For more than three months starting in July, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Venezuela provided free medical services to thousands of people in Mérida, a city in the Andes Mountains in northwestern Venezuela. More than 70 medical doctors, 15 leaders, and dozens of church members volunteered their time and expertise to assist more than 2,700 people.
It is the first time free medical services have been extended for more than a few days throughout the West Venezuela Union territory. The effort is part of a larger strategy to assist the many who are not able to access or pay for such services, church leaders said.
The dozens of health professionals who took part in the city-wide effort included some from the local region. Others traveled to Merída for specific days to offer services in various areas, including general medicine, physiotherapy, dentistry, nutrition, psychology, ophthalmology, pediatrics, and gynecology. Volunteers in the group also performed dozens of minor surgeries and laboratory services.
The headquarters office of the Central Andean Venezuela Mission and two outreach centers located in various spots throughout the city were opened for the services sponsored by the mission and the Sonrisas para Jesus, or Smiles for Jesus Foundation. Smiles for Jesus is an Adventist lay organization in Venezuela that has been partnering with the church’s community health ministry for years.
“It has been a historic medical journey in this Andean city,” West Venezuela Union personal ministries and evangelism director Jean Carlos Rivas said. “It was very surprising to see how people in Mérida would come close to us to be cared for, and that opened more doors to better connect with people.” The evangelistic plan was to provide medical services for several months and end the initiative with a week of evangelistic impact, he said.
“The insights we have received [as a church] on the impact of medical missionary work has really allowed us to see miracles and open the doors to an extraordinary [evangelism] work to impact the city,” Rivas said. “It has been a wonderful strategy to reach people.”
As a result of the eight-day evangelism campaign led by church leaders and theology students from the Adventist University Institute of Venezuela, a new church and two new congregations were organized, with 106 baptisms and dozens of people now taking Bible studies.
“We are extremely happy with what has taken place here in Mérida; it’s just an extraordinary work done here,” Leo Acosta, dean of the Venezuelan Theological Adventist Seminary at the university in Nirgua, said. “The coordinated efforts have impacted a city which is … very grounded in their beliefs, but health and evangelism is something that doesn’t fail.” Many would ask for Bible studies at the different centers, he said. More than 679 visitations were carried out thanks to the medical ministry.
Luis Betancourt, general coordinator of the Smiles for Jesus Foundation, said it was wonderful to “to feel the collaboration and the teamwork with the Adventist university, the Adventist hospital, the mission and the union, united in the fulfillment of the mission.”
The evangelism efforts, coined as “Living with Hope” and coordinated with the Adventist Youth Hope project, saw more than 11,000 literature and 6,000 missionary books distributed, as well as 586 Bible studies conducted.
“We praise God for this wonderful medical impact, and we consider that this work must continue strong with the work of discipleship, because it’s not just about reaching 106 baptisms, but our purpose is to focus on forming leaders, grounding new believers in the truth who can defend and love this cause deeply,” Rivas said.
The initiative also saw dozens of health professionals and health evangelists form part of the medical missionary ministry, as they vow to continue impacting different cities throughout the western region in Venezuela.
The Adventist Church’s Conscience and Justice Council (CJC) recently held its annual convention in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Attendees gathered September 22-25 in Glendale, California, United States, for a weekend themed around Prophetic Justice.
The CJC is composed of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty directors from the nine regional conferences in North America, along with representatives from Oakwood University, Washington Adventist University, Loma Linda University, the North Pacific Union, Pacific Union, Southern Union, and the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Realizing that the times in which we live beckon us to be like the sons of Issachar, who understood the times, organizers offered three tracks during the convention. There was a track on justice (the public affairs component); a track on conscience (the religious liberty component); and a pastor’s track that focused on helping our ministers to be better equipped to serve our members and communities who deal with various social issues and ills in our society.
Time and space would not permit me to list every workshop and every presenter who poured into the conference participants, but participants were tremendously blessed by the ministry and testimony of Larry Johnson Sr., brother of the famous Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson is the founding president of Brotherhood Against Drugs, and he gave his powerful testimony of how God brought him through his drug addiction. Now he is actively engaged in helping young men break similar chains of addiction in their own lives.
