First Adventist Missionary in Active Service Dies of COVID-19

A Filipino physician has become the first Seventh-day Adventist missionary in active service to die of COVID-19 after contracting the virus in the Central African country of Cameroon.

Dr. Manuel Bellosillo, whose 25 years of mission work also took him to Zambia, Botswana and Nepal, fell ill with malaria at a remote hospital in Cameroon and then, in his weakened condition, succumbed to COVID-19. He was 67, and he and his wife, Elma, were only months from finishing a six-year mission term at the hospital.

“We praise the name of the Lord for missionaries like Dr. Manuel Bellosillo,” said German Luste, co-director of the Adventist world church’s missionary program, IPRS, at the General Conference headquarters in Silver Spring in the U.S. state of Maryland. “Dr. Bellosillo was an example of professionalism and care who was always willing to go the second mile to serve others. May his life inspire others to serve God.”

Family members remembered Dr. Bellosillo as “a God-fearing man and a hard worker who lived his life to serve others.”

“The number of people he helped throughout his years of service, directly or indirectly, is vast,” the family said in a statement. “Only God knows the exact quantity of people … touched.”

Manuel Beldia Bellosillo was born on Feb. 18, 1953, to elementary teachers Silvester Burata Bellosillo Sr. and Victoria B. Bellosillo in Pontevedra, a coastal town in the central Capiz province, located about 375 miles (600 kilometers) south of the Philippines capital, Manila. The eldest of five children, he accepted responsibilities seriously from a young age, looking after his siblings and helping to run a laundry and egg-delivery service to bring in additional income for the family.

After obtaining an undergraduate degree in biology, he was accepted into the doctor of medicine program at South Western University in Cebu City, Philippines. There, he faced challenges with what became a trademark resolve. He kept personal expenses at a minimum to cover tuition costs. Some weeks, his meals consisted of soup made from a single bouillon cube and occasionally supplemented with a boiled egg. Similarly, he could not afford textbooks, so he borrowed them from classmates. During vacations, he borrowed textbooks so he could study ahead for upcoming classes. Family members said God gave him an exceptional memory that enabled him to retain enough of what he read to obtain good grades even without full access to all of the required textbooks.

This habit of using the most of God-given opportunities followed Dr. Bellosillo in his career. During missionary furloughs back to the Philippines, he immersed himself in medical studies for a month at a time at Adventist Medical Center Manila. One year he focused on surgery; another on ophthalmology; and so on. In this way, he gained expertise to better serve patients in the mission field.

In his early post-graduate years, Dr. Bellosillo worked at Adventist Hospital–Calbayog in Calbayog City in the Philippine province of Samar, where he met and later married his wife, Elma, a medical technician and accountant. Then he served at Adventist Hospital Palawan in Puerto Princesa in the Philippine province of Palawan. After being confirmed by the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians as a certified family physician in February 1994, he and his family accepted a mission call to Africa.

During their 11 years in Zambia, the family had no television, cell-phone reception, or Internet access at Yuka Adventist Hospital, located about 550 miles (990 kilometers) east of the national capital, Lusaka, and serving a surrounding village of small mud-and-straw houses. The local radio station was their only source of information. But the isolation enabled the family to focus more closely on the people whom they served and to make many friendships.

Dr. Bellosillo worked long hours and often was on call around the clock, especially during the years when he served as the only doctor in the hospital. At times, he slept next to a landline phone in the family’s living room so he could quickly answer calls to return to the hospital. Still, he and his family fondly remembered their time there because of the many friends they made. Dr. Bellosillo had expressed a desire to return for another term before retirement.

After Zambia, Dr. Bellosillo accepted a position at Kanye Seventh-day Adventist Hospital in Kanye, Botswana, where he served from 2004 to 2007. For the next five years, he worked at Scheer Memorial Adventist Hospital in Banepa, Nepal. Then he returned to Africa to work for two years at Batouri Adventist Hospital in Batouri, Cameroon, and later at Buea Seventh-day Adventist Hospital in Buea, Cameroon, a position that he held from 2014 until his illness. His mission term with the hospital was scheduled to end in 2020.

Regardless of where he worked, Dr. Bellosillo encouraged patients to read the Bible and be prepared for Jesus’ soon coming, family said. He also served as a church elder and a Sabbath School teacher and organized outreach programs.

Dr. Bellosillo contracted malaria in early May 2020 and again a second time in late May. A subsequent medical test on June 7 showed that he also had COVID-19. He passed away on June 17.

Church leaders said Dr. Bellosillo’s life of service and sacrifice was an inspiration both to those who knew him and to those who wish to become missionaries.

“Both Dr. and Mrs. Bellosillo dedicated their lives as missionary doctors for God, with over a quarter century of sacrificial service, ministering to the sick and infirmed, meeting their physical needs while at the same time, pointing their patients to the One who can heal them spiritually,” said Kevin Costello, director of the missionary department at the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Southern Asia-Pacific Division based in Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

“The Adventist Church is very grateful for the dedicated service of Dr. Manuel, and we are deeply moved by the ultimate sacrifice of his life while in service of the Master,” he said.

Family members promised to continue the physician’s legacy.

“One thing is for sure: His legacy of service and God-fearing life will carry on in his family,” the family statement said. “With aching hearts we will continue his legacy by serving others, and working hard in each of our respective fields, and most importantly making God our partner in every decision and action we do until we are reunited with our father on that resurrection morning.”

A celebration-of-life memorial service will be hosted by the Southern Asia-Pacific Division on August 16 at 7:30 p.m. Philippine Standard Time (GMT +8) on the division’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Dr. Manuel Bellosillo is survived by his wife, Elma; two daughters, Femae Love Plaza Bellosillo and Illoza Joy P. Bellosillo-Palacol, both physicians at Palawan Adventist Hospital, and a son, Leomel Jezter Plaza Bellosillo, a laboratory scientist with a master’s degree in public health. The Bellosillos’ first grandchild was expected to be born to Illoza and her husband, Ryan, in August 2020.

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Adventists in El Salvador Distribute Care Packets To Hospital Frontline Workers

Seventh-day Adventists in east El Salvador recently distributed thousands of small care packages to frontline workers in local hospitals. Dozens of health professionals, doctors, and nurses from throughout Adventist churches in the city of San Miguel, packaged sports drinks and books on hope to many who spend hours suited in protective gear in many of the local hospitals.

“The eastern part of El Salvador is one of the hottest regions in Central America and many of the hospitals here have no air conditioning so the use of bioprotective suits causes a lot of discomfort to medical staff who take care of the sick,” said Pastor Edwin López, district pastor in San Miguel.

Dr. Leonardo Romero Taura, who works at the San Juan de Dios National Hospital in San Miguel, said that the days are challenging when wearing a protective suit. “The feeling is horrible, it is suffocating. Imagine that they put you in a plastic bag, seal it and then they put you out in the sun when the rays of the sun are stronger,” said Dr. Romero. “That’s how the medical staff feel when we use the bioprotective suits as they care for people infected with COVID-19.” Dr. Lopez said that the suit is worn up to 8 hours at a time, but some use them for 12 hours straight. “During that time, you cannot take off the suit for anything… and you end up completely dehydrated.”

Many church members joined in the initiative by sending funds to purchase, prepare and distribute 3,000 packets with drinks and the 2020 missionary books by Mark Finley entitled “Hope in the Midst of Chaos.”

“The point was to share a little bit of relief and share hope to the heroes on the frontline who day by day are dealing with so much suffering and death the coronavirus has brought in,” said López. The initiative came about after a series of media reports on the challenges health professionals face each day, caring for those infected with COVID-19, he added.

“Our intention was that as we supplied an immediate need in them, their hearts could be open to the message of love and hope,” said Jackelin Ortiz, a church member who helped distribute the packets.

“We are very thankful to our Creator for making us part in His mission,” said Johana Castro, another church member in San Miguel. “God put in our hearts to help those in this special initiative, we just obeyed His voice.”

The initiative, which began its first distribution phase on July 18, 2020, in San Miguel, has so far benefited thousands in four out of the eight local hospitals in the city, Pastor Lopez said.

Many of the healthcare staff were grateful to receive the packets and to be prayed for as they face the pandemic in the hospital every day.

“The project was done in coordination with the Dorcas ministry of the local churches which are always ready to collaborate in humanitarian activities in the great commission of taking the message of hope and highlighted that Jesus is our salvation from eternal death,” added López. “This project has not only motivated one church that I pastor but the entire district of churches to continue being witnesses in the community, showing that our actions testify of what we believe.”

