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The International Paper for Seventh-day Adventists

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19 Adventists and Prescription Drugs 30 God Heals Grieving Hearts 42 What Jesus Told the Thief

Breaking the

Spell

Jesus dispels a century-old curse among Animists


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O c tob e r 2016 The International Paper for Seventh-day Adventists

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13 Adventists and Prescription Drugs 30 God Heals Grieving Hearts 42 What Jesus Told the Thief

S T O R Y

Breaking the Curse

By Sandra Blackmer

Breaking the

Spell

In Benin long-term mission strategies are yielding results.

Jesus dispels a century-old curse among Animists

8 Ready to Give an Answer W O R L D

V I S T A

By Ted N. C. Wilson

Adventists have nothing to fear. We live in hope.

30 God Heals Grieving Hearts A D V E N T I S T

L I F E

By Kathleen and Jonathan Kuntaraf

Surviving the heartbreak of burying a child

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By Kimberly Luste Maran

F E AT U R E

Campfires, Memories, and Meeting God Witnessing in the wet-and-wild, down-anddirty world of summer camps.

40 What’s New About Death? C U R R E N T

I S S U E S

20 He Feels It Too

By Gerald A. Klingbeil

Jesus was not afraid of death.

New Age philosophies can’t tell us any more than we already know.

D E V O T I O N A L

By Merling Alomía

22 “Death Shall Be No More” F U N D A M E N T A L

B E L I E F S

By Frank M. Hasel

The Bible has plenty to say about death. And it’s not good for death.

D E PA RT M E N T S

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News Briefs News Feature One-Day Church NAD News NAD Update NAD Perspective NAD Letters

19 W O R L D H E A L T H Adventists and Prescription Drugs

43 B I B L E S T U D Y Matters of Life and Death

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What Jesus Told the Thief

www.adventistworld.org Available in 12 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. 10, October 2016.

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Hope in the Middle of the Night “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14, 15).

WORLD REPORT

ASI and Church

Team Up on TMI

Division presidents at ASI convention for first time

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e sat silently in the parents’ waiting room of the children’s ward, listening to the occasional sounds that punctuate a hospital routine at 2:00 a.m. It was another night of crisis: the autoimmune disease afflicting their 2-year-old daughter seemed on the verge of claiming her as doctors and nurses struggled to keep this fragile life going. For months the hospital had been their second home as their first child fought for life against an insidious illness. The pain and fear on the faces of the young couple in front of me were impossible to miss. This was not the way the story was supposed to end: children shouldn’t precede their parents to the grave. They saw the looming emptiness of their daughter’s absence in their lives, and shrank back from the future, wondering if their own lives still had meaning. Could life ever again seem joyful? Would there ever be a happy time? It is to such awful but familiar moments as this one that the gospel story of Jesus’ defeat of death speaks with great power and great promise. It is just because the Bible answers the terrible conundrum of human brokenness and fear that the faith of Jesus continues to stir the hearts of untold millions around the globe, even in the middle of the night. As you read this specially themed edition of Adventist World, pray for the readiness to share what you know about the hope of resurrection and eternal life through Jesus’ victory over death.

By Andrew McChesney

From left: Glenn Townend, president of the South Pacific Division; Ezras Lakra; and Saw Samuel at a Q&A session at the ASI convention in Phoenix, Arizona.

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early all Seventh-day Adventist world division presidents attended ASI’s annual convention for the first time as church leadership stepped up efforts to encourage every church member to actively share the gospel as part of its Total Member Involvement (TMI) program. Twelve of the 13 division presidents and Rick McEdward, president of the Adventist Church in the Middle East and North Africa, flew to the U.S. state of Arizona to participate in the annual gathering of laypeople: business owners, individual professionals, and supporting ministries. Adventist Church president Ted N. C. Wilson said he invited the world church leaders to come to Phoenix from August 3 to 6, 2016, to gain a better understanding of ASI and to see lay members in evangelistic action. “They have been well impressed and will take back a great appreciation for the variety of mission outreach activities on the part of laypeople,” Wilson told Adventist World. “They will return with a renewed zeal for combined effort of laypeople and church workers in Total Member Involvement. They will return with a united approach to finishing God’s work in their territory through the power of the Holy Spirit.” ASI president Steve Dickman said he was thrilled that the church was prepared to work hand in hand with laypeople to complete its mission of spreading the gospel to the world. “Laypeople are the core element of ministry that needs to be completely utilized,” Dickman said. “ASI and the church are now trying to bring this to light in a concerted and positive way.” He said Adventist believers have struggled in some parts of the world Continued on next page

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in the past because lay ministry was not accepted by a pastor or other local church leader. “This is going to be an encouragement to laypeople who want to do something for good,” he said. Division presidents, many attending an ASI convention for the first time, met with ASI leaders and partner organizations to better understand how established supporting ministries like ASAP Ministries are working with the Adventist Church to train local believers to be missionaries to their own people in Asia, or how ASI members are funding the publication of Ellen G. White books in Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish for the church’s Middle East and North Africa Union. The experience was eye-opening. “It was very informative, a lot of interactions,” said Ezras Lakra, president of the Southern Asia Division, which encompasses Bhutan, India, and Nepal. “I feel very good to have been here with lay members whom I would not have met otherwise.” Lakra, a first-time ASI convention attendee, said he was speaking with division officers about how to establish an ASI chapter in his division. Saw Samuel, president of the Philippines-based Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and also a first-time attendee, said six ASI chapters are in operation in his division, but their work would be tweaked based on what he observed in Phoenix. “Over there we have lay members seeking funds, but here people are coming to give,” he said. “So we have to make a little bit of an adjustment.” The division presidents participated in a televised question-and-answer session in the main convention hall on Sabbath afternoon. Afterward Wilson gathered the leaders on stage and asked ASI administrators to lay their hands on them for a prayer of consecration. n

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More than 60 inmates worship in a new Adventist church in a prison in Sorocaba, Brazil.

Adventist Church Membership

By Andrew McChesney

Reaches 19.5 Million Church grows 2.3 percent in six months

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he Seventh-day Adventist Church’s official membership passed 19.5 million members in the first half of 2016, powered in part by a record 100,000 baptisms in Rwanda. “Praise the Lord! There are now more than 19.5 million Adventists worldwide!” the Adventist Church’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research said in announcing the new figure on Twitter. The church had 19,578,942 members as of June 30, 2016, a net increase of 452,495 people, or 2.37 percent, from the last count on December 31, 2015. “We praise God for His incredible blessings of providing 19.5 million baptized brothers and sisters around the world!” Adventist Church president Ted N. C. Wilson said on his Facebook page. “God will continue to use every one of them who are willing to be part of Total Member Involvement in reaching the 7.5 billion people of the world who need to know about Christ, His righteousness, His salvation and His soon second coming.”

Among those accessions were 100,777 people baptized after a twoweek evangelistic series in Rwanda in May. It was the biggest baptism after evangelistic meetings in the 153-year history of the Adventist Church. The growth comes even as the church, founded in 1863 with only 3,500 members, undergoes a comprehensive membership audit to ensure that reported statistics reflect the reality on the ground. Audit losses make it difficult to predict whether membership will reach 20 million by year-end, said David Trim, director of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research. “I don’t doubt that net accessions will exceed 1 million again, but growth is affected by the losses as well,” Trim said. The church’s membership has grown by more than 1 million members annually for the past 12 years in a row, with an all-time record 1.26 million joining in 2015, according to a recent report from the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research. n


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By Andrew McChesney

Next Generation

A paper USB card containing Bible “Heroes.”

Witnessing

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Church joins forces with inventor of paper USB drive

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nventor Andrew DePaula sat down on an airplane beside a man in his late teens or early 20s. The young man seemed more interested in staring out the plane window than talking, until DePaula pulled out a business card-sized piece of paper. DePaula showed his seatmate that the ordinary-looking piece of paper could be folded into the world’s first and only paper USB drive. The young man immediately became interested, snatching the card out of DePaula’s hand. Told he could keep the card, the young man took out his wallet, which was attached to a chain, and carefully tucked it in. “I’m going to show this to

Andrew DePaula holds a regular USB stick in one hand and a paper USB card in the other.

all my friends,” he said. DePaula had just presented the young man with a copy of The Great Controversy, by Seventh-day Adventist Church cofounder Ellen G. White, without once mentioning religion. “I would never have been able to give him a book,” DePaula said in relating the incident to Adventist World. “He never would have taken it. But I’m quite sure that he took that card home and showed it to his friends. Who knows what the Holy Spirit will do with that.” The Seventh-day Adventist Church has teamed up with DePaula and his Spokane, Washington-based intelliPaper company to produce a new generation of sharing tools based on paper USB cards. The cards with colorful images on both sides are available for as low as US$1 each in five titles, including The Great Hope, an abridged version of The Great Controversy; and Steps to Jesus, a modern English version of Steps to Christ. The Great Hope is also available in Spanish, and other translations are in the works. Nancy Lamoreaux, the General Conference’s chief information officer, praised the paper USB cards as the next step in sharing the Adventist faith. “Today The Great Hope and other titles are available as inexpensive intelliPaper cards and are an incredibly effective way of placing our message in the hands of people who might

not otherwise be interested,” she wrote in the summer/fall issue of the Inside ASI magazine. The origin of the paper USB card goes back to the early 2000s, when DePaula worked as associate director of the Bibleinfo.com ministry at the Adventist Church’s Upper Columbia Conference in Spokane. Seeking an inexpensive way to share his faith, he packaged the Bibleinfo.com Web site, the Bible in four languages, and other information on a square mini CD that sold for $1 each. More than 100,000 mini CDs were distributed before a patent dispute unrelated to DePaula’s work abruptly halted production of the disks. Looking for another way to share, DePaula began to wonder whether he could create a USB drive for less than $1. In 2008 he went to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in search of a solution, but learned that he could not bring the price below $3, which was too high for a giveaway. Feeling discouraged, DePaula began fiddling with his electronics show badge back in his Las Vegas hotel room and noticed a lump inside. He took the badge apart and found a RFID radio tracking device inside that allowed the electronics show to track his movements. “It just hit me in that moment,” DePaula said. “If they could do that Continued on next page

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WORLD REPORT with a chip and an antenna, why couldn’t I make a paper USB drive?” It took DePaula three years to develop a working prototype and another three to develop a manufacturing process. The paper USB card, which has both ministry and commercial applications, contains a small silicon chip capable of storing books, Bible studies, Web links, and Web sites. The cards produced with the Adventist Church contain less than 1 megabyte of memory and are read-only. They are available in packs of 10 at the Web site Adventist.cards. An eleventh card in the pack allows the buyer to register the cards and upload a photo and personal message for recipients. When the recipient inserts the card into a USB port, the photo and message pops up, together with an invitation to connect with the card giver online. But that’s not all. “Behind the scenes the card records that it has been plugged in and where it has been plugged in,” said John R. Beckett, director of the Office of Global Software and Internet at the General Conference, who has worked closely with DePaula on the project. “So as you’re sharing the cards, you have some feedback that this sharing is worthwhile because people are plugging it in and looking at it.” Although DePaula is working on a small scale with companies such as FedEx, the American Chemical Society, and Malwarebytes, he said his priority is to find ministry applications for his invention. “Ministry is in my blood,” said DePaula, who grew up as a missionary kid in West Africa. “This could not only facilitate ministry but might in time be a good business to fund ministry as well.” n

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Denis laughs as he holds a hamster as Ilyusha, on bed, and Ruslan look on in a bedroom at Alfa-Nik in Mykolaiv, Ukraine.

By Andrew McChesney

Orphans Find an

Adventist Home in Ukraine But Alfa-Nik is more than an orphanage.

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ittle Roma darted out the Ukrainian church building after Sabbath services and headed straight to a grandmother playing with her young child in the adjacent playground. “Are you a believer?” he asked. The elderly woman looked surprised at the query from the 7-yearold boy with blond hair and an earnest face. She confirmed that she believed in Christ. “Then why weren’t you in church?” Roma said. As the woman struggled to come up with a reply, Roma invited her to attend the next Sabbath. “He’s our little evangelist,” Roma’s adoptive father, Evgeniy Tkachishin, said with a smile as he related the incident. But Roma is more than a little evangelist. He represents the fulfillment of his father’s hopes to share the gospel in southern Ukraine and beyond.

