May 23, 2006

Church News

IRELAND: Vandals Target Adventist Church

capAn eight-month campaign of vandalism to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Derry, Northern Ireland, recently culminated in about £1,000 (US$1,892) of damage.

“[The church members] cannot understand why they have been targeted in this way,” Anton Kapusi, pastor of the multicultural Adventist congregation in the Derry neighborhood of Waterside, told a local news reporter. “It is very depressing that they cannot feel comfortable in their own church.”


VANDALISM:Acts of valdalism, including the spraying of graffiti on outside walls, have been plaguing the Adventist church in Derry Northern Ireland. [Photo credit: Courtesy of the Derry Adventist church]  

The most recent attack, which occurred in early May, resulted in damage to church roof tiles, graffiti being sprayed on the exterior brick walls, and the chipping of several letters on the church sign.

The church, built through the efforts of Maranatha Volunteers International, a supporting ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church based in Sacramento, California, United States, was also the site of a 2004 evangelistic campaign held by Neal C. Wilson, a former world president of the church, and his son, Ted N. C. Wilson, a general vice president of the world church. After the Wilsons’ visit, the Derry church began a youth program to help troubled teens in the community. That program, however, has been suspended because of the vandalism, Kapusi said.

While Kapusi is unsure of where the money will come from for repairs to the church building and signage, he says that the incident has brought a lot of public support to the congregation, as well as opportunities to explain Adventism via the media. He says the church is still going ahead with plans for an upcoming evangelistic outreach.               —Trans-European Division Communication Department/ANN/AR.

SUDAN: ADRA Responds to Crisis-hit Darfur
As tensions escalate in the Darfur region of Sudan, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) continues to provide aid to desperate Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in that area.


SUDAN'S MOST VULERABLE:  More than 2 million people, including thousands of children, have fled their homes to escape violence in the Darful region of Sudan.  [Credit: Tereza Byrne/ADRA International]

More than 2 million people have fled their homes to escape violence between alleged government-backed militia—known as Janjaweed—and insurgent armies, seeking refuge in camps set up for those who have been displaced within their own country. Widespread rape, murder, and looting as well as attacks on civilians have escalated, threatening the lives of thousands. At least 180,000 people have been killed in the three-year conflict.

“ADRA’s work in the Darfur region is challenging and at significant risk,” Mario H. Ochoa, executive vice president of ADRA International, says. “But the agency exists to provide aid where it’s needed the most. Darfur’s IDPs, barely surviving in the face of violence, fear, and deprivation, urgently need our expanded assistance.”

Working in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other major government donors, ADRA is providing development and emergency relief aid for displaced families in Darfur and throughout war-torn Sudan.

“ADRA’s primary goal in Sudan is to improve living conditions of displaced and vulnerable people to acceptable levels for basic human needs,” Ochoa adds. “The agency began work in Sudan in 1979 with a primary health-care program based in Juba in Equatoria State, South Sudan. Since then, ADRA has broadened its scope to include food security, emergency relief, water resource development, and sanitation and community development.”
                                                                                 —Adventist Development and Relief Agency/AR.

 SWEDEN: Success in Hard Places To encourage local evangelism and help spur slow church growth in the Swedish Union, a team of three pastors from Michigan in the United States recently organized an evangelistic training seminar for 70 attendees in Malmö in the south of Sweden. David Asscherick, who headed the Michigan team, led out in the practical morning workshops, covering such topics as how to design and give Bible studies, how to encourage a decision for Christ, and how to make positive contacts with those in the community. The afternoons were spent putting principles into practice, resulting in 50 people in the area who are now interested in learning more about Jesus and the Adventist Church. 

“I was a little unsure about coming as it meant studying during my holidays,” says Linnea Utterbäck, a young Swedish Adventist. “But I feel invigorated. I am going back to school more renewed than if I had relaxed over [the holiday].”

On the weekend following the workshops, about 150 young adults came to Malmö to participate in programs and activities planned especially for the youth. When an appeal was made for baptism, 12 young adults committed their lives to Christ.

“The visiting team has helped us get some wins under our belts, and we are excited to see what will happen as people go back to their local churches, share their ideas, and put into practice what they have learned,” says Swedish Union president Björn Ottesen. “It is still true that the lost must be sought before they can be saved.”                                      —Trans-European Division Communication Department/AR.

France: Adventists Join French Protestant Federation

Adventists living in France are celebrating the church’s acceptance into the influential French Protestant Federation (FPF), a significant alliance that church leaders believe will bring many positive outcomes.

The Federation represents some 900,000 French Protestants; consists of 17 churches and 78 communities, movements, organizations and institutions; and represents some 500 Protestant associations and organizational units, more than 1,200 local congregations, and approximately 1,000 pastors. Five Protestant churches originally formed the organization so they could negotiate with the state jointly.

The Adventist Church was among five new members accepted during its last General Assembly held in Paris on March 11 and 12. Adventist church leaders are calling March 11—the day the church’s membership became official—a landmark.”                                                              —Adventist News Network/AR.