Each book was identified with information on the Adventist Church, church’s radio station, Radio Stéreo Adventista (RSA), contact information for any assistance, support, and spiritual guidance.

Pastor Alexis Romero, president of the church in East El Salvador, said it was very satisfying to see pastors motivating members to share the love and spread the gospel. “It was great to see that from generation to generation, the spirit of service continues in the Adventist Church,” said Romero. “I had the privilege of growing up in the church and that spirit [of service] of sacrifice and surrender still alive in favor of others.”

This article was originally published on the Inter-America Division’s website

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Fiji post COVID: Uncovering new methods of evangelism

In the aftermath of COVID-19 restrictions in Fiji, a recent report from Fiji Mission president Luke Narabe indicates that outreach and small group evangelism is back in full swing. Listed below are four successful ministries:

Peria Seventh-day Adventist Church

Peria Church at Flagstaff is currently running a two-week evangelistic series as part of the Trans-Pacific Union Mission’s (TPUM) July* harvest. Conducted by TPUM’s ministerial association secretary and global mission coordinator Dr. Ronald Stone, the programs aim to educate attendees about health and wellness.

Beginning at 5 pm, guests are treated to massages, hot and cold therapy, and charcoal treatment, then enjoy a healthy meal before the sermon begins at 7 pm. Following this, the church uses World Changer Bible study guides in small groups to nurture and strengthen the new members. A baptism is planned for the end of the year.

Pacific Tertiary Evangelistic Centre (PTEC)

The PTEC church began a new evangelistic series at the beginning of August with meetings conducted by TPUM youth ministry director Pastor Charlie Jimmy. The one-week program required attendees to bring a friend each night and featured Bible studies conducted by young people, with a dedicated elder also in each group.

These small groups have now transitioned to become Sabbath school classes. Most of the new members are students at the University of the South Pacific and Fiji National University.

Nabua Seventh-day Adventist Church

The Kecisemani Sabbath school, a branch of Nabua Church, was popular in the community last week. Located at the Navasa settlement just outside Bayview Heights, church members not only hosted an evangelistic series, but also reached the community through cleaning, weeding, and clearing walkways and drains that had been blocked for years.

As a settlement without electricity, Navasa was grateful when the young people contributed to the purchase of a chargeable speaker and lamps to light the meeting venues at night. The young people played videos of Samu Koro’s series on Hope Channel “NAI KA VA NI WASE NI BOGI” each night.

Wainadoi English Seventh-day Adventist Church

Young people from the Wainadoi church recently visited the community of Vunisoco where families, most of whom are subsistence farmers and fishermen, were affected during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Having packed stationary for more than 20 primary and high school students, as well as food packs for 12 families, the young people delivered their gifts, shared thoughts from the Bible and prayed with the recipients.

This initiative was part of Wainadoi youth’s target to reach all families in Vunisoco in 2020. The Sabbath following the outreach, more than 20 children from the community attended church at Wainadoi.

*usually the programs are run in July, but due to COVID restrictions, things have been pushed back this year.

This article was originally published on the website of Adventist Record

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More than 12 thousand young people staged the Caleb Online digital missionary campaign

More than 12,000 young people from the Seventh-day Adventist Church in northern Peru participated in the Caleb Online Mission digital evangelism campaign. The goal of the program was sharing “A voice of Hope.” Neither the COVID-19 pandemic, or social isolation, managed to quench the creativity and enthusiasm of the Adventist young people participating in the first evangelism campaign totally online in northern Peru.

During the week of July 25 to August 1, more than 4,000 video conference rooms were opened simultaneously, flooding the Internet every night. Gathered in these rooms and in groups, thousands of Bible students, family members, neighbors, coworkers, and guests of the Caleb team members shared moments of praise, prayer, and an evangelistic message provided by one of the team members.

In addition, as part of the evangelism week activities, each Caleb team was encouraged to deliver a basic food kit to those participants who were in a struggling due to the pandemic. As a result, more than 10,000 people benefited in the midst of the crisis. Despite the virtual environment, the Calebs sought to promote human interaction among the participants.
As part of the programming of this project, on Saturday morning, August 1, baptisms were held in the different regions of northern Peru. The baptisms were held following the corresponding health protocols of the region. In the afternoon, a program of celebration and was held.

This program was broadcast on Facebook and YouTube, in which all the experiences were shared. The missionary challenges for the second part of the year were launched, because as they said, “the mission is not in quarantine!”

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s Spanish site

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School runs evangelistic program at public market

Staff and students from Kopiu Adventist High School in the Solomon Islands have started running an evangelistic program at a public market in Marau, in the East Tasimauri District.

Led by the school’s chaplain Jason Gulea, the program is themed “Christ is our Hope”, with presentations on the Bible, the second coming, death, and Jesus. A student choir was also organized to perform songs to the people in the market.

It is the first outreach initiative the students have been involved within a long time due to COVID restrictions, with only branch Sabbath schools and Bible studies on-campus continuing throughout last semester.

“Now that we are settling into a new semester we are planning, praying, and hoping to activate our special ministry initiatives as we endeavor to impact East Tasimauri District,” said Gulea.

This article was originally published on the website of Adventist Record

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Youth help pandemic victims get a fresh start

Helping people who have had their lives affected by Covid-19 is the aim of a new initiative organized by Adventist young people who are part of a Christian hospital humanitarian group called Doctors of Hope, managed by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Brazil . The event took place on Saturday, August 1, at Paranoá Park, a housing complex created in 2014 to serve low-income families in the Federal District.

The event brought together 90 volunteers and was divided into three parts. The first was held in the morning at the Adventist Church in Paranoá, where volunteers brought a message of love and hope to members of the congregation. During the morning service, several activities were carried out, such as music, reflections, and prayers.

In the afternoon, the group, following safety recommendations, visited some of the residents in the condominium. There are 6,420 apartments occupied by low-income residents, totaling about 25,000 people. In this region, they lack of public facilities capable of meeting the needs of those who live there. All of this added to the pandemic generated more frustration for residents.

In an attempt to alleviate the situation, volunteers went to talk and encourage the residents, in addition to giving them personal hygiene items such as food, clothes, cleaning kits and literatur about life, future, hope and how to start over.

Continued action

For the organizer of the action, Thaís Trivelato, the activity is intentional and much more than just taking physical help, it is also hope for people who are experiencing difficulties. “We want to help them start over,” said Trivelato. “We did a screening to help those who really need it. We want to do something beyond the delivery of products and food.”

This activity will not be limited to just a weekend. Residents will be assisted by members of the Adventist Church, who will continue to help through conversations, advice, and supplies.

Trivelato points out that there are people who have had their lives damaged due to the pandemic. “They had jobs, managed to keep their families, and all of that came down to the current situation,” she said. “They need our help. We are talking about people with large families, who have lost everything, jobs, quality of life, but the obligations continue. Our goal is to help them have a fresh start.”

The manager of one of the areas that the initiative covered, Silvano Lima, highlights that project is important because it gave more than food. “The residents received a motivating word and prayer, elements that can bring faith to their hearts, as well as hope and an awareness that God can and wants to change their lives,” he says.

Stories of hope

Volunteer Jânio Lima says that he visited a house and sang for a man who is the father of two children. His wife, their mother, had left them. The man lives with his children and his sister, who suffers from schizophrenia, in a small apartment. While talking to the man, Lima heard their sad story. The resident said one night in May, the sister boiled a pot of water and threw it over him while he slept, burning his entire chest and belly.

“The report we had from the family stated one of the residents was recovering from burns. We did not imagine reality. As there was the presence of two children, I chose the song “I’m Peace,” to sing. Even though it is a happy song, he started to cry compulsively in the first few sentences.

Mauro Souza, on the other hand, coordinated a group and visited three houses. “In the three families, we felt that God was in charge of things,” she said. “We found unemployed, hungry people who lost family members. They had families who revealed that they did not know what they were going to do so the children could eat the next day. They were asking God for an answer to their prayers. Best of all, all families served to want to learn more about the Bible. I left there feeling like I had accomplished something and complete for having done God’s work.”

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s Portuguese news site

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Young ‘Calebs’ teach the Bible and about 300 people are baptized

From July 1 through 11, more than 4,900 young people, formed into 326 groups and 80 preaching centers gathered together digitally for the Caleb Online project. The digital missionary event, sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bolivia, ended with 3200 people studying the bible and 299 baptisms.

Youth Ministries director for the Adventist Church in Bolivia, Rubén Santos Chura, indicated this project was started because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the purpose of continuing with the missionary volunteer project carried out by young people. Chura pointed out that at the beginning they had a goal of reaching 3,000 young people, however, they were amazed when they reached approximately 5,000 participants.