Tkachishin is a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, the father of nine adopted and biological children, and cofounder of a one-of-a-kind center of influence in Ukraine. His organization, Alfa-Nik, runs an orphanage, preschool, and community center inside a gated compound shared with an Adventist church in Mykolaiv, a Black Sea city of a half million people. “We meet and befriend people through our programs, and we believe that over time they will open their hearts to God,” Tkachishin told Adventist World. Twenty-nine children live with five Adventist married couples in spacious apartments on the compound, which Tkachishin secured for US$200,000 in 2010. Another $500,000 has gone into upgrading the property since then, with some funds coming from the Adventist Church’s Southern Ukrainian Conference, which has earmarked

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$800 for 2016. But most of the money has come from private donors. In the three-story building where the children live, construction work is wrapping up on one-room apartments for new mothers and their babies. The mothers—some single, others from abusive or drunken homes—will be able to stay for up to six months and receive parenting

Evgeniy Tkachishin, Alfa-Nik cofounder and Adventist pastor, points to plans for the compound.

classes from a licensed psychologist. Mykolaiv Seventh-day Adventist Church No. 7 occupies a neighboring building, and its main hall was packed with 35 members and 25 children on a Sabbath last summer. The children have their own Sabbath School classrooms in the building, and a preschool for neighborhood children operates in another room on weekdays. The playground where Roma approached the grandmother is located directly in front of the church building. Filled with brightly colored equipment, it is the only playground within a two-

kilometer (one-mile) radius, making it a magnet for children of all sizes. Tkachishin organizes educational activities throughout the year on the playground, and hundreds of neighborhood children attend every time. A visit to the compound in 2014 and this year revealed firsthand how its operations were expanding. A gray hulk of a building was transformed into an attractive dining hall with comfortable table-and-chair sets and a large kitchen. The building has many functions: a cafeteria for the preschool, a cooking school for the community, a venue for birthday parties, and a place to hold Adventist women’s and youth meetings, Tkachishin said during a tour. While the compound meets many community needs, the priority is orphaned and otherwise abandoned boys and girls. “The family is growing,” said Anatoly Gurduiala, who cofounded AlfaNik with Tkachishin, his cousin, and currently pastors the Russian Adventist church in Glendale, California. He visits several times a year, and his church collects tens of thousands of dollars for Alfa-Nik annually. “This is a big mission project,” Gurduiala said. “I believe that the children will become good church members.” Children’s lives are already being changed, said Tkachishin, who pastors two other churches. He told of Seryozha, who lost his single mother when he was 10 and was sent to live with alcoholic relatives. Neglected in his new village home, the boy begged neighbors for food and watched television through their apartment windows. The authorities removed Seryozha from his home last year and sent him to Alfa-Nik. “Today the boy is 12 years old and

participates in outreach programs and collects offering in church,” Tkachishin said. “We see that God has carried out a big miracle in his life, taking him from a situation where he had nothing to eat and no one wanted him. Today he has everything he needs—and he has God.” Another boy, Dima, also arrived at Alfa-Nik last year. His mother moved to Italy to work and never returned, instead giving up her parental rights and turning him over to his father. The father later died, and with no other relatives, Dima was placed in a state orphanage. Today Dima, 11, prays regularly and sings in the front with other children during church worship services. “You heard today how the children sing,” Tkachishin said after a worship service on a recent Friday evening. “The truth is no one forces them to sing. They sing because they want to.” Alfa-Nik continues to grow. Plans are in place to provide a home to a total of 50 orphans and to open an Adventist elementary school one day. Funding does not worry Tkachishin, who said God had provided beyond his expectations over the past six years. “Our project is a project of faith,” he said. “We don’t know when or how the money will come. We just believe.” The compound welcomes a steady trickle of foreign visitors, who express astonishment at what they see. “The saddest thing is that Alfa-Nik can reach only a drop in the bucket of all the children who need to be reached,” said Esme Ross, who visited the compound twice with her husband, Robert Ross, pastor of the Triadelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church in Maryland, during evangelistic campaigns in Ukraine in 2012 and 2013. “I wish that what they do could be replicated over and over and over.” n

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ecently a friend of mine was approached by his neighbor. “I used to think that the world would just get better and better—but it’s not,” said the neighbor. “I don’t know what’s going on, but I think you might know. I’d like to talk with you about it.” Over the years my friend developed a warm relationship with his neighbor. At times the topic of religion came up, but the neighbor always rebuffed the topic, saying, “If you’re honest and work hard, life will be good.” This time, however, things were different. Concerned about the sharp rise in terrorism, an unstable economy, social upheaval, and political events, the neighbor was ready to listen, and my friend was ready to pull back the curtain and give his neighbor a behind-the-scenes view of current events through the lens of the Great Controversy, prophecy, and biblical truth. The Bible tells us to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15, KJV). Are you ready to give an answer if someone asks you about the hope you have? Establishing Biblical Doctrines

This month’s issue of Adventist World is the Bible’s teachings about death. That could be a rather somber topic if it were not for the fact that we

Seventh-day Adventists do not “sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13).Two of the primary reasons for this is: (1) we understand from the Bible that death is a sleep (see 1 Thess. 4:13; John 11:11-14; Dan. 12:2; Matt. 27:52; Acts 13:36; etc.); and (2) we have the wonderful hope of being reunited with our loved ones for eternity when Jesus comes again (see 1 Thess. 4:16, 17; John 11:23, 24; etc.). Our understanding of death— known as the state of the dead, or the nonimmortality of the soul—was one of the earliest biblical doctrines established by Adventists following the Great Disappointment of October 22, 1844. This doctrine, along with other biblically based doctrines, including the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, the seventh-day Sabbath, and the

three angels’ messages found in Revelation 14, were later identified as “old landmarks” by Ellen White.1 It was dedication to God’s Word and the truth found in it that guided our pioneers to a deeper understanding of Bible prophecy and its important application to a last-day people waiting for Christ’s return. They found that the teachings of God’s Word define: n  who we are as a people (Rev. 12:17); n what our mission is (Matt. 28:19, 20); n the end-time message we are to proclaim (Rev. 14:6-12). Doctrine Is Important

The Bible affirms the importance of doctrine, emphasizing that all true

Ready to Give an

By Ted N. C. Wilson

Answer

Sharing hope to all who ask


doctrine comes from God Himself. “For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law” (Prov. 4:2). And Jesus said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority” (John 7:16). After the resurrection of Jesus, the nation’s high priest was filled with rage as he exclaimed to the apostles, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine” (Acts 5:28)! Paul mentioned doctrine four times in this letter of instruction to Timothy. “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. . . . Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. . . . Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Tim. 4:6-16). All Scripture Profitable

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul affirmed: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). He also warned that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires . . . they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3, 4). In his letter to Titus, Paul taught that it is through sound doctrine that one may be able to “exhort and convict those who contradict” God’s faithful Word—the Bible (Titus 1:9). And finally, the apostle John wrote: “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine [or teachings] of Christ does not have God. He who abides in P H O T O :

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Biblical doctrines teach us what we need to know. They inform us of who we are and who God is. the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). A False Dichotomy?

Given the importance of sound doctrine (biblical teachings), it seems strange that some try to separate Jesus from doctrine, asking such questions as “Which is more important—doctrines or Jesus? grace or truth?” As we see from Scripture, these are false dichotomies. Grace and truth are part of each other; true doctrines come from God Himself. They are part of who He is. John wrote: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”—that is, Jesus Christ (John 1:1). And the psalmist declares, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105, KJV), clearly referring to inspired Scripture. Jesus is the Word, and His teachings (doctrines) are found in His Word—the Bible. God’s Living Word

The Bible is not just some printed document—it is God’s living, breathing Word that, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, speaks to us today as clearly as when it was written. So why the emphasis on doctrine? Because biblical doctrines teach us what we need to know. They inform us of who we are and who God is. They define the sin problem and reveal its remedy. They unveil the future and give us glimpses into eternity. They define truth from error, and they help us to become the people God intends us to be. Biblical doctrines teach us about grace. Ellen White wrote: “The great and

essential knowledge is the knowledge of God and His Word. . . . The Christian will grow in grace just in proportion as he depends upon and appreciates the teaching of the Word of God, and habituates himself to meditate upon divine things.”2 Ready to Answer

Two young Adventist teens I know work as lifeguards at a public swimming pool not far from the General Conference office in Silver Spring, Maryland. One hot summer day last July a fellow lifeguard nearly lost his life when he suddenly lost consciousness, dropped like a rock to the bottom of the pool, and had no pulse or respiration when he was pulled out of the water. Working furiously to save his life, the lifeguards sighed with relief when he began to regain consciousness. After the ambulance came and took the young man to the hospital, conversation in the lifeguard office turned to serious subjects such as: “What happens when you die?” “Is there a God?” “Why do bad things happen?” Because they know what they believe and why, these two young Adventist lifeguards were able to give biblical answers that made sense to the other lifeguards. They were willing and ready to share in a natural, relevant, and timely way what we Adventists believe regarding the state of the dead, the existence of God, the Great Controversy, and more. Now Is the Time

What about you? What if your neighbor, friend, coworker, relative, or someone else approached you with

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the statement “I don’t know what’s going on, but I think you might know; I’d like to talk with you about it.” Would you be ready to give a satisfying, biblically based answer? Now is the time to study our Bibles. Now is the time to really know and understand the beautiful, Bible-based teachings that we Seventh-day Adventists hold. We learn biblical doctrines not so that we can use them to prove that we’re “right” and others are “wrong.” No! We learn them so that we can share what we have found to be true, and to give to others the hope and assurance that truth brings. In addition, we are told that “it is not enough to have an intellectual knowledge of the truth. . . . There must be an entrance of the Word into the heart. It must be set home by the power of the Holy Spirit. The will must be brought into harmony with its requirements. Not only the intellect but the heart and conscience must concur in the acceptance of the truth.”3 Something unusual is going on in the world, and people are looking for answers. Has your heart and conscience agreed with your intellectual acceptance of the truth? Are you ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you? If you would like to know more about what Seventh-day Adventists believe, or would like to review our biblically based doctrines, I encourage you to download a free copy of the 2015 edition of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s 28 Fundamental Beliefs at this url: http://bit.ly/BibleBeliefs. n 1

Ellen G. White, The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials (Washington, D.C.: Ellen G. White Estate, 1987), p. 518. 2 Ellen G. White, in Review and Herald, Apr. 17, 1888. 3 Ellen G. White, in Review and Herald, Sept. 25, 1883.

Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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One-Day Church Praying for 45 Years

By Carrie Purkeypile

Left: This church in Mjena, Zimbabwe, has been built and rebuilt many times as weather periodically destroys the natural materials. Right: The founders of the Mjena Adventist church, Sharon Khumalo (red dress) and Esina Dube (white blouse, green skirt) are both 87 years old. They have been praying for a solid church structure for 45 years. Sharon Khumalo and Esina Dube founded the Mjena Seventh-day Adventist Church in Zimbabwe in 1971. The two friends began by holding services in their own homes. The families met twice a week at 4:00 a.m. to cry out to God for His leading and provision. They were praying for a church. As the group expanded they began meeting under a tree, but they missed many Sabbaths together because of extreme weather conditions. Still, they continued praying. Both women lost their husbands about 15 years ago. The two women were on their own, not only at home but also as leaders of a church that was now 100 percent women and children. The congregation prayed for a church, and God gave them grass. So they wove a thatch roof and built their own small church. It was lovely! But termites destroyed the wooden poles and grass roof. Rain poured through and melted the mud walls, requiring that they build and rebuild, time after time. This year Sharon and Esina turned 87 years old. But that didn’t stop them from calling all church members together to camp outside their church when they heard that Maranatha Volunteers International had been spotted in their district. The church members prayed, sang, cooked, slept, and prayed some more. Maranatha arrived in April 2016. Much to Sharon’s astonishment, the crew built the new Mjena Adventist Church structure in less than four hours. “We couldn’t believe it! It was like a dream,” she says. Sharon and Esina have each committed to sell their best cows to fund the construction of the walls of their One-Day Church. They praise God that this church will last for a very long time!


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Adventist Johnny Barnes greets visitors to Bermuda with a friendly greeting. Barnes passed away on July 9.

Mr. Happy,”

Bermudan Johnny Barnes,

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eloved Bermudan Johnny Barnes has passed away. A long-standing figure on the island of Bermuda, Barnes was known for greeting residents and visitors with a warm “I Love You!” For more than 50 years Barnes was a daily fixture at the Crow Lane roundabout in the middle of the island, sitting on a bench and waving to all who passed. Visitors came from around the world to meet the man who felt called to share a message of love with everyone every day. “Johnny Barnes personified the NAD [North American Division] priority of Transformational Evangelism,” says Ken Denslow, assistant to the president for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America. Denslow was one of several church

leaders who attended Barnes’ funeral. He recalls the first time he met the famous Bermudan and asked how Barnes could do the same thing for so many years. Barnes responded, “God has something for everyone to do.” The iconic Barnes played a key role in helping make the Seventh-day Adventist Church a fixture on the small island in the Atlantic Ocean. A statue of Barnes in his familiar waving pose was raised by local business owners to honor his role in spreading the image of a warm and friendly culture with visitors from all around the world. Tens of thousands received his cheerful greeting, wave, and smile. At 93 years of age Barnes recently had to stop his daily greetings because of failing health. He passed away early

on the morning of July 9 from natural causes. Belvina, his wife of 65 years, was at his side. On July 18, 2016, Bermuda said goodbye to Barnes with a regal funeral in tribute to “Mr. Happy.” Many wore bright colors in keeping with Barnes’ wishes as they lined the funeral procession. “Through the simple acts of smiling, waving, and assuring people that they are loved, Johnny meaningfully impacted many thousands of lives,” says Denslow. “The people who lined the route of his funeral procession gave testimony to the impact of simple acts of kindness.” In 2015 the NAD featured Barnes in its division video report. Read “Bermuda Bids Farewell to Iconic Barnes,” from The Royal Gazette for more details. —NAD Office of Communication

Family Ministries Distinguished Service Award Presented ■■ On July 21-23, 2016, the Adventist Conference of Family Research and Practice was held on the campus of Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. A special highlight of that event is the presentation of the North American Division Family Ministries Distinguished Service Award. Claudio and Pamela Consuegra were honored to present the 2016 award to Melvin Preston, director of family ministries for the South Atlantic Conference. Continued on next page

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N A D

F A M I LY

M I N I S T R I E S

NAD NEWS

Pamela and Claudio Consuegra, NAD Family Ministries directors (right), present the Distinguished service award to Melvin Preston, with his wife, Joetta. In its fifth year of use, the award has a significant design. It contains figures known as “Inukshuk.” The Inukshuk figures hold great symbolism in Canada. They were stone humanlike figures, traditionally used by the Inuits and constructed along the Canadian shores with the purpose of pointing wayward travelers back home. If you were lost, you would need only to look for these familiar figures and follow in the way it was pointing. The path always led home. “We had the designers construct the award with three figures that mirror our North American Division family ministries logo,” explained Claudio Consuegra. “And just as the Inukshuk point wayward travelers back home, Melvin has pointed many back toward their earthly home and ultimately toward their forever home in heaven.” Preston has served in the South Atlantic Conference as family ministries director for the past 30 years. His ministry has had a positive impact on countless families. He has also been responsible for leading more than 2,000 people to follow Jesus.

