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Oshkosh Camporee Overstock Is Benefiting Ministries, Communities

Volunteers sorted and shipped sleeping bags, tents, mats, stoves, and plenty of food.

In Mexico, Church Unveils Monument to Highlight the Bible at a Public Park

Adventist leaders call on government officials to have God’s Word in high regard.

Adverse Childhood Experiences Can Be Deadly, but There Is Hope, Expert Says

ASi seminar presenter calls victims to allow God to lead in the process of restoration.

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North American Division news:

Breath of Life Ministries Empowers Members, Publishes its First Book for Literature Evangelism

Breath of Life Ministries Empowers Members, Publishes its First Book for Literature Evangelism
Community member in Miami-area reads a copy of FREE: Revisiting God’s Plan for Oppressed People, which was distributed by local church members.

Community member in Miami-area reads a copy of FREE: Revisiting God’s Plan for Oppressed People, which was distributed by local church members. Photo courtesy of Breath of Life Ministries

Carlton P. Byrd, speaker/director of Breath of Life Ministries and senior pastor of Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama, believes that spiritual health is partially dependent on personal involvement in outreach. One way Byrd encourages members to be active participants in sharing the gospel is through literature distribution. While organizing members to distribute literature isn’t a new concept, for some churches, it is a newly revived practice that generates a lot of enthusiasm.

“Praise God for the spoken word and the sung word, but some will be won by reading the word of God and truth-filled literature. I am a proponent of literature; because when literature goes out, it can go places we can’t go,” said Byrd.

This emphasis birthed Breath of Life’s first sharing book, FREE: Revisiting God’s Plan for Oppressed People, which is co-authored by Byrd and Christopher C. Thompson, communication and marketing director for Breath of Life. The pocket-sized volume points readers to a deliverer who is concerned about the social, economic, and political circumstances that oppress people and suppress the voices of millions in America and around the world.

Released on June 19, FREE has already been distributed to hundreds of people in preparation for the ministry’s public evangelism meetings. Several churches in Miami, Florida have shared the book throughout their neighborhoods, but especially in the city’s Brownsville community.

After receiving a copy and reading several of its pages, one community member said, “Thank you for this. I love this!”

Brownsville is the home of Bethany Seventh-day Adventist Church, which served as the location of the “Breath of Life Summer Revival.” At the end of the revival, Byrd and area pastors baptized 120 people into the Adventist Church.

“It is Breath of Life’s sincere desire that this project will help empower local churches to similarly experience the joy of personal outreach in preparation for public evangelism,” said Byrd. “Jesus isn’t coming anywhere until the gospel goes everywhere.”

mylonmedley Tue, 09/17/2019 - 07:37

High School Tennis Star Nixed From Tournament Over Faith 

High School Tennis Star Nixed From Tournament Over Faith 
Joelle Chung

Joelle Chung; Photo by Becket

Two siblings and star high school tennis players went to court to defend their right to compete in the state championships while keeping their Sabbath day.

On Aug. 6, 2019, Paul and Iris Chung sued the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association in federal court on behalf of their children, Joelle and Joseph. In Chung v. WIAA, Joelle Chung was barred from competing in the Washington state tennis postseason tournament because the championships fell on a Saturday, her Sabbath. As faithful Seventh-day Adventists, the Chung family observes the Sabbath by devoting time for rest and worship every week from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown.

In 2019, her senior season, Joelle was undefeated and expected to win in the qualifying tournaments and advance to the state championships. But the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) scheduled the state championships for Saturday. This meant that, according to WIAA rules, she was disqualified from participating at all in the postseason, even though the only conflict between the Sabbath and the tournament would have been the very last day.

“As a senior, it was hard giving everything I had to support my team all season, only to be forced to sit out the entire postseason simply because of my faith,” said Joelle Chung. “I’ll never get the chance to play for a state championship again, but hopefully this case will protect other Seventh-day Adventists like my brother from having to choose between sports and their faith.”

