Thursday, January 24, 2008

Reviewing Adventist World, North American Division

January, 2008

GENERAL COMMENTS: It makes me unhappy to be critical of anything in this edition of Adventist World, but A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM should not be the cover story. More about that later.

EDITORIAL: Bill, I was right with you until you implied that we, 15 million Adventists, were God's "remnant people". This comment directly followed your words in about "the godly desire we [Adventists] find in our souls to meet with other Christians, to learn from them and pray with them, is a witness to His authority over the otherwise chaotic forces that threaten our peace".

WORLD REPORT: News reports from the South Pacific Division, Netherlands, Poland, Cuba, and Thailand were informative and well written. These are exciting days to be an Adventist.

SHARED RESPONSIBILITY, SHARED TRUST is an article adapted from a sermon by Jan Paulsen, at a gathering of church leaders from every division of the world church. My admiration for our General Conference President continues to grow. He continues to emphasize Adventists shared beliefs, and his final statement which follows is not only a testament to his l superb leadership ability, it also allows Divisional leadership to be flexible enough to adapt to adapt cultural differences without requesting specific guidance from higher authority.

"How should those who lead the church responded to difficult issues; how should we approach decisions were the consequences are uncertain or unpredictable? If, after we have talked the matter through and prayed about it, and our mind day finds rest with what we believe is right, it is important that the prospect of uncertain consequences does not hinder us from moving forward. If you are clear about what is right, just do it. Don't be political. Keep your heart clean. Be self-critical with reference to potential conflicts of interest and then just do what you know is right. You will sleep better for it, for you did your best to be loyal and obedient to God. In an uncertain world with an uncertain future, that is, the only safe stand church leaders can take."

INTERSTITIAL CHSTITIS "is a chronic inflammation of the bladder that is poorly understood". Allen R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless knowledgeably discuss this medical problem. Successful treatment requires "a team approach of gynecologists, urologists, physical therapists, dietitians, and nurse practitioners".

TIMID? by Don C. Schneider illustrates that a history of neighborliness makes possible an effective Christian witness.

THE ART AND SCIENCE OF PLANNING A MEETING by Martin Ytreberg is a convincing argument for adding another General Conference Secretary/Treasurer. Event planners, it makes good sense to check out the Adventist Event Planners Association web site. www.adventisteventplanners.org

A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM by Wilona Karimabadi as the featured article. Kevin and Dailyn Patino began their preaching careers when Kevin was four and Dailyn was three. This brother and sister evangelistic team received their call to the ministry directly from God. It happened at 11:30 one evening when Edgar Patino heard a voice saying, “Kevin will preach”. The “children's program has now grown into an international ministry, and the Patino’s travel throughout the Inter-American Division preaching and singing about salvation.” Pastor Edgar to Patino “writes Kevin's sermons after much prayer and time spent with the Lord. Then a unique complement of their preparations comes into play. The children's mother, Jogly, turns the text of the sermons into drawings. Kevin and Dailyn and do not memorize the sermons, but use the sketches to bring the point to life in their minds. Their sermons typically run 25-30 minutes with one message sometimes containing 200 to 300 different drawings, all from Jogly’s own hand”. Kevin is seven and “on fire for the Lord”.

I'm not one to challenge a direct, auditory command from God. I am concerned, however, about the welfare of these two children. Child evangelists have all too often been victimized and psychologically damaged by overzealous and ambitious parents. I can't help but reflect that Jesus’ ministry was regional and began at age 30.

PREPARING TO GROW APPLES by D. Reid McCary is one of the best, short devotional pieces I have ever read. His central metaphor is developed beautifully. The following paragraph is his final summing up.

“As we lived in the ‘orchards’ of society, we all take the same sunlight, the same water, the same nutrients. But we rearrange them in a unique fashion to make us special expressions of the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

BEHIND PRISON BARS should have been the lead story. George Uba describes the work of 1200 Romanian Adventists who minister to the needs of incarcerated men and women in 42 prisons and 2 prison hospital wards. Their organization, ”The Humanitarian Service for Prisons” is officially recognized as one of the strongest humanitarian organizations in Romania. These men and women, assisted by hundreds of volunteers and mission-minded individuals in United States, are the ones to whom Christ will say, “Take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave a drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.”

ADVENTIST TELEVISION MINISTRIES, “Breath of Life”, “Faith for Today” and “It is Written” are alive and well.

THE LOMA LINDA REPORT never ceases to inspire. Their annual radiothon raised $608,000 for the Loma Linda University Children's Hospital. Linda Linda isn't just a “state-of-the-art facility”, its service to the worldwide community is “state of the heart”.

TELLING OF GOD'S GOODNESS AND LOVE: A REPORT FROM THE 2007 NAD YEAR-END MEETINGS. There were devotional sermons and reports from various evangelistic efforts. There was also a Secretary’s Report concerning membership data from 2002-2006. When deaths were tallied (33,947) and missing members accounted for (77,985), North American membership totaled 1,050,210. There were 38,275 baptisms and professions of faith in 2006, and Secretary Roscoe Howard reported “steady growth”, or a 1.72 % increase in membership from 2005 to 2006.

Am I missing something? What happened in 2002-2005? This is 2008. What was happening last year? Was there any attempt to justify money spent on evangelistic efforts with regard to membership growth? How many children under the age of 14 were baptized? How much money was spent on evangelism? How much was spent on Adventist education? Is a 1.72% an acceptable growth rate? These are just a few of the questions that beg to be answered.

What are readers to make of the report by George Johnson Jr., Associate Director, Office of Communication, North American Division that “on Sunday the nearly 340 delegates to the session said they were, in effect, tired of business as usual and wished to depend on the power of the Lord to accomplish great things—far larger than many may have believed possible”? This blogger is also “tired of business as usual”.

The subhead of POWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT by Craig R. Jeffrey says it all. “A new technology is making the gospel more accessible than ever.” He's talking about the Internet and the amazing uses to which it can be put.

SERVING AS GOD'S HANDS as reported by Jill Walker Gonzalez is a testament to the remarkable impact that members of local Adventist communities can have in Developing Nations when even limited resources are made available.

WHAT IS IT REALLY LIKE TO BE A CHRISTIAN? by Robert K. McIver is a thoughtful and generous answer to that question.

Ellen White’s OUR SACRED TRUST is a reminder and that “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance—these are the fruit of the Christian tree”.

LOVE IN ANY DIRECTION made me laugh! Angel Manuel Rodríguez attempts to explain the biblical symbolism associated with the four cardinal directions of the compass. It turns out that no matter which way you go, you could be going in the wrong direction!

Maybe it's just me, but when Mark A. Finley titles this lesson study, JESUS:THE MIGHTY CONQUEROR, it conjures up a vision of Alexander the Great, not Jesus, whose Kingdom can never be established by might and power.

WORLD EXCHANGE is as fascinating, insightful, and heartbreaking as usual. Editors, the extra page and information about how to be part of this exchange is space will spent. If you don’t have access to the Internet, you can fax material to 301-680-6638 or send a letter to World Exchange, Adventist World, 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Springs, Maryland, 20904-6600 USA.

2 comments:

Johnny said...

Andy,
The contact information for the Patino family is helpfully included in the article. Assuming that your worries are genuinely felt I am sure you took advantage of that- how did they respond?
Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I think it's wonderful how these parents are working with their children to bring them to the Lord. Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world and preach the good news". Your never to young to work for the Lord. These parents want to see their children in the Kingdom.