. “We were lucky to have a real boat. The boat was crowded with 65 people, but the sea was calm, so we arrived safely. On the way we heard rumors that it’s possible we will not be able to stay in Germany and will be forced to go back to Afghanistan. But for a chance of a better life we are prepared to take that risk.” M I L A N V I D A K O V I C’ ,



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ones, mothers, those who were disabled. Pure joy was seeing a child smile, a baby dressed in a warm jacket, a father sharing food with his little ones, a woman being secretly given products for personal hygiene needs. Their gratitude was beyond words.

M I L A N V I D A K O V I C’ ,




During the past six months of working with refugees I have not encountered even one for whom Jesus didn’t die.

Being Misunderstood

The mocking and threats we received were indescribable as well. I have never experienced so much frustration, bitterness, and anger from individuals spreading hatred rather than providing assistance. Some people did not approve of ADRA’s or my own personal efforts. I was called many names, ugly names. I received threats as well. Out of the hurt and sadness, however, was born a determi-


nation to help even more. I also experienced loss. I lost some friends who didn’t understand our motives. But I became friends with so many more, people I never thought I would have the privilege to meet.


A Life-changing Experience

The refugee crisis has shaken me and the society in which I live. We will never be the same again. I have traveled to many places and witnessed extreme poverty before, but the


DUŠAN ERHOVNIC (left): “I’ve been volunteering since the beginning of the refugee crisis. I’m retired, so I have time. Besides that, I love working with people, and the other volunteers here are great. “I work 12-hour shifts three times per week. One week we work during the day, and the next week we work during the night. Every day is different. We experience a lot of beautiful things, but some days are just shocking. And those shocks stay with you for a while.”

U R Š K A Cˇ E H O V I N , A D R A S L O V E N I A


JORAM: “I’m 28 years old, and I’m studying English. Because of the dire situation in Syria, I temporarily left my studies to travel with my family to a more friendly country. We are 13 in number. “We had great difficulty in Syria because we are Kurds. Seven members of our family were beheaded. One of my relatives had to witness her daughters being killed before her eyes. That’s why we fled. All we want is a normal life.”

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Cˇ E H O V I N ,



nerable, or were unwilling to help, was painful, but meeting so many inspired individuals made me feel rich and special. I have witnessed historical moments, and have heard personal stories of amazingly strong people who were able to face extreme difficulties along their journey to a better life. I’ve also witnessed much gratitude. Refugees are not so very different

Maja Ahac is country director for ADRA Slovenia.

To donate, go to



Simona Potocˇar, ADRA Slovenia field coordinator: “To help—it’s not really a decision; it’s something within you. In mid-August we decided to gather a group of people who share this feeling and would be willing to help in the upcoming refugee situation. The response was great, and now we are a group of 60. “I have been a volunteer for many years now. For the past nine years I have been a rescue dog handler and the head of the intervention team for missing persons for Posavje, Dolenjska, and Bela Krajina. I have worked in a lot of difficult situations, but this one is the biggest and toughest so far. My body is tired, but my soul sings.”

M I L A N V I D A K O V I C’ ,


SAMI (left): “My family left Syria two years ago because of the war conditions there. Those two years have not been easy for us. My father is a good civil engineer, yet he couldn’t find a job in Egypt. So we decided to try our luck in Europe. “We are hoping to build a new life in Germany. We want to learn German so we’ll be able to study and work and become a part of the community.” Sami then introduced the young woman standing next to him: “This is my love. We have been happy together for the past two years. We’re waiting for our whole family to be safe in one place; then we will get married.”

from us. We all want the same things: to survive, to live in peace, to simply be accepted—as humans. Nothing more, nothing less. n

Your support for refugees is urgently needed. Monetary donations are the best way to help, because they empower emergency teams to respond quickly in changing conditions.


inequality and obvious social injustice were never so intense. During the day I worked in the office, in the afternoons and evenings I helped refugees, and in the mornings I spent time with my own children. Seeing my children reminded me that while they had unlimited possibilities and opportunities for their future, refugee children were not even allowed to move about freely. Even little children are considered dangerous by some. This experience changed me. Was I traumatized? I hope not. Blessed? Definitely. I consider myself privileged to be thought worthy of serving humanity, not to mention being a voice for the voiceless. Seeing those who would not speak up for the vul-


By Blia Xiong as told to Terri Saelee

I Was a


A woman’s journey to freedom


ky, help me!” I cried desperately from the middle of the Mekong River between the shores of Laos and Thailand as the wild current dragged me downstream to what I believed would be certain death. I was used to fleeing; I had known nothing else. Troops had been in our jungles since before I was born, and when I was just 7 months old my father and “younger mother” (my father’s second wife) took our family and fled the gunfire. So I was used to living in the jungle, foraging for food and cooking only at night to avoid becoming targets. But battling the current of the Mekong at flood stage during monsoon season was beyond my skill level, and I knew it. So did the family I was with, who were helping me because my parents had died. They had tied me and three other children (one of them a 4-year-old) with a rope to a cousin of mine who was a strong swimmer. When the moon came out, we started across. Using bamboo as life jackets, we had been swimming most of the night. Then we heard a rooster crow. It would be light soon. “I’m going to cut the rope,” my cousin told me, fearing a beating if seen helping us flee. But how would I get the children across the river to Thailand on my own? As he cut the rope the current suddenly spun us around and pulled us back toward Laos. That’s when I cried out for help to the highest power I knew. The elders called him the “Owner of the Sky,” or “Sky” for short. They said He was the one who had created everything and given us life. My people, Hmong, were animists and worshipped the spirits. Yet sometimes they cried out to Sky for help. I had experienced His power myself. He had saved me as a child from drowning and later from being killed by a cobra. Now as I fought the raging current to reach Thailand and safety, my heart clung to the desperate hope that this “Owner of the Sky” might possibly save my life again. “Sky, please help us! After that, we were somehow able to turn back toward


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HAPPY DAY!: Blia Xiong (second from left) stands with her daughter Panyia and son, Shoua (next to Panyia), on the day of their baptism.