On Friday during lunch there was a powerful panel that discussed “Thorny Theories and Decisions: Systemic Attacks on Truth.” The panel was made up of Timothy Golden, professor of philosophy at Walla Walla University; Gregory Hoenes, director of West Region for the Southern California Conference; Jeanice Warden Washington, chief consultant for the California Assembly Higher Education Committee; and Alan Reinach, president of the Church-State Council. This robust panel alerted us to many cases and laws taking place at various state and Supreme Court levels that, though legally binding, may be ethically and morally problematic — or, simply stated, wrong.
Zdravko Plantak, professor of religion and ethical studies at Loma Linda University, conducted a workshop on the “Adventist Prophetic Role.” In a nutshell, he stated that God has always had a prophetic person or people in every era who were courageous enough to speak His Word, and to stand for what was right, even if it was unpopular. And we still have a responsibility to use our prophetic gift not just for foretelling but also for forthtelling.
Over this four-day weekend we were also blessed with four powerful sermons from Louis Felton of Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ in Philadelphia; Lola Moore Johnston, senior pastor of the Restoration Praise Center, Bowie, Maryland; Manny Arteaga, lead pastor of the Kalēo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Glendale; and Kerwin Jones of the Houston International Adventist church, who is also pursuing a degree in law.
Johnston, who shared the divine worship hour message, encouraged, inspired, and implored us to “say something and do something” when it comes to any form of injustice or oppression that takes place in our communities. We are to follow the example of the Egyptian midwives Shiphrah and Puah, who defied the mandates and genocidal laws of the Pharaoh of Egypt and feared God rather than man. Each message and workshop stirred us to be good Samaritans in our spheres of influence, and not to leave anyone in need.
Finally, during every CJC convention we enjoy a field trip in the host city. On Sabbath afternoon, participants were taken on a field trip to a few of the homeless shelters in the city of Los Angeles. As many may be aware, Los Angeles has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the United States. But by God’s grace there are individuals who are determined to make a dent in that homeless population and provide shelter and food for that demographic.
The Honorable Marqueece Harris-Dawson, city council member for the 8th District of Los Angeles, met participants at one of the shelters and explained the level of commitment that he and others have to those struggling with the plight of homelessness. “We came to understand that unlike the stereotypes, many in Los Angeles can be working and still end up homeless, based on changing family dynamics, and the extremely high cost of living,” one participant shared. The average rent for one-bedroom, 700-square-foot (65-square-meter) apartment in Los Angeles County is US$2,250 per month. In addition, because of the warm California weather, some who are struggling with homelessness in other colder cities make their way to Los Angeles because they can survive outside. Councilman Harris-Dawson and the workers there are determined to make a difference for those who go through this experience and have developed programs to get many of the residents back into permanent housing.
“We thank God for the leadership of the Conscience and Justice Council chairperson Edwards Woods III, who also serves as the PARL director for the Lake Region Conference, and the CJC team for orchestrating this convention,” one of the organizers said. “We believe that as this annual convention moves from region to region around the country that more of our church members and leaders will be inspired to ‘say something and do something.’ ”
Cryston Josiah is vice president for administration and PARL director for the Central States Conference.
Sydney Adventist Hospital (San) and ELIA Wellness have launched ELIA Fitness for all hospital staff as part of the Adventist HealthCare Limited (AHCL) commitment to whole-person health.
In celebration of the launch, AHCL held a group workout for all staff on the front lawn of Sydney Adventist Hospital on November 16, 2022. The workout was run by ELIA Fitness personal trainer and former professional footballer Todd Brodie. Around 100 staff members gathered on the front lawn, with some even wearing fancy dress for the occasion.
Group workouts on the front lawn are not a new activity for the San, having wellness embedded into the hospital’s ethos since it opened in 1903. Groups of nurses in the 1920s would gather on the front lawn each day for their physical culture calisthenics session — a light workout that would be performed prior to starting their workday.
