NOTE: In addition to this ADRA statement, check out the third episode of the Adventist Peace Radio podcast (episode 3; all episodes). The episode focuses on ADRA and the refugee crisis.

Silver Spring, Md.— This World Refugee Day, there are more than 60 million people around the world who are internally displaced, seeking asylum, or living as refugees in other countries. The United Nations has described the Syrian crisis, which has displaced approximately half of the country’s population, as the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.

As an international humanitarian organization, ADRA has a long history of helping people displaced by conflict and persecution. Between 2010 and 2015 alone, ADRA has assisted around 5 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). We are currently assisting refugees, asylum seekers, IDPs, and returnees in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. ADRA’s response to the Syrian crisis involves responding to the needs of IDPs within Syria, and working with refugees and asylum seekers in Lebanon, Greece, and other parts of Europe.

In the face of this unprecedented humanitarian crisis, ADRA is marking World Refugee Day with a call to action.

We call on the INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY to find a timely, humane solution to resettling the refugees stranded in Greece and other parts of the world. We also call on the international community to address the circumstances that cause people to become refugees. We call on the international community to help the Syrian Government find a peaceful resolution to the Syrian conflict, and address the conflicts and human rights concerns in other countries which cause people to flee.

We call on POLITICIANS to stand firm on their beliefs, and not be swayed by populism. What is right and what is wrong never changes. Human dignity and human rights are always the same regardless of changing circumstances and commerce.

We call on the MEDIA to report responsibly on the refugee crisis and related events. We call on them to present a balanced, fair picture of events, and not to stoke people’s fears and prejudices.

We call on CHURCHES to talk to your congregations about what the Christian response should be to these events and how to follow Jesus’ example, even in difficult times. Adventist churches in Europe have partnered with ADRA on projects to support refugees in their community. We challenge churches to consider whether they have a role to play in reaching out to the millions of displaced people around the world and in our own communities.

We call on INDIVIDUALS to not be guided by selfishness, fear and prejudice. We urge a response to this crisis driven by intelligence, compassion and a recognition of our shared humanity and human rights. We believe that every person has the power to have a positive impact on the world around them, and that there is something everyone can do to help refugees, even if it is just saying a prayer for them or educating yourself about the situation.

To find out more about ADRA’s work with refugees, and to read the stories of some of the refugees we’ve met, visit To learn more about what you can do to help refugees, sign ourpledge. For downloadable resources your church can use to devote a service to refugees, visit information/special-days/ refugees/.


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Mini Web Round-up

I haven’t posted anything for a while. Here are a few articles I’ve missed:

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AT: Voluntourism: More Harm than Good

Adventist Today has republished a story about some of the unintended consequences of global volunteerism–“Voluntourism: More Harm than Good” (Heather Ruiz, 19 Aug 2015). The article begins with this explanation:

In August, 2013, Heather Ruiz traveled through West Africa as a journalist for ADRA. After working in development for nine months, Ruiz moved to a village in the Western Sahara to find answers for her questions about responsible volunteering and empowering communities. The following article is her insight on constructive service.

Read the entire article at Adventist Today (link).

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ANN: A new networking association is formed for Christ’s “unusual ambassadors”

Adventist News Network (ANN): The World Adventist Public Officials Association (WAPOA) aims to connect Adventists around the world who serve their country as elected or appointed officials.

July 22, 2015 | Silver Spring, Maryland, USA | Bettina Krause

It can be an isolating experience for Seventh-day Adventist Church members who hold high public office: this was one of the key messages to emerge from a unique gathering of Adventist public officials earlier this month in San Antonio, Texas. Some 21 leaders from ten countries—ambassadors, ministers of state, members of parliament, a senator, a deputy chief justice, and high-level officials within international organizations—came together for a lunch meeting on July 8 to discuss both the challenges and opportunities facing Adventists within the public realm.

Elder Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, attended briefly and encouraged his fellow church members. “You are the Esthers, the Josephs, the Daniels of our world,” he said. “You make a difference in an arena that most of us never touch. And never forget you are there for a purpose; you are where God has placed you. Yes, you serve your country, or a particular legislature. But most importantly, because you are a Seventh-day Adventist, you are working under the very highest authority: Jesus Christ our Savior. You are called to be unusual ambassadors for Christ.”

Those seated around the table spoke frankly about the need for better networking between Adventists who serve their governments, and about the loneliness that often comes with serving in a political or civic role. Some expressed their disappointment that holding elected office is sometimes seen as “off limits” for faithful church members—a sign that someone has compromised their integrity. All spoke about their desire to carry their spiritual values into the public realm and to reflect Christ’s character in their service to their country.