Joseph and Joelle Chung study the Bible

Joelle Chung and her brother Joseph read the Bible together. Photo by Becket

Each year the WIAA holds a statewide postseason tennis tournament. According to WIAA rules, all participants must certify that they will be able to participate in each level of the tournament to qualify for the championships, with exceptions for injury, illness or unforeseen events. Hoping to make a compromise, the Chungs asked the WIAA to move the state championships to a weekday or simply allow Joelle to participate in the qualifying tournaments and use an alternate for the championships, just like athletes with injuries or illness can. The WIAA flatly denied their requests. The Chungs took their case to court.

Becket, the Chung's counsel, argues that no student-athlete should be kept on the sidelines for their faith when accommodations are possible and is asking that the rule that kept Joelle from competing be changed so that her brother Joseph can participate in the state championships this fall.

Joelle was a top athlete on her high school’s girls’ tennis team for four years before graduating in 2019. Joseph is a current high school student and is already a star player on the boys’ tennis team as a sophomore. The Chungs are talented and dedicated tennis players, but a discriminatory rule has kept them from playing the sport they love because of their beliefs.

“No student-athlete should be kept from competition because of their faith,” said Joe Davis, counsel at Becket. “The WIAA’s rule hurts religious minorities and students of many faiths who honor the longstanding practice of keeping the Sabbath.”

chung case

Joseph and Joelle Chung on the tennis court; Photo by Becket

The Chungs are active members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Chehalis, Washington. They take their faith very seriously. Joelle even missed her own high school graduation because it fell on a Saturday. Joelle and Joseph became tennis players because they knew that the sport was primarily played on the weekdays, so it would not interfere with their religious observance.

On Aug. 27, 2019, the WIAA added religious observance to the list of exceptions allowing a player to withdraw from competition without being penalized. But this rule change is only a partial victory because the WIAA continues to insist that it cannot adjust the schedule of the tournament to accommodate religious observance, even if one of the remaining contenders has a Sabbath conflict.

kmaran Thu, 09/12/2019 - 13:41

Husband-Wife Ministry Leaders of the Southwestern Union Receive Award of Distinction from NAD Family Ministries

Husband-Wife Ministry Leaders of the Southwestern Union Receive Award of Distinction from NAD Family Ministries
Buford Griffith, Carmen Griffith, Pamela Consuegra, and Claudio Consuegra, pose during an award presentation of the NAD Family Ministries’ annual Family Research and Practice Conference

Left to Right: Buford Griffith, Carmen Griffith, Pamela Consuegra, and Claudio Consuegra, pose during an award presentation of the NAD Family Ministries’ annual Family Research and Practice Conference on July 20. Photo: NAD Family Ministries

Buford Griffith, executive secretary and director of Family Ministries and Religious Liberty for the Southwestern Union Conference, and Carmen Griffith, director of Southwestern Union’s Women’s Ministries and Ministerial Spouses Ministries, received the 2019 North American Division (NAD) Family Ministries Distinguished Service Award on July 20. The award was presented by Claudio and Pamela Consuegra, co-directors for Family Ministries of the North American Division during the ministry’s annual Family Research and Practice Conference on the campus of Andrews University.

The Griffiths have been actively involved in Family Ministries for more than 30 years. Their passion and primary focus have been on marriage and parenting, which are foundational areas of Family Ministries.

“It is with great pleasure that we honor and congratulate them for being the recipients of the 2019 North American Division Family Ministries Inukshuk Distinguished Service Award,” said Pamela Consuegra.

The award represents an “Inukshuk,” which holds great symbolism in Canada – a country within the NAD. The stone, manlike figures were traditionally constructed by the Inuit along the Canadian shores with the purpose of pointing wayward travelers back home. If lost, one would only need to look along the shoreline for the Inukshuk and proceed in the direction it was pointing.

“Pastor Buford and Carmen Griffith have dedicated their life’s ministry to strengthening families. Just as the Inukshuk point wayward travelers back home, the ministry provided by them — as a husband and wife team — has consistently pointed countless families towards their heavenly home,” said Consuegra.