Thailand. Struggling together, we made it to the riverbank and were able to grasp some vines and pull ourselves up onto the shore. Sky had saved my life again! Living as Refugees

With help from others we eventually made it to the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp with some 50,000 other Hmong refugees. A family there let me stay with them, but they did not treat me well and eventually forced me to marry. My husband and I had three children, but I became very sick and weak and my husband eventually divorced me. I cried to Sky for help. Again He heard me. Gradually I gained strength and was able to care for my children again. A New Beginning

The United States conducted interviews for resettlement, and my children and I were accepted. We ended up in Madison, Wisconsin. I continued to have severe health problems, but people from the local Seventh-day Adventist church helped me and prayed for me. In time God restored me to health, and I began to study the Bible. I discovered that the Owner of the Sky, who saved my life before I even knew His name, is actually the God of the Bible and my heavenly Father. In 2006 my two older children and I were baptized. Since then I have not been able to keep silent about the love and healing power of God. I may be a refugee, but I am no longer an orphan. I am filled with gratitude for God’s unchanging love. n

Blia Xiong and her children continue to live in Madison, Wisconsin. Terri Saelee is coordinator of Adventist Refugee and Immigrant Ministries for the North American Division. P H O T O







By Ellen G. White



Faultfinding and discouragement are not spiritual gifts.


he mind should be elevated to dwell upon eternal scenes, heaven, its treasures, its glories, and should take sweet and holy satisfaction in the truths of the Bible. It should love to feed upon the precious promises that God’s Word affords, draw comfort from them. . . . But, oh, how differently has the mind been employed! Picking at straws! Church meetings, as they have been held, have been a living curse to many. . . . These manufactured trials have given full liberty to evil surmising. Jealousy has been fed. Hatred has existed, but they knew it not. A wrong idea has been in the minds of some, to reprove without love, hold others to their idea of what is right, and spare not, but bear down with crushing weight. . . . It has been made too light an affair to rein up a brother, to condemn him, and hold him under condemnation. There has been a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. If each would set his own heart in order, when the brethren meet together their testimony would be ready and come from a full soul, and the people around that believe not the truth would be moved. The manifestation of the Spirit of God would tell to their hearts that you are the children of God. Our love for one another should be visible to all. Then it will tell. It will have an influence. . . .

Love, Not Selfishness

Take hold of the work individually, be zealous and repent; and after all known wrongs are righted, then believe that God accepts you. Go not mourning, but take God at His word. Seek Him diligently, and believe that He receives you. A part of the work is to believe. He is faithful who has promised. Climb up by faith. The brethren . . . can drink of the salvation of God. They can move understandingly, and each have an experience for himself in this message of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. The church feel that they are down, but know not how to rise. The intentions of some may be very good; they may confess; yet I saw that they are watched with suspicion, and are made offenders for a word, until they have no liberty, no salvation. They dare not act out the simple feelings of the heart, because they are watched. It is God’s pleasure that His people should fear Him, and have confidence before one another. With tender compassion should brother deal with brother. Delicately should he deal with feelings. It is the nicest and most important work that ever yet was done to touch the wrongs of another. With the deepest humility should a brother do this, considering his own weakness, lest he also should be tempted.

I have seen the great sacrifice which Jesus made to redeem man. He did not consider His own life too dear to sacrifice. Said Jesus: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” Do you feel, when a brother errs, that you could give your life to save him? If you feel thus, you can approach him and affect his heart; you are just the one to visit that brother. But it is a lamentable fact that many who profess to be brethren, are not willing to sacrifice any of their opinions or their judgment to save a brother. There is but little love for one another. A selfish spirit is manifested. Discouragement has come upon the church. They have been loving the world, loving their farms, their cattle, etc. Now Jesus calls them to cut loose, to lay up treasure in heaven, to buy gold, white raiment, and eyesalve. Precious treasures are these. They will obtain for the possessor an entrance into the kingdom of God. n

Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry. This counsel was given at Ulysses, Pennsylvania, on July 6, 1857, and is recorded in Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 1, pp. 164-166).

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he number of refugees worldwide today represents an unprecedented trend not known since World War II. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency,1 in 2011 there were 10.4 million refugees in the world. The figure for 2015 was 15.1 million. These numbers do not include asylum-seekers or internally displaced, stateless, resettled, or returned persons. When all these are included, the figure approximates 60 million globally. Much of the recent growth is associated with the conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, and South Sudan. Most refugees end up in neighboring countries, but many others make it to more distant destinations, thus creating a worldwide issue. Many of our readers may have observed individuals touched by this tragedy, and some will have the opportunity to befriend them and provide them with the human warmth they lack. The challenges of these victims are colossal. Children, adolescents, adults, and seniors are forcibly displaced from their local villages, towns, and cities because of persecution, conflict, violence, or human-rights violations. As they flee, many are targeted by predators who continue to exert violence, extortion, robbery, and other forms of aggression. Even at their destinations and under legal protection, refugees might continue to be harassed and discriminated. Children are most vulnerable. Many witness horror or lose their own parents, siblings, and friends. As a result, they end up in the hands of some distant relative, or they simply attempt to survive on their own. Many remain at risk of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; exploitation; or being forced into acts of violence (for example, as child soldiers). The Consequences of Trauma

