After being in lockdown for more than two years, the Publishing Ministries Department of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD), in partnership with the Philippine Publishing House, recently hosted its 12th National Convention of Literature Evangelists.
With the theme, “I Am a Messenger, I Will Go!” literature evangelists from all across the Philippine archipelago reviewed the reason for their calling: to share the blessed hope and be God’s end-time messengers through literature.
In his devotional message, SSD president Saw Samuel underscored that the publishing work was pivotal in the Adventist Church’s early beginnings. “The publishing work will also play a huge role in completing earth’s final history,” Samuel said.
“Thank you for what you are doing to share the three angel’s messages. You are an invaluable asset to God’s Advent movement, and you are part of the mobilizing forces of Christ’s second coming,” he added.
Samuel emphasized that there is power in the printed page. As the Holy Spirit blesses each page of every published book, it will prepare the hearts of its readers and introduce life and principles founded in Jesus, he said.
“This dying world needs the everlasting love of Jesus. An important message awaits delivery — relaying the intensity of God’s love and promise of eternity in heaven through salvation in Jesus Christ,” Samuel said.
A Holistic Approach to Literature Evangelism
Several guests from the General Conference, the SSD, and the Philippines’ three union conference regions attended this long-awaited convention. Part of the convention opening is the parade of delegates and the grand welcome organized by the host conference, the West Visayan Conference in central Philippines.
After the devotional service, guests in the field of various departmental ministries shared their expertise on creating more opportunities for the publishing ministry.
SSD health director Rizaline Alfanoso emphasized the importance of focusing on mental health. After most have been on lockdown for more than two years, the World Health Organization reports that the pandemic triggered a 25-percent increase in anxiety and depression prevalence worldwide. “Mental health is just as important as physical health,” Alfanoso reminded delegates.
According to some studies, one in four adults experiences at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any given year.
“The Adventist Church is entrusted with the blessed health message. This is an opportunity to be a blessing to others and utilize these important reminders to minister to our respective families about the importance of our mental condition,” Alfanoso said.
SSD family ministries director Virginia Baloyo shared valuable points on family relationships and how vital is it that we share this information with the world. Broken marriages and families are increasing day by day, she said. God’s message of hope lifts the spirit and encourages the soul that hope can still be found in Jesus despite the most challenging situations.
“Our human capacity is incapable of resolving our battles, whether it be a broken marriage, losing someone, unemployment, or even terminal illnesses. Our only way to resolve these struggles is through the faith we entrust in Jesus,” Baloyo said. “It is only through Him that our hope will live and create an influence not only in us but also through us.”
SSD children’s ministries director Orathai Chureson talked about God’s genuine call to be utilized in any given skill or responsibility we receive from God. As in the case of Moses, as he surrendered his life to God’s leading and purpose, God’s name was glorified in Moses’ actions.
Chureson shared that we may not find it convenient and comfortable in certain situations in our life where we are called to serve or to minister. Still, as we depend on God and surrender our lives to His leading, we may soon see the bigger picture of where the Lord would want to lead us, she said.
She quoted Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White, who wrote, “Devote your mind to spiritual things. Keep your mind from dwelling upon yourself. Cultivate a contented, cheerful spirit. You talk too much about unimportant things. You gain no spiritual strength from this. If this strength spent in talking were devoted to prayer, you would receive spiritual strength and make melody in your heart to God.”
SSD associate treasurer Daryl Gay Tanamal completed the series of devotional talks for the morning program. Tanamal reminded delegates of the importance of persistence, dedication, good habits, and positivity.
Tanamal shared four points in the form of an acronym spelled RISE, which stands for READ and REFLECT, INVEST, SHARE, and ENGAGE. It means having a renewed spirit every day, a spirit-filled attitude that transmits a positive outlook toward others.
“[We should] read and reflect on God’s Word daily as our primary source of strength and inspiration,” Tanamal said. She stressed that the primary responsibility for followers of Christ is not service but a relationship with Jesus. “Invest in learning your message. Before we get the chance to share God’s message with others, we must experience God’s Word first so that people may understand how it feels to be immersed in His message. After spending time with God in prayer and in His words, after experiencing His presence, our goal is to share that message to the world and engage ourselves with people that they may know, learn, taste, and see that the Lord is good,” Tanamal emphasized.
In closing, Tanamal shared a verse in the Bible found in 2 Corinthians 9:6. “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (NIV).
After writing several books for adults through the years, U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black will debut with a book for children, A Prayer for Our Country: Words to Unite and Inspire Hope.
The book is scheduled to be published by Zonderkidz on June 7, 2022. Illustrated by artist Kim Holt, the picture book for young readers celebrates the things that make the United States of America “an amazing place,” the publisher said.
“I believe one of the greatest blessings of my life was learning to pray,” Black said in a statement to Adventist Review. “My mother and church members taught me by precepts and example how to make my spiritual whispering heard in heaven. My new book is an attempt to help this generation of children learn to harness prayer power as well.”
