September 12, 2006

The Joy Ahead

2006 1525 page5 cap’ve done it in the past, I’m doing it again—sharing impressions from recent meetings with our people.
In April it was three days with the Northwest chapter of SAGE (Seniors in Action for God with Excellence) in the British Columbia town of Hope, at the base of the breathtakingly beautiful Cascade Mountains. Organized to keep retirees and other seniors engaged and productive in the church, SAGE, I discovered, participates in a considerable number of targeted church projects around the world. Their annual meeting, coordinated by the steady and competent hands of Darlene Reimche of the British Columbia Conference, featured seminars, preaching, hikes, and other fun things. Perhaps only about 35 to 40 in attendance; but what sweet, unhurried fellowship!
In mid-June it was on to Oregon, one of America’s most beautiful states. As I drove the 190 miles from Portland to the South Oregon camp meeting at Milo, I kept reminding myself that I was behind the wheel, and not free to take in every last morsel of the spectacular beauty all along the route. The rolling hills and valleys, the well-kept farms with livestock peacefully grazing, the mist-covered nearby hills, the majestic Cascades in the distance. Everything—as far as the eyes could see—so clean! So neat! So fresh!
2006 1525 page5And as I mingled with our people on the campground—friendly, attentive, receptive—this thought came to me: We either have the nicest people in the Adventist Church, or the nicest of them come to camp meeting! Like other editors here at the Review, I sometimes receive strong—not to say nasty—letters. It’s par for the course. And as I leave for these itineraries, I brace myself to encounter these angry saints. But that almost never happens. Instead I meet the most gracious folks. Often I arrive dog-tired, but leave completely invigorated.
The story of my visit to the Turks and Caicos Islands in late June will have to wait till I can pull it together in the Adventist World. But what a fascinating place! And what a fascinating people!
The Northern California campground literally sits in the middle of the majestic California redwoods, massive trees that touch the clouds. What more fitting venue to come apart with God! There in the valley near the Eel River, it’s like the rest of the world does not exist. But thousands of our people descend to that sacred spot each year to worship, to fellowship, to renew. The temperature soared to 100°F beneath the trees as I spoke Sabbath, as if trying to match the warmth of our people. And as I sat down for Sabbath lunch with ministerial director Ralph Robertson and his wife, Darlys, in the shade outside their camper, listening to fellow lunch guest Dennis T. Yoshioka tell his conversion story, I was reminded of what heaven will be like, when—unhurried—we all sit down together, sharing experiences of how God found us!
As I write this editorial, the world is going berserk all around me—Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, London-Heathrow. And future readers may wonder why I would compose such a (seemingly) escapist article in the midst of all this tragedy. Answer: I’m simply exhausted by all the madness at the moment, and want to dwell on happier things—things of ultimate consequence.
On the heels of the Northern California stop came my trip to Trinidad in late July to bring the Sabbath message at the Caribbean Union constituency meeting. Toward the end of a commissioning service for newly elected and reelected leaders in the afternoon, Caribbean Union president Eugene Daniel invited onto the platform a young woman, severely challenged physically. I’d say she took something like three full minutes to move from her seat in the front row, negotiate the steps to the rostrum, then position herself to sing. But as with all the passion of her soul she sang Walt Harrah’s “No More Night,” pointing us to that time when there’ll be no more pain, no more tears, and no more crying, moisture came to many eyes. I’d never heard it sung more powerfully. Stepping forward to embrace her when she was done, I completely choked up. But I managed to speak a single sentence: “I want to be there,” I told her, “when you finally throw off these braces and these crutches!”
What a day of rejoicing that will be!

Roy Adams is an associate editor of the Adventist Review.