Senator Floyd Morris, Senate President of Jamaica, was voted as the first president of WAPOA. Philippine Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Bienvenido V. Tejano, was chosen to serve as the association’s secretary, and Damaris Moura Kuo, president of the Religious Liberty Commission of the Brazilian Bar Association’s São Paulo Division, was selected as its public relations officer.

According to Senator Morris, the first order of business will be to identify more Adventist public officials—whether they serve their national government, or their local city council—and invite them to join the association. The group plans to communicate regularly and to organize a meeting of the association in 2017.

The gathering was hosted by the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department of the Adventist world church, and took place during the General Conference Session, which some of the public officials were attending as delegates.

Dr. Ganoune Diop, the newly elected director of PARL for the world church, says he hopes the association will promote a vigorous dialogue between Adventists who hold prominent and often-influential positions. “These men and women need our support and our prayers,” he says. “They are first and foremost our brothers and our sisters, but they are also called to represent Christ’s kingdom and His values within often-difficult and sensitive circumstances.”

Those who are interested in the association can contact the Adventist Church’s PARL department through its website,

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A Conspiracy of Love in Action.

José Cortes, Jr., has written a powerful essay for NAD Ministerial on practical community engagement. He begins:

“What if our Adventist Churches across North America began a conspiracy? What if we decided in harmony with all the other churches across Bermuda, Canada, United States and the islands of Guam and Micronesia that we are going to love our cities like Jesus did? What do you think would happen if we ventured outside the walls of our churches, asked people about their needs, and did something transformational for individuals and communities?

“What if our local churches conspired together to do the following?”

Please review is creative list here.

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Lake Union Conferece Apologizes for Racist Failures

“Lake Region Conference celebrates 70 years of service, Lake Union Conference apologizes for failures of the Church in regard to race, June 20, 2015, Camp Wagner, Cassopolis, MI. In order of appearance: Don Livesay, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Lake Union Headquarters; Clifford Jones, Lake Region Conference.”

The video below can also be seen here.

<p><a href=”″>LUC Apology</a> from <a href=””>Herald</a&gt; on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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Why I Go To Church.

I wrote this a couple weeks ago while flying home from a business trip. Now I’m posting it in the context of the recent killing of nine African-American Christians in Charleston, SC. And since I’m sitting at home on a Sabbath morning instead of sitting in church, apparently I should write a follow-up essay, Why I Don’t Go To Church. :)

Church-goers Anonymous:

“My name is Jeff, and I go to church.”

“Hi, Jeff.”

Yes, I am a church member. I attend a local congregation. I was part of a conversation recently about why I go to church. My basic answer was that at church I get connected to the people who are the local “body of Christ.”i That deserves some serious unpacking (by someone more insightful than me, but I’ll do my best).

I should clarify from the outset that my answer is not really about a congregation, a denomination, or a building, although each of those is inherently involved. A more complete response about attending church would deal with these directly, but that’s not my focus here.

I go to church to be in the community that, I believe, is in some mysterious way the body of Christ on earth. As an aside, for my friends who are atheists or followers of other spiritual paths, if you momentarily allow a resurrected Jesus for argument’s sake, can you imagine how frustrating it must be for him to be identified with many—okay, all—of his professed-followers? The church being the body of Jesus on earth, with Jesus being the head, sounds ridiculous from either side of that question. With that admitted, I’ll return to the argument at hand.

Being part of Jesus’ body means a few overlapping things to me at this point in my walk. First, it means to me that Jesus intends his disciples to be in community. My culture idolizes individuality and supposed independence, but my God favors community and interdependence. If God desires introverts and extroverts to be Jesus’ body together, then I need to overcome my urge to go it alone and instead explore life in community. On some level, this is about my identity (my being; who I am). My identity is part of the world-wide body of Jesus, and I engage this in my local setting (more on this soon).

Second, and this order is not necessarily sequential, this means to me that I need to believe some things relating to Jesus. The faith community is where we teach each other as we continually wrestle with the written word in a community of discernment. In church I listen, discuss, read, pray, learn, and teach (thinking/knowing). Learning and believing are community activities. Some of us may read the Bible on our own, but this is only possible in the era of the printing press. Paul wrote his letters to churches, not individuals. They were read and digested in a community. There is no private interpretation, it is said (try to figure that out).ii

Some people may personally prefer to learn through reading alone, but the authors of those books are almost certainly members of congregations and learning communities. Their thoughts didn’t appear out of a vacuum; they were formed in community even if they are later read in private.