Among the activities carried out by the Calebs, three stand out: the first refers to a spiritual strengthening with the “First God” program, which asked participants to seek God in the early hours of the morning,. In the program, the participants gathered at 5 and 6 in the morning to pray and study the Bible.

The second activity was asking the Calebs to provide Bible studies to their interested friends and meeting daily challenges on health, well-being and ingenuity, which were then published on the event’s social networks.

Finally, the ‘Calebs’ carried out online evangelism campaigns, where 80 preaching centers were formed throughout different virtual platforms.

The Caleb Online 2020 project ended on July 11 with an inspiring program. The goal of the Caleb’s online program was to continue carrying the message of hope and salvation to family and friends who do not know Jesus through social networks and virtual platforms. The group is also preparing for the evangelism campaigns of July and September.

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s Spanish site

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Pigs in a Blanket: Another Look at Acts 10:9-16

by Loren Seibold  |  7 August 2020  |

Recently a friend sent me a video link to a ministry that featured a recent AT Aunt Sevvy column, one where Aunty had suggested, in response to a question about lard in pie crusts, that the ceremonial food rules of Leviticus can’t be regarded as of salvific importance in the face of passages such as Matthew 15, Mark 7, and Romans 14. 

This offshoot ministry is focused primarily on criticizing the church. A certain set of Seventh-day Adventists thrive on criticisms of the church, so the leader, Andrew Henriques, has tapped into an endless vein of support. His YouTube videos get tens of thousands of Adventist viewers. 

Henriques’ response wasn’t unexpected, though it still takes me by surprise when someone so confidently ignores basic Biblical hermeneutics. First, Henriques affirms that the Old Testament is fully applicable for Christians, even though I’m quite certain he doesn’t keep all of the Torah rules. Second, he ignores the New Testament passages that deal directly with Jewish food rules in favor of one that doesn’t: Acts 10:9-16.  

It’s this last I want to address. Peter’s trance has been a fly swimming in the Adventist soup for a long time, so let’s take another look at it.

The story

Cornelius, a Gentile, gets a vision in which he is told that he should look for a man named Peter to help him on the next step in his spiritual journey. God prepares Peter for this one day as he is praying on the roof of the house. 

Peter became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate.

The meaning

Let’s be clear that this message from God wasn’t primarily about food. Peter says as much when he explains to Cornelius that “God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean” (10:28). Please understand: were it not for this pivotal moment, this crossing of the deepest and most fundamental boundary in Judaism, most of us reading this wouldn’t be Christians at all. The first Christians were Jewish followers of a rabbi named Jesus. In Acts 10, we see one of the most staunch of the apostles break free from Judaism, and initiate the genesis of what is effectively a new world religion. 

To be blunt, we Seventh-day Adventists aren’t of the Jewish religion, and we shouldn’t act like we are. Judaism is in Christianity’s rearview mirror, and has been receding from us since the cross. Only three things are still needed from the Hebrew scriptures.

First, Christianity’s background. The first Christians knew the Hebrew scriptures, quoted them and used their stories. We need to know them so we can understand Jesus and the apostles. Yes, there are lessons in these stories, though frequently we strain to make them fit into the Christian context because Jesus’ ministry was so often in contradiction to them, such as his dismissal of many aspects of the Torah law. 

Second, Christianity’s expectations. The Hebrew scriptures anticipated a superseding spiritual revolution, which was embodied in a Messiah. Those to whom the Messiah was sent didn’t accept him, but we Gentiles did. 

Third, a historical picture of God. The Torah shows how God revealed Godself to a wandering tribe of recently-emancipated, uneducated slaves who had suddenly been pushed out into the desert. But we, now, are not a wandering tribe of ex-slaves. Christianity was shaped (I believe we can say, by God’s intention) by a Greek and Roman world. It has since found itself in a scientific world that would be unimaginable to the Children of Israel, and here, too, our understanding of God continues to evolve.

Christians can only view the Old Testament through the lens of the cross. Some basic principles of what God is like show through in the Hebrew Bible, but the God revealed by Jesus is different. The good news is now salvation for “every nation, kindred, tongue and people.” 

So what about food?

Peter’s trance (ἔκστασις) wasn’t primarily a lesson in diet. It was a brilliant metaphor, presented in terms that a Jewish fisherman could understand, about breaking down the boundaries between people. That’s how it should be understood, and how it should be used. Nothing external, nothing in one’s appearance or birth or background, should keep us from Christ, or out of the community of Christians. Nothing—neither a particular ethnicity, nor symbols like uncircumcision—stand in the way of it.

Some Adventist have tried to prove the Levitical food rules from this passage. They do this by stopping at verse 14, when Peter protests, “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” There it is! Proof that Peter, a follower of Christ, didn’t eat unclean foods, and so we shouldn’t either!

That illusion is shattered if we read the next verse, though: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 

It seems to me that one could argue that the voice that declared the cleansing of the Gentiles also cleansed Torah-prohibited foods. God did, after all, create those creatures that were displayed before Peter in a sheet, and that were eaten regularly by the Gentiles—even if, as many believe, not all of those foods should be eaten because they’re not healthy. But could the declaration of cleansing have applied to both the people and the food?

It’s unnecessary for us to unpack the full meaning, because Peter does it himself. In this instant, Peter’s whole view of his faith is changed. This is a serious far-reaching readjustment, admits Peter: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile.” He then invites the Gentile messengers to be guests in his Jewish home. He touches Cornelius, lifting him when Cornelius tries to bow before him. He baptizes the Gentiles. He lodges with the Gentiles for some time, and eats with them. Later, at Antioch, he shares a table with them (Galatians 2). 

In short, the sheet let down from heaven leads Peter to break the taboos of Jews associating with, touching, living with, and eating with Gentiles. While the passage never explicitly says they shared a pepperoni pizza, it’s clear that the whole body of law around eating only one’s own food with one’s own people has broken irreparably. 

And it would stay broken until Adventists repaired it, and again isolated themselves behind a border wall of, among other things, diet.

The bigger lesson

Acts 10 says there’s no ethnic or national barrier to Christ. The lesson is about with whom we associate and how. And here, we have advanced too little beyond the Pharisees. We Adventists associate mostly with Adventists. After all, we eat different things than the people out there do. We do our activities on different days than they do. Some of us even strive to look different than they do. We isolate ourselves in our own institutions.

Having separated ourselves out from the world, we have accepted separations among ourselves. White Adventists have white Adventist friends, black Adventists black Adventist friends. Conservative Adventists have conservative Adventists friends, and progressive Adventists progressive Adventist friends. Vegan Adventists have vegan Adventists friends. And so on.

Sadly, this is true all across the religious world. Protestant Christianity has been fractured by our divergent understandings of the Bible rather than drawn together by Christ. 

Body boundaries

The anthropologist Mary Douglas plops the food question right down in the midst of the belonging question. In her well-known book Purity and Danger, she posits that religious food rules are part of a phenomenon where the physical body stands in for the group, its boundaries (entrances such as the mouth) representing the boundaries of the group. Just as you don’t take in unclean food, you don’t take unclean people into the group.

When I read that, I got it immediately. What do we ask people to do when they join the church? Give up unclean meats, tobacco and alcohol, and by these actions declare themselves part of the group. Unclean people must clean themselves up before they can fully belong! How do we identify one another, and evaluate one another’s orthodoxy? By what we eat and wear and how we look—body things, all. 

That’s precisely what the Acts 10 trance was meant to change. With Peter’s trance, boundaries to belonging were broken down, breached, erased, done away with. Ever since, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” No longer is there, in Paul’s world, a Jewish table and a Gentile table. To maintain a separate table, insists Paul in Galatians 2, is to deny the saving power of Jesus Christ.

The health pretext

I suspect that most Adventists haven’t thought about the reasons for not eating what Ellen White called “swine’s flesh” beyond that somewhere in the Good Book God said not to. Those who have contemplated the Torahic origin of these rules, and how only this one chapter of Leviticus gets grandfathered into Adventist Christianity, fall back on the justification of health. 

This becomes very confusing for Seventh-day Adventists. No, not everything you can eat is good for you. But for Adventists the two reasons—Leviticus 11 and health—are rather conveniently entangled, and we switch between them, sort of like having two shirts and changing into the cleaner of them as necessary. 

(If you want to tie a Sabbath School class in knots, put this question to them. Two men go out to eat. One orders and eats 64 oz. of rare beefsteak. The other orders the split pea soup that has tiny amounts of ham in it. Which man is doing what God wants? Watch them roam between health and “God said it” and try to decide which reason to settle on.)

