Brown: “A ‘Boring’ Way to Change the World”

Nathan’s Brown latest installment of his Engage series is now online–A “Boring” Way to Change the World (Adventist World, July 2014).

Brown says that his monthly donations to ADRA aren’t all that exciting, but as he’s learned more about the organization, he sees that this “boring” form of involvement is important. In June of this year, Brown attended ADRA’s annual meeting. He was excited to have “the opportunity to meet and hear the stories of some 140 ADRA leaders and personnel from across the world.” He continues,

I was in awe of this incredible collection of people drawn from every region of the world, many of them serving in countries other than their homelands. As I talked with them and heard their stories, I discovered problems, issues, and tragedies in the world that I didn’t know existed. But in stark contrast to most news reports, I did so in the context of hearing it from people who are working to alleviate suffering, to work against injustice, and to offer hope and better choices in peoples lives. I was humbled, daunted, and inspired.

You can read the entire article here.

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AR: “Vegetarian Diet Is Effective Tool Against Climate Change, Study Finds”

The Adventist Review posted a story yesterday that considers the environmental ramifications of a vegetarian diet–”Vegetarian Diet Is Effective Tool Against Climate Change, Study Finds” (author unknown). The article begins:

A plant-based diet is not only good for you but also an effective way to combat climate change, according to a new study by Loma Linda University Health.

The research, published in the upcoming July issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that a vegetarian diet results in nearly a third less greenhouse gas emissions than a diet with animal products.

Read the complete article here.

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Guttschuss: Sectarian Violence in Central Nigeria

Adventist Peace Fellowship has posted a link to a report by Eric Guttschuss on sectarian violence in central Nigeria. Guttschuss wrote the report for Human Rights Watch in December of 2013. Learn more here.

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Brown: “My Favorite Description of Jesus”

In the fifth installment of his ENGAGE series, Nathan Brown writes about his favorite description of Jesus. Excerpt:

Of all the descriptions of Jesus found in the gospels and beyond, my favorite—out of so many profound, beautiful, and challenging descriptions—is probably one of the least quoted, most skipped over of the Jesus pictures. It’s found in Matthew 12:17–21:
“This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning him: ‘Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world’” (NLT*).

[Feel free to pause and read it again, slowly and meditatively. Let the words echo in your heart and mind. Have you spent much time with this description in the past? How does this description fit with the Jesus you know? Does it change any of your imaginings of Jesus and His ministry?]

Read the entire article here.

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ADRA: World Refugee Day (June 20)

From an ADRA Facebook post:

WORLD REFUGEE DAY: Don’t forget that tonight is our candlelight vigil. We’re looking forward to spending an evening with our wonderful supporters, sharing stories and inspiration. We hope to see you all there!

If you can’t join us tonight, please visit ADRA.org/refugeeday for more ways you can support World Refugee Day.

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Tagert-Paul: “Social Justice, A Christian Duty?”

Kimberley Tagert-Paul asks a provocative question: What is social justice to Christians–a good thing, bad thing, or actual duty. Spoiler alert, she considers it a duty. She writes:

The Bible tells us the answer, the only answer we need. Verse after verse tells us we have a duty to protect others, to defend the poor, to take care of the needy. The Old Testament is full of instructions on how exactly we are to meet the needs of others. Jesus made sure the message was continued in the New Testament, summing up the law in Mathew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (NIV).

Read the entire article here on the Seventh-day Adventist website. The article was originally published in Accent magazine (January-March,  2013).

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Eskildsen: Adventism During the Civil Rights Movement

I was surprised to arrive at my in-law’s church this Sabbath and find a story about civil rights on the front page of the congregation’s newsletter. This just isn’t the kind of topic I see discussed often. Below is the article by Krystal Eskildsen.

“Adventism During the Civil Rights Movement”

In 1964, on a hot, muggy, Mississippi night, three men disappeared without a trace. The men, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, were civil rights activists. They were in Mississippi–at the height of the civil rights movement–as volunteers for the Summer Project, an educational initiative for racial integration within the state. It was later revealed that the men had been murdered for their efforts. The events that followed the discovery of the men’s bodies unveiled a countermovement of defiant resistance to change, political corruption,  and a heartbreaking denial of justice.

America in the 1960s was undoubtedly a miserable, bigoted place for many people who tried to reconcile the claims of “all mem are created equal, ” with evident racism, anti-miscegenation laws, and the infamous Jim Crow laws of the South. People fought to spread awareness and to encourage change on the national level, the state level,  and the individual level. People young and old got involved, believers and nonbelievers, Catholics and Protestants. Methodists, Babtists, Adventists? What was the Adventist Church’s role or participation in the Civil Rights Movement?

While the church has a general nonparticipatory policy concerning politics, it has been involved, to varying degrees, in civil rights issues. Our church should be commended for its ministry to blacks during a time when racial tensions made it a dangerous venture. We were, and still are, a church that strives to live counter-culture and to be a light within our communities. President Neal C. Wilson, speaking on racism in 1985, released this statement:

The Seventh-day Adventist Church deplores all forms of racism, including the political policy of apartheid with its enforced segregation and legalized discrimination. Seventh-day Adventists want to be faithful to the reconciling ministry assigned to the Christian church. As a worldwide community of faith, the Seventh-day Adventist Church wishes to witness to and exhibit in her own ranks the unity and love that transcend racial differences and overcome past alienation between races (Official Statements, Adventist.org).

Sadly, however, we have at times given into the practices and beliefs of our times. Some Adventists, while not staunch dissenters of civil rights activism, did nothing to promote its awareness either. One of the most notable incidents of accepting the world’s behavior was the discharge of a gravely ill woman, Lucy Byard, in 1943 from the Washington Sanitarium, upon learning that she was African American. She died not long after (“Death in D.C.”, Adventist Review). Another incident recounted is of six black youths visiting a white Adventist church one Sabbath, only to be stopped by a deacon who informed them that he had “six bullets for six niggers” (Seventh-day Adventist and the Civil RIghts Movement, 124).

So what was the church doing during one of the stormiest periods in American history, and no doubt, its own? Well, up until this point, the issue of racism or sensitivity to African American believers–or minority believers–was not a pressing issue. In fact, many black and white Adventists were content with the provisions made for their respective conferences and many reasoned that they could coexist peaceably though separately. Although Ellen White had urged the church that a great work needed to be done among African Americans, few took the counsel to heart.

With the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Adventist church underwent years of introspection. In 1970, in a GC Executive Committee session, action was taken to remedy the state the church was in from its neglect of its duty to its black brethren (OU Goldmine, 12). Black leadership was an important measure set in place at the General Conference level, as this was a sticking point for many African Americans who felt underrepresented within the church. This step has undoubtedly pave the way for other minorities, including women.

In our day, we have social issues that call for our careful, prayerful study and sympathy. It is easy to fall into the world’s way of seeing things. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us into the truth. We have the history of our church to move forward, not politically, but spiritually. That is the point: not to pass blame or shame but to seek God and His kingdom and to invite others to that kingdom. Christ, in John 17:21, desired our unity. He wanted nothing to divide us. Why? Because in our unity is our testimony: that Jesus came, sent from God, to redeem us all.

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