In my faith community I have also learned that knowing things about Jesus is insufficient. I need to understand and believe the things Jesus actually taught. Believing the Apostle’s Creed is not sufficient or else I think Jesus would have written it himself. Instead, he said things like: love your neighbors, friends, and enemies; forgive people; treat people as we want to be treated; be generous; don’t fear; be humble; hunger and thirst for righteous/justiceiii; and care for people who are powerless, disrespected, and marginalized.iv To believe things about Jesus (e.g., virgin birth, resurrection, etc.) and not believe the things he is reported to have said is in my mind to miss the boat. This leads to the third point—our actions.

While psychologists have found that we act our way into thinking and not only think our way into acting, it still seems logical to me that our actions (doing) should be consistent with our identities (being) and our beliefs (knowing).

I think my actions reveal what I really believe, regardless of what I say I believe. Values are expressed in actions. Do my actions embody the teachings of Jesus? Do I forgive people, practice compassion, do justly, show impartiality, and speak honestly? If I’m more interested in religious observance than in pursuing the life of discipleship (following the way of Jesus), then I might be missing Jesus’ point.

Within this context, I want to highlight one facet of this community that is especially meaningful to me. Jesus’ opponents recognized that he showed partiality to no one.v Later, James spoke about this value, as did Peter and Here’s the thing: impartiality and equality presume and require community. I can’t be equal with myself in any meaningful way beyond a simple tautology. I can’t demonstrate this feature of the kingdom on my own. It’s impossible. In a community we can express equality across lines of race (so called), gender, nationality, ethnicity, socio-economic level, and all other social markers.

This radical equality should emerge in a community where members are committed to pursuing the way of Jesus, and I want to be part of this social revolution. I want to live in this egalitarian community where everyone has value, everyone is cared for, and everyone is safe. I believe this is the meaning of the body of Christ. This is why I go to church.

At this point I can imagine at least two objections, even from people who would be inclined to agree with me. First, a person doesn’t need to sit in a pew to be part of the body of Christ. Second, I’ve never seen a local congregation that looked anything like what you’ve described here. You’re ignoring how dysfunctional, oppressive, and hurtful the church can be… and frequently is.

There are other objections (e.g., Jesus was a rabbi, not God, so this is all ridiculous), but these two arguments stand out foremost in my mind. I think they are fair, and they’re worth reflecting on. Very briefly, here is my attempt at a response.

Yes, I don’t want to confine God to a certain building, day, ritual, or anything else. I can’t pretend to set or know God’s limits. I simply mean to say that in some unique way, meeting with other people who also want to live as Jesus’ body in this world has a special significance for me. Even when I feel out of rhythm or out of place in the community, I still find some form of meaning in sharing life’s journey with those who are seeking to live for Jesus, in Jesus, with Jesus (and hopefully more and more like Jesus).

And yes, the church—broadly defined—has serious problems. I am not under the delusion that Christians—again broadly defined—live up to the description I’ve given here. We aren’t that—I’m not that—but those are the ideals I want my community to embrace as established by our head, Jesus. I want to be an influence in my faith community, and I want to be part of a community that influences me in this way.

So despite the serious flaws of the church, and despite God’s presence far beyond a religiously-dedicated building or ritual, I continue to find meaning in being part of the body that Jesus has invited to join to himself. And that level of humility on Jesus’ part (joining our bodies and reputations to his) tells me that I need to be mighty welcoming of others as well!

I’ll conclude with a series of questions posed by Craig Nessan:

What would it mean for the church to take seriously the theological conviction that Jesus Christ is present in the world today as a collective person in the form of the church? How would we need to revise our individualistic notions of the Christian faith? Instead of focusing on what Christ has done and can do for me, I would instead see myself as a member whose functioning contributes to the well-being of the whole body…. I begin to search for how Christ encounters us as members of the body of Christ. I begin to think corporately about how we together give expression to Christ’s presence in the world. (Shalom Church, p. 45)

I have a feeling we can find significance in both realities—individual and corporate—without losing the other. We are individuals, and we are a body together. May we become all that Jesus would have his body to be in this world.

i 1 Cor. 12:12, 27; Rom. 12:5; Eph. 4:12, 5:23.

ii 2 Peter 1:20.

iii For a description of the relationship between justice and righteousness, see “The Strand of Justice” by Steven Thompson in Do Justice: Our Call to Faithful Living, edited by Nathan Brown and Joanna Darby (2014).

iv Matt. 22: 36-40; John 15:13; Matt. 5:43-48; Matt. 18:21-22; Matt. 7:12; Luke 12:15; Matt. 6:25-34; Luke 14:7-14; Matt. 5:6; Matt. 25:31-46.

v Mark 12:14.

vi James 2; Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; 1 Tim. 5:21; Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11; Eph. 2:14. “The apostle Paul said, ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ Historian Thomas Cahill says that this was the first statement of egalitarianism in human literature” (John Ortberg, Who Is This Man?, p. 41).

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