The effects of trauma can be experienced over many years, even after the threat is long gone. Depending on the person and circumstances, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious psychiatric condition, may develop. According to the DSM-5,2 individuals with PTSD have received the impact of a traumatic event in at least one of the following ways: They were recipients of the attack or aggression. They were direct witnesses of action against someone else. They were told that a family member or close friend was a victim of trauma or violent death. They were exposed to repeated traumatic experiences of others (this applies to first responders, such as police, firefighters, etc., who encounter the aftermath of trauma very often and can also develop PTSD). Once individuals have been “traumatized” by an event or events, they experience “intrusion symptoms,” such as recurring, distressing memories; terrific dreams; flashbacks; prolonged psychological distress; and physiological reactions.


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Trauma Everyday realities for refugees

oss L By Julian Melgosa

In addition, they persistently avoid thoughts, memories, objects, people, and circumstances related to the event. Victims also experience alteration in cognition (for example, not remembering important parts of the event, believing that everybody is against them, or being unable to concentrate). Their mood may also be affected (feeling tired, useless, or very sad), and they may display angry outbursts or violence against themselves and others. How to Provide Support

When the previous symptoms are continually present for more than one month, PTSD may be diagnosed, and affected people are in need of professional care. Even those not reaching clinical proportions, however, suffer seriously and need the support of their caring and loving fellow human beings. Here are some ways to help refugees or displaced individuals: ■■ Inform them of the signs and symptoms of trauma and offer a hopeful vision. This assures them that their problem is known, that others also experience it, and that there is a way out. P H O T O :



Bible Texts

Work with small groups, especially children. Gathering five or six youngsters to share their experience and to teach them healthy thoughts and behaviors has worked many times in school and community settings. ■■ Help them develop basic trust. After their terrible experiences most won’t trust anyone. A caring Christian can, little by little, show compassion and offer practical assistance, thus helping Fervent prayer, as well as repetition of Bible verses them develop trust. of reassurance, are great tools to ease the pain of ■■ Provide as many of the following as possible: educational those suffering from the loss of their roots. Here are opportunities; presence of family members; a job; cultural some examples:1 identity and traditions from their regions; sports and other physical activities; and access to medical and mental health care. Data show that all these contribute to healing. “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and ■■ Facilitate religious experiences. Mollica’s study3 he saved them from their distress. He brought them with refugees showed that those involved in religious out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away activities were one-third less likely to meet PTSD criteria their chains.” than their nonreligious counterparts. This opens an Psalm 107:13, 14 opportunity for active church members to befriend, pray for, and share God’s promises (see box). “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will ■■ Provide opportunities for creative arts as a form rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the of therapy. Talking (a primary avenue for emotional Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in healing) is not always possible because of inhibition whom I trust.” and language and cultural barriers. Music, painting, Psalm 91:1, 2 or clay shaping can facilitate the avenue for victims to disclose and process their traumatic experiences. ■■ Equip them with self-help strategies. This can “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings be ably achieved by mental health professionals you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and (psychologists, counselors, social workers). But when rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the such professionals are not available, there may be astute arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the and good-hearted persons who can share practical darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.” skills and even adaptive behavioral and mental Psalm 91:4-6 styles that will help refugees face their challenges. The simple act of loving an individual in these “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I circumstances may become the most efficient therapy. am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will God expects us to care for refugees, and give of uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10). our resources to help them (Lev. 19:34; Isa. 58:6-11). “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivLet’s be as compassionate toward refugees as we long ered me from all my fears.” for the Lord to be compassionate toward us. n Psalm 34:4 1 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mid-Year Trends 2015 (Geneva, ■■

to Share

Switz.). American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) (Washington, D.C., 2013). 3 R. F. Mollica, X. Cui, K. McInnes, and M. P. Massagli, “Science-based Policy for Psychosocial Interventions in Refugee Camps: A Cambodian Example,” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 190, no. 3 (2002): 158-166. 2

Julian Melgosa, Ph.D., originally from

Spain, is an associate director of the General Conference Department of Education and associate editor of The Journal of Adventist Education (international editions).

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion.” Isaiah 61:1-3 1

All texts are take from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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recently spent three weeks in the Middle East. On my last evening in Istanbul I was walking back to my hotel when I spotted a small figure in the darkness. He was sitting on the sidewalk with his legs pulled up to his chest as he leaned against a wall. Although he was in the shadows, the two small packages of tissues that he was selling


The most vulnerable victims of viol

were placed so that they were visible in the light of the street lamps. Refugee children in Istanbul often sell small packages of tissues to passersby. But this little boy caught my eye, and I stopped. As I knelt down beside him I saw tears in his eyes. He was perhaps 7 or 8 years old, and it was obvious that he was very sad. As I looked into his tear-stained and innocent little face I longed to comfort him. I don’t speak Arabic, and I knew he didn’t speak English, but my desire was to communicate caring. I hoped he could understand that, even if he didn’t understand my words. I got out 20 lira, gave it to him, and took one of his packages of tissues. Since the going price is typically 1 lira, I hoped this would bring a smile to his face. It didn’t. His hurt was much deeper than a few liras could impact. With his little hand he beat just over his heart several times. A friend who was with me told me this meant “Thank you, thank you very much.” But there was still no smile, and I had no way of comforting this little boy. I put my hand on his knee and prayed for him. I asked God to heal his heart and to provide for his needs and for those of his family. I hoped that he had family. Immense Needs

