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Lindsey Painter–Message of Hope

Lindsey Painter–Message of Hope

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Lindsey Painter–Message of Hope

Lindsey Painter–Message of Hope

Before you go…

We are living in unprecedented times. Physical gatherings like a weekly church service are not possible in many parts of the world. But meaningful community is more important than ever.

Adventist Today works hard to provide you with an extended family that values independent news, commentary and conversation in the Adventist community. In the last few months we’ve also added two new weekly innovations: our stimulating Sabbath Seminar and the uplifting Anticipating AT1 video programming.

To do all this, we really need your help and financial support.

So please check out the video above, share it with your friends and help us continue to bring you excellent, informative and encouraging content.

You can donate one time by clicking this link

or

monthly by clicking this one

You can also give  via an IRA Qualified Charitable Distribution here

or call us toll-free at 800.236.3641

 

To comment, click/tap here.

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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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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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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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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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