ELIA Wellness executive director Geraldine Przybylko, who was part of the ELIA Fitness development team, said the goal is to make it easy for people to exercise anywhere and anytime. “ELIA Wellness aims to make fitness easy with our motto ‘fitness simplified’,” she said. “We know that exercise benefits people not just physically but in terms of mental health too. ELIA Fitness is a great way to support Adventist HealthCare staff to feel their best so that they can give their best care.”
ELIA worked with Brodie and his team of athletes and personal trainers to develop up to 150 workouts to suit all ages and different intensity levels. The ELIA Fitness “Movement and Mobility” workouts are perfect for those aged over 65 and for those looking to start their fitness journey with low-intensity exercise. Workouts for all levels are easily accessed via the ELIA Wellness app and can be held alone or in a group. Built-in fitness analytics encourage users to exercise at least six times a week and to track their progress.
ELIA Wellness is the sister organization to San, and develops and promotes lifestyle-based resources to educate and empower individuals and communities to achieve whole-person health. The organization’s online and face-to-face products and services offer members access to a range of different educational programs and plans aimed at improving health outcomes for all, with better lifestyle choices.
ELIA’s whole-person philosophy in achieving optimal health is based on the seven dimensions of wellness in the areas of emotional, physical, social, vocational, spiritual, intellectual, and environmental.
“Human beings are designed to thrive, and positive lifestyle choices can act as preventative medicine or improve wellness if ill,” Przybylko said. “The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has identified that an alarming 55 per cent of adults did not participate in sufficient physical activity, yet we know that exercise is associated with significant health benefits.
“Whole-person health is the foundation of ELIA’s evidence-based lifestyle medicine programs, which complement conventional medicine to help the community achieve health, healing and hope.”
ELIA Fitness is available online or by downloading the ELIA Wellness app.
When I was studying at Avondale University, I was lucky enough to stay in Watson Hall. I still have many close friends and great memories from that time. One memory in particular is from the time when a friend who doesn’t come from a Christian background came to stay in the dorm for a weekend.
He seemed to enjoy his weekend there, and afterwards I asked him what he thought of the experience. He told me it was good, but his biggest question was, “Why do Christians sing so much?” I laughed as he said to me there was always singing going on. I hadn’t thought about it, but as I reflected, I realized he was right. The guys were always singing! In people’s rooms with a guitar, in the showers, walking down the hall, at church, to start Bible studies, in the foyer with the piano. There was always someone singing, and I’d never noticed because I’m so accustomed to it.
The past two years have drawn my attention to how much I love our tradition of singing together. During lockdowns, many of our churches were unable to meet together, or if we could meet together, we couldn’t sing because of the risk of spreading the virus.
I’m grateful to be in a position where we can sing as a community again, and I never want to take this for granted. So, I thought I’d answer the question, Why do we as Christians sing so much? Here are four reasons.
Christianity is born out of Judaism. In both religions, there is a rich history and tradition of group singing. In the biblical story of the Israelites being liberated from Egypt, Miriam’s victory song (Exodus 15:1-18) is estimated to have been written and sung by the congregation as early as the fifteenth century BC. So we have thousands of years of singing together and a beautiful history of songs to draw upon. I can’t wait until we’re in heaven and able to sing the greatest worship songs from all time and all languages as one huge congregation.
It’s Good for You
Singing has been shown to relieve stress, improve immune response, speaking skills, and lung function, and even reduce snoring! As a church that preaches a health message, it’s no wonder we love singing so much! There are other positive effects it can have on our health also.
It Bonds Us Together as a Community
In soccer or any other sport, when the crowd starts cheering their team’s anthem together in one loud and messy voice, something special happens. They’re unified in their support and love for one thing: their team. When we all gather and sing about something together, it unifies us around that thing. The most important thing we can sing about is Jesus, and when we sing together it binds us as a community around Him as His church. People find belonging in the songs.
This is exactly why Paul urged the church at Colossae, “Teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16, NIV).
It Gives Us a Chance to Refocus on What Matters
The words of songs matter, and they stick in our minds more easily than spoken or written words. When we sing powerful songs together, it gives us an opportunity to focus again on the powerful words of these songs. It also helps us learn truths about God in a different way. I learned so much about God and His character through the songs we sing in church, and the words of the songs stick with me.