The needs of refugee children are huge. Not only have they been forced to flee their homes; most have witnessed a great deal of trauma and violence. In psychological literature trauma is defined as “a stressful occurrence outside the range of usual human experience.” Yet trauma is common among refugees. According to Judith Herman,


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By L. Ann Hamel

trauma expert from Harvard Medical School, an event is seen as traumatic, not because it occurs rarely, but because it overwhelms our normal capacity to cope. A traumatic event can be anything that represents a threat to our survival. Dave Ziegler, a licensed psychologist who treats damaged children and families, says that anything that interferes with the optimal development of a child can be defined as a type of trauma. According to Ziegler, neglect is considered the most pervasive and persistent form of trauma and has the longest-term impact on the development of a child. Refugee children typically lack the emotional and physical resources necessary for healthy development, and the effects often last well into their adult lives. Donald Meichenbaum, one of the founders of cognitive behavioral therapy and author of A Practitioner’s Guidebook: Treating Adults With Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, points out that 50 percent of the overall psychiatric population has a history of victimization, with up to 85 percent of those with severe diagnoses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder reporting a history of abuse or trauma. Recent research has found that severe and chronic stress leads to bodily systems producing an inflammatory response that leads to disease. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study), which is the largest public health study P H O T O :


ever done on the impact of childhood trauma on the development of chronic diseases, found that the experience of childhood trauma significantly raises the risk of developing emotional and physical health problems in adulthood. Research on the impact of trauma has found that toxic stress can physically damage a child’s developing brain. When children’s brains are overloaded with stress hormones, it


lence and dislocation

impairs their ability to learn in school, as well as their ability to develop trusting relationships with adults and peers. Children Are Vulnerable

The vulnerability of refugee children caught media attention last September when a 3-year-old toddler drowned as his family tried crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey on their way to the West via Greece. We were all touched by the image of this little boy lying facedown in the sand wearing a red T-shirt, blue shorts, and Velcro tennis shoes. Just weeks after his body washed up on the shore, I was in Bodrum, Turkey, where other families vacationed and their children played in the sand. I saw the shops selling life vests to refugees who wanted to take extra precautions as they attempted to make the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean in search of a safer and more secure life. Is it possible for us to forget the image of this little 3-year-old lying facedown in the sand? Or his 5-yearold brother, who also drowned that same fateful night?

boat too small to provide the safety they needed. Safety is the first and foremost consideration in meeting the needs of refugee children and their families. In addition, refugees struggle to meet their basic needs for food and shelter. Without the help of others, the vast majority of these families would not be able to provide the most basic necessities of life for themselves or their children. Traumatologists recognize that children who lack the physical and emotional resources necessary for healthy development are at risk of developing long-term physical and emotional health problems. Refugee children need to be connected with people who love and care for them and who understand their experiences. Just as traumatologists have discovered that trauma actually changes the brain, they have also learned that a secure attachment has an impact on the physical structure of the brain, the brain circuits that lay the foundation for later development and emotional resilience. Attachment to a caregiver protects one from the impact of trauma and ameliorates its impact. A focus should therefore be placed on supporting refugee families and communities. They need a sense that they are part of a wider community. Social support is the factor most predictive of post-traumatic and disaster resiliency. Refugee children also require a sense of stability in their lives. As much as possible they need to be able to return to a predictable routine. School provides a sense of security for refugee children fortunate enough to be able to attend. Most of us don’t have an opportunity to work with refugees, but we can all help to provide for their basic needs through gifts and donations. Through our attitudes and our prayers we also can provide an environment of safety and acceptance in the cultures in which we live. Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40). n

Meeting the Needs

The first and most important thing refugee children need is a sense of safety. The family whose children died off the coast of Bodrum were fleeing a country where they were not wanted and where their lives were in danger. Because their options were so limited, they chose to try to enter another country that didn’t want them, a country that would provide only temporary asylum. The hope of temporary asylum was enough to lead them to take the enormous risk of crossing the sea in the cover of night in a

L. Ann Hamel, Ph.D., D.Min., a licensed psy-

chologist who lives in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States, is a board-certified expert in traumatic stress and a fellow with the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. She works with the General Conference doing crisis intervention and providing care and support for missionaries.

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Dan Jackson, president of the North American Division, challenges youth and young adults at JCI5 to allow the Holy Spirit to use them in building up Christ’s kingdom.


Just Claim It! conference teaches youth how to bring the gospel to the world.

Changers By Amy D. Prindle



ids these days. Always wanting to make a difference. And they don’t want to wait; they want to make things happen now! The fifth North American Division (NAD) Just Claim It! (JCI5) Youth Conference provided a way to harness this vigor for making an impact by designating Adventist youth as world changers (#WorldChangers), teaching them how to pray with power, purpose, and perseverance, and sending them back to their own churches charged up and changed. The three-day event was hosted by the Pacific Union Conference and the Southeastern California Conference on February 18-20, 2016, at the Ontario Convention Center in California. More than 800 teens attended. One-hour general sessions on prayer and faith were presented twice a day with speakers such as General Conference Youth director Gilbert Cangy, Pacific Union College assistant chaplain Shantel Smith, Resurrection church pastor Manny Ortega, youth motivational speaker Garret Speyer, Oakridge, Washington, church lead pastor Kumar Dixit, and appearances (in person and via video) from NAD president Dan Jackson and NAD youth director James Black.