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“We congratulate Melvin Preston as the recipient of this year’s award and thank God for the way in which He has blessed in Melvin’s ministry to families,” said Pamela Consuegra. —Reported from NAD Family Ministries

Breath of Life Receives Gift From Legendary Bible Instructor ■■ Mildred P. Johnson, legendary Bible instructor, recently donated $10,000 to the Breath of Life (BOL) television broadcast. BOL staff cite Johnson’s passion and long-standing commitment to evangelism and spreading the good news of the gospel as the motivation behind her monetary gift. With this donation Johnson continues to positively influence the work of evangelism after 42 years of active religious education service that resulted in countless baptisms. Johnson consistently watches the BOL telecast and is inspired by the program’s ability to reach people with the gospel message. She plans to continue her support of this ministry. In response to this donation, Carlton P. Byrd, BOL speaker/director, said, “Praise God for this wonderful gift to Breath of Life, and praise God for Mildred Johnson and her sacrificial spirit! In an economic environment of escalating television broadcast costs, this gift will enable Breath of Life to continually spread the gospel globally.” As a long-standing Bible instructor in the South Central Conference and around the world, Johnson served with noted evangelists C. E. Bradford, E. E. Cleveland, C. D. Brooks, H.M.S. Richards, Sr., C. B. Rock, and many others, teaching thousands about the

Adventist World - nad | October 2016

love of Jesus and His saving grace. Johnson’s influence in West Africa resulted in a school bearing her name. Although she began her professional career as a nurse, Johnson was inspired by a desire to share the gospel with her neighbors, and later with the entire community. After all, someone in the community had graciously shared the gospel with Johnson and her late husband, Washington Johnson, Sr., during the 1950s. This lifechanging experience has been farreaching with many opportunities to teach, train, and even see some converts become pastors, including her own son, Washington Johnson II. BOL staff suggest that Johnson broke the glass ceiling in evangelism during a time that women were not as active in such roles. This was particularly evident with her singular female role during the initiation of the Evangelism Council at Oakwood University (currently referred to as the Pastoral, Evangelism, and Leadership Council, or PELC), where she facilitated all the Bible instructor seminars. —Breath of Life

Pathway to Health Beckley Serves West Virginia ■■ More than 1,700 patients were treated at the Your Best Pathway to Health free clinic on July 13-15, 2016, in Beckley, West Virginia. Dental volunteers treated 392 people, while other medical volunteers performed 31 surgeries; administered 131 HIV/ infectious disease tests and 609 eye exams; fitted 536 pair of glasses; provided 180 haircuts; handed out 505 articles of clothing; and distributed 3,315 lunches to volunteers and patients. More than 730 volunteers from across the United States, and a few


L I F E

from Colombia, Mexico, and Poland, helped at the event, including 14-yearold Olivia Lesko, a member of the Centerville church in Ohio. Lesko volunteered in the clothing distribution area, and two of her customers were a 4-year-old girl and her mother. Lesko says the girl’s eyes got big when she spotted a pair of sparkly pink Barbie shoes on the floor. “I heard her say, ‘They fit perfect, Mommy! The only other shoes I have are my flip-flops. Now I have these, and they gave me Minnie Mouse socks!’ ” Lesko adds, “It made me so happy to help this little girl. I’m so happy to be here at Pathway to Health.” Monique Mitchell, an Adventist podiatrist from the Bahamas, took vacation time to volunteer at the free health clinic. She was amazed to see all the services offered at the clinic. “It is just over-

O C I E

M A D D O X / B R E AT H

O F N A D

C O M M U N I C AT I O N

Above: Washington Johnson, II (left); Washington Johnson, III; Joyce Johnson; Mildred Johnson; Danielle Byrd; and Carlton P. Byrd recognize Mildred Johnson’s donation to the Breath of Life ministry. Left: Olivia Lesko, 14, volunteers in the clothing distribution area that gave more than 500 items to Your Best Pathway to Health Beckley clinic clients.

whelming. To see all the services here, such as cardiology, radiology, massage—everything you can think of is here. It is fantastic that persons can get these services for free all in one place.” As Mitchell prepared for travel to Beckley, her husband told her about the devastation caused by recent flooding. She said, “I was amazed that Pathway to Health had already planned to come here when the disaster happened. These people really need the services. So God is good.”

Liliah and Kimberly, a mother and daughter from Beckley, heard about the clinic on Facebook, a post shared on local WVVA TV station. Kimberly needed a few caps and some fillings. When asked what this meant to them, Kimberly said, “This is priceless. The kindness and the compassion shown here from everyone is amazing. Everyone is just so gentle, kind, and caring. . . . And you know what the common denominator is here? It’s that they’re Christians. They’re volunteering; they’re following Christ’s example. It’s great to see that; it’s refreshing.” “I cannot adequately express what it means to see so many volunteers come to West Virginia to help us minister to the people of Appalachia,” said Larry Boggess, Mountain View Conference president. “The people here face many health challenges and economic issues, and it is awesome to think that our Seventh-day Adventist Church family would come together to help us minister to them with love and compassion. It has made such a tangible difference and will go a long way in helping us to broaden our impact here.” —NAD Office of Communication, Your Best Pathway to Health Beckley communication team, and V. Michelle Bernard/Columbia Union Visitor, contributed to this report

Pathway to Health Beckley B Y

T H E

N U M B E R S

Total People Seen 

1,722

Total Services Rendered 

5,771 12

Total Media Interviews  Total Amount in Services 

$6.54 Million

October 2016 | Adventist World - nad

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K E N

M E R Z

N A D U P D AT E

M E R Z

At a God’s Closet “free shop day,” parents and grandparents choose clothes neatly arranged by size.

K E N

By Julie Lorenz God’s Closet founder, Merryl Tschoepe, stands with Bill McVay, Redding church pastor, at the May 4 “free shop day.”

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ake an Adventist tradition, put a unique spin on it, and you have God’s Closet. Begun in 2009 as a local church outreach in Spokane, Washington, God’s Closet is now part of the ministry portfolio of the North American Division’s (NAD) Adventist Community Services (ACS). “I’m amazed at what God has done with this ministry!” said Merryl Tschoepe, who had the idea to start this outreach ministry. Tschoepe, now a Redding, California, church member after a move several years ago, added, “This is very exciting!” For decades churches have distributed used clothing to people in need. Tschoepe built on that idea when she envisioned turning the experience into a fun and relationship-building event. Not only do families find clothes for their kids for the bargain price of $1—they also find friendship and spiritual support. “God’s Closet reaches the community, and it costs churches basically nothing,” said Tschoepe. “People are so grateful—times are tough, and clothes are expensive.”

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God’s Closet Outreach Becomes NAD Ministry

As many as 600 people have attended a God’s Closet event. There are now 15 local chapters involved in the organization, including two in Canada and one in Australia. “I thought: Why not 10 times that many?” said Maitland DiPinto, NAD Adventist Community Services (ACS) director for community engagement. After hearing about the program, DiPinto visited two local chapters and felt impressed by what he saw. “God’s Closet meets a real need, and it gets our members engaged in our community in a wholistic way that makes a real impact,” he said. Free Shopping

Each local church chapter of God’s Closet hosts four “free-shop day” events during the year, when parents and grandparents can select new and gently used children’s clothes, shoes, and bedding donated by individuals and businesses. A family pays an entrance fee of $1 to cover expenses; then they can “shop” for a certain number of bags of clothes, depending on how much is available. People who come a day early to help sort items

Adventist World - nad | October 2016

receive an extra bag of clothes. At every event, God’s Closet volunteers ask clients to fill out a registration card. The card asks if they would like more information about children’s programs, and offers Bible studies and prayer. “There are several people who come to our church as a result of God’s closet,” said Mary Jo Cannard, a member of Adventist Community church in Vancouver, Washington. “It’s a ministry that meets people’s needs rather than a ministry we do to try to reach people.” Each congregation can tailor the event to fit their community’s needs and their church’s personality. For example, 30 Redding church members volunteered at the May 2016 event. They served a pancake breakfast, gave each mother a present, and distributed balloons and literature. As an extra gift, each family received one or two pairs of new kids’ pajamas. DiPinto likes the way that community members are encouraged to volunteer alongside church members. At the most recent Redding event, 23 community people came to help, more than half of the people working to set up the event. “The church is


building a relationship with the repeat volunteers,” he said. The Ministry Expands

ACS is excited that God’s Closet broadens its portfolio of existing ministry outreach. ACS is working on plans to share the program throughout the division. In the past Tschoepe trained new leaders individually—a time-consuming process—but soon online training videos will be available to inspire church members and give practical advice. “It’s like a cooking show,” said DiPinto. “You show the final result; then you say, ‘Here’s how to do it. If you follow these steps, chances are you’ll have a successful ministry.’ ” He also plans to provide materials that inter-

ested church members can download, such as instructions and sample forms. Tschoepe plans to work closely with her local chapter, as well as help the division-wide organization in various ways. “There’s nothing like working for God,” said Tschoepe. “It has strengthened my faith. I have seen the miracles.” One recent miracle took place in Redding. As an incentive for people to turn in the registration cards at each event, Tschoepe conducts a drawing for a food basket. “Before selecting a winner, I always pray over the cards,” she said. When she delivered the basket to a local mother, the woman told her, “I wasn’t surprised at all that I won. When I was standing in line filling out the card, I told God I needed the food. I have six children, and I’m in dire

financial straights.” “I got chills when she said this to me,” said Tschoepe. “When I see God at work, that straightens my faith!” “Whenever we put God’s people working with the skills that God has given them together for the good of the community, the church is blessed,” said Patty Marsh, ACS director for Upper Columbia Conference. Bill Johnson, God’s Closet Redding volunteer, added, “This is another opportunity to help the community, to help those who are in need and share the gospel in a practical way.” —With additional reporting by the NAD Office of Communication; watch a short video about this outreach ministry at https://vimeo.com/177268512. Visit www.godscloset for more information.

October 2016 | Adventist World - nad

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NAD PERSPECTIVE

Old Ways and

By Daniel Weber

Masterpieces

I

recently came across an online documentary sharing the story of a young man who “rescues” old film. People from around the world send him old rolls of black-and-white film, and he processes them to see if any images can be salvaged. The processing of old photographic film is slow work, made even more tedious by the fragility of the film. Each roll is logged and examined for possible damage, then handloaded onto plastic reels in a completely dark environment, a delicate task; any mishandling of the film can damage or destroy it. Loaded into a light-tight canister, the film undergoes a process that includes running it through a developer solution, a wash, a fixer solution, and another wash. Then a chemical is then added to keep the film from streaking; and, finally, the film is hung to dry. The dried film negatives are taken to a darkroom, where prints can be made, a process that can be even more laborious than the film-developing process. A lot of work, dedication to detail, and a passion for making photographic images is required. The whole process is taxing. A small misstep can ruin the images captured by the photographer. The result of this work are photographic masterpieces that rival any digital photograph produced today. Some photographs put through an archival process can last for 100 years. I haven’t even mentioned the cre-

ative and technical procedures required in capturing the photographs on film emulsion! The old ways of taking, developing, and printing photographs is certainly a lost art in today’s high-tech world. As I watched the documentary I was taken back to my years at Andrews University when I worked in the darkroom of the photography program. I could almost smell the old photographic chemicals as I relived memories almost 30 years old. My mind drifted back to today’s reality, and I found myself comparing old and new techniques of photography. The goals for each are the same— to produce an artistic image—but the processes are very different. Technology has made things simpler today, but old techniques provided a real sense of satisfaction in the hard work required to create a captivating photograph. What if we considered evangelism an art form, like photography, but looked at it in reverse? If you’re scratching your head right now, let me explain. The “old” way of doing evangelism, which is still practiced today (unlike taking pictures on film), is to find a large venue, hold a series of meetings over a short period of time, and baptize a group of new believers. This is akin to the photographic techniques of digital photography today. The opposite approach is a “new” form of evangelism: a long process

requiring dedication, creativity, and mastering complex techniques. Along the way a simple mistake could hamper or even ruin all efforts. The result, though, is a masterpiece that can last a lifetime. Just as producing a photograph the “old way” takes a lot of hard work and effort, this “new” form of evangelism can be slow, tedious, and fraught with missed opportunities. But when it’s successful, the results are new lives that reflect the image of Jesus. A photographic image on film is a replication of a moment in time, and a new Christian represents the grace-filled salvation of a life changed in an instant. Ellen White reveals a wholistic approach to evangelism: “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’ ”* Many times we get distracted and focus only on the “needs” of others, or only on the “Follow Me” part of this equation. What we miss is the hard work necessary in “winning their confidence.” My prayer is that we be more willing to put in the extra effort to meet needs, form relationships, and share the love of Jesus. Then—and only then—will our efforts be a reflection of the image of Jesus. n * Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), p. 143.