But the real reason for shunning certain foods, the one that’s implied in Acts 10, we never explicitly admit: that it sets us apart from others in a way that makes us feel special and superior. That it defines who we are as opposed to those others who are less pure than we are. That it shows who’s in and who’s out. For all the talk about health, food laws have been about who we are and who we associate with, not how well our body works. 

We don’t even need to call upon Peter’s trance to prove the disdain that both Jesus and Paul had for the notion that eating the right food and not eating the wrong food is what earns us God’s favor. No, Matthew 15 wasn’t only about washing hands—otherwise, why did Jesus even bring up food at all? Why, in Mark 7, did he talk about food going through the digestive tract and into the latrine, if he only meant to say we didn’t need to wash our hands to eat? 

Why did Paul say in Romans 14 that the kingdom of heaven isn’t food or drink, but “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost,” and add that we shouldn’t criticize people’s food at all? (Adventist apologists say that in the context it’s about food offered to idols—though it amuses me that we who are so ready to pull out of context passages like Isaiah 28:10 and Ecclesiastes 9:5 are suddenly terribly concerned about context. To be clear, in Romans 14 Paul is talking about a whole lot more than food offered to idols, and to deny that shows our willingness to ignore hermeneutics to advance doctrine.) 

Why this matters

I’ve made these arguments before, not because food is so important but because the gospel is. I’m tired of substitutes for the Good News. I’m sick of the way these rules make God look as petty and as immature as the weakest and least thoughtful among us. 

Enough, Adventist friends. Let’s start seeing God as a grown-up who cares about the big problems, not a fussy old busybody examining Seventh-day Adventist plates while other people don’t have enough of anything to eat. In the troubled world we now live in, we Christians have bigger fish to fry.


Loren Seibold is the Executive Editor of Adventist Today.

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Should I Work for Free for Family and Church Friends?

7 August 2020  |

Dear Aunt Sevvy,

I am a photographer just starting out. My parents keep offering my services to family members and church members for free. Before I had my degree and started my own business I did do some free work for family, friends and fellow church members. I’m good at what I do, it takes hours of time, and a lot of skill. My dad says I’m being selfish and that the Lord calls us to give of our talents freely. But I need to make a living! And I don’t think he understands how much I’ve invested in this. Should I agree to work for free?

Signed, Not an Amateur Anymore


Dear Not an Amateur:

No, you should not work for free. So often artists are not given credit for their talents and their work. It is unfair of your family to offer your services like that.

There is a story  about a woman who approached Pablo Picasso in a restaurant and asked him to draw something for her on a napkin. He drew it right then and there. Then he said, “That will be $10,000.” She protested saying, “But that only took you 30 seconds!” “No,” he replied, “that has taken me 40 years.” 

The story about Picasso is probably apocryphal, but it illustrates a point: whether or not your work takes a lot of your time (and having several artist friends herself, Aunt Sevvy knows that it does) there’s a reason they want you to do it: is because you know what you are doing. You have an artistic eye, education, experience, and the equipment to capture an event or a portrait as others cannot. That ability wasn’t free for you to acquire, in either effort or money, and it needn’t be given for free to others. 

You can try explaining this to your parents, but if they don’t agree, you may simply may have to set a hard boundary. Because the more free work you do, the more you will be expected to do, and the more evidence they will have that your work isn’t work paying for. 

One of the hardest things about freelancing is to stand up for yourself and demand what you are worth. And that is not always an easy thing to do. 

Aunt Sevvy


You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without identities. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and neither her opinions nor those of her correspondents are necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.

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A Reflection on Race

“Black Lives Matter” — the Sentence a Racist Will Not Say

“All Lives Matter” — a Copout Whose Time Has Passed


Sometimes my mind sees connections in stories seemingly unrelated. As in the two that follow:  

Scene 1: It’s Friday, May 22, 2020, and 23-year-old University of Connecticut senior Peter Manfredonia begins a days-long flight from police, after a string of crimes: the machete killing of 62-year-old (good Samaritan) Ted DeMers and the wounding of another man, in Willington, Connecticut; holding another man hostage in a home nearby, and stealing his guns and truck; driving to another town 70 miles away, fatally shooting 23-year-old fellow student Nicholas Eisele, kidnapping his girlfriend, and forcing her (imagine the terror) to drive him across state lines into New Jersey, bailing out at a highway rest stop.

Scene 2. It’s Monday May 25, 2020, about the midpoint of (what would turn out to be) Manfredonia’s six-day flight. And some 1,100 miles to the west, George Floyd, exactly twice Manfredonia’s age, is arrested for passing a fake $20 bill at a local convenience store in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On his belly beside a police vehicle, his hands cuffed behind his back, he finds himself squirming under the knee of a police officer, digging into his neck.

In the sequel to Scene 1, Manfredonia’s family-hired attorney, the very day of Floyd’s encounter with police, goes on air with a public plea: “Peter, if you are listening, you are loved…. It is time to let the healing process begin…. We love you, please turn yourself in.” The following day the Connecticut State Police join the appeal: “Peter, this is ‘not who you are’…. We want you to be able to tell your story. We are here to listen to you…. Your family has hired an attorney…, and your rights will be safeguarded.”[i] One day later, Manfredonia is apprehended in Maryland without a scratch.

In the tragic sequel to Scene 2, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, callously ignoring the victim’s repeated plea (“I can’t breathe!”), as well as the persistent appeals from people on the street, keeps grinding Floyd’s neck into the pavement with his knee, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, suffocating him in cold blood.

Peter Manfredonia is white; George Floyd was black. Peter Manfredonia committed theft, kidnapping, wounding, and double murder, but is alive; George Floyd, for passing a fake $20 bill, is dead. And that, unfortunately, is the story of America.

A Dark Mosaic

No two cases are exactly alike, of course. But many cases together can reveal a pattern, exposing the dark mosaic I’m trying to describe. Names like Tamir Rice come to mind: a 12-year-old boy playing with his toy gun in a Cleveland, Ohio park, November 22, 2014. A police officer arrives and shoots him dead, no questions asked. Eric Garner of Staten Island, New York, 43-year-old father of six, killed July 17, 2014 in a police chokehold — for selling loose cigarettes on the street without a license. Then there was Freddie Gray, and Walter Scott, and Dontre Hamilton, and Rayshard Brooks, and a host of others. In the five years from 2014 to 2019, Blacks in the United States were killed by police at almost 2.5 times the rate of Whites: 13 per million for Whites, 31 per million for Blacks.[ii]

The stats are bad enough, but often it’s the sheer triviality of the offences that drives me crazy. A broken tail light, selling loose cigarettes without a license, walking home from the store and looking suspicious, running away from police, falling asleep in your car outside a Wendy’s, or, like Breonna Taylor, lying asleep in the middle of the night on her own bed.

Blacks are not the only ones to encounter racial bigotry in the United States. Ask Native Americans. Ask Hispanics Americans. Ask Asian Americans. With the coronavirus being labeled “the Chinese virus” — or even “the Kung Flu” by the highest office in the land — some Asian Americans are “being told ‘go back to China’ or having people spit in their direction.”[iii]

But when it comes to sustained, naked bigotry in America, Blacks take the cake, hands down. And the mosaic of their suffering is dark.

The Situation in the Church

In a letter to Review and Herald editor F. D. Nichol in 1963, I inquired (as a young Caribbean Adventist) about the racial division in the American Adventist Church at the time. Nichol responded with a kind letter, in which he wrote, in part: “We are a peaceful people, seeking to move onward toward the kingdom while stirring up the least of political strife and emotions as possible. In this we follow the example of the Bible writers. We do not find Peter or Paul or the other apostles going out in a great campaign to abolish slavery.” Instead, “they tried gradually to inject the gospel… into the hearts of men and women, and thus strike slavery at its roots.” “In general,” he said, “I think we are coming along very nicely in this country in an attempt to find a solution of the problem of race.”[iv]

Coming at the issue from the other end of the spectrum, Elder Nichol clearly shows a patience I do not have. When I encounter racism, as someone from the Caribbean, I’m not thinking: “Please, please accept me for the human being that I am — please!” Instead, I’m thinking: “What an uneducated idiot, for failing to recognize another human being for what they are!” (And byuneducated” I’m not talking academic degrees or distinctions. Rather, I’m talking about a certain enlightenment, a certain elegance, a certain cultural sophistication, a certain decency, a certain je ne se quoi.