quietly listening youth. Teens engaged in effective prayer techniques as leaders taught them how to make conversations with God a part of their daily lives. Chanda Nunez, associate pastor at Capitol City church in Sacramento, California, and coordinator of the prayer activities at the conference, created several different “prayer stations” for the event that demonstrated different facets of a healthy prayer life. “We’re helping them to be world changers by allowing teens to create their own prayer movement and see what God can do through them,” said Nunez. Teens were encouraged to visit

these stations throughout the event area while striving to “shine in (church), out (community), and up (Christ)” as they grow in their relationships with God through prayer. The Gratitude Graffiti Wall offered teens the occasion to write prayers of thanksgiving. Other stations included a world map with information on current mission projects that needed prayer, a place to exchange notes for intercessory prayer, a multisensory prayer room for profound, one-onone time with God, and a place dedicated to the victims of the December 2015 San Bernardino shooting, which happened a few miles from

More than 800 teens and young adults from throughout North America attended his year’s Just Claim It 5 prayer conference. The next one will be held in Toronto, Canada, in 2018.

Prayer as a Priority

This event was about more than giving inspirational presentations to



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Chantel Smith, an assistant chaplain from Pacific Union College, presents one of the keynote sermons at JCI5.

the convention center. Teens wrote notes of prayer and encouragement to send to the families of the victims. “I’ve learned a lot about prayer,” said Miles, a high school homeschooler from the Phoenix, Arizona, area. “I used to think of just going to God with my problems, but it’s so much more than that. It’s recognizing that you don’t deserve anything He’s given you, and that Jesus is the only reason we can do anything; and He allows us to talk to Him as to a friend.” “I’ve learned that there’s no reason not to pray,” said Fermin, a senior at Calexico Mission School. “There is no wrong prayer; any prayer is perfect to God. Anyone can pray anywhere; God is already listening.” Empowering Young Leaders

In order to be #WorldChangers, the teen attendees also needed, in

addition to prayer sessions, leadership development and support. JCI5 provided them an opportunity for prayerful leadership growth. According to Eddie Heinrich, youth director for the Northern California Conference and chair of JCI5’s planning committee, summing up what he and all the youth directors of the Pacific Union Conference planned for the 2016 event, there were three specific goals: “Make sure the youth are heard, get involved, and grow strong, godly relationships” with their peers, all under the umbrella of prayer. “We wanted [attendees] to connect with those other than whom they came with,” explained Hawaii Conference youth ministries director Erik VanDenburgh. “We made sure to offer several opportunities to participate. Other than the session speakers, the rest of the program is all youth:

JCI5 by the

Numbers 800 attendees 80 small group leaders 20 presenters 12 keynote sessions 5 community projects

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G E O R G E / N A D



Brandi Carter, an attendee of the Just Claim it Prayer Conference, holds one of the 1,000 toiletry kits prepared by conference attendees for distribution to homeless shelters in the greater Los Angeles area.

reading Scripture, giving prayer, playing music, sharing testimonies, and leading out in our small groups.” To make this happen, interested youth were given the opportunity to sign up in advance to become small group leaders. They arrived at JCI5 a day early for targeted leadership training, learning how to lead the breakout sessions that would follow each general session and foster further discussion about key messages. Each assigned small group would stay together for the entire event, creating a chance to make new friends and share faith with a new social circle. More than 80 teens served as group leaders.

“I’m glad I decided to be a leader, because I got the opportunity to meet other new leaders just like me, and we were learning together the fundamentals of group conversation,” said Brylin, a student at San Antonio Christian School in Ontario, California. “Everyone is different and worships in different ways, so we have to be patient and understanding.” Miles agreed. “I’ve learned that leadership is not as hard as some make it out to be. You get the feeling that you have to be perfect to be a good leader, but then people can’t relate to you. It’s good to be right there in the same place with them.” “I’ve held leadership positions

Created Community,

Powerful Moments

“Powerful moments . . . that’s what I can say about Just Claim It 5 (JCI5) World Changers. For months the leadership team from the Pacific Union Conference, led by Eddie Heinrich, had been planning, praying that whatever happened at JCI5 would be an awesome experience connecting teens to God and to each other. Each planning meeting was bathed in prayer, in discussion, and in an earnest desire to make JCI5 an experience of community. The planning came to fruition on February 16, 2016, as 70 or 80 teens eagerly gathered for training about how to lead small groups. Young people ranging from ages 14 to 18 were led by pastors Steve Case and Scott Ward. The next day a team from Texas, comprised of young people, led out in worship. It was evident that with each song, each speaker, each prayer, the stage was set for the Spirit’s anointing. The most powerful moments of the week may have come from the sense of community created in each small group. Teens were divided into different groups to create an atmosphere that would dissipate cliques and create an atmosphere of uncertainty with purpose. Uncertainty, because everyone started on the same level of not knowing many in their groups, which encouraged them to get to know each other. As the days passed, those teens went from being strangers to becoming family!

In the midst of all the plans and programs, one powerful moment will remain in many of our minds and hearts. As the Friday night program ended, the plan called for prayer and anointing led by leaders and pastors in attendance. After an altar call to renew our commitment to God, to ask for deliverance, and to connect with God in a way that they had not connected before, more than 200 teens made their way to the “Garden of Gethsemane” (a room designated for prayer), where more than 30 pastors and youth leaders prayed for and anointed the young people. Gilbert Cangy, General Conference world Youth Ministries director, said that after the anointing experience he was in awe at the powerful moment he had just experienced. Powerful moments . . . foreseen by God, but experienced in a manner that we could not have imagined. Those powerful moments serve as reminders that God is still at work and that He wants not only to impact young people, but to use them for His glory!