Daniel Weber is communication director for the North American Division.

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P H O T O S :

D AV I D

S H E R W I N

For too long, it seems to me, we’ve been content to invite people to events at our churches and schools and neglected going out where people really struggle. — J. J. Aragon, Chicago, Illinois

I enjoyed reading the 2016 Week of Prayer readings (September 2016), primarily for their emphasis on moving outside our comfort zones and engaging people in our communities as Jesus did. For too long, it seems to me, we’ve been content to invite people to events at our churches and schools and neglected going out where people really struggle. The article in that same issue, “Adventists Gather in Washington, D.C., to Pray, Call for Action,” is a great example of Adventists stepping up help address some of society’s ills. Thank you for this important emphasis. J. J. Aragon Chicago, Illinois Life

The article ”Life,” by Ariel E. Noltze (August 2016), is excellent. Every discouraged and lonely individual would benefit from reading it. I know a lot of people do not receive this magazine, and what a blessing they are missing. Not every article would be of interest

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D O R N O N V I L L E

A Heart for Mission

Excite

In his piece “Visionaries: Who’s Next?” (August 2016), Dan Weber mentioned that some of our “legendary Adventist evangelists,” such as C. D. Brooks and H.M.S. Richards, looked for “new and exciting” ways to share the gospel. We hear and read “new and exciting” so often—by secular merchants as well as by Adventist “gospel merchants”— that people are programmed to think the gospel and/or methods of sharing it are boring if they aren’t continually “new and exciting.” Not good! While it’s wise to see “new” ways of sharing God’s Word—which those men did—this focus on “exciting” is disturbing. Those evangelists weren’t “exciting,” their ways weren’t “exciting,” but the truths they presented in earnestness, with conviction, were! That’s because the Holy Spirit worked through them with power. Let the Holy Spirit excite hearts and minds. Jean Handwerk Washington

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B E N E D I C T

NAD Letters

to every person, but there is a variety of information that would catch the eye of many individuals if they would do themselves the favor of reading this. Edith Litvin Roseburg, Oregon

Renewing Hope

The governor of the state I live in has promised that not a single Syrian refugee will be resettled within our borders. This sentiment has reached even my local church, and we did not acknowledge World Refugee Day. Imagine my joy in reading the June 2016 issue of Adventist World, where I was assured that someone, somewhere, who calls themselves Adventist has decided to succor the stranger. You have renewed my hope. Terese Thonus via e-mail


W O R L D

H E A L T H

By Peter N. Landless and Allan R. Handysides

Adventists and

Prescription Drugs

What is the balance between living the Adventist health message and prescription drugs and shots? I’m a diabetic and use insulin and metformin tablets.

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ome historical background is needed. The early nineteenth century found health care in turmoil. Life expectancy was at an all-time low. Bloodletting, the liberal use of heavy metal derivatives (mercurials), arsenicals, alcohol in diverse concoctions, tobacco, and opiates were standard treatments. Calomel, a mercury compound, was used for many ailments, including yellow fever. It was given as a purgative and cathartic, often to the point that patients’ hair and teeth fell out (mercury toxicity). This was the age of “heroic medicine,” representing aggressive methods and practices used well into the nineteenth century. The already-weakened bodies of the ailing were further stressed by these dangerous and unproven methods, often resulting in additional harm. D. E. Robinson terms these years as “the times of this ignorance” in his book The Story of Our Health Message.1 He recounts the experience of the first United States president, George Washington, who, in his final illness, sent for a “bleeder,” not a physician. The following day the family physician was summoned, who ordered a second bloodletting. In addition to all the blood loss, the hapless President Washington was subjected to calomel (cathartic/laxative), induction of vomiting (tartar P H O T O :

G E O R G E

H O D A N

emetic), and inhalations of vinegar and water. The account of this devastating “assault” on the president’s alreadyfailing existence ends with Washington’s last request: that he be allowed to die without further interruption! This was December 1799. There were debates within the British, European, and North American “medical fraternity” about the effectiveness of these various “treatments.” The pendulum swung between the attempts of “heroic” medicine to decrease excessive vitality that may have manifested as a fever (by bleeding, emetics, and catharsis), to the use of stimulants and alcohol in order to replenish vitality (which had been thought to cause fever in the first place!). Diet, lifestyle, and sanitation were all but ignored as being important for a patient’s well-being and restoration to health. In the midst of this “therapeutic turmoil,” Ellen White cautioned against the medications of the time: “By the use of poisonous drugs, many bring upon themselves lifelong illness, and many lives are lost that might be saved by natural methods of healing. The poisons contained in many so-called remedies create habits and appetites that mean ruin to both soul and body.”2 It is very clear that Ellen White’s warnings concern the toxic heavy metal drugs, opiates, tobacco, and alcohol used in her time. She broadly included quinine in the list, as people would indiscriminately chew the bark, hoping for some benefit. It’s recorded,

however, that she encouraged its use against malaria. Quinine continues to be used effectively against malaria because, despite its known side effects, it can be lifesaving. Ellen White also took the smallpox vaccination and encouraged others to do so. We are blessed to be living at a time when there are effective, tested, and safe medications for treating many diseases, including insulin and metformin. All medications should be used with care and for the correct indications, with a careful monitoring for side effects. Lifestyle changes and interventions should always be part of our health approaches and interventions, foundational to best, proven, and safe medical treatments. Be at peace: use the insulin and metformin, and do not neglect to walk, drink lots of pure water, rest, eat carefully, be temperate, and above all, trust in God, the author and finisher of our faith. n 1

D. E. Robinson, The Story of Our Health Message (Nashville: Southern Pub. Assn., 1965), p. 13. 2 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), pp. 126, 127.

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.

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D E V O T I O N A L

He

Feels It Too By Gerald A. Klingbeil

L D S

M E D I A

Death has no place in God’s heart

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he wailing of singers and the searing notes of flute players punctuated the silence of the day. Death was in the air when Jesus entered the village of Nain. Doctor Luke calls it a “city” (Luke 7:11), but in reality it must have just been a collection of humble Galilean houses, built of rough stones with wood-framed flat roofs. People who lived in Nain, located about 32 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of Capernaum and 10 kilometers (six miles) southeast of Nazareth, did not belong to the elite of Jewish society. Like many living in first century A.D. Palestine, they struggled to make ends meet and often felt squeezed by the merciless Roman occupiers. Nain was not a place where hope had made its home. On that particular morning, however, hope had decided to visit Nain in the most unlikely setting. Hope showed itself during a funeral procession. A God We Can Touch

Jesus’ earthly ministry is characterized by one particular fact: The living Word, the God who had spoken the universe

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and galaxies into existence, became one of us. After more than 30 years Jesus understood the daily struggles of people living around Him. He had shared in those struggles as He had worked in the carpenter shop in Nazareth. Now, He was sharing the grief and pain of those He had come to save. Luke tells us that Jesus did not enter Nain alone. His disciples and a large crowd that had seen Him heal the sick and teach the Word in ways they had never heard before followed Him. They were greeted by a sizable funeral procession leaving the village on their way to the burial grounds of Nain (Luke 7:11, 12). First century A.D. Jewish funeral rites mandated that a dead person had to be buried the same day. Often the body was anointed and wrapped in a burial cloth prior to carrying it on a plank to the burial cave or cemetery located outside the city. Normally family members would mourn for 30 days. But death is nothing normal. Death is Satan’s way of claiming lordship over Planet Earth. Every time we face death we realize anew that we live in a sinful, fallen world in need of redemption. Our tears reflect the pain and loss we feel when


The Creator cannot be insensitive to the pain of His creatures. we have to close the eyes of a loved one for the last time. Jesus must have experienced the devastation and grief caused by death before He entered Nain. The absence of Jesus’ father, Joseph, from the Gospel narrative following their return from Egypt suggests an early death and makes Jesus fatherless.1 It is even possible that Jesus knew the deceased and his family, considering the proximity of Nain to Nazareth. Jesus’ familiarity with death and loss, however, did not make Him unsympathetic to the grief of those experiencing that loss. The Creator cannot be insensitive to the pain of His creatures. Luke notes a three-step response as Jesus encountered the funeral procession on their way to the final resting place of the deceased. Jesus sees, He feels compassion, then He speaks (verse 13). What shall we make of His “Do not weep” to a grieving widow? Talk is cheap, goes the saying, and people may have wondered about Jesus’ statement. In the face of death we all weep (including Jesus; cf. John 11:35). But Jesus not only talks—Jesus acts. The God Who Acts

As Jesus moves forward to the plank carrying the dead body, people hold their breath. Everything stops as He touches the young man, the “only son of his mother” (Luke 7:12). Mosaic law prohibited contact with a corpse, resulting in ritual defilement (Num. 19:11, 16). He who touched a dead body could not approach God’s presence. But Jesus does not only touch. Jesus speaks—with authority and conviction: “Young man, I say to you, arise” (Luke 7:14). For a moment it seems as if no one dares to breathe or utter a sound. I imagine silence following Jesus’ command. Then it happens—first unperceptively, then more clearly. The melodious voice of Jesus can give life to a dead man. The voice that had uttered “Let there be light” brings light into the utter darkness of a funeral procession. The young man sits up and begins to speak. Jesus helps him down the burial plank and leads him to his weeping mother. We don’t read of joyous embraces and loud praise. Luke’s short account does not give us all the details—yet we can sense the divine in such a moment when an utter impossibility becomes a tangible reality. When God faces death, death always has to retreat. When God sees loss and pain, He whispers into our hearts, “Do not weep.” The crowd is stunned as they witness this miracle. Awe and fear fill the hearts of those observing. This awe leads them to glorify God. Popular sentiment is that a great prophet has been raised in their midst and that God has visited His people (verse 16). The first points back

to two great Old Testament prophets, Elijah and Elisha, who also returned two beloved children to their mothers (1 Kings 17:21-23; 2 Kings 4:31-35). The second is closer to the truth—even though no one has yet understood the fact that God not only has come for a brief visit, but has committed to eternity. The God Who Feels Our Pain

Jesus raised more than one person from the dead during His short ministry on earth. These miracles function as tangible illustrations of His power over darkness. They speak of the Creator whose word means life. While making important theological statements, they also show us the God who overcomes—and feels our pain. I love Ellen White’s take on this story: “He who stood beside the sorrowing mother at the gate of Nain watches with every mourning one beside the bier. He is touched with sympathy for our grief. His heart, that loved and pitied, is a heart of unchangeable tenderness. His word, that called the dead to life, is no less efficacious now than when spoken to the young man of Nain. He says, ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.’ Matt. 28:18. That power is not diminished by the lapse of years, nor exhausted by the ceaseless activity of His overflowing grace. To all who believe on Him He is still a living Savior.”2 God grieves with every grieving mother and father. God cries with every weeping husband or wife. God knows the aching heart of every brother, sister, uncle, aunt, grandfather, or grandmother experiencing the loss caused by death. God knows—then He gets ready for the impossible. Life eternal, born on resurrection morning, is not too big for Him. Ask the mother shouting praises at the entrance of Nain. Listen to Martha and Mary as they embrace Lazarus. Resurrection day is coming; it’s just around the corner. Can you imagine a time when “death will be no more” (Rev. 21:4, NRSV)3 and tears and sorrow will just be a faint memory? n 1 I

recognize that Joseph was not Jesus’ physical father. But he was called by God, the heavenly Father, to protect and care for the God-man Jesus as He entered our world. 2 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), p. 319. 3 Bible texts credited to NRSV are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright ©1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission.

Gerald A. Klingbeil is an associate editor of Adventist World, who looks forward to resurrection morning.

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F U N D A M E N T A L

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NUMBER 26 By Frank M. Hasel

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ne experience haunts every human being. It looms over everyone. For some it will come sooner; for others, later. But it will certainly come. It’s part of human history from the very beginning. Human beings face it all over the world. Everybody—Red and Yellow, Black and White—is affected by it. Men and women, rich and poor, old and young, are confronted with its dire consequences. No one can evade it, because death is inevitable. The Dark Face of Death

We all have to confront death at one point in our lives. It is so dreadful because it is so final. We experience the reversal of life as something absolutely permanent, something that cannot be changed. Even with all modern medical knowledge and scientific advancements we are unable to evade or reverse it. Once it occurs, nothing can be done about it. We feel helpless, vulnerable, and desperately alone. One sad consequence of death is separation. Death is utterly disruptive and violent to all relationships. Perhaps this is the reason death is the most fearful experience we humans have to face! For young people death may seem to be a long way off, but it lurks around the corner; we just don’t know when we will have to face the end of our life. Next to love, no other feeling is so intense as the agonizing experience of death. No wonder that death and the manifestation of pain, sorrow, and loss that go along with it are a prominent and reoccurring theme in literature, movies, and music. The reality of death brings us to tears. Why is this so? We feel this way because in death life ceases and our human body becomes senseless and cold, and eventually disintegrates. We return to dust, the very material God used to shape the body of the first created human beings (Gen. 2:7). In this lifeless state, wise King Solomon wrote under inspiration, there is no “activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom” (Eccl. 9:10, NASB).*

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Shall Be No More” Anticipate the power and glory of resurrection morning.