Has the Nichol strategy of quietism and gradualism worked after 57 years? In a powerful Spectrum article just over a year ago, Daniel Xisto, a white Adventist pastor, described the overt racial slurs and behavior he has witnessed among fellow Caucasian Adventist pastors and leaders over the years.

And he told what happened when he preached at a Virginia Adventist church, following that bloody 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia — a rally that featured Neo-Nazis carrying tiki torches, and KKK members in their hoods. “I’m not ok because white supremacists, white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, KKK members, and other domestic terrorist groups thought they could come into my town and cause my friends to fear.” The moment that opening sentence left his lips, “several people in the congregation stood up and walked out….” At the end of the sermon (which was about unity in Christ), several church leaders made their objections known, and one elder later went to his home to emphasize that although no one at the church was a member of the KKK, almost everyone knew someone who was, and that, therefore, he ought not to preach that kind of sermon there again.[v]

I feel sure not many Adventist congregations would react that way. But the deeper question is: How many others might harbor silent sympathy for that response?

But in the wake of the George Floyd killing, Adventists have been making a lot of welcome noises. Former North American Division (NAD) President Dan Jackson issued a strong statement in early June.[vi] And Adventist Review has carried several solid pieces on racial justice. In addition, many Adventist pulpits have delivered muscular sermons on the subject — among them Loma Linda University Church, Oakwood University Church, Pioneer Memorial, Sligo, and many others. Like the Seabrook Adventist Church in Lanham, Maryland, whose (Hispanic) associate pastor Jimmy Muñoz preached two successive Sabbaths in July, wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt, with the same slogan draped behind him on a sofa.

But from certain important quarters of the church there is silence. And those of us who have watched this phenomenon over the years are well aware of a certain group of “concerned members,” so to say, who have mastered the art of lying low and striking at just the opportune time. They don’t mind seeing Blacks and other minorities in what might be called “supporting roles.” But when it comes to filling the “highest” positions in the church, that’s when they flex their muscle.  

In my memoir I tell a story that symbolizes the nexus of racism and money in the church. In the wake of Robert Folkenberg’s resignation as General Conference president in February 1999, the committee finally came down to just two names, one Caucasian and the other African American. During a break before the vote, the NAD convened a meeting of its officers and union presidents to develop a coordinated strategy for the impending vote. “During the special confab, when it appeared that support was building for [Calvin] Rock’s name, (then) NAD president Alfred C. McClure spoke up: ‘There are wealthy people in the church,’ he said, ‘who will withhold their support if Rock becomes GC president.'”[vii] And we know the outcome.

Election time. That’s when our true colors show. And the test going forward will be whether in the midst of election fever, all races and genders will have an equal chance. Many have noted, for example, the resistance to electing African American males to General Conference presidential spots, for fear of setting in motion risky scenarios of succession. How I dream of the day when the race or gender of people elected to these positions would be completely un-remarkable.

Thank God for our Adventist pioneers — people like Ellen G. White, James White, John Byington, Joseph and Prudence Bates, Charles M. Kinney, and a host of others — who “made protest against racial injustice inseparable from their Adventist faith.”[viii] Their principled stance in defense of justice is why Black Americans remain in the Adventist Church today.

Signs of Hope

In his novel, Little Dorrit (about the bleak Marshalsea prison for debtors in 19th century London), Charles Dickens talks about something called “the Circumlocution Office” — the government agency responsible for processing citizens’ requests for documents, papers, licenses, and the like. People would return again and again and again, only to be told to come back, or to apply to another office, or be given some other excuse. Dickens referred to the agency as “the burial ground of hope.”[ix]

And for decades following the Civil War in America, that was the plight of Blacks, as they were told to wait, to come back, to apply again, to try another place. Every form of subterfuge (in regard to jobs, and schools, and housing) was used to keep them in their place, and preserve that precious legacy of White privilege and entitlement.

But beginning in the 1960s, locked doors began creaking open, leading to the now well-known ebb and flow of progress and retrenchment, advancement and setbacks, for yet additional decades. Now it seems as if that tragic event in Minneapolis last Memorial Day has touched a nerve. In that gruesome, slow-motion murder of George Floyd, a line was crossed, putting centuries-old abuses of Blacks in bold relief, the graphic killing searing its way into the collective global consciousness. Millions took to the streets, the coronavirus pandemic notwithstanding, demanding justice. Demonstrations spanned the entire country and stretched around the world, to include improbable places like Wales, Bangkok, Turkey, Kraków in Warsaw, and Bulgaria.

I’ve been encouraged by the fervency and resiliency of the demonstrations. And by their multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-generational character. It all suggests a radical shift we’ve not seen before. To paraphrase Angela Davis, people are “no longer accepting the things they cannot change. They’re changing the things they cannot accept.” 

As Adventists, what should be our posture?

“Black Lives Matter”? Or “All Lives Matter”? It’s the verbal Rorschach test of our times. “All Lives Matter” is a copout whose time has passed. “Black Lives Matter,” an idea whose time has come, is the sentence a racist will not say.

But as Adventists, we must say it. It’s an affirmation of the gospel. And it is present truth.

 

Notes & References:

[iv] Letter to Adams, Nov 26, 1963. In author’s personal files.

[ix] I picked this up from watching the movie, Little Dorrit, so I don’t have a book reference to give.

 

Roy Adams has served the Adventist Church as high school teacher, pastor, seminary professor and, until his retirement in November 2010, for 22 years as associate editor of Adventist Review/Adventist World. He lives in Maryland with his wife Celia.

Photo by Chris Henry on Unsplash

 

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Googolplex

 

A friend of mine does jigsaw puzzles

of a thousand pieces; fits shapes together

to make an alpine scene: blue sky

and icy peaks that almost come alive

with falling snow. Sometimes a detailed map

emerges, or animals with eyes as bright

as those of Homo Sapiens, or cities,

or famous faces that seem so true

they very nearly greet and speak one’s name.

 

Respect is due another whose puzzles

are of metagalactic style and form, numbering

a trillion to at least a googolplex intrinsic parts,

all needing nourishment and cosmic maintenance.

Behold, on Planet Earth, an avalanche is really wet,

glaciers glide despite some evil intervention.

Elephants in diminished numbers trumpet yet,

and regal lions roar, while monkeys jet from tree

to tree. But what of Adams’s seed?

 

Anarchy abounds as plague and violence soar,

the moral code discarded into flames.

Still there are multitudes who kneel in awe

and adoration, whispering, “Connect our edges,

redeem the lost and broken bits before

the final hour, for you alone, creator and sustainer,

are our dear Abba Father. In you, through you,

only you, are any puzzles solved, for Yahweh frames

life’s complicated picture, makes all complete.”

 

New Zealand born Mary Trim, who writes as Marye Trim, has a PhD in English Literature (Loughborough, UK, 1998) and studied journalism at the University of Queensland, Australia. She has authored five published books and hundreds of inspirational articles, stories and poems and was a newspaper columnist for nine years, while also working as missionary teacher in India and Thailand. She feels called to writing ministry and sees herself as akin to those “Out of Zebulon, they who handle the pen of the writer” (Judges 5:14).

Photo by Gabriel Crismariu on Unsplash

 

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Pine Forge Academy Installs Virus-reducing Technology in Dorms — and More News Shorts

In this week’s news round-up, Pine Forge Academy installs virus-reducing technology, a Kenyan Adventist DJ raises $30,000 to build a church in her hometown, and an Indiana church serves farm workers during the pandemic.

Pine Forge Academy Installs Virus-reducing Technology in Dorms. Pine Forge Academy in Pennsylvania will be installing UV Angel Air units in 85 dorm rooms on the academy’s campus in order to create safer and healthier environments and transition back to in-person learning. The units use patented UV-C light treatment technology to automatically and continuously treat the air, reducing harmful viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

“We know how important it is to foster safe, in-person learning environments, especially during the critical high school academic years,” said Pine Forge Academy Headmaster and Principal, H. Clifford Reynolds. “The decision to partner with UV Angel to install units across campus empowers us to continue providing a curriculum in a safe, caring environment and preparing students spiritually, intellectually, physically, and socially.”

Pine Forge Academy anticipates welcoming students back to campus on August 24. In addition to UV Angel Air, the school has added other precautionary measures, including requiring masks and social distancing, scrubbing and painting the entire campus, and designating isolation rooms. During the 2019-2020 academic school year, Pine Forge Academy had 130 students living on campus. From WFMZ-TV 69 News, “UV Angel Announces Partnership with Pine Forge Academy to get students back to in-person learning.”

