February 23, 2011

Web Letters 1506-2011

Gratitude for a Special Issue

Kudos for the cover story about Neal C. Wilson, his memorial service, the tributes, memories, and appreciation for a visionary leader with the talent to remember names and global contacts (Jan. 20, 2011).
I first heard the term “global strategy” when Wilson used it at a Columbia Union Conference session in Philadelphia in the seventies. That term became “global mission,” an office at the General Conference that gave impetus to reclaim Sabbath school offerings that were in decline. Then the term “10/40 window” came into vogue. Wilson was a visionary pioneer who spearheaded the movement globally.

In that same issue in “Rekindling Our Purpose” I read Andrew Kerbs’ concern about Adventist core values and his challenge to preach the three angels’ messages without soft-pedaling the end-time call to repentance, restoration, and reform in the context of faith, hope, and love.

Finally, how can I overlook Clifford Goldstein’s column, “Confessions of a Philosopher”? I thoughtfully scratch my head as Goldstein argues, debates, and provokes my thinking. But with Hope Channel’s program Cliff! I am exposed to his voice, gestures, and the twinkle in his eyes. His conclusions are cogent, logical, and reasonable. Who can argue with that?
--Keith R. Mundt
Riverside, California
Oh, that we had more young people like Andrew Kerbs! All Adventists--young and old--should take a lesson from this young man’s article, “Rekindling Our Purpose” (Jan. 20, 2011).
I see so much compromise in our churches, in what we do on Sabbath, our Sabbath topics of conversation, what we focus our energies on. Christ is coming soon, and we have to wake up and preach the undiluted message. We have to clean up our church from the inside out. And when I say “church,” I really mean “people,” because people are the church.
The author’s statement that we should be mourning rather than celebrating the 160th birthday of our church is so true. Let’s wake up and herald the three angels’ messages as never before.
--Chris Jenkins
Stone Mountain, Georgia

Living Witnesses
WOW! Dixil Rodríguez’ piece “I Just Wanted to Volunteer” (Jan. 13, 2011) is powerful!

Thank you for publishing such a poignant account about always being prepared to share by word and action what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

I can’t help believing that if we spent more time ministering to people in Jesus’ name, instead of spending so much time trying to convince others that we’re right and they’re wrong, many more people might take our Christian witness seriously. Just a thought.

Thanks again for featuring Rodríguez’ penetrating writing. I always look forward to seeing her byline.
--Kyle Jamieson
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Spiritual Emphasis
Bill Knott’s interview with Justin McNeilus, “‘We’re All One Army’” (Jan. 13, 2011), compels me to write and share my enthusiasm for the youth who are led by the Holy Spirit, who are “calling each other to a deeper experience with the Word of God and full participation in His remnant church.” They truly exhibit primitive godliness.

Their loyalty to the organized leadership of the church was expressed by McNeilus: “Whether it is under the banner of GYC [Generation of Youth for Christ] or a ministry of the denomination, it’s all one movement. We’re all one army. It’s all one message.”

The outcome of GYC’s loyal, humble attitude is summed up in this: “Young adults are gaining a greater presence in the decision-making of this church—not by pounding on the door and demanding a role, but by proving that we deeply love this message and by rolling up our sleeves.”

I am reminded of a precious picture I’ve had for many years. It portrays two young lads praying for God’s Spirit to rest on our youth at the beginning of our Missionary Volunteer work. Truly God has and will continue to use our youth to help finish the message God has given to the Adventist movement.

May God help us all to be full of humility, love, and the spirit of unity.
--Velma Beavon
Dayton, Montana
Emphasis on Scripture
Reading “The Precious Gift” (Dec. 23, 2010) reminded me of when I was growing up here in the United States. As an elementary school student I was always (it seemed) being treated to stories of the Waldenses, and other reformers, who were persecuted for carrying small portions of Scripture, and sharing them with people they met, never knowing whether those people might deceive them and imprison them.

We’ve come a long way since then. The Bible is now available in every size, shape, and translation imaginable. And now that we can read it whenever we want, and be completely secure in doing so, we spend our time listening to Christian television and radio programs, letting someone else tell us what the Bible says.
It appears that nobody’s going to take our Bibles away from us, as we were warned long ago. That’s why it’s all the more tragic that so many of us are biblically illiterate. Maybe if our Bibles were threatened we’d treat our time with our Bibles with more respect.
--Ron Bergman
South Pasadena, California

Education, and More
In “A Temple Reborn” (Dec. 16, 2010) Carlos Medley shows what can happen to institutions that start out in God, but don’t stay grounded in Him. Fortunately, however, we have many examples of institutions of higher learning in the Adventist educational system that have stayed in Him.
Loma Linda University (LLU), for example, was founded only 2l years after Temple University, but the two institutions have headed in completely different directions. Both have and teach cutting-edge technology, and are known as world class institutions. However, LLU intentionally does this in a decidedly Adventist context.
Recently LLU provost Ron Carter, led our Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) reaccreditation effort. LLU put forward its faith-based education as the focus of the reaccreditation process. WASC responded positively, and complimented the university for how clearly faith and mission permeate through the faculty, staff, and students.
This clarity of mission comes from intentionally making God the center of our education and health-care outreach. For instance, when prospective students apply for admission, we clearly lay out how integral the Adventist faith is to our educational process before they can even begin filling out application forms (see www.llu.edu/explore/why-llu.html). Chapel and religion course participation is at an all-time high. Also, mission service is higher than it has ever been.
I am in charge of training surgeons at Loma Linda. We recently had a trainee (I’ll call him John) who finished his surgical training at Loma Linda. Interestingly, he graduated from medical school at Temple University. At his graduation ceremony he gave a touching tribute. He mentioned, among other things, that he came to Loma Linda as a skeptic about God. But by the end of his training he had learned the importance of incorporating God into healing. So John would fall into the 42 percent of students at Adventist colleges that Medley tells us are non-Adventist. But John has been changed forever, and is another effective witness for God. This is surely part of our mission.
Best of all, these types of stories about God-centered teaching and service play out across our Adventist educational system every day.
By the way, Loma Linda University actually has two “temples” in the middle of campus: Loma Linda University church and Campus Hill church. Both are boldly Adventist, and both continue to grow and thrive.
The stark contrast between how Loma Linda University and Temple University have developed over the years points out two things: (1) when God is allowed to lead, be ready to end up in a very different place; and (2) we have reasons to celebrate God’s leading in our Adventist educational system.
--Mark Reeves
Grand Terrace, California
Term Limits—One More Time
The past few months I’ve read many letters from readers commenting on Roy Adams’ article “Term Limits” (Oct. 21, 2010). I appreciated his sharing both sides of the argument.
Two observations:
First, if term limits were imposed on a local conference president, say two terms of four years each, you will have that conference president for five or six years, because after the first term he/she will start looking for a call. That person may be doing an excellent job and constituents may want that person to fill out the whole second term, which probably wouldn’t happen with term limits. Union conference, division, and General Conference presidents aren’t usually elected to those positions until about 10 years before their retirement.
Second, everyone has to remember that there is a way to change a person in those positions: it’s called “constituency session.” We shouldn’t hide behind term limits to see change happen. If you want to see change, be up-front and vote for change, for which all conference constitutions and bylaws provide.
--John Loor, Jr.
Bozeman, Montana