There are plenty of other reasons to sing together as congregations, and I’d love to hear yours too! Whether you are singing hymns, scripture songs, choir songs, kids’ worship songs, modern worship songs, anything else, or a mix, let’s be grateful to be able to sing to our God, who is most worthy of all the praise we could ever give Him and more.
“Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise” (Psalm 96:1–4, NIV).
Joshua Stothers is associate pastor and chaplain at Castle Hill church and Hills Adventist College, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The original version of this commentary was posted by Adventist Record.
In 2004, when Georgia* was in her teens, she reconnected with her local Adventist church community. It seemed like a safe place for her to rebuild her faith in God and develop new positive relationships. She did not suspect she would be groomed and targeted for sexual abuse by a church elder, Tom,* who had known her since she was a child.
Tom encouraged Georgia to participate in adult Sabbath School and the church choir, and he became a much valued and supportive father figure for Georgia. A few months passed, and the relationship began to change, with Georgia exposed to increasing sexually inappropriate behavior. After a short time, with Georgia alone in his home, Tom sexually abused her.
Georgia was in shock at what had happened. She felt deeply wronged, powerless, and confused. Despite Georgia’s confusion, she had the courage to disclose her abuse to her mother and reported it to the police.
The abuse affected Georgia dramatically; she struggled to focus at school, and she was overwhelmed with feelings of anger and betrayal. Sadly, she even considered ending her life.
Georgia sought out the care of her Adventist church community. She spoke with her pastor and told him what had happened to her. Pastor Ron* listened to Georgia, showing care and sympathy. He believed Georgia and supported her. He had Tom removed from his church roles and made it possible for Georgia to attend church without fear of seeing Tom, who was ultimately convicted for the abuse.
The impacts on Georgia have been lifelong, as is a common feature of those having experienced child sexual abuse. It has been nearly two decades since the abuse, and Georgia no longer attends church or believes in the existence of God. However, on reflection she feels gratitude toward Pastor Ron because he heard, believed, and validated her trauma. In acting on her disclosure with awareness and empathy, she feels her abuse was treated seriously and with sensitivity, and because of this, she feels comfortable sharing her story to help create greater awareness of child sexual abuse and its impact.
While Georgia is changed by her trauma, by speaking her truth she contributes an important narrative to destigmatise the shame and silence surrounding child sexual abuse. As commonly recounted by survivors, concern and consideration of other potential victims is ultimately the reason Georgia speaks openly today. For shining a light where there is darkness, we are grateful for Georgia generously sharing her story.
The impacts of abuse are multifaceted. At the core, the abuse within a faith-based context destroys the survivor’s faith journey, distorts their view of Christ as a loving Savior, and thus can irretrievably damage their relationship with God. Abuse not only affects the survivor but also has significant impact on their family members. Families are often left do the best they can to support the survivor through their mental health struggles, risk-taking behaviors, self-harm, and the like without fully understanding the cause of these behaviors and how best to provide support. Church members and the wider community can also be impacted as they try to understand and respond to what may appear to be irrational behaviors of the survivor. Likewise, the perpetrator’s family are affected as they try to comprehend the abuse their loved one has perpetrated.
In partnership with God, we are all potential “change agents” to build safe Adventist communities, where abuse has no place and we are changing and empowering lives so that everyone can equally experience the love of God. Protecting the vulnerable from abuse is a shared concern and a joint responsibility. The part you can play is to work collectively with programs such as Adsafe and your local church and conference, to help build safe faith communities. Like the pastor in the survivor’s story, let’s listen and believe so we can facilitate a healing journey for those who have experienced abuse and trauma.
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble” (1 Peter 3:8, NIV).
*Names and details changed for privacy reasons.
On November 13, early in the morning, Seventh-day Adventists in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, organized a fun run to inspire participants to be more physically active, mentally aware, and socially connected through regular cause-oriented marathons.
More than 150 runners participated in the race, which began before dawn at the Gia Dinh Stadium in the Binh Thanh District.