Kenyan Adventist DJ Streams SDA Music and Raises Funds to Build Her Local Church. Keziah Rachel Cherono, a disc jockey from Eldoret, Kenya, and popularly known as DJ Kezz, gained nationwide popularity when she started live streaming Seventh-day Adventist music on her social media handles to help raise funds to build a church in her home area, Kapsowar. She managed to raise 4.5 million shillings, over $30,000.

Cherono has reportedly challenged the status quo as the first Marakwet woman to venture into deejaying. She says: “In the Marakwet community, women are not allowed to do a lot. They are not allowed to speak in front of men or do big projects.” She ventured into deejaying in 2018 after failing to secure a white-collar job. From Standard Media, “#WCW: Eldoret’s DJ Kezz beating the odds during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

South Bend Hispanic SDA Church Serves Local Farm Workers and Community. Olga Jimenez has expanded her missionary work at her church, South Bend Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church. Jimenez, 33, has been attending the church since she was eight and has been among the members spreading goodness throughout the community. Recently, Jimenez got a chance to take her good works beyond her community after watching videos and pictures posted on Facebook by Jesusa Rivera. Rivera works in South Bend for Proteus, a federally funded agency that supports and advocates for migrant farm workers.

Jimenez led fellow members of her church to a farm in Hamlet, Indiana, bringing socks and long-sleeved shirts for workers to protect them from pesticides and the sun. They also cooked a Mexican meal. “Some of the people that went there have done this kind of job, and they know how hard it is, and we wanted to do something nice for (the farm workers) because we know they don’t get the recognition they deserve,” Jimenez said. “We feel that this is our mission. As long as we are on Earth, we have to spread love.” Jimenez got her daughters Aline, 9, and Alani, 6, involved in the effort. The girls helped deliver napkins and drinks. Other children made thank-you cards. From South Bend Tribune, “South Bend woman mobilizes her church to help farm workers.”

 

Please note: Spectrum news round-ups are an aggregation of regional, national, and international publications around the world that have reported on stories about Adventists. As such, the accuracy of the information is the responsibility of the original publishers, which are noted and hyperlinked at the end of each excerpt.

 

Pam Dietrich taught English at Loma Linda Academy for 26 years and served there eight more years as the 7-12 librarian. She lives in Yucaipa, California.

Image Credit: Pine Forge Academy courtesy of Wikipedia.org.

 

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If You Want to Be Healthy, Dont Forget Your GLVs

If You Want to Be Healthy, Don’t Forget Your GLVs

Why the often least-consumed food group is a gold mine in nutritional value.

By: Risë Rafferty, Light Bearers

Today, abbreviated texting lingo abounds. I am admittedly slow with cultural change, but I do know how to interpret l8r, lol, omw, ttyl, smh, irl, and the like. OK, tbh idk what all those mean. 

Even medical research papers abound with abbreviations, which I find even more challenging to keep up with. I found one that’s catchy, however: GLV. GLV stands for green leafy vegetable. 

Though perhaps the most nutrient-dense food on the planet, GLVs are the least consumed food group in the United States. In fact, from age 1 to 30, the average American gets half a serving or less of GLVs daily. When we hit the age of 51, we begin eating one whole serving a day, which is still well below the recommended 2 to 2 ½ servings daily.More generally, boys aged 9-13 and girls aged 14-18 have the lowest intake in vegetables. Americans as a whole don’t meet recommended vegetable intake for any subgroups, except maybe for root vegetables, thanks to french fries.

A Nutritional Gold Mine

GLVs are a nutritional gold mine. They could change how you age. A large study of 960 participants age 58-99 found that eating just one serving of GLVs a day (half a cup cooked or one cup raw) was found to slow cognitive decline, “the equivalent of being 11 years younger in age.”2

A meta-analysis published in 2016 examined eight studies that included 540,000 participants, of which 26,173 had known cardiovascular disease (CVD). Researchers wanted to know if an increased intake of GLVs significantly reduced the incidence of CVD. The evidence suggests that it does. Researchers found that there were potentially several different ways that GLVs offered cardiovascular protection.3

One way that GLVs reduced CVD was by binding bile acid. Bile plays an important role in digestion by emulsifying, or breaking down, fat globules. Because bile is made from cholesterol, the excretion of bound bile has the potential of lowering cholesterol levels. However, the role of bile is much more involved and complex than merely its role in fat digestion. Bile acid acts as a signaling molecule. Bile acid receptors have been found on cardiovascular tissue, enabling bile to directly influence cardiovascular function. That means it can alter heart rate and modify blood vessel dilation, thus impacting circulation.4

Additionally, GLVs improve blood vessel elasticity and are a rich source of minerals such as magnesium, vital to optimal heart health and function. Low magnesium intake has been associated with hypertension and CVD, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.5

GLVs contain compounds called thylakoids that are critical to the process of photosynthesis. Higher concentrations of thylakoids exist in darker leafy greens compared with lighter ones. Thylakoids contain powerful bioactive substances including vitamin E, vitamin K, pigments and antioxidants such as chlorophyll, carotenoids, zeaxanthin, and lutein.6

Thylakoid ingestion has been associated with suppressing hunger, cravings, and thoughts of food. Thylakoid supplementation was given with meals, after which researchers measured appetite-regulating hormones. We have hormones that signal food — “Feed me!”  And we have hormones that signal fullness— “No thanks, not interested; I’m full.” These hormones are primarily produced in the gut.

Cholecystokinin (CCK) is a hormone that causes the release of enzymes and bile from the gall bladder and is an appetite suppressant. When participants ate the meal supplemented with a placebo, researchers saw a natural elevated release of CCK about 30 minutes after eating. When the meal was supplemented with thylakoid, however, an additional CCK peak was experienced four hours after eating. It was observed that it suppressed appetite and decreased interest in fatty and sugary foods. The reduced appetite and increased appetite hormones were seen in either carbohydrate- or fat-rich meals when supplemented with thylakoid.7

Other research focused on the same topic has looked more extensively into the mechanisms and found that thylakoids remain in the stomach and intestines for several hours before being degraded. This extended time is thought to delay fat digestion and absorption and allow the digestive products to reach the distal intestine. There, it stimulates the release of satiety hormones such as CCK over a more extended period.

Another study found that thylakoid supplementation resulted in suppressed cravings, increased sense of feeling satisfied, and reduced appetite three hours after the meal.  Interestingly, researchers observed increased secretion of CCK at the same post-meal three-hour time point. Researchers saw an association between thylakoid and elevated CCK with a reduced urge to eat, thoughts of food and increased sense of satiety.8

While raw salads and green smoothies can be an excellent way of consuming GLVs, cooking is also valuable. Steam cooking improves the bile binding of collard greens, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, and cabbage. 9 Choose dark greens from among these just mentioned or others such as spinach, arugula, kale, bok choy, Swiss chard, beet greens, watercress, and Romaine.

The original version of this commentary was posted by the Light Bearers ministry.

_________________________________________

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Shifts Needed to Align With Healthy Eating Patterns,” in Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, 8th ed., https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/chapter-2/a-closer-look-at-current-intakes-and-recommended-shifts/.

2. Martha Morris et al., “Nutrients and Bioactives in Green Leafy Vegetables and Cognitive Decline: Prospective Study,” Neurology 90, no. 3 (2018): e214–e222, doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004815.

3. Richard Pollock, “The Effect of Green Leafy and Cruciferous Vegetable Intake on the Incidence of Cardiovascular Disease: A Meta-analysis,” JRSM Cardiovascular Disease 5 (2016), doi: 10.1177/2048004016661435.

4. Sandeep Khurana et al., “Bile Acids Regulate Cardiovascular Function,” Clinical and Translational Science 4, no. 3 (2011): 210–218, doi: 10.1111/j.1752-8062.2011.00272.x.

5. Pollock, “The Effect of Green Leafy and Cruciferous Vegetable Intake.”

6. Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson and Per-Åke Albertsson, “The Use of Green Leaf Membranes to Promote Appetite Control, Suppress Hedonic Hunger and Lose Body Weight,” Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 70, no. 3 (2015): 281–290, doi: 10.1007/s11130-015-0491-8

7. Albertsson and Albertsson, “The Use of Green Leaf Membranes.”

8. E. Stenblom et al., “Supplementation by Thylakoids to a High Carbohydrate Meal Decreases Feelings of Hunger, Elevates CCK Levels and Prevents Postprandial Hypoglycemia in Overweight Women,” Appetite 68 (2013), doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.04.022.

9. Candida J. Rebello et al., “Acute Effects of a Spinach Extract Rich in Thylakoids on Satiety: A Randomized Controlled Crossover Trial,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 34, no. 6 (2015), https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2014.1003999.


