What did you learn from 2011? I’ve made a list of some of its major events and developments. Perhaps as we reflect on them we can draw lessons for 2012. David gave good advice when he said, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12, NKJV).
Arab World Unrest: Like wildfire the Arab Spring protests sparked a revolution in Egypt and other Arab countries that resulted in the ousting of several leaders. In May a 10-year hunt ended in Abbottabad, Pakistan, when Osama bin Laden was killed in a raid.
International Calamities: A 9.0-magnitude earthquake off Japan’s northeast coast in March unleashed a tsunami that left nearly 20,000 people dead or missing, and caused an estimated $218 billion in damage.
New Forms of Terrorism: Terrorist attacks increased with al-Qaida operatives using “smaller-scale terrorism” techniques. In Mexico drug wars grew more brutal, with cartels openly battling the government.
Demographics: In October that the world population passed the 7 billion mark.
Economy and Politics: The decline of the U.S. economy and Europe’s fiscal instability caused millions to face foreclosures, joblessness, and benefit cutbacks. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people were shot by a gunman in Tucson, Arizona; six were killed.
Iraq War Ends: U.S. troops left Iraq on December 15, marking the end of the nine-year war that left 4,500 Americans and 110,000 Iraqis dead, and cost more than $800 billion.
Natural Disasters: Tornadoes, floods, and fires ravaged the nation. Record amounts of property were destroyed and lives lost.
Protests and Social Thresholds: Occupy Wall Street protests began in September in a New York City park near Wall Street as a protest against American riches at the expense of the poor. Within weeks similar protests spread to communities across the U.S. and abroad. New York became the largest state to legalize same-sex marriages. A child sex abuse scandal rocked Penn State University.
Religious Notables: Pastor/evangelist Harold Camping predicted the world’s end in May, and again in October. Love Wins, a book by megachurch pastor Rob Bell, presenting a much less harsh picture of hell than is traditional, stirred discussion in evangelical circles.
Collaborative/Spiritual Initiatives: Revival and Reformation emphasis; Great Controversy Project launched with commitment for 175 million book distribution from world divisions. General Conference Healthcare System Roundtable was held for GC/NAD presidents and health-care CEOs. Urban evangelism utilizing health ministry is planned for the world’s cities.
Church Polity: The New Greater Middle East Union Mission was formed with realignment to the General Conference. A commission to study ministry and ordination for women was established. ADRA headquarters was right-sized. Adventist higher education faced challenges.
Media and Technology: Hope Channel and Adventist World Radio reported breakthroughs and expansion. A Global Internet Evangelism Network (GIEN) conference was launched by General Conference Communication Department.
Ellen White provides this timely counsel: Let us begin the year with an entire renunciation of self; let us pray for clear discernment, that we may understand our Savior’s claims upon us, and that we may always and everywhere be witnesses for Christ” (Signs of the Times, Jan. 4, 1883).
Delbert W. Baker is a general vice president of the General Conference. This article was published February 23, 2012.