God’s Character and Death

Death is void of everything that marks and defines life. In fact, death is the destruction of life and thus the end of all loving relationships. It terminates the life we all long to live. God created human beings to live and to enjoy life in community with others and with the Creator. Thus for the triune God, who has life and fellowship in Himself, death is the “last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26). Death is never God’s mechanism of creation. It goes against God’s very nature. For God death is no divine principle that He uses to let life evolve through the demise of entire population groups. Such a cruel procedure would not square with His tender and compassionate personality and would grossly misrepresent His loving nature and character. God knows that the experience of death is frightening. He understands the sadness and grief caused by it. In fact, God Himself, in His own Son, Jesus Christ, was willing to


While we were born to live, Jesus was born to die for us. experience the painful effects of death at the moment of separation when Jesus died for our sins on the cross. While we were born to live, Jesus was born to die for us. Without His death on the cross, Jesus could not be the promised Messiah of the Scriptures (cf. 1 Cor. 15:3), and the Bible would be wrong. But as crucial and central as Christ’s voluntary death on the cross is for our salvation, His death alone would not suffice. In order to conquer death, Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (verse 4, NASB). In the splendor and glory of His resurrection the power of death was overcome. Without Christ’s resurrection, our salvation would be incomplete. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile,” the apostle Paul wrote, and we are still in our sins, and even “those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost” (verses 17, 18, NIV). The Clock Is Ticking

Christ’s resurrection marks the reversal of death and all its negative consequences. If death is the most fearful human experience, the resurrection will be our most joyful

and Death Resurrection The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day

experience. What death has separated because of sin, divine resurrection reunites. Death disrupts our relationships, but Christ’s resurrection restores fellowship. Death terminates life and brings despair, but the resurrection creates new life and restores hope. Because death ends our bodily existence, God’s resurrection restores a new body that is given to us when Jesus returns again in power and glory (cf. veses 42, 44; 1 Thess. 4:14-18). In Christ’s resurrection God triumphs over death, the last enemy. “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54, NASB). In the resurrection the authority of God’s love is far greater than the power of death. One could say the resurrection is the crowning act of divine love. The God who is love (1 John 4:8, 16) is also immortal (1 Tim. 6:16). He lives forever. He never dies. Hence His resurrection love leaves a heritage that will not end and is more permanent than death: it brings eternal life. It will be a life no longer corrupted by sin nor disrupted by sin’s deadly consequences. It’s a life without tears and sorrow and pain (Rev. 21:4). Resurrection life will be full of jubilant joy about what God has done for us, and what only He could do. The resurrected will express great thankfulness to Jesus Christ, their Savior. They marvel that Jesus did not stay dead, but rose from the grave on the third day, and they praise God that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ has eternal life. The resurrection is as glorious and beautiful as God Himself. n * Scripture quotations marked NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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. (Job 19:25-27; Ps. 146:3, 4; Eccl. 9:5, 6, 10; Dan. 12:2, 13; Isa. 25:8; John 5:28, 29; 11:11-14; Rom. 6:23; 16; 1 Cor. 15:51-54;

Frank M. Hasel has recently been elected asso-

ciate director of the Biblical Research Institute at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Silver Spring, United States. Prior to his new assignment he worked as pastor, teacher, and dean of the Theology Department at Bogenhofen Seminary, Austria.

Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; 1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 20:1-10.)

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C OV E R S T O RY

FUNERAL DANCE: A rarely taken photo of a tribal dance during a funeral in a local Benin village

Breaking

By Sandra Blackmer

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Sharing Jesus with tribal animists in West Africa 24

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he father’s heart was heavy as he knelt before the family altar and presented his sacrifice to the spirit of his ancestor. “You who gave us children, save them from the White man’s ways,” he pleaded. “See the misfortune that has come upon them. A strong wind is blowing against them. The French colonists are forcing our children to fight in a war that has nothing to do with our people. And the missionaries are making us send them away to school to learn useless things when we need our children to help us work the fields so we will have food to eat. Our children will grow up not knowing their own culture or practicing our tribal traditions. “You who are close to God, will you stand idly by? I command you to act! Make our children useless in the eyes of their kidnappers by snatching away their knowledge and power. Use the wind from all four directions to confuse their senses. If you do, then you will benefit from the many sacrifices we will continually offer to you. Accept this first sacrifice as an advance payment for the signed contract I place before you. Don’t remain indifferent, but go now and act, and bring our children back.” So about 1915 (near the beginning of World War I), among the Otammari

tribe in the region of Natitingou in Benin, West Africa, the curse was born. Presenting the Curse-breaker

“They’ve tried to break this century-old curse and they can’t,” explains Adventist Frontier Missions (AFM*) worker Jason Harral, originally from Wyoming, United States, but who has served in the Natitingou region of western Benin since 2011. “They feel hopeless.” The Otammari people believe the curse continues to prevent them from advanced development and success in society, according to AFM workers in Benin. And indeed, statistics indicate that most of the Otammari population do serve in low-key positions. “This curse causes them not to have any ambition,” says Ulrike (Uli) Baur-Kouato, an AFM worker from Germany who has served in the region for 17 years. “They don’t see a need to help their children get an education higher than primary school because they say, ‘It’s useless. We can’t go any further than that because this curse is on us.’ People don’t even try to get higher positions in society. Most of them just live from hand to mouth. They work their fields, and they just barely scrape by.”

Tribal spiritual leaders, or fetishers, have been unable to break the curse, Uli explains, because the one who pronounced the curse is dead and no one knows exactly what he said or what sacrifice he used. So according to tribal beliefs, the curse can’t be broken. “That’s where our evangelists come in,” Jason says. “We’ve told them, ‘Look, we know Someone who was there. His name is Jesus, and He knows how to break this curse. His story is told in the Bible. Do you want to listen to this story?’ ” He adds, “This is a very powerful tool to develop their interest in studying the Bible. We teach them about Jesus, the one who became a curse for us because He was hung on the tree and broke the original curse that occurred in the Garden of Eden. And if He broke that big curse, we tell them, He can break this little curse on your tribe too.”

Above: A LONGTIME MISSIONARY: Ulrike (Uli) Baur-Kouato, an AFM worker from Germany who has served in Benin for 17 years, sits outside the door of her home. Left: HEAD MAN: Chief of the village of Kounitchangou in Benin, where local AFM evangelists Jean and Charles lead out in weekly Bible studies

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Laying the Groundwork

Jason and his wife, Magnhild (Maggi), from Norway, have been with AFM since 2009 and have served in Benin for five years. They and their three children—Reuben, 7; Kaia, 5; and Petra, 3—feel at home there. “In the beginning we went through culture shock and had some very hard times, but now we feel that we belong. We’re part of it,” Jason says. Before Jason’s arrival in Natitingou—a city of some 100,000 people— Uli, along with AFM worker Suzie Baldwin, ministered in Benin for almost a decade. Both came in 1999. They first worked with another missionary family, who left in 2003. Uli then married a Beninese man, Toussaint, in 2007, so there were just the three of them before the Harral family arrived. They focused on getting to know the people, becoming familiar with the culture, helping with community needs, strengthening the local church, and developing trust. “Toussaint and I have put a lot of effort into neighborhood ministry,” Uli says. “We’ve especially tried to help the children and the youth to develop, to study, and to advance in their education. We’ve basically attempted to connect with the people and assist them with their individual needs.” Culture-sensitive Evangelism

When Jason and Maggi arrived, Maggi began assisting with community ministries. Since much of the relational groundwork had already been laid, Jason focused on evangelism. Jason’s main goal was to train local people who had already accepted Christ and joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church to become evangelists. He says the villagers would never as fully respond to and accept AFM team members, whom they view as outsiders, as they would someone from their own culture who could speak their own tribal dialects. So he began weekly evangelism training sessions. About eight to 10 people, mostly men, attend, including AFM

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Right: OUTDOOR CLASS: Local AFM evangelist Jean Akolim (blue shirt), assisted by evangelist Charles Korrobessaga (red shirt) teach villagers about Jesus under the official “meeting tree” in Kounitchangou.

Above: AFM EVANGELISTS: AFM worker Jason Harral (center) walks with two local evangelists whom he helped to train: (left) Charles Korrobessaga, and (right) Jean Akolim.

Above: Hyacinthe Tianati Right: A woman gets water for her family at a local well.

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thematic, many dealing with societal issues, such as polygamy and alcoholism. Eventually they branch out into leadership development. Local Evangelists

workers, local church leaders, and other interested individuals. “We used to have more women come and be a part of it, but the women’s lives here are very full,” Jason explains. “We don’t get as many women as we would like.” In order to be sensitive to the Otammari culture, the group developed Bible studies that present the gospel in a way that is relevant to the people and that are based on the curse still plaguing the community. Studies begin with Bible stories, starting with Creation and continuing through the Fall, the origin of evil, the war in heaven, the Flood, Abraham, and so forth. Subsequent phases of study become more

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Three local men who attend the training sessions and are playing integral roles in sharing the gospel message in surrounding villages are Hyacinthe Tianati, Jean Akolim, and Charles Korrobessaga. Hyacinthe, who has served as an evangelist for many years, lives in Boukoumbé, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Natitingou. He leads the Boukoumbé church and coordinates AFM’s evangelistic meetings in several nearby villages. Jean lives in Kouaba, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) from Natitingou, and works in the villages of Katayinka and Kounitchangou. Charles lives in Natitingou, where he holds Bible studies for people in the community. He also helps Jean with his evangelistic work and operates the local Adventist Book Center. “Hyacinthe goes to the villages as an Otammari man saying, ‘I grew up in this culture. I grew up under this curse. I want to see our people set free from this curse. I’m free from the curse today

The Republic of Benin

enin is 112,622 square kilometers (43,483 square miles) in size, bordering Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Togo, and has a population of about 10 million. Almost half of the people are under 15 years old, with most living in the southern and central regions. The climate is tropical, with both rainy and dry seasons. Porto-Novo in southeastern Benin is the capital, but the seat of government is in nearby Cotonou, Benin’s largest city. Although the national language is French, more than 50 languages and dialects are also spoken. Cooking is mostly done outside, even in urban areas, and many homes don’t have refrigeration. Basic meals consist of a starch, such as yams, rice, or corn, prepared as a mush and eaten with a sauce containing vegetables and meat or fish. Many varieties of tropical fruits are also available. About half the population earn their living in agriculture, although the lack of passable roads in rural areas makes it difficult

P H O T O S

because of what Jesus has done.’ The people can hardly resist this,” Jason says. “Hyacinthe cannot tell this story without starting a group of people wanting to study the Bible, wanting to meet every week. It’s so powerful. Now he’s training young people, young men, who are going with him and learning how to do evangelism, learning how to tell this same story. It’s a beautiful thing!” Jean is originally from Togo, but he attended secondary school in Boukoumbé and learned the local language. He now lives in a small mud house in Kouaba and holds weekly Bible studies and Sabbath worship services in his home and under trees in two nearby villages. The first time Jason attended one of Jean’s study classes, he says he was both amazed and thrilled. “That was a reward for me, seeing Jean teach, seeing the energy,” Jason says. “He was sitting there in front of 40 or 50 people explaining to them the origin of evil. As I watched him I thought, He’s got it! I’ll have that image with me for the rest of my life.” “The villages where Jean has been working for about a year now have been resistant to religions other than their own,” Uli notes. “Churches that

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to transport agricultural products to market. Men do the heavier farming tasks, such as clearing land, but women help plant, harvest, and process the food. They also carry wood and water and take care of the many household tasks. Women received legal equality status in 1977, but this is often ignored in practice. About 24 percent of women are literate. Families arrange most marriages, but it’s becoming more common for individuals to choose their own spouse. Polygamy continues to be an acceptable practice. About 27 percent of the population is Christian (mostly Roman Catholic), 25 percent is Muslim, and the rest follows indigenous belief systems in which ancestors are considered part of the community after death. Both Muslim and Christian beliefs in that region, however, are mixed to some degree with animism.* *This sidebar is based on information from http://www.beninembassy.us/about-benin.html, http:// www.everyculture.com/A-Bo/Benin.html, and http://www.iexplore.com/articles/travel-guides/ africa/benin/history-and-culture.