Armando Miranda, Jr., associate youth director, North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. For updates and additional information, check and

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She just told us what she’s thinking. Will you?






Manny Arteaga, pastor of the Resurrection Seventhday Adventist Church in West Covina, California, presents the joys and challenges of serving Christ at the JCI5 prayer conference.

before, but here I’ve seen that the point of a good leader is to help other people talk,” said Sharon, a student at Calexico Mission School. In his leadership role Lorenzo, a student at Sacramento Adventist Academy, was thankful that he could witness the spiritual and relational growth of the small group in his charge. “My group was hesitant to talk at first, but I could tell they wanted discussion to happen. During the third session, as our icebreaker activity we each told our life story in 60 seconds. It was amazing just to experience the hush while each person was talking, since everyone was expressing everything they’d been through. We’ve all been through tough times, and that helped us grow closer.” For attendees who came as participants rather than designated leaders, there were plenty of opportunities to step forward and share. Both Thursday and Friday evenings featured an open mike night; Thursday was a time for sharing talent, and Friday was for testimonies.

According to Annalise, a sophomore from Sacramento Adventist Academy, there was a level of depth and courage in the faith that her peers exhibited during the sharing time. “Afterward there wasn’t a dry eye in the room! It’s easy to think that we’re not old enough to know certain things about life, but after hearing the testimonies at open mike night, so many of us have already been through a lot! We just need opportunities to share.” Going Home Changed

If the level of involvement from the youth at JCI5 is any indication, these #WorldChangers would clearly return home equipped with a stronger foundation in their faith and their witness. Teresa Alvarez-Diaz, English as a second language teacher at Calexico Mission School and a frequent chaperone for youth events, has observed that “special events like this give an opportunity to go deeper than you can in a Bible class at school, or even each week at church. This kind of depth requires a break from the rou-

tine, and [the youth] need this every so often.” “For me, JCI5 has been about meeting new people, learning how Jesus works, that prayer changes the world, and that Jesus is coming soon. We need to be prepared. Our generation is on the front lines of it all,” said Josh, a high school senior from Washington. “When you walk with Jesus and bring others along, it’s amazing what events like this can do.” n JCI5 is the fifth sponsored conference by the North American Division. Held every other year, the 2016 event was coordinated by the youth directors of the Pacific Union Conference, which includes Arizona, Nevada, California, and Hawaii. The next Just Claim It! prayer conference will be in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in early 2018.

Amy D. Prindle writes from Grand Terrace, California.

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What was the purpose of the cities of refuge in the Old Testament?

Safe Place

Cities of refuge were selected from among the Levitical cities as places of asylum for people who accidentally or involuntarily killed someone. They were under the protection of the Lord through the priestly system. There were six of them, located at central places throughout the land of Israel, thus allowing suspected murderers to find refuge in them until their cases were investigated and verdicts handed down (Deut. 19:2-4; Num. 35:23, 24). I will examine the legislation in order to comment on its fundamental principles and values. 1. Restrict the Role of the Blood Avenger (Go‘el): One of the functions of a close relative of a person who was killed (Heb. go‘el, “redeemer”) was to restore order within society. This was to be done by executing the murderer. The practice was common throughout the ancient Near East, and often the avenger indiscriminately killed several members of the other tribe in an act of revenge. Cities of refuge served to control this thirst for vengeance by requiring that the charge of murder be demonstrated in a court of law, where the evidence could be evaluated and a final decision made. If the person was guilty as charged, the blood redeemer/avenger was to function as the executor of the sentence by killing the murderer. In other words, the role of the blood redeemer was brought under the jurisdiction of civil law (Num. 35:12). 2. Established an Important Legal Distinction: Through the institution of cities of refuge an important legal distinction was established between premeditated and accidental murder. The court was obliged to examine the evidence, the instrument used in the murder, the mental state during the alleged homicide, the prior relationship between victim and murderer, and the circumstances that resulted in the murder (e.g., was the person pushed from a high place; was the person hit by the head of an ax that flew off; see Num. 35:16-23; Deut. 19:4, 5). The “assembly’s” responsibility was to judge “between the accused [the alleged murderer] and the avenger of blood according to


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these regulations” (Num. 35:24, NIV). If the assembly determined that the killing was unintentional, it was its responsibility to “protect the one accused of murder from the avenger of blood and send the accused back to the city of refuge to which they fled” (verse 25, NIV). This implies that an escort was provided for such persons to protect them in their travel to a city of refuge. 3. Address the Shedding of Innocent Blood: The shedding of innocent blood not only damaged the social and spiritual life of the people—it also polluted the land on which the blood fell. If the situation was not addressed, God, the owner of the land, would abandon it. Life was too precious; and the only way to cleanse the land was through the execution of the murderer (Num. 35:33, 34). Capital punishment affirms the value of life by requiring the life of the murderer. Therefore, there was a place for the role of the blood redeemer. But cities of refuge limited that role by preventing the killing of an accidental murderer and the shedding of innocent blood (Deut. 19:10). Such persons found refuge in the Lord and were untouchable unless they abandoned the place of refuge, in which case the blood avenger could kill them (Num. 35:26, 27). 4. Significance of the Law: Perhaps the most important detail in the legislation is that the person had to remain in the city until the death of the high priest (verses 25, 28). The implication is that taking a life is always a serious matter; and although in cases of involuntary murder capital punishment is not required, the crime has to be redressed. The death of the high priest is counted as the death of accidental murderers, making it possible for them to return home. The Christian significance is quite clear: Although we are guilty as charged, we find in the Lord our “city of refuge”; the blood Redeemer has become our Redeemer, and instead of His punishing us, His death is our death. His death makes it possible for us to go home. n

Angel Manuel Rodríguez is retired after a career spent serving as a pastor, professor, and theologian.