According to a report by Publishers Weekly, the idea for the book started with Katherine Jacobs, senior acquisitions editor at Zonderkidz, after she came across a prayer that Black delivered during a session of both Congress and the Senate after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
“He remembered those who had died, asked for guidance through the dysfunction threatening our democracy, and called people to look for the common humanity in one another,” Jacobs told Publishers Weekly.
According to the same report, Jacobs connected with Black about the book idea and discovered his “huge heart for speaking to children.” She added, “We immediately had a shared vision for this title. [And so,] A Prayer for Our Country was born.”
Black began serving as chaplain to the Senate in 2003, after almost three decades in the U.S. Navy. Among his books is his autobiography, From the Hood to the Hill (Thomas Nelson, 2006), which tells his story of growing up to become the first military chaplain, the first Seventh-day Adventist, and the first African American to hold the office of chaplain to the U.S. Senate.
The publisher is advertising the book as a volume that leads children in thanking God for the United States, “while also exploring the ways we can model God’s love to support our country’s citizens, heal hurts that divide us, and look to a stronger, united future.” It adds, “Senate Chaplain Barry Black believes words matter, and that healing and unity are possible in [the United States] if we see the image of God in others. In this prayer for children based on wisdom from his almost two decades of daily praying over the U.S. Senate, Black offers needed and inspiring text to help the next generation grow stronger in faith.”
The book uses kid-friendly language to show children how prayer can be part of their everyday lives, explores ways children can live out their faith, and presents a positive message about kindness and respect, according to the publisher’s release note. “A Prayer for Our Country is perfect for helping kids better understand and respond to the events happening in [the United States] today, teaching children how to pray, and reading aloud in classrooms, story time, and families,” it said.
One of the ways Adventist Review Media continues in ministry is through daily social media posts and a weekly email newsletter. I have the pleasure of assembling a newsletter to bring to our readers a digest of the biggest news stories and articles of the week, along with a GraceNotes podcast and highlighted videos from Adventist Review TV.
The email is a weekly touchpoint that helps us to actively engage with our readers and raise awareness of the most influential articles and videos. The free newsletter reaches many thousands who have subscribed to find out what’s happening in the Adventist Church and to be inspired by devotional and instructional content.
Online audiences have become used to receiv- ing emails to be notified of new content, and they are also more oriented to finding articles of inter- est through social media posts. Every day posts about Adventist Review and Adventist World articles appear on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to help readers connect with church-related topics of interest to them. Many articles, including obit- uaries of well-known Adventists and commentar- ies on current debates, have gone “viral” through widespread sharing.
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Enno Müller keeps his finger on the pulse of world and world- church events, and his mind on the means of communicating it to all in a way that glorifies God.
During my teenage years I lived in a very small German village. The town’s population was less than 4,000, and it was located just north of the city of Stuttgart. The village was situated in a region known for its vineyards. Many of the steep hillsides were covered with wine grapes.
Our family had only one car, which meant that I had to either walk or bike to school. The way to school led first down a steep hillside, and then across a flat valley and over a bridge. On the other side of the valley the path again climbed steeply uphill. My school was at the top of that hill. My journey between home and school was long and— literally—uphill both ways.
I usually chose to walk instead of using my bike, as the latter made me really sweaty. I got used to walking about 45 minutes to school one way. It was a nice way to begin and end the school day, as I was able to enjoy nature and to think. Throughout the years my route became familiar enough that little surprised me. But there was one interesting phenomenon that occurred a few times a year. When the temperature significantly changed, fog would swell and creep up from the river, spill into the valley, and rise up the sides of the steep hillside. It was so dense that it was difficult to see 10 feet ahead of you. My daily path that I was usually so comfortable with, became tricky, treacherous, and eerie.
Those foggy journeys were very challenging; yet, when I reflect on them years later, I find similarities to the lives of many of us today. So often we go about our daily routine on autopilot. We start the day with prayer and breakfast, and then head to school or work. We’re content. We’re OK. We’re able to enjoy life. But then there are those foggy days. We can’t see where we’re going, and the familiar path that we know so well becomes unrecognizable. We become scared and concerned, and the path becomes uncertain. In moments like these we long to experience the presence of God in a deep and meaningful way; instead, we some- times feel alone and isolated.
We’re not alone in this. Eljiah also felt like that. After the miracle at Mount Carmel, Queen Jezebel threatened him, and he ran for his life. He was demoralized and felt alone.
Elijah goes into a cave and experiences utter isolation. He’s told that he will stand before God. A mighty earthquake takes place, and a powerful and fierce fire sweeps by, but God isn’t in those powerful natural catastrophes. “And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1 Kings 19:12-14, ESV).*
God is with us in those still, quiet, lonely, and isolated moments. He’s right next to us. The eerie fog moments dissipate when we realize that our Lord is standing beside us. Listen for that still whisper. God will be there for you, as He promised.
* Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Cross- way Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Enno Müller is director of communication and news editor for Adventist Review Ministries.