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Above: TEACHING THE CHILDREN: A local lay evangelist named Daniel teaches children Bible stories using a picture roll. other religious denominations tried to establish there have since been closed or abandoned. People predicted that Jean’s meetings wouldn’t last more than a few months, but a year later they are still going strong. The Lord is definitely blessing.” Beginning With the Chiefs

The local evangelists’ knowledge of the culture and insightfulness helped

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open the doors when they initially entered the villages to share the gospel. They first approached the village chiefs to ask permission. “They said, ‘Can we present something in your village? There is something we would like to tell the people,’ ” Jason explains. “The chiefs said OK, then when the people gathered together the evangelists talked about the curse and how the Word of God tells how the curse can be

What Is Animism?

nglish anthropologist Edward B. Tylor introduced the term animism into common use in 1873. He defined it as “the doctrine of spiritual beings” and wrote that “in its full development, [it] includes the belief in souls and in a future state, in controlling deities and subordinate spirits . . . resulting in some kind of active worship.”1 These spiritual beings can be ancestors who continue a conscious existence after death, as well as other spirits that can rank as high as deities. Animists believe that these spirits inhabit both objects and living beings and that everything is conscious and has a soul.2 Animism is also described as “the belief that personal spiritual beings and impersonal spiritual forces have power over human affairs and that humans, consequently, must discover what beings and forces are impacting them in order to determine future action and, frequently, to manipulate their power.”3 In other words, animists believe that a spiritual ancestor can ruin a harvest, make a person sick, heal a child, make a person wealthy, or reduce an income. Animists live in fear of these powers and attempt to appease the spirits. When something “bad” happens, spiritual “middlemen” are sought to help

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broken. So they really had a captive audience. No one can say, ‘Don’t do this in our village,’ because the chief is part of it and has accepted it. “There was some initial resistance because the villagers were afraid that the evangelists were there to destroy their culture,” Jason adds. “But Hyacinthe was very tactful and said, ‘We don’t want to destroy what is good in your culture. And we’re not going to

A BRIEF OVERVIEW reveal the cause of the problem and suggest remedies. Various methods—including omens, astrology, and dreams—are used to determine which powers are involved. Animism doesn’t involve a personal relationship with the spiritual powers, but rather is based on manipulating them to do what the person wants, such as cursing someone who they determine is an enemy. They do this through animistic rites, such as sacrifices, and through objects such as good luck charms and talismans. It isn’t just remote African tribes that practice animism. The number of people even in Western countries who at least “give a nod” to animistic practices is growing. “Those who check their horoscopes or call on a palm reader or other soothsayer are looking to animistic practice for life’s answers.”4 Some estimates indicate that 40 percent of the world’s population is animistic.5 1 http://missiology.org/old/folkreligion/chapter1.htm 2 http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Animism 3 http://missiology.org/old/folkreligion/chapter1.htm 4 www.marketfaith.org/animism-in-todays-world-2/ 5 Ibid.


force anyone to do anything. We’re not going to break any altars. We give everybody the freedom of choice. We’re just presenting a message; and it’s your choice whether to accept it.’ So that calmed them down.” Talking Religion

Broaching the subject of religion among the Otammari isn’t very difficult, Uli notes. Describing the people as “open and friendly and joyful,” she says it’s rare to find atheists in Africa. “Even people who are not Christian know that God is there,” she says. “It’s a very religious people. In Benin some people are Muslims, some are Christians, but most are animists. Many mix their beliefs into their own system. So it’s not difficult to talk about faith. But when it comes to Adventist biblical doctrines, there are certain lifestyle issues that are extremely difficult for people to adopt, such as not drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a very big problem in Benin.” Animism has a strong hold in the region, Uli explains, because the Otammaris believe that everything surrounding them has a living soul— not only people and animals, but also places, rocks, and all of nature. They say that when a person dies, the soul continues to live on and to some extent influences daily life. “When someone gets sick, when P H O T O S

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someone dies, when they have a bad harvest—everything that is happening has a reason in the spiritual, or unseen, world,” Uli says. “You need to find out what’s wrong in the spiritual world that is making this person sick or that person to fail in their work. So you consult a diviner, who is a spiritual middleman. This person will then consult the spirits and find out which of the ancestor spirits is upset at you for some reason, and what sacrifice, what ceremony, needs to be done to remedy the situation. It’s obviously very different from Christianity.” Uli believes, however, that, in spite of the different religious beliefs, the Lord is blessing the efforts of the AFM team and that they are making a difference. “When AFM missionaries go into a country, they are asked first to live with the people and observe them; study the language, the culture, the traditions, and the religion of the people,” she says. “Once you have that knowledge and have built friendships and trust, you can then find the best ways to touch their hearts.” Moving On

Uli says the AFM project in Benin is almost complete and will likely phase out within the next two years. The local full-time evangelists will continue, supervised by the local

pastor and the mission headquarters. But Uli and her husband will remain in Africa. “I fell in love with Africa and the people here, and with an African,” Uli says. “Toussaint and I have decided that we will continue to use our gifts to work with the children and youth in Natitingou.” Their goals include building a home for orphaned and abandoned children on land that they personally own. Suzi also married a Beninese man, Fidel, and transferred from Natitingou to Tanguiéta in 2014, where they have started a new AFM project. Following the interviews for this article Jason and his family also left Benin and moved to Norway, where they are preparing to return soon to a different region of West Africa. It was not, however, an easy decision for them to make. “In some ways we could stay here forever, but the work is wrapping up, so we’re choosing to move on,” Jason explains. “It’s not because of a desire to leave here; it’s just that the time has come to leave the work with others.” Jason and Maggi’s prayer, however, is that the Lord will continue to bless the people of Benin, and that His message of love will touch their hearts. “What more can we do than leave it in the Lord’s hands, leave it with the Holy Spirit?” he says. “As the workers and the people continue to seek the Lord and to seek Jesus, I pray that they will have a revelation of Him that they will never forget.” n *AFM is a supporting ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Sandra Blackmer is an assistant editor

of Adventist World. This article is based on interviews conducted by Blackmer, as well as video footage and interviews done by Henry Stober, a professional videographer and photographer living in Germany.

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A D V E N T I S T

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n April 6, 2013, we received the type of phone call that every parent hopes they will never get in their lives. Our only son, Andrew Oey Kuntaraf, had died in a tragic motorcycle accident. Police reports noted that he was abiding the law and was not speeding, but another driver failed to yield, resulting in the disastrous casualty. We were absolutely shocked and devastated. We cried until we had no more tears. Andrew was 33 years old and in the prime of his life. He had served as an associate director of SunPlus Adventist Accounting Software of the General Conference, a responsibility that required him to travel to various parts of the world and work with division, union, and conference treasurers. When he was 32 years old, he was appointed to serve as director of Membership Accounting Software of the General Conference, working closely with division secretaries around the world. We are extremely proud of Andrew. He had grown up to be so well-rounded. He possessed skills of leadership and public speaking, could speak several languages and dialects, and possessed the talent to play various musical instruments. Moreover, he loved God and used these abilities to praise God through preaching and providing music whenever he was given the opportunity. Andrew was also a happy, thoughtful, and lovable son. We hugged each other every time we met. We recognize that death can come to anyone at any time and any place, but the reality of his death was overwhelming. Grieving for lost loved ones is a process that may take years, and perhaps even a lifetime. We believe, however, that the Lord has given us the miracle of healing. His healing has come by the divine Word that He provides to us, the people whom He uses to support us, and the opportunity that such a tragic event can still be used as a blessing to others. God’s Divine Word Carries Us Through Dark Times in Our Lives

Through the reading of His Word, meditation, and prayer, God has continued to reveal to us that His promises are sure and that His faithfulness is new every morning. The Bible uplifts and strengthens us. Recognizing that this world is not our home and that Jesus is coming back, we are reminded that Andrew’s death is only temporary. We are also reminded that life is a gift of God. As Job 1:21 says: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.” Andrew was God’s gift to us, and we praise God because He entrusted him to our care for 25 years until he got married. We praise God for the 33 years and 7

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God Heals Grieving

Parents share their journey of healing a months of his life, because he was such a source of joy to us. We miss his hugs greatly and look forward to the coming of Jesus, when we can hug him tightly again and say, “I love you, Andrew.” Never to be separated again. Yes, hope for the second coming of Jesus truly heals our grief. Healing Comes With the Help of God’s Community of Believers

The Lord used so many of God’s people to comfort us in our time of deep sorrow. We received overwhelming love and sympathy from all over the world through thousands of condolence messages sent by cards, e-mails, text messages, phone calls, and Facebook. Many people flew from various parts of the world to attend Andrew’s funeral. Later Israel Leito, president of the Inter-American Division, told


The Kuntaraf family in happier times.

By Kathleen and Jonathan Kuntaraf

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g after the death of their son. us, “It is a loss not only for the family but also for the world church.” This humbled us. We appreciated all the prayers and were comforted because others also were crying with us when we lost our son. The church community is God’s hands; this community embraces us and helps us heal. Healing Comes When a Tragedy Is Used to Be a Blessing to Others

We realize that even in a tragic event such as death there is opportunity to encourage others to grow closer to Christ. Hebrews 11:4 says that “by faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,” and by it “he being dead still speaks.” Abel is still speaking to us through his life of obedience to God.

It is comforting to know that the Lord has used Andrew to touch so many people’s lives. Many people shared with us how the spirit of Andrew, the things he did, and the words he said brought encouragement to them and tangible changes in their lives that were still visible even after his death. Several memorial services were held in Andrew’s honor. These services became a platform for reconciliation, forgiveness, and reprioritization in people’s lives. We praise God that Andrew’s life, and even his death, became a catalyst in bringing people closer together and closer to God. When tragedy hits, we often ask, “What good can come out of this?” If we are open to the Holy Spirit, we will realize that God still speaks amid tragedy and that tragedy may provide an avenue to witness for God and be a blessing to others. Andrew’s death prompted us to set up a scholarship fund in his honor. Through the generous monetary gifts given at the various memorial services, this fund was used to help many orphans, needy children, and young men and women seeking higher education in Indonesia. We praise God that other youth may be empowered to follow in Andrew’s footsteps and his vision of ministering to others. Using a tragedy to connect with people and help them assists with healing at a time of grief. God truly has the power to heal our grieving hearts through His Word, the various people of faith who strengthen us, and the opportunities to be a blessing even in tragedy. We still miss Andrew deeply, and not a day goes by when we do not think of him in some way. Personal healing has come to us from letting go of things that we cannot change, forgiveness of the negligent driver, and recognition of things that we have not lost. We treasure the sweet memories we have of Andrew, but we also cherish our living family members—our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren—who always give us consolation. We have gained a deeper appreciation for life and the opportunities to minister to others while we are still alive. We look forward to Jesus’ second coming, when there will be no more separation from our loved ones. n

Kathleen Kuntaraf, recently retired, served as an associate

director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department. Jonathan Kuntaraf, also recently retired, was director of the GC Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department.

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BMX bike riding is one of the activities campers may participate in at Cohutta Springs Youth Camp in Crandall, Georgia.

By Kimberly Luste Maran

Campfires, Memories, and

MeETING God

The summer camp experience in North America

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enjamin Cunya loves making new friends. Originally from Peru, the 11-year-old was especially excited about attending summer camp at Camp Victory Lake in New York. When he first arrived, Cunya was amazed at how it looked: “big and nice, and exciting.” He eagerly jumped out of the car and, even though he is learning English, went on the prowl for friends and fun. He found both—and more. Two counselors have made the biggest impressions on him during his six weeks at camp: “Counselor [Robert]

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Jones, because he taught me to be neat; and Instructor [Itahni] Kotee, who is a very good art teacher.” But Cunya’s favorite parts of camp were playing, swimming, and learning more about God. “I’ve learned that God made the earth and made mankind beautiful,” says Cunya. “My mom wanted me to come here and learn more about God. I’m glad I came.” Cunya is one of more than 23,000 children across North America who attended camp this past summer, having their lives changed by the experience.

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P H O T O :

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Adventist Camps

There are 67 church-owned camps and conference centers across the North American Division (NAD), estimated to be worth $1 billion. Most conferences own a youth camp—some are located in rustic environments and operated only during the summer and early-fall months, while others are large camps and conference centers that cater to members of their local conference and outside Christian or secular groups that rent the facilities. “Most of our camp/retreat centers operate year-round,” says Bill Wood,

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Benjamin Cunya takes a moment out of his busy camp schedule to pose for a photo during his summer at Camp Victory Lake in New York.

coordinator of NAD camp ministries. Wood, who has been involved with Adventist camps for 40 years and continues in his retirement, shares that almost 370 staff and their families labor all year long at NAD camps. “Summer camp, with more than 35,000 attending child/teen and family camps across the NAD, is just a small fraction of what happens on a year-round basis. Many camps host non-Adventist retreats, family camps, secular conferences, etc., and this is subtle evangelism at is best as it gives our non-Adventist friends a new look at Adventists.” Wood is glad for these opportunities, but wishes that “more of our churches would utilize their own camp facilities for church retreats, leadership training, and other events.” While most of the camps are used year-round, the most profoundly affected groups are arguably those who attend and work at the camps in the summer. Adventist camps, which have changed thousands of lives through the years, started inauspiciously 89 summers ago. Dreams Fulfilled

“The story has been told many times,” says Wood. “Two teenage boys had a vision for ministry to other young people their own age in their home state of Michigan.” Luther Warren, 14, and Harry Fenner, 17, recognized that the boys in their church needed a ministry that would help them grow their relationship with Jesus. The two walked down a dusty country road talking. Soon they P H O T O :

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stopped and knelt in a field and asked God to lead in their dreams and plans. In 1927 Grover Fattic, who had dreams of his own for a wider ministry to young people, presented his summer camping program ideas to East Michigan Conference leaders. Fattic was serving as conference Missionary Volunteer secretary at the time and, with approval but no conference funding, found the Townline Lake site, a Boy Scout camp. The boys’ prayers were answered! The first Adventist summer camp, organized by Fattic at Townline Lake in Montcalm County, Michigan, lasted for 10 days and cost $10 per camper. The conditions were less than ideal, and some parents who drove their sons out to the camp thought it too unsafe, and the boys left. According to Wood, however, the 18 boys who did stay swam, camped, and fellowshipped together. “The event was so successful that Fattic organized a similar experience for girls the following summer,” Wood

says. “That first group of boys helped birth a program that was quickly followed in Wisconsin, California, New England, and, eventually, across the nation and world. Those humble beginnings grew into Adventist Youth Ministries, which includes Adventist Camp Ministries, Pathfinders, and Adventurers.” Beyond the Great Outdoors

Children who spend summer days and weeks on the more than 14,600 acres of NAD campgrounds unplug and enjoy the great outdoors. A variety of activities, which include swimming, waterskiing, climbing, arts and crafts, campfire moments, and much more, keep campers and more than 2,700 summer staffers busy. But Adventist camps are more than that. According to Norm Middag, a pioneer in Adventist camping in North America and founder of Association of Adventist Camp Professionals (AACP), camps provide a safe haven for youth. “Camps provide a place in a natural setting where young campers as well as families can enjoy wholesome outdoor experiences—and for families, a cost-effective vacation.” Not only do campers learn how to be part of a community and develop

Behind the Scenes

The staff of year-round camps attend annual training conventions, coordinated by the Association of Adventist Camp Professionals (AACP) in NAD. Workshops cover all areas of camp ministry, with tracks for summer camp directors, camp managers, camp rangers, food service directors, etc. The AACP meets regularly during the year to plan conventions and marketing. The North American Division Camp Committee, chaired by Debra Brill, an NAD vice president, oversees all the functions of camp ministry in the division. Many camps in the NAD are either accredited by the American Camping Association or working toward it. Adventist Risk Management strongly endorses the ACA accreditation and hopes that all Adventist camps will become accredited. For more information, visit adventistcamps.org.