By Mark A. Finley

Give Up


ave you ever felt like giving up? Have life’s challenges ever seemed overwhelming? Have you ever felt that the problems of life were just too great to handle? If you’ve ever had any of these feelings, you will be able to identify with the poor, penniless widow in this month’s Bible study. In the midst of her anguish, this anonymous woman grasped a ray of hope, and God worked an incredible miracle in her life. The challenge she faced became an opportunity for God to work powerfully on her behalf. Her mountain of difficulty was not too difficult for God to handle, for with God “all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).


What three challenges did this poor widow face? Read 2 Kings 4:1. Talk about challenges—this woman had them! Her husband had died, her debts were overwhelming, and creditors were on their way to seize her children and sell them as slaves to pay off her debts. Her anguish must have been nearly unbearable. But here’s the good news: God sees our anguish. He has not left us alone in our difficulties (see Isa. 63:9; Matt. 11:28-30; Heb. 7:25).

2 How would you feel if you were in this woman’s place? Try to imagine it. List some of the emotions she might have felt. 3 What question did the prophet Elisha ask her, and why is it significant? Read 2 Kings 4:2. Here is an eternal principle: God always begins with what we have, not with what we don’t have. Elisha’s question was designed to help this woman see that the little she had, combined with faith, were the ingredients for God’s power to be manifest miraculously. When Moses felt inadequate in delivering Israel from Egyptian bondage, God asked, “What is that in your hand?” (Ex. 4:2). In other words, what do you have? In Moses’ case it was a simple rod. When Jesus fed 5,000 on a hillside in Galilee, He began with a little boy’s lunch. A little with Jesus is much. Begin with what you have. Trust God and watch Him work miracles in your life. P H O T O :





Read 2 Kings 4:3. Why do you think Elisha told the woman, “Go, borrow vessels [containers] from everywhere”? God often invites us to take some action as an expression of our faith. When we act on our faith, the door is open for Him to work powerfully in our lives.

5 Read 2 Kings 4:4. Why do you think the prophet told the widow and her sons to shut the door of their home when they were pouring oil from one vessel to another? Perhaps this indicates God’s care for details. He may have wanted to protect them from thieves. He may have wanted them to be able to rejoice in God’s blessings and praise Him without being interrupted by neighbors.


How does this story tell of God’s goodness and greatness? What does it say about God’s care for those facing life’s greatest challenges? Compare 2 Kings 4:6, 7 with Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:2830 and Hebrews 4:14-16.

7 What significance does this story, and others like it, have for end-time people waiting for the return of Jesus? Read Matthew 25:31-40; Micah 7:8; and James 1:7. Our lesson reveals three eternal, life-changing truths. First, life’s greatest challenges are opportunities for God to work unusual miracles. Second, God does not forget us in our times of greatest need. He is there in the midst of our trials to encourage, support, and strengthen us. Third, end-time people, such as Elisha, are called to minister to those who are poor, the outcast and marginalized of society. Our religion has little value if it does not transform us and make us more compassionate, understanding, kind, and willing to help those in need. May it do so for each of us. n

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Fleeing Danger,


The current refugee crisis is the worst since the Rwandan genocide more than 20 years ago. Millions of people are affected in dozens of countries across the Middle East and Europe. Crime and violence are major problems in Latin America, as well as in the Middle East. Organized crime, illegal drugs, and corrupt law enforcement affect the lives of millions of people. Activities as simple as going to school, going shopping, or going to work put people at risk of being kidnapped, trafficked, or murdered. No wonder people try desperately to immigrate to places such as Canada and the United States, where the threat of violence is much less, and they can raise their families in safety.

Countries where asylum seekers hope to find a home: Countries with the greatest number of refugees fleeing to North America:

Source: CNN



















DEFINITIONS Different terms mean different things. With something as complicated as immigration, especially in today’s highly politicized culture, it’s important to use the correct terms when describing people and their status.


Countries currently with the largest number of asylum seekers:

Asylum seekers are those who say they are refugees but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated. On average, about 1 million people seek asylum as individuals every year. In mid2014, there were more than 1.2 million asylum seekers. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are among the world’s most vulnerable people. Unlike refugees, IDPs have not crossed an international border to find sanctuary, but have remained inside their home countries. Even if they

Adventist World - nad | June 2016

fled for similar reasons as refugees (armed conflict, generalized violence, human rights violations), IDPs legally remain under the protection of their own government, even though that government might be the cause of their flight. Refugees have to move if they are to save their lives or preserve their freedom. They have no protection from their own state; indeed, often their own government threatens to persecute them. If other countries do not let them in, and do not help them once they are in, they


Make a DIFFERENCE IN YOUR COMMUNITY In a global village such as ours, we don’t have to go far to meet people who are trying to settle in communities where they may not know the language, culture, and opportunities available to them. Here are some suggestions for ways to connect and provide solutions: Get involved in a language school. If there’s not already one in your community, you can start one. If another organization is already

operating one, you can volunteer. Remember, it’s not just for kids; adults often need help learning the language. O  perate a food pantry. Distribute brochures in the language of the populations you hope to reach. Provide foods with which they are familiar. Again, if a pantry is already in operation, volunteer or support it with your contributions. 