Buford earned his bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences from Oakwood College (now Oakwood University) before becoming a board-certified medical technologist. He earned a master’s degree in Biblical Counseling through a joint program offered through The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and Trinity Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana. Carmen is also a graduate of Oakwood College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She went on to earn two master’s degrees – one in Counseling from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a second in Reading from The Ohio State University.

mylonmedley Tue, 09/10/2019 - 12:59

ACS Disaster Response Makes Hurricane Dorian Recovery a Priority

ACS Disaster Response Makes Hurricane Dorian Recovery a Priority
Hurricane Dorian, Navy image

A GOES 16 infrared satellite image of the Atlantic Ocean shows Hurricane Dorian at 1:00 a.m. EDT, Sept. 4, 2019, as a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 110 mph moving northwest at 6 mph near Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo: U.S. Navy photo via Naval Research Laboratory/Released

On Sept. 5, 2019, W. Derrick Lea, director of Adventist Community Services Disaster Response (ACS DR) reported that ACS DR is prepared to help in the southeastern U.S. after Hurricane Dorian whipped through parts of coastal Georgia and the Carolinas. Already, one Adventist-run shelter has opened up.

“We continue to standby in some areas and work to withstand the onslaught of Dorian in others,” said Lea. “The NAD has been in touch with FEMA officials, the American Red Cross, ADRA [the Adventist Development and Relief Agency], the Inter-American Division, and VOADs in each affected state. We have made recovery in the NAD a priority — and we’re so glad we have dedicated ACS staff and volunteers to help in times such as these.”

Lea mentioned that, across the division, the ACS DR team has been praying for the Bahamas, where Dorian’s direct hit has devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama islands with major flooding and home destruction. “We are also praying for ADRA, our sister agency, as it begins to assist in the islands.”

ADRA in the Bahamas

According to a news release from ADRA on Sept. 5, Leonardo Rahming, executive secretary of the South Bahamas Conference and disaster response volunteer for the ADRA, reports that “local authorities have asked humanitarian agencies to be on standby as they work to clear debris on the roads, and ensure safety is in place before aid can be delivered. Sea ports have been closed, and airport clearances are being given only to federal officials and the coast guard.” ADRA will partner with international agencies to help provide meals, clothing, and shelter materials — and in other ways as needed.

Some local ADRA volunteers in the Bahamas were able to work with authorities on the islands to secure a boat in hopes of reaching people trapped by high waters.

“The people of Bahamas are a resilient group, but they are hurting because of the devastation,” Rahming said, as quoted in ADRA’s news release, “I hope the world doesn’t forget the Bahamas and thinks we’ll be okay because we have resources. . . .  the Bahamas still needs ongoing help.”

ACS Disaster Response in the NAD

With Hurricane Dorian bringing heavy rain, high winds, and storm surges as it traveled up the east coast, flooding has already occurred, and more is expected. ACS DR is awaiting a state request for a warehouse, said Lea.

Lea reported that the South Atlantic Conference opened a shelter in Orangeburg, South Carolina. “Currently, we have about 150 people being housed on our camp ground there,” said Lea. “The state has asked that if one is safe to stay in that location for the next 24 hours. This will prevent injuries from the devastating winds and rain.”

Florida and Southeastern conferences are opening collection centers throughout Florida. The plan calls for donations to be used for those affected by Hurricane Dorian. Each conference is keeping their websites updated as to how to help.  

Carolina Conference is still awaiting the final outcomes of Hurricane Dorian in parts of their area where the storm caused damage through flooding, high winds, and tornadoes — and is still pounding residents along the North Carolina coast and on its barrier islands.

“Each area conference has been in communication with us throughout these days of trauma,” said Lea. “We’ll hold an emergency teleconference this coming Sunday, Sept. 8, with our union directors and the directors in the affected areas: Carolina, Florida, Georgia-Cumberland, South Atlantic and Southeastern conferences.”

kmaran Fri, 09/06/2019 - 13:22