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new skills and interests—they also develop spiritually. Says Middag, “Camping helps develop spiritual meanings and values that help the camp users strengthen their character.” Middag adds, “Lifetime friendships are made through these experiences. And the main purpose of our camps is to provide an atmosphere in which young and old alike can experience a new relationship with Jesus Christ.” “Jesus is at the heart of the camp experience,” says Wood. “Imagine a small child who stands in line waiting, clasping their pillow anxiously as the director hands out cabin assignments. The child is ready for adventure, but they may not even realize that the adventure they will soon embark upon will show them the most amazing picture of Jesus they may ever encounter in their entire lives, a picture that will take them finally to live forever with Jesus in the kingdom of God.” And it’s not just the campers who have close encounters with Jesus. “Summer camp not only provides opportunities for youth to develop socially and spiritually. It also provides young adults the opportunity to develop a commitment to the Adventist Church and see their faith in action as they seek to win the campers to Jesus,” says Jason C. North, Sr., youth/camp director at Camp J. R. Wagner in Cassopolis, Michigan. Chelsea Dancek, who has served as a counselor at Camp Kulaqua in High Springs, Florida, for several years, had a breakthrough summer after a tough G E O R G I A C U M B E R L A N D C O M M U N I C AT I O N D E PA R T M E N T

year. In her July 13, 2016, blog “Not Just a Summer Fling,” she writes about two campers who touched her heart, and about a staff assignment that helped heal a broken heart and mend her relationship with God. “As I closed my eyes, God’s presence just really hit me and swung wide open the doors to my heart,” she writes. “As I soaked it in, the past frustrations and estrangement from God I had been feeling just melted away and were replaced with peace and closeness. I was assured that for the first time in a long time, I was exactly where He wanted me and doing exactly what He wanted me to be doing.” Dancek began to see camp in a different way. “God showed me that camp is a time to learn to better love and be loved,” she writes. “He taught me that the campers and staff I was surrounded by were not only people I could minister to, but also windows into His heart.”

“Chelsea’s story is repeated in the experiences of hundreds of other young adults who have worked as staff at Adventist camps,” says Debra Brill, an NAD vice president who, as part of her portfolio, is administrative liaison and board chair of youth/ young adult ministries. “Research commissioned by the North American Division in 2009 revealed that more than 60 percent of those employed at summer camps retained their connection with the church, moving on to become denominational leaders in Adventist churches and institutions.” Committed to Christ

Last year alone, nearly 4,000 young people asked to be baptized as a result of camp ministry across North America. Wood explains that this is a natural culmination of camps working in cooperation with local churches and schools. “Camp ministry is youth evangelism at its best,” says Wood. “There are so many ways God

A Cohutta Springs camper practices with bow and arrow during an archery activity.


The Inspiring Story of the Seventh-day Adventist Church


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A Cohutta Springs camper learns how to ride a horse during summer 2016.

connects people to a saving relationship with His Son, Jesus,” says Rob Lang, camp director at Cohutta Springs Youth Camp (CSYC) in Georgia. “And God is using summer camp ministry all around the North American Division to bring about decisions for Christ and baptism into the church.” Lang shares how God worked in the life of Elise Jones this past summer. Jones had been to camp before, but this summer she decided to sign up for two weeks. Her first week was Ultimate RAD Camp, a teen specialty camp that offers a different outdoor adventure every day. Some of the week is spent tent camping at various destinations. According to Lang, she tried mountain biking, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting, just to name a few. For her second week Jones chose Teen Camp 2. During both weeks, the

teen grew close to her counselor, Lizzie Williams. Williams encouraged Jones in her spiritual journey, saying, “Nothing beats getting baptized at camp!” Williams helped Jones realize God changes the person when they commit their lives to Him. “Elise prayed about it and experienced such a feeling of peace,” says Lang. “She decided it was time to take her stand.” She was baptized at CSYC on July 16, 2016. “I love how camp is just a fresh start,” says Jones, who will be entering high school this fall. “Everyone at camp is there to support you and help you grow closer to God, because you are basically all family at camp.” Elise’s father, Matt Jones, principal of Atlanta Adventist Academy, is thrilled his daughter attended camp.

In Remembrance Three staffers passed away this past summer during time off and away from camp. “Our camps go the extra mile to do everything we can to make sure we run the safest camp possible by meeting nationally recognized standards,” says Bill Wood. “While these unfortunate accidents in no way reflect the overall safety of those camps, we continue to mourn the loss of these three dedicated young adults.” Brian Robak, 28, fell while returning from the summit of Mount Washington, Oregon, on June 30. Robak spent eight summers and two winters as a full-time staff member at Big Lake Youth Camp (more at http://ow.ly/H4F7303rW9p). On July 14 the Central California Conference of the Seventhday Adventist Church was notified that 21-year-old college

The proud father wrote to Lang: “Thank you for the incredible ministry of CSYC. Words serve as insufficient containers of meaning and emotion watching my youngest come up out of the water at her baptism last Sabbath. I appreciate your leadership . . . . Special thanks also to the counselors who played a vital role in our girls being spiritually nourished at camp.” The staff of 88 collegiate/young adults, mentored by Lang, minister to more than 1,800 campers each summer. Each year more than 1,100 decisions are made for Christ, and an average of 300 decisions for baptism. Lang, who has been a camp director for 25 years and at CSYC for 14, says, “I stayed in this work recognizing how important camp ministry is to the church. At Cohutta Springs, with God’s help and for His glory, we want to be a great camp that helps campers come face to face with Jesus while we develop young adult staff into topnotch spiritual leaders for the church.” Lang believes that summer camp is “one of the greatest educational environments ever created. The results are clear and undeniable. Every year staff make choices to become teachers and pastors. The outcomes far outweigh the challenges!”

student Kevin Canavan, a summer camp employee from Camp Wawona, drowned while he and several others were on an outing during their day off (more at http://ow.ly/jtSm303rW7m). George Jameson, a 19-year-old Seventh-day Adventist summer camp worker and recent high school graduate, drowned not far from Camp Au Sable while snorkeling in Michigan with friends during the weekend of July 23-24 (more at http://ow.ly/ c8Wm303rW0R). “The loss of these young people this summer has been devastating for those who have raised them, educated them, and mentored them in leadership and camp ministry,” says Tracy Wood, associate director of Young Adult Ministries for the NAD. “It has also been heartbreaking to the campers who they have inspired. We look forward all the more to the resurrection morning when Jesus comes and calls them back to life saying, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. . . . Enter into the joy of your Lord’ [Matt. 25:23].”

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N A D F E AT U R E He adds, “[Camp] is a great place to make decisions that can last for eternity.” Through the Generations

Spiritual breakthroughs, learning experiences, and firm commitments to Christ are not new to the camp experience, however. Many families across North America have rich histories with summer camp attendance; and they continue the tradition with their children. Erica Doswell is one such parent. Her daughter is a fourth-generation camper at Camp Victory Lake. “I sent my child to camp because it’s a growing, learning experience for her,” says Doswell. “Camp helps with her development and her personal maturity. Here she learns additional skills on how to get along well with others who are older and younger than she is. She has to show respect to strangers, such as her counselor, instructors, and directors—this helps to make her more aware of and respectful to authority.” Doswell, whose grandfather, Edmund Good, was camp doctor for many years, and whose parents met at the very same camp, enjoyed her own camp years. She believes that camp makes a significant impact in the lives of young Adventists as important values are taught. “This camp is a safe place where young Adventists can go and congregate in a positive environment.” As Dancek writes in her blog: “I fell in love with all my campers. I fell in love with people. I fell in love with camp ministry. And most important, I fell head over heels for a God whose presence I can’t stop desiring more of. . . . This new, passionate kind of love I found in Him is here to stay. I can’t shake it. It’s not just a summer fling.” n

Kimberly Luste Maran is

assistant director of communication for the North American Division.

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Elise Jones is baptized in July at Cohutta Springs Youth Camp in Crandall, Georgia.

Stories From CAMP

A Taoist Meets Jesus: For two weeks this summer we have had campers join us from Taiwan. Many of these campers are Buddhist or followers of other Eastern religions. A young Taiwanese girl who came from a Taoist background heard about Jesus for the first time. She was amazed to learn about a God that loved her personally. “Will God be angry with me because I am a Taoist?” she asked her counselor. The counselor told her that God loved and accepted her just the way she was. By the end of the week the counselor had taught this young girl to pray for the first time. We sent her home with a Bible of her own. I am certain that the Holy Spirit will continue to water the seeds that were sown here at camp.

—David Yeagley, director of Sunset Lake Camp, Wilkeson, Washington Mission Accomplished: Chloe Dillard’s first impression of our camp was that the place was “big.” She says she was nervous when she first arrived. She shares that her favorite part of camp was “the last day when we got to sleep on the floor in the gym and watch the movie.” Tiffany and George Dillard, Chloe’s parents, say, “We sent our daughter to camp to get a positive Christian experience. Our church does not have a large amount of young people, and although they make an effort the youth do not often have programming that is catered for them.” The Dillards wanted their daughter to learn that it can be fun to be an Adventist Christian. They want her to know that lots of other kids just like her love God and want to be more like Jesus. The Dillards share that Chloe “loved her camp experience and at the end requested to be baptized. Mission accomplished.”

—J ason C. North, Sr., Camp J. R. Wagner, Cassopolis, Michigan

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C U R R E N T

I S S U E

What’s New About By Merling Alomía

Death?

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e live in a world in which we must daily endure disease, distress, and the unavoidable tragedy of death. The flood of tears for our pain and mourning is as great as the devastating flood of Noah’s day. The world is full of suffering and sorrow, crying and funerals, that remind us of the fate of death that awaits us all at the end of our days. But what is death? And why does it need to be part of our existence? Is there any hope for this scourge in our lives to finally provide us with a happy ending? The Devil’s Old Lie

Our current unhappy situation began when our first parents, Adam and Eve, distrusted the Creator’s goodness, gave up their faith in the divine Word, openly rejected His authority, and chose to believe and follow the father of lies instead. They ate what God had forbidden them to (Gen. 3:6), believing the lie of the “murderer” and “father of [lies]” (John 8:44), who assured them: “You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). That very moment their tragedy began. Their eyes were open to apprehend the boundless misery that would follow their disobedience. Their daily meeting with the Creator became sad and tragic. New emotions and reactions of shame, fear, lies, and self-justification now overwhelmed both

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Is it still death?

their behavior and their feelings, as they were forced to face their new and horrible reality of sin and its consequences. Rejecting God’s initial blessing of eternal life, they chose to accept the deceiver’s gift of a destiny of pain and death. They were now forced to vacate their Eden home as mere mortal sinners, and listen to their sentence of doom: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. . . . In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (verses 17-19). Forever thereafter life on this earth has been stamped with the tragedy of death as a result of humanity’s sin. New Times, Old Lie

That curse has not waned through the centuries. Neither have Satan’s falsehoods. In cultures everywhere he has managed to introduce the belief in the natural immortality of the soul. Among primitive peoples, as in the philosophies of educated people, divine revelation is rejected, and the lie again accepted: “Thou shalt not surely die.” Our new millennium is no exception to this wayward trend. Under the guise of sophisticated modernity, humanity now clings to this falsehood under the blessings of the New Age movement. It is intriguing to realize that the New Age movement is nothing more than a sophisticated P H O T O :

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reengineering of the old spiritualism, first introduced in the Garden of Eden, and now reformulated in modern times. Since the mid-nineteenth century, the lie has been exhibited under a thousand subtleties, promises, and images. New Agers have declared the new millennium the Age of Aquarius. Since the 1960s apostles of the New Age have effectively used cinema, TV, the press, and an infinity of books and magazines, along with so-called scientific discoveries, to spread the doctrines of spiritualism. The film industry has established itself as a primary spokesperson of the New Age lie. Countless movies, seminars, techniques, exercises, music, mystic ecology, conferences, miracles, esoteric tourism, transcendental meditation, healing energy, witchcraft, etc., have been used to spread the tenets of the movement. More and more churches open their doors to the occult under the pretext of enjoying mystical experiences and transcendental prayer. It is the “Cosmic Christ,” not the “Calvary Christ,” that lives in them. Exposing the Lie

As Satan spreads his deceit, it is good to take into account the apostle Paul’s warning about this last great deception: “The Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). Satanic forces will multiply their deceitful activities as they try to instill apostasy within the ranks of God’s people. At the same time, Jesus warns us of an extraordinary display of false Christs and prophets of deceit in the days just before His coming, acting together to deceive “even the elect,” if possible (Matt. 24:24). John the revelator predicts that Satan’s cohort, called Babylon, will become “a prison for every foul spirit” (Rev. 18:2). John shows that spiritual-

ism will plunge the world into deception and final distress as it plots with the leaders of the nations (verse 3). At the end of time Satan will use his first deceit, the lie of the “immortality of the soul,” to entangle humanity under his diabolical net.1 His climactic move will be to use spiritualism, in a triple alliance with the Roman beast and the American false prophet to seek to bury the world in final chaos.2 New Age teaching on the soul directly opposes the saving message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Contrasting both provides us with a summary of this disturbing truth. Safe Forever

The everlasting gospel is part of the Three Angels’ Messages, the focal point of proclamation by the remnant church. It is a message that must be proclaimed as long as we enjoy freedom and the merciful grace provided by the sanctuary. Jesus Christ came to our world to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8) and free the captives of deceit from their prison house of death. He came to give us eternal life and to save us. He ever reminds us, “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40). n 1

Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), p. 588. 2 Ibid.