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BEIRUT EXPLOSION UPDATE: ADRA Disaster Response Teams Step Up Emergency Assistance

Beirut Explosion: ADRA Disaster Response Teams Step Up Emergency Assistance

Agency is helping first responders and survivors at ground zero.

Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) response teams in Lebanon are providing emergency supplies to recovery workers and survivors of the massive explosion in Beirut’s port.

The huge blast struck the Lebanese capital city on August 4 and killed at least 135 people, wounded more than 5,000, and left more than 300,000 people homeless.

“Responders say they have never seen anything like this before. The images look like a war zone. The first dispatched ambulance teams were killed by the explosion. We are delivering water and essential equipment to firefighters and civil defense workers,” said Gunther Wallauer, ADRA regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. “We are providing bedding supplies, so they have a place to rest; they need cots, tents, generators for lights, since electricity is out in most of the city. We know there’s devastation in several neighborhoods close to the epicenter. Our teams on the ground are quickly assessing the situation to provide immediate aid to children and families.”

  • ADRA worker takes a selfie showcasing the rubble left behind by a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, which decimated the port and much of the city. [Photo: courtesy of ADRA Lebanon]

  • A fuel station in Beirut, Lebanon, after the August 4, 2020 explosion. [Photo: courtesy of ADRA Lebanon]

  • ADRA worker near the epicenter of the explosion in Beirut provides water to first responders. [Photo: courtesy of ADRA Lebanon]

  • A damaged apartment complex in Beirut, Lebanon, after the August 4, 2020 blast. [Photo: courtesy of ADRA Lebanon]

ADRA teams will tour at least five neighborhoods and area schools surrounding the blast zone to begin to deploy humanitarian support, including water and food to the victims.

Authorities believe the deadly blast could have been caused by tons of highly explosive material stored in a warehouse at the main port. The disaster is overwhelming a country already dealing with an economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our prayers are with the Lebanese nation, especially the children and families affected by this catastrophe and all who lost loved ones and are injured. We have been on the ground since the coronavirus outbreak, helping the Lebanese community cope with the health and economic challenges of the pandemic and are ready to provide additional support during this added crisis,” said ADRA president Michael Kruger. “We are committed to increasing our emergency response activities to provide life-saving essentials to those in need of assistance.”

ADRA is working with church volunteers, local authorities, and partners in Beirut to coordinate the relief and recovery operations. To assist with ADRA’s emergency response in Lebanon, please visit ADRA.org/Disasters

The original version of this story was posted by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency.


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Monte Sahlin–Message of Hope

Monte Sahlin–Message of Hope

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What is the True Mission God has Called Us To?

Editor’s Note: Below is a transcript of a message, posted to You Tube on July 31, from president of the Adventist Church, Ted N.C. Wilson. Elder Wilson will release a new video each week, during the Coronavirus pandemic, which you can view here.

Greetings, friends. It’s good to be with you once again to talk about our very important God-given mission, and ways to carry forward His plan to reach the world for Him.

Over the years, many books have been written, seminars given, and papers presented suggesting new and exciting ways of reaching people for Christ. Innovation can be good, bringing life and new energy into soul-winning. To be effective, however, it needs to be based on clear Bible principles, principles upon which heaven can approve.

“Innovation,” according to one definition, is “a new idea, creative thoughts, new imaginations in form of device or method.”[i] To be innovative is to be creative—to be able to “think outside” the proverbial “box.”

You know, friends, God Himself is the Ultimate Innovator! Think for a moment about Creation—bringing something spectacular into existence out of nothing at all! That is truly thinking “outside of the box!”

Then, when Adam and Eve fell, God’s innovative plan to save us begin rolling into action, as under divine instruction, Adam cut the throat of the first sacrificial lamb pointing to the coming Savior.

Throughout history, God has continually used innovative methods to accomplish His purposes—an ark to save the human race from extinction during a worldwide flood; multiple languages to scatter people across the globe; a promise to Abraham, an old man described “as good as dead” in Hebrews 11:12, and making of him a great nation.

Take the case of Joseph, when nine brothers, filled with hatred and jealousy, sold him into slavery. But God’s innovative plan took what was meant for evil and turned it around for good. Later, as a new Pharaoh sought to wipe out God’s people, God intervened through a baby in a basket boat.

The list goes on—water from a rock, city walls crumbling, a giant slain by a sling and stone, a powerful king converted after seven years of roaming like a beast—these are but a few of God’s amazing ways.

But then, the height of innovation—a Baby, placed in a humble manger, later nailed to a cross to save a race—the human race—that did not know Him.

In John 1:11-13 we read,

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Through the “new birth” offered through God’s innovative plan, God promises to give us power to become sons and daughters of God. Amazing!

Before ascending to heaven, Jesus promised His disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit, promising them power to be His witnesses “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Once this gift was received, Christ’s followers turned “the world upside down.”

Friends, today God still works through innovative means—sometimes in spectacular ways, but often through very simple methods—a knock on the door, a genuine smile, a healing touch, a warm meal, a caring message, an interesting Bible study, a deep conversation, a listening ear—God’s means are limitless, the only limit He has is our willingness to go—to be His hands, His feet.

The importance of God’s calling for us today is made very clear in the book Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, page 24, where we read:

“A crisis is right upon us. We must now by the Holy Spirit’s power proclaim the great truths for these last days. It will not be long before everyone will have heard the warning and made his decision. Then shall the end come…. God is the great Master Worker, and by His providence He prepares the way for His work to be accomplished. He provides opportunities, opens up lines of influence, and channels of working. If His people are watching the indications of His providence, and stand ready to co-operate with Him, they will see a great work accomplished.”

As we move forward in faith, God, the great Innovator, will open doors, showing us His best ways of reaching the world at this time. When we surrender to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there is no limit to what God can and will do through His Church and through you in Total Member Involvement right now.

Let’s pray together. Father, thank You for the great privilege of cooperating with heaven in the greatest innovative plan ever conceived—the plan of salvation, where Jesus, the Ruler of the universe would come to this earth as a humble human being and would take on human form—100 percent divine, 100 percent human. We can’t understand that, but we know it’s an innovative, amazing plan. And Jesus lived a perfect life for us, died on the cross for our sins, and is interceding for us in heaven right now as our High Priest, soon to come back as our glorious, triumphant, victorious, conquering King. We look forward to that time. And until that time, Lord, use us to proclaim this amazing, innovative message—a message directly from the throne room of heaven. Thank you for hearing us and thank you for each person who is willing to go for You and to be a witness of what You can do in a life. Thank You for the promise of Your soon coming. We ask all of this in the precious name of our Savior, Who died for us, and lives for us, and intercedes for us, and is coming back to take us home. In Jesus’ name we ask it, amen.

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Beirut Explosion: ADRA Disaster Response Teams Step Up Emergency Assistance to Help First Responders and Survivors

  • ADRA Lebanon is providing essential emergency supplies to recovery workers and survivors of the massive explosion in Beirut’s port.
  • The huge blast that struck the Lebanese capital city on August 4, killed at least 135 people, wounded more than 5,000 people, and left more than 300,000 people homeless.
  • ADRA teams will tour at least five neighborhoods including schools surrounding the blast zone to begin to deploy the humanitarian support including water and food to the victims.

6 August 2020 | From ADRA – Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) response teams in Lebanon are providing essential emergency supplies to recovery workers and survivors of the massive explosion in Beirut’s port.  The huge blast that struck the Lebanese capital city on August 4, killed at least 135 people, wounded more than 5,000 people, and left more than 300,000 people homeless.

“Responders say they have never seen anything like this before. The images look like a war zone.  The first dispatched ambulance teams were killed by the explosion. We are delivering water and essential equipment to firefighters and civil defense workers,” says Gunther Wallauer, ADRA regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.  “We are providing bedding supplies, so they have a place to rest; they need cots, tents, generators for lights since electricity is out in most of the city. We know there’s devastation in several neighborhoods close to the epicenter.  Our teams on the ground are quickly assessing the situation to provide immediate aid to children and families.”

ADRA teams will tour at least five neighborhoods including schools surrounding the blast zone to begin to deploy the humanitarian support including water and food to the victims. Authorities believe the deadly blast could have been caused by tons of highly explosive material stored in a warehouse at the main port. The disaster is overwhelming the country already dealing with an economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our prayers are with the Lebanese nation, especially the children and families affected by this catastrophe and all who lost loved ones and are injured.  We have been on the ground since the coronavirus outbreak helping the Lebanese community cope with the health and economic challenges of the pandemic and are ready to provide additional support during this added crisis,” says ADRA’s President Michael Kruger.  “We are committed to increasing our emergency response activities to provide life-saving essentials to those in need of assistance.”