Provide quality used furniture. People often arrive in new communities with little more than the clothes on their backs. They don’t have a lot of

money to furnish a home or apartment. Tables, chairs, mattresses, and box springs in good condition are essential for new residents. Make sure your local Adventist Community Services has plenty of resources on hand, or that it has community networks where good used furniture is available. 

Have a supply of religious materials. People who have been uprooted are often open to spiritual nurture and support. Attractive brochures in

Countries with the largest number of people fleeing violence and oppression: AFGHANISTAN ERITREA IRAQ SYRIA

may be condemning them to death or to an intolerable life in the shadows, without sustenance and without rights. Statelessness refers to the condition of someone who is not considered a national by any country. At least 10 million stateless people live in dozens of countries around the world. Statelessness—not having a nationality— occurs because of discrimination against certain groups; redrawing of borders; and gaps in nationality laws. Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

their native language, describing your church and its services, along with schedules and contact information, may come in handy.

IN YOUR SCHOOL If you have a school (elementary, academy, college), you have opportunities to reach out to immigrants and make them feel at home. Choose an activity that’s age-appropriate and try one of the following activities: H  ost a fitness day. Have booths that measure weight, blood pressure, flexibility, etc. Have fun races and relays. Serve healthy snacks. If you have access to a gym, have volleyball, basketball, or badminton nights. Remember to mix things up, so that not all the Adventists are on the same team, etc. H  ave an arts and crafts festival. Distribute multilanguage brochures throughout the neighborhood, and offer prizes in different categories: pottery, watercolors, paintings, fabrics, etc. 

Sponsor a neighborhood talent night. Have local merchants offer prizes in

exchange for advertising at the event. Make sure the program is well organized and multiethnic. 

Host a one-day soccer tournament. Serve refreshments.

All these ideas, and others, are based on the concept of community action. Build a database of those who participate, so you can contact them about future events. Once your school becomes known as a place friendly to immigrants and refugees, you build credibility. Your success depends on good publicity. Experiment, have fun, and reflect the values of God’s kingdom in everything you do.

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IDEA EXCHANGE “Behold, I come quickly…” Our mission is to uplift Jesus Christ, uniting Seventh-day Adventists everywhere in beliefs, mission, life, and hope.

Where in the

Is This? orld W



ANSWER: In the Democratic Republic of Congo, refugees flee their villages after gunfire erupted between government and rebel forces.

Refugees are not terrorists. They are often the first victims of terrorism. —A ntonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2005-2015).

Your support for refugees is urgently needed. Monetary donations are the best way to help, because they empower emergency teams to respond quickly in changing conditions.

To donate, go to


Adventist World - nad | June 2016

Publisher 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. Adventist Review Ministries Board Ted N. C. Wilson, chair; Guillermo Biaggi, vice chair, Bill Knott, secretary; Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, Williams Costa, Daniel R. Jackson, Peter Landless, Robert Lemon, Geoffrey Mbwana, G. T. Ng, Daisy Orion, Juan Prestol-Puesán, Ella Simmons, Artur Stele, Ray Wahlen, Karnik Doukmetzian, legal advisor Executive Editor/Director of Adventist Review Ministries Bill Knott Associate Director of Adventist Review Ministries International Publishing Manager Chun, Pyung Duk Adventist World Coordinating Committee Jairyong Lee, chair; Yukata Inada; German Lust; Chun, Pyung Duk; Han, Suk Hee; Sung, Gui Mo Editors based in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA Andre Brink, Lael Caesar, Gerald A. Klingbeil (associate editors), Sandra Blackmer, Stephen Chavez, Wilona Karimabadi, Andrew McChesney Editors based in Seoul, Korea Chun, Pyung Duk; Park, Jae Man; Kim, Hyo-Jun Operations Manager Merle Poirier Editors-at-large Mark A. Finley, John M. Fowler Senior Advisor E. Edward Zinke Financial Manager Kimberly Brown Editorial Assistant Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste Management Board Jairyong Lee, chair; Bill Knott, secretary; P. D. Chun, Karnik Doukmetzian, Suk Hee Han, Yutaka Inada, German Lust, Ray Wahlen, Ex-officio: Juan Prestol-Puesán, G. T. Ng, Ted N. C. Wilson Art Direction and Design Jeff Dever, Brett Meliti Consultants Ted N. C. Wilson, Juan Prestol-Puesán, G. T. Ng, Guillermo E. Biaggi, Mario Brito, Abner De Los Santos, Dan Jackson, Raafat A. Kamal, Michael F. Kaminskiy, Erton C. Köhler, Ezras Lakra, Jairyong Lee, Israel Leito, Thomas L. Lemon, Geoffrey G. Mbwana, Paul S. Ratsara, Blasious M. Ruguri, Ella Simmons, Artur A. Stele, Glenn Townend, Elie Weick-Dido 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 E-mail: Web site: Unless otherwise indicated, all Bible references are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. Adventist World is published monthly and printed simultaneously in Korea, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, Germany, Austria, Argentina, Mexico, and the United States. Vol. 12, No. 6

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Bolingbrook, IL Permit No. 2351

“it is not earthly rank, nor birth, nor nationality, nor religious privilege, which proves that we are members of the family of God; it is love, a love that embraces all humanity.”

—Ellen G. White

Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 75 | 1.800.424.ADRA (2372) 12501 Old Columbia Pike | Silver Spring, MD 20904

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