The Vietnam Mission’s Health Ministries Department has been hosting the fun run for six years to promote wellness and a healthy lifestyle in a positive and upbeat setting. Through numerous health-focused initiatives, this campaign, known as “Let’s Move Day,” enables the Adventist community in Ho Chi Minh to forge healthy relationships with others.
“Every year, more and more people are joining, and it is a blessing to share these moments with the community,” Pham Nguyen To Phuong, health and publishing ministries director in the Southeastern Asia Union Mission, said.
Three different events made up the fun run: a relay marathon; a 400-meter kids’ race; and a 5K run. All runners received medals in appreciation for their participation and willingness to finish the marathon alongside their coworkers and new acquaintances.
One of the runners, Keiko Le Bao Ngan, who took first place in the women’s 5K category, thanked the organizers of the program for giving her the chance to relax, let go of her stress, and enhance her relationships with her family and friends.
“This is the sixth year of the Let’s Move Day program, and it just gets better and better,” Ngan said. “More than the medal I received, I am grateful to see more people interested in bettering their health and finding ways to improve our lifestyle,” she added.
There were runners of various ages. The oldest runner to sign up, despite the difficulties of her advanced age, was 76-year-old Tran Thi De.
To encourage people to support the cause, the Adventist community in Ho Chi Minh City distributed invitations to nearby communities. Some runners have already been participating in various health initiatives and ongoing activities in the Adventist community. Aside from organized fun runs, local towns participated in several initiatives including health seminars, the One Year in Mission initiative, and mental health programs.
After competing in multiple marathons, To Phuong came up with the concept of doing a fun run. She is involved in numerous run-for-cause campaigns in Vietnam, which enables her to encourage the community to have a healthy lifestyle and participate in numerous Adventist activities. To Phuong recently joined the cycling group in the United States that rode 1,200 miles (2,000 km) to this year’s General Conference Session, from Washington D.C. to St. Louis, while distributing literature.
To Phuong started cycling five years ago, and she has done it constantly since then. She recalled her old prayer, “Please, Lord, use my passion for your glory.” This has led her to set up initiatives through the Health Ministries Department to assist people in enhancing their lifestyles and building positive connections with others.
The Association of Adventist Women (AAW) recently honored six women from around the world as Women of the Year at its 40th annual awards banquet in Loma Linda, California, United States, on October 8, 2022. One man was awarded a Champion of Justice award.
Verna Alva, a Peruvian child psychiatrist, accepted AAW’s Woman of the Year award for Lifetime Achievement. She is past president of the Peruvian Society of Child Psychiatry; past vice president for Latin America-World Association of Medical Women; former associate dean of the School of Medicine at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia; and Director of Maternal Child Health at the Ministry of Health. Alva was instrumental in the creation of the Seventh-day Adventist university in Peru and was its first dean in the School of Health Sciences. She is an Adventist church member who has served on the executive committee of the South American Division (1991-1995).
The first woman editor in the 120-year history of Message magazine, Carmela Monk Crawford, has a soft spot for the poor and underprivileged. She has been honored for her legal work for victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and police abuse. From these experiences she strives to make Message relevant, highlighting how people can work to make God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. AAW awarded her with the Woman of the Year award for Outstanding Achievement.
The Woman of the Year for Church Life award was given to Nandi Fleming, an Adventist pastor in South Africa. During the pandemic, her pastoral counseling practice was closed, so she wrote and recorded a Christian mental health podcast called NCSA Mental Health Devotions that helped filled the need for a Jesus-centered approach to well being. The podcasts have since been published in book form and on video. About six years ago, Fleming facilitated an online space for encouragement and support for all English-speaking female pastors worldwide. Determined to serve God always, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in practical theology and is currently studying for her doctoral degree.
Sylvia Klinger of Hinsdale, Illinois, United States, is a dynamic global nutrition expert, international speaker, business owner, award-winning author, and member of several boards of Fortune 500 companies. Klinger received the Woman of the Year award for Outstanding Achievement. As a Loma Linda University School of Nutrition and Dietetics graduate, she daily spreads the message of healthful living, specializing in culturally relevant translations of nutritional information in the Hispanic or Latinex communities.