Merling Alomía, a retired Adventist educator and administrator, served for many years at Peruvian Union University, near the city of Lima, Peru.

The Bible and Its Gospel

New Age and Spiritualism

The human being, or soul, is mortal.

Human beings possess an immortal soul. We do not die.

Death is our enemy.

Death is our friend.

When we die, all contact with the living is lost.

After death, the dead can communicate with the living.

Only Christ can give us eternal life.

Eternal life in Christ is just a myth.

The only way of returning to life is through the resurrection that will grant us immortality under the same identity we now have.

When we die, we reincarnate ourselves to keep living in a different body and identity (even an animal, whether insect, four-footed animal, or bird).

Resurrection is a unique, nonrepetitive event; when we are resurrected, we will receive incorruptible perfection and eternal immortality, with no moral or physical blemishes.

Reincarnation is repetitive, since a dead person is able to reincarnate millions of times, repeating their failures and moral blemishes.

The goal is that every person be saved through Jesus Christ, who The goal is that every person be lost through believing the lie of assures us that He is “the resurrection and the life” and that He will the immortality of the soul devised by Satan, whom Jesus calls “a resurrect all who believe in Him at the time of His second coming. murderer,” and “father of [lies]” (John 8:44).

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B I B L E

Q U E S T I O N S

Did Jesus promise the thief on the cross that his soul would survive his death (Luke 23:42, 43)?

A N S W E R E D

What Jesus

Told the Thief

The story of the thief on the cross manifests Christ’s willingness to submit to the divine plan for Him and His power to save. While the multitude accused Him of not being able to save Himself, Jesus was ready to save the thief. This was possible because He was unwilling to save Himself. It is unfortunate that the passage has been used to argue that righteous people go to Paradise when they die. 1. Paradise: The place or destination for both the thief and Jesus is called “Paradise,” originally a Persian word meaning “enclosure, park, garden.” The Greek version of Genesis 2:8-10, 16 (LXX) uses that same word (paradeisos) for the Garden of Eden. The word is found two other times in the New Testament. In 2 Corinthians 12:2 Paul says that he was taken in vision to the third heaven, located by him in “Paradise” (verse 4), the place where God dwells. In Revelation 2:7 “Paradise” is the place where the tree of life is located. Those who overcome will have access to that place and to the tree of life. Nowhere in the Bible is “Paradise” a place where the righteous immediately go after death. It is clearly a place where the resurrected righteous will go to be with Christ and the Father, and to have access to the tree of life. 2. Jesus and Paradise: According to the biblical record, Jesus did not go to Paradise after His death (Acts 2:31; Matt. 12:40). Jesus was buried and remained in the tomb until His resurrection, at which time He appeared to Mary, stating that He had “not yet ascended to My Father” but that now He was “ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God” (John 20:17). The obvious implication is that He could not have promised the thief that He would be with him in Paradise on Friday. Besides, Jesus and the thief did not die at the same time. The biblical record indicates that Jesus died Friday before sunset (John 19:33). When Jesus died, the thief was still

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alive, and his legs were broken. It usually took several days for those who were crucified to die. 3. The Meaning of “Today”: In general, the interpretation of this text is related to the question of the comma: Should it be placed before “today” (“I tell you the truth, today you will be . . .”), or after “today” (“I tell you the truth today, you will be . . .”)? The first reading is the most common among interpreters who believe in the immortality of the soul. The idea is that immediately after his death the soul of the thief would be with Christ in Paradise. Commas were added to the Greek text in the fifteenth century A.D.; Luke did not use a comma. Therefore he could have meant “I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” This suggestion is supported by a similar use of the term “today” in the Old Testament in the context of solemn promises: “I command you today . . .” (Deut. 30:16); “I announce to you today that you will surely perish” (verse 18). “Today” introduces a solemn statement. This fits the fact that Jesus was not in Paradise immediately after He died. He was solemnly promising the thief that he will enjoy salvation with Christ in Paradise after the resurrection. This interpretation flows also from the use of the adverb “today” in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus uses it to indicate that salvation is already available through Christ today (Luke 2:11, NIV; 4:21; 5:26; 19:9). This is the “today” of salvation. In that case Jesus was telling the thief that the moment of the cross is the moment of salvation, and that he will participate of it in Paradise. The text is not dealing at all with the intermediate state, but with the saving power of the cross. n

Now retired, Angel Manuel Rodríguez has served as a pastor, professor, and theologian.


B I B L E

S T U D Y

Matters of

Life and Death

By Mark A. Finley

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n the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), the rich man goes immediately to hell and Lazarus goes to heaven (Abraham’s bosom). How do you explain this parable if those who are dead rest in an unconscious state until the Lord’s return? It’s important to notice that this is a parable, the fifth in a series of parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son (Luke 15), and the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-11). Parables are designed to teach great moral principles. Each feature of the parable is not intended to be taken literally. For example, even though the Shepherd has to search for us, we don’t all have wool and four feet like sheep. We are not metal like a silver coin. The question we have to ask of each parable is What are the great moral lessons? We get into deep trouble if we attempt to understand each detail of the parable literally rather than grasping the lesson Jesus is trying to teach. Let’s assume that the parable of the rich man and Lazarus should be taken literally. Is it possible to have conversations between heaven and hell? Can those in heaven see people burning in hell? Can they hear their torment? Abraham must have a large bosom to contain all the individuals who go there. To understand the parable literally is to create huge problems. Heaven would be a terrible place if we beheld the constant, ever-present suffering of our friends.

1

Why did Jesus use this story? What lessons was He trying to teach? The Jews had a tradition that described death as passing through a valley of darkness and risking eternal loss and destruction to find security at Abraham’s bosom.

2 What three lessons did Jesus intend to communicate in this story? First, the Jews believed that riches were a sign of God’s favor, and poverty a sign of His displeasure. In the story the rich man, who the Jews thought to be blessed of God, ends up in hell and the poor man in heaven. Jesus reversed the expected outcome, demonstrating that riches A R T:

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gained by greed, dishonesty, or oppression are not a sign of God’s favor. Second, the parable describes a great fixed gulf. Jesus clearly communicated that there is no second chance after death. Decisions made in life determine our eternal destiny. Third, Jesus points out that if the Pharisees reject the clear teachings of God’s Word regarding salvation, they would also reject a supernatural, spectacular miracle such as somebody rising from the dead.

3 The Jews were always asking Jesus for a sign. What sign of His power did He give them a short time later? Read John 11:11-14, 43, 44. As a result of raising Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, from the dead, the Jews threatened to kill Lazarus (John 12:10). They were so deceived that they plotted to destroy Jesus as well. They read the Bible with a veil over their eyes (2 Cor. 3:14-16). They failed to understand that the Scriptures testified about Jesus (John 5:39). When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, they did not believe. Jesus’ words were prophetic: “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). What an appeal! What an urgent warning! Scripture is our final authority. Jesus used a popular Jewish tradition to illustrate His powerful truth. The entire Bible harmonizes beautifully. n October 2016 | Adventist World - nad

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I am a journalist from Papua New Guinea. I was given one of your magazines to read, as I was feeling bored at the time. But it turned out the magazine touched me so much that I came to realize the love of God, the love that has touched so many people like me around the world. I am a Christian because my country believes in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but I am far away in terms of a personal relationship with God. I would love to receive your magazine, as it has inspired me a lot. May God continue to bless the great work you are doing on His behalf. Omae Koake Papua New Guinea

PrayerW

I was deeply moved by the Spirit-filled ministry of Leonardo Asoy (“Division President Succumbs to Rare Disease,” March 2016). I attended a nationwide event in October 2015 at Mountain View College. Our business was on the verge of collapsing, and we decided to meet with Pastor Wilson, but he had already left. So we went to Pastor Asoy. It was very emotional when he prayed for us. He apparently didn’t notice the crowd passing around us. Thank you. John-Eric Taburada Cebu City, Philippines Beautiful Testimonies

I love to read Adventist World. I especially enjoy the beautiful testimonies that speak of the power of God working in the lives of His faithful children around the world. Mireya Lopez Alaña Guayaquil, Ecuador

Leonardo Asoy

It was very emotional when he prayed for us. He apparently didn’t notice the crowd passing around us. —John-Eric Taburada Cebu City, Philippines

Cover to Cover

I recently read an issue of Adventist World. I was impressed, and read it cover to cover. Scott Carmell Tennessee, United States

Letters Policy: Please send to: letters@adventistworld.org.

Letters must be clearly written, 100-word maximum. Include the name of the article and the date of publication with your letter. Also include your name, the town/city, state, and country from which you are writing. Letters will be edited for space and clarity. Not all letters submitted will be published.

PRAISE

Pray for me as I enter pastoral ministry, that God supports me in this noble task as He did during my studies. Elie, Cameroon

44

Please pray that I can be free from Sabbath classes as a third-year pharmacy student. Pray for God to help me and my family to grow strong in faith, and for my brother to come back to church. Teereinah, Papua New Guinea

Adventist World - nad | October 2016

Please help me pray for my wife’s health. She underwent a procedure two years ago, but still hasn’t healed yet. She’s in constant pain. Godfrey, Kenya I am struggling to find a job that allows me to not work on Sabbath. Shemfred, Kenya


That’s a

Mouthful! “Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu” is billed as the world’s longest place name. It’s the name of a hill in New Zealand that means: “The hilltop where Tamatea with big knees, conqueror of mountains, eater of land, traveler over land and sea, played his flute to his beloved.” Source: Hemispheres

Clean water is essential to keeping our bodies clean inside and out. But in many parts of the world, access to clean water is a challenge. One in 10 people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water. One in three people lack access to a toilet.

I need your urgent prayer and support to enter the university. Andrew, Uganda Please pray for my family to come to Jesus, and for my grandson to be healed of depression. Sarah, United States

More people have a mobile phone than a toilet.

each day collecting water (that represents 125 million hours a day).

Every 90 seconds a child dies from a waterrelated disease.

Every US$1 invested in water and sanitation provides a $4 economic return.

One third of all schools lack access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. Women and girls around the world often spend up to six hours

Please pray for my country, which is at war, that there will be lasting peace. B yayi, Democratic Republic of Congo

Involving women can make water projects six to seven times more effective. Source: Water.org I M A G E :

P I X E L S Q U I D

The Place of Prayer: Send prayer requests and praise (thanks

for answered prayer) to prayer@adventistworld.org. Keep entries short and concise, 50-words or less. Items will be edited for space and clarity. Not all submissions will be printed. Please include your name and your country’s name. You may also fax requests to: 1-301-680-6638; or mail them to Adventist World, 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600 U.S.A.

Please pray for my children to have hearts for Jesus. Mederie, Martinique

October 2016 | Adventist World - nad

45


IDEA EXCHANGE G. F. Jones

“Behold, I come quickly…”

Cecile F. Guiot

Our mission is to uplift Jesus Christ, uniting Seventh-day Adventists everywhere in beliefs, mission, life, and hope.

91 Years Ago O

n October 23, 1925, Captain G. F. Jones and his wife sailed from Sydney to Nouméa, New Caledonia, the first Seventh-day Adventist missionaries to work in the island group of New Caledonia and Loyalty. The Joneses were later assisted by Cecile F. Guiot, a French lay member who arrived in New Caledonia on November 30, 1926, and was appointed as a Bible worker 12 months later by the Australasian Union Conference. In 1926 Jones visited the Loyalty Islands and distributed publications in French. The first indigenous convert in the Loyalties was a woman named Sarah, a member of the chief ’s family. After her conversion Sarah introduced Jones to Ada Peyras in New Caledonia, and he gave her Bible studies. As a result, Peyras joined the church and became the first Adventist convert in New Caledonia. After several leading Protestant families embraced the Adventist message, opponents discovered that the Adventist Church was not registered in the territory. Jones left the area in 1927, leaving behind 10 baptized members and 25 Sabbath school members. A French citizen, Guiot served New Caledonia as a missionary for more than 20 years, until the church received legal status.

Make It Brief

The primary Sabbath School leaders were discussing what the next week’s program might look like, as the need to present a special item in the adult Sabbath School was going to reduce the usual class time. “What’s the Bible story next week?” one leader asked. “Zacchaeus” was the reply. “Well, at least it’s a short story.” —S cott Wegener, Castle Hill church, New South Wales, Australia

46

Adventist World - nad | October 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 André 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; Chun, Pyung Duk; Karnik Doukmetzian; Han, Suk Hee; 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, Saw Samuel, 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: worldeditor@gc.adventist.org Web site: www.adventistworld.org 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.

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