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North American Division news:
Elisha was hiding in Dothan from his enemies because they had become aware that he knew exactly what they were doing as they tried to thwart the plans of God’s people. This is the historical context of the story.
“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?’ the servant asked. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:15-17, NIV).
Today we see a vast army encircling the camp around us. At the time I wrote this article, there were more than 578,000 confirmed coronavirus disease victims in the U.S.; and more than 23,000 people have died. Canada has more than 26,000 cases; and Bermuda (57) and Guam-Micronesia (148) are not exempt.*
What will we do in the face of this great, silent, and invisible enemy that has come against us?
Elisha’s story can bring us closer to God and help us understand that He is always with us, loves us, and cares about us — even in the moments when we are isolated and alone. Even in those moments when we discover we have the coronavirus, and even in those moments when a loved one or a friend has been taken as a victim of this disease.
Elisha prays, “Open his eyes, Lord, that he may see.” Elisha’s servant would have given up and resigned himself to death had it not been for the direct and the gracious intervention of God. When he viewed the situation based on his history and experience, based upon his knowledge of what was outside the walls in terms of earthly power, and based upon the apparent ineptness of Israel’s armies, the servant concluded all was lost. But God opened his eyes.
Sometimes in our pain and self-focus — and our focus upon others — we fail to see and sense the presence of Jesus, the Creator and the Redeemer of our universe, right here at our side.
God has given us some special gifts. He’s given us an intelligent will, the ability to make decisions that are not based on emotions or feelings, but rather based upon data and information. He gives us the ability to perceive, to know, and to understand.
He has also given us bodies with systems that can fight this silent and invisible enemy. The numbers of people who have contracted COVID-19 and those who have died from it are terrible. Without making light of this grim reality, we realize there’d be far more dead if God hadn’t blessed us with our immune systems. We have the privilege of being stewards of our bodies and our health.
Finally, God has given us Himself. Ellen White writes, “The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son” (Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., p. 100).
Elisha’s servant did not understand this. He could see only through his own eyes. It was only when the Holy Spirit was given that he could see and understand the mighty presence of God.
No matter where we are today, whether we’re isolated in a sickbed or we have our family with us — no matter where we are, no matter how we feel, physically or spiritually — God sees. He knows and understands our circumstance, and, by His grace, we ask Him to open our eyes.
* These numbers are from the World Health Organization's Situation Report from April 15, 2020. As of the June 2, 2020, report, the numbers are: 1,783,638 confirmed cases in the U.S. (with 104,247 deaths); 91,351 cases in Canada; 167 cases in Guam; and 140 cases in Bermuda.
— Daniel R. Jackson is president of the North American Division; this article was written in April 2020 to share in the May 2020 Adventist Journey magazine.kmaran Tue, 06/02/2020 - 12:54
La Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día en América del Norte está respondiendo a los trágicos asesinatos de Ahmaud Arbery en Georgia, Breonna Taylor en Kentucky, George Floyd en Minnesota y otros eventos recientes que demuestran claramente la brecha racial que destruye la calidad de vida para tantos y el tejido mismo de nuestra sociedad democrática. Como cristianos, condenamos tales acciones de odio y violencia y pedimos que se haga justicia para las víctimas y sus familias.
Se han levantado muros de separación que sirven para destruir los derechos esenciales de la dignidad humana, la autoestima y la libertad. Estos derechos son necesarios para que todos los americanos vivan y prosperen en sus comunidades locales. Algunas de las personas a quienes se les ha confiado la protección de todos los miembros de la sociedad han quebrantado su pacto solemne de servir a los demás; especialmente a los necesitados. Los americanos nunca deberían tener que vivir con el miedo de salir en público solo por el color de su piel o su origen étnico. Podemos y debemos aspirar a algo mejor.
Instamos a todos los miembros de nuestra iglesia a considerar en oración cómo interactúan con todos en sus comunidades. Les pedimos que hablen en contra de la injusticia y el odio, tal como lo hizo Jesús cuando estuvo en esta tierra. Podemos marcar la diferencia para aquellos que son marginados y traicionados por otros, y debemos proporcionar un foro para las voces de las víctimas del odio y el racismo. Nuestras acciones pueden hablar más fuerte que las palabras. Podemos liderar con el ejemplo en cómo tratamos a los demás y exigir que todas las personas sean tratadas de manera equitativa y justa. Como la fe cristiana con mayor diversidad étnica en los Estados Unidos, nuestras voces representan a casi todas las comunidades de este país. Deben ser escuchados mientras servimos para sanar nuestras comunidades fracturadas con el amor y la compasión de Jesús.
— La Administración de la División Norteamericana
kmaran Mon, 06/01/2020 - 09:34
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America is responding to the tragic killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, George Floyd in Minnesota, and other recent events that clearly document the racial divide destroying the quality of life for so many and the very fabric of our democratic society. As Christians we condemn such actions of hate and violence and call for justice to be served for the victims and their families.
Walls of separation that serve to destroy the essential rights of human dignity, self-worth, and freedom have been built up. These rights are required for all Americans to live and thrive in their local communities. Some of those who have been trusted to protect all members of society have broken their solemn pact to serve others; especially those in need. Americans should never have to live in fear of going out in public just because of the color of their skin or their ethnicity. We can and must do better.