ADRA is working with church volunteers, local authorities, and partners in Beirut to coordinate the relief and recovery operations. To assist with ADRA’s emergency response in Lebanon, please visit ADRA.org/Disasters. For interviews with ADRA representatives contact press@adra.org.

About ADRA 

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is the international humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church serving in 118 countries. Its work empowers communities and changes lives around the globe by providing sustainable community development and disaster relief. ADRA’s purpose is to serve humanity so all may live as God intended. For more information, visit ADRA.org.

Photo credit: ADRA Lebanon

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Church Reaches Out After Beirut Explosion

Church Reaches Out After Beirut Explosion

Adventists step out as Lebanon faces a perfect storm of crises.

By: Chanmin Chung, Middle East and North African Union Mission

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lebanon is assessing damage and cleaning up after an explosion on August 4, 2020, rocked the capital city of Beirut. The blast’s effects were felt as far away as the nation of Cyprus, around 240 kilometers (150 miles) to the northwest.

Official news sources report that the blast originated in a facility used to store ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical. Thousands of people were injured and 135 killed.

All Adventist workers and members have been accounted for and are safe, but some Adventist contacts have been injured. 

Leaders of the Middle East and North Africa Union (MENA) have confirmed damage to buildings on the Middle East University (MEU) campus — primarily windows that were blown out from the blast in homes, dorms, and classrooms, but also fallen ceilings. Similar damage was reported in the MENA Media Center on the MEU campus. 

  • Glass windows and doors were shattered at the Boucherieh Seventh-day Adventist Church in Beirut, after the August 4, 2020, blast. [Photo: Middle East and North African Union]

  • The MENA Media Center on the campus of Middle East University had its windows blown out. [Photo: Middle East and North African Union]

  • On the campus of Middle East University, windows were blown out and ceilings fell from the impact of the August 4 blast, affecting homes, dorms, and classrooms. [Photo: Middle East and North African Union]

Two Adventist secondary schools in Beirut and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) office were damaged as well. Hardest hit was the Boucherieh Adventist Secondary School, where crews are cleaning up the debris from fallen windows and ceilings. 

Two Adventist churches located on the school campuses in Boucherieh and Mouseitbeh were also affected. Glass windows and doors were shattered, and volunteers have been carefully working to clean up the debris. The Adventist Learning Center for refugees was also heavily damaged, affecting one of the ways the Adventist Church assists refugees in Lebanon.

“Our biggest concern right now is how Adventists can assist the people of Lebanon with hope and practical help. We want to show God’s love to this country at a time when many have lost hope,” said Rick McEdward, president of the Adventist Church in the MENA region. “Church workers and members are looking for ways of being God’s hands and feet during this time through practical assistance in the most affected areas.”

The impact blast of the explosion left the downtown sector of Beirut devastated and brought up fresh emotional scars from the civil war that affected the country for many years. 

People around the world have offered support during the crisis. The aftermath of the explosion is one of many blows that have impacted Lebanon over the past nine months. 

In October 2019, dramatic protests rolled across Lebanon, eventually causing the prime minister to resign and a new government to be formed. The hope of national economic and infrastructure reforms faded as the Lebanese currency began to dive in its value; Lebanese citizens started losing hope.

From October through December, banks, schools, and offices were frequently closed due to the various protest movements, bringing the country to a standstill. 

Just when Lebanon was beginning to reopen for “normal” business, the world was hit with the COVID-19 pandemic, causing a government-mandated total lockdown, with eventual stages for reopening.

Adventist secondary schools in Beirut and the Adventist university completed the year with online learning. At the same time, Lebanon sank into an economic crisis that has seen rapid inflation and devaluation of the Lebanese currency.  

Middle East University and the two K-12 schools in Lebanon have been reeling from the financial impact of both the national economic crisis, multiplied by the COVID-19 lockdown.

Teachers at the two K-12 schools have been receiving only a portion of their salaries, and the schools are being forced into extreme measures to see if they will be able to reopen for the coming school year later this month. 

“This has been the perfect storm, with crisis after crisis for Lebanon,” said Michael Wixwat, MENA treasurer. McEdward adds, “Lebanon is a country with an economy that is spiraling out of control, then COVID-19 hit with all the lockdowns further shutting down the economy. Now this devasting blast to the heart and infrastructure of Lebanon. The explosion gave yet another blow to our beloved institutions here in Lebanon.”

Institutions with limited financial resources are working to repair the damage at the university, secondary schools, and the Learning Center. The greater Lebanon crisis has created a backdrop for many institutions in Lebanon to close their doors instead of reopening. 

Prayer support is greatly appreciated for the church and the institutions that have been affected by the crisis in Lebanon and the August 4 explosion. 

McEdward said in an appeal, “Please pray for the church in Lebanon as it seeks to be a blessing and bring good news to the nation.”

Updates on the situation will be shared as information becomes available.


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Navigating the New Normal With Christ

‘Navigating the New Normal With Christ’

Adventist schools in Jamaica host island-wide online consecration service.

By: Phillip Castell, Inter-American Division, and Adventist Review

Confronted with closed schools and fear and concern for COVID-19 coupled with government-issued constraints on assembly, leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica hosted the first ever virtual Service of Thanksgiving and Consecration to God.

Conference administrators, pastors, teachers, and a group of 689 students from the church’s 27 high and preparatory schools from across the island participated in the service, held in late June 2020 under the theme “Navigating the New Normal with Christ.”

Educators and students alike gave thanks to God for His leading in the church’s educational system, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic that prompted the service to be held virtually through the church’s online platform. All five of the region’s church conferences participated.

 

  • Nia Adonis of the Victor Dixon High School in Mandeville, Jamaica, plays the violin during her musical contribution at the consecration service. [Photo: Phillip Castell]

  • Consecration speaker Meric Walker, executive secretary for the Adventist Church in Jamaica, delivers his message during the special service. [Photo: Phillip Castell]

  • Michael Henry, education director for the Adventist Church in Jamaica, makes his presentation during the special online consecration service in late June. [Photo: Phillip Castell]

“The service was held to express gratitude to God despite the pandemic and invoke His blessings on our students as they matriculate to another level of their education,” said Michael Henry, education director for the Adventist Church in Jamaica. “We also are grateful for the fact that through technology, we were able to complete the academic year and allow the students to celebrate their achievements in a united way, though virtual.”

The government of Jamaica ordered schools to be closed on March 13, 2020, after the coronavirus’s first case was identified on March 10. Government reports state that 10 people have died of COVID-19, and 855 known positive cases have been detected as of July 28, 2020. 

Since March, schools have had to adapt to online classes. A small percentage of students in some remote areas could not be reached virtually, and lessons were printed for them by the schools and delivered by teachers or picked up by parents.

Additionally, the church’s eastern region, which hosts online services each evening, has used the opportunity to conduct three online classes daily, Monday to Thursday, that are available to anyone interested. The program caters to a wide cross-section of students covering English, mathematics, Spanish, social studies, science, and a learning-to-read course, among others.

“This online platform allows us to make a contribution to the students who are at home and need continuous learning,” said Donna Brown, education director of the East Jamaica Conference of the church. “We use the opportunity to integrate faith and learning, not only to children enrolled in our Adventist schools, but also to share this learning experience with others.”

Students are joining classes on the platform from the wider Caribbean, the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world. The goal is to promote Adventist Christian education.

Benefits of Adventist Christian Education

During the online service, Henry said that education is only as good as the philosophy that undergirds it, and Adventist Christian education looks through the lens of the Adventist philosophy. 

“This cannot be separated from the mission of the church,” he said, noting that in Adventist philosophy, the work of education and redemption are one. “One of the purposes of Adventist Christian education is to transmit our Christian heritage from generation to generation,” he added.

Meric Walker, executive secretary of the Adventist Church in Jamaica, challenged young people to be steadfast in God’s Word. 

“As the new norm threatens with immorality on every side, students, I say to you stand on the Word of God,” Walker said. “Do not vacillate in the pool of popularity, but stand for principle and righteousness.”

Commenting on the service, the student representative for the St. Ann’s Bay High & Preparatory School in St. Ann, Anthony Andorn, said he found the environment very welcoming. “The feedback I received from the coordinators was encouraging and boosted my overall confidence in public speaking,” Andorn said.

Following government guidelines, schools in Jamaica are scheduled to reopen on September 7. “What we have been planning is a blended approach — a combination of face-to-face and online instructions. Social distance requirements will be followed,” Henry said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.


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