We urge all our church members to prayerfully consider how they interact with everyone in their communities. We ask you to speak out against injustice and hatred, just as Jesus did when He was on this earth. We can make a difference for those who are marginalized and betrayed by others, and we must provide a forum for the voices of the victims of hatred and racism. Our actions can speak louder than words. We can lead by example in how we treat others and demand that all people be treated equally and fairly. As the most ethnically-diverse Christian faith in the United States, our voices represent nearly every community in this country. They must be heard as we serve to heal our broken communities with the love and compassion of Jesus.
— North American Division Administrationkmaran Fri, 05/29/2020 - 10:35
After years in disrepair and closure, 53 churches in east central India have reopened with the help of It Is Written. Spiritual, health, and social services have been initiated to keep them active.
Earlier this year, the It Is Written Eyes for India program conducted a medical camp for 100 villages including the 53 villages with newly-reopened churches. Medical physicians from the U.S. provided free medical expertise and partnered with local nursing students. More than 2,300 patients were treated, over 4,500 people were screened for cataracts, and 927 were selected for cataract surgery, which began on February 24.
During February 2020, two It Is Written mission teams traveled to India to hold revival meetings at 20 locations covering the 100 villages that also received medical care. Over the course of the month, approximately 4,500 people attended these meetings throughout the sites. God poured out His blessings, and 1,197 people accepted Jesus into their hearts. Dedicated local church leaders, Bible workers, and volunteers were vital to making these events successful, and drawing people closer to Jesus.
Coming Together to Help
In November 2018, It Is Written began an initiative with local church leaders to reopen 50 churches that had been closed due to lack of funding. The initial assessment was not encouraging. In addition to being without a pastor, the church yards were covered in garbage, windows were broken, and doors had rusted shut. Some churches were used to store tobacco or cotton while others were serving as shelters for beggars, sheep, and buffalo.
To ensure the 53 churches stayed open, new church leaders had to be trained and paid. Twenty-five Bible workers were selected and began training. They studied the life and teachings of Jesus; Bible doctrines; Daniel and Revelation; history of the church; world religions; health principle; the gift of prophecy; major and minor prophets; and the writings of Paul. Jack Phillips, It Is Written Bible work coordinator, traveled to India and conducted a special course on practical methods for giving Bible studies and reaching the local communities.
After thorough training, each of these Bible workers were placed in the villages to care for their two assigned churches. They cleaned each church, and professionals made repairs and painted walls. Each church was given a new PA system, a culturally-essential component to corporate worship. The Bible workers faced prejudice from community members because community members’ trust was damaged or broken when the church closed.
Community health workers were hired to help the Bible workers overcome this prejudice. These women created a way for the Bible worker to enter the community with the gospel. Each health worker was given training, a scale, stethoscope, blood pressure machine, and the book Where There is No Doctor in Telugu, the local language.
The health workers checked glucose and blood pressure levels, cared for fevers, and bandaged wounds. They taught about cleanliness and educated the villagers about the harmfulness of tobacco and alcohol. These women visited every home — Hindu, Muslims, and any other religion — praying for the people’s suffering at the end of the visit. Some of the villagers accepted Christ because of the health workers’ invitations.
Newly opened churches began conducting night literacy classes in 26 of the churches. Eight adult literacy volunteers taught basic reading and writing along with Christian songs. They also prayed with the students and encouraged each to come back to the church on Sabbath. Through their efforts, people accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior through baptism.
A United States sewing ministry partnered with the churches to offer sewing classes for local women. The women learned how to make garments, were given a brand-new sewing machine, and were invited to accept Christ as Savior. They left the class spiritually fed and with training to become financially independent.
The health and social services were augmented with spiritual resources. Theology students conducted a three-day evangelism program in each of the 53 churches. Their program helped support the Bible workers in reaching the unreached and gathering the scattered members. These students visited the entire village, prayed with everyone they could, and invited the community to the meetings at the church.
Later, another seven-day revival meeting occurred in 10 of the newly-opened churches. These meetings were targeted to the local youth, who learned songs, Bible stories, and skits. The youth left encouraged to be the strength of the new churches. Many young people gave their lives to Jesus Christ through these meetings.
And the younger children were not left out. Last summer, over 60 days, two college students conducted Vacation Bible School in 20 of the reopened churches. They worked with the village children, taught them new songs and Bible stories, and made crafts. Nearly 800 children participated.
The Work Continues
And the work hasn’t stopped. Ongoing plans include quarterly meetings conducted by a local Indian evangelist to cover spiritual growth topics such as the Sabbath, stewardship, continuous soul winning, children’s Sabbath school, and health. The churches continue to hold youth ministry events and widow prayer ministry activities.
Every quarter, the church will also conduct an eight-day training for elders to equip them to serve the church and community. And 48 more churches have been selected for reopening and have already been cleaned.
In May, the It Is Written Hope Awakens sermons were translated into seven Indian languages and livestreamed in Facebook to the entire local area. Thousands have seen the broadcasts.
The infrastructure is established to help ensure these churches stay open for many years to come and continue growing and serving their communities with the love of Jesus.
This project was made possible through the support of It Is Written donors. To learn more and donate to future It Is Written mission and humanitarian projects, click here and select “It Is Written Missions.”
— Josephine Biegler is the It Is Written India Mission coordinator.
kmaran Wed, 05/27/2020 - 15:25