Margaret Solomon received the Professional Life Woman of the Year award for designing low-tech educational curriculum for some of the world’s poorest students. After a lifetime of Adventist education, Solomon’s encounter with a grade-school student waiting under a tree for instruction one afternoon a week in a poverty-stricken area of India changed Solomon’s purpose. She received two Fulbright-Nehru Visiting Scholar Awards (2010, 2017) for developing low-resource curriculum and training teachers to compassionately educate children in the poorest slums in India. She is a faculty member at La Sierra University, California, and received her award via Zoom from India.
Judy Lello and her husband, Graham, are a remarkable literature evangelism team. They have shared God’s love for more than 50 years, traveling 750,000 miles (1,200,00 km) together, mainly in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Judy, or “The Bible Story Lady,” as she is widely known, has been a steady and beloved presence in the Amish country of south-central Pennsylvania for 26 years. She visits families whose members remember her visiting their grandparents. Graham is the manager and has carefully documented his wife’s US$3,449,808 in sales. Her work has contributed to the development of the West Salem Mission, a group of fifty Amish who have become Adventists.
Loma Linda University Church’s senior pastor, Randy Roberts, was awarded the AAW Champion of Justice for his dedication to sharing stories of God’s Spirit working through women in ministry both in the Bible and in current women pastors. A dedicated church leader, author, and pastor, Roberts also served as a chaplain at Loma Linda University Medical Center, developing a grief recovery program. He has been associate dean of the School of Religion at Loma Linda University and is currently the vice president for Spiritual Life and Mission for Loma Linda University Health.
AAW strives to advocate for the participation of women in all leadership roles in Seventh-day Adventist organizations, congregations, and communities around the world. AAW is an independent organization supporting, but not affiliated with, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, its churches, and organizations.
Montemorelos University will soon feature a new recreational activity on its campus for students, faculty, and the surrounding community, thanks to a recent agreement signed by the Adventist institution’s leaders and the Disc Golf Monterrey organization.
The agreement, signed on November 8, 2022, will see disc golf course equipment installed in the university’s Ojo de Agua Recreation Park, next to the main campus. Disc golf is a sport that emerged in the 1970s as a variation of traditional golf. It is played on a course with 9 or 18 baskets, using rules similar to golf. Players throw a disc at a target and seek to complete each hole with the lowest number of total throws.
More than 13,000 disc golf fields have been built in the world. During the 128th session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2015, the IOC gave full recognition to the World Flying Disc Federation, making disc golf an official Olympic sport.
“We know that Montemorelos University is concerned about health, and this is one more opportunity it is offering us to do this physical and recreative activity,” Disc Golf Monterrey representative Edson Francisco Valles said during the signing ceremony. The university, he said, “is making history at a national level because it will become the first higher-education institution in Mexico with a disc golf field.”
The Montemorelos field is the third disc golf field established in the state of Nuevo Leon, after the fields built at Rufino Tamallo Park and Fundidora Park, both located in Monterrey.
“This is about promoting sports and the culture of our healthy lifestyle, and it is a great opportunity to offer another option to students and employees to practice sports in the midst of nature,” Montemorelos legal representative Rocío González said before the signing. “It is about promoting sport, the culture of our healthy lifestyle.”
The agreement states that the Disc Golf Monterrey organization will provide and install the necessary equipment to practice the sport. The 18-basket field is scheduled to be completed in January 2023. The university will oversee the promotion and training of the sport on campus and will establish a schedule of activities for organized practice, leaders said.
“We are very happy because the sport is becoming better known and there are more players involved,” Disc Golf Monterrey vice president Eduardo Tamez said. “It is a healthy and family-oriented sport, promotes social relations and a social and healthier lifestyle, which in turn contributes to the society’s well-being.”
The agreement contract signed is for two years and will be eligible for renewal if both parties agree.
If you pay attention, you see that most of Christ’s major moments happen around food.
Jesus ate with sinners and social outcasts like tax collectors (Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17). He used the loaves and fishes to feed His followers as a sign of provision (Matthew 14). Christ gave His disciples a glimpse of what was to come as they ate the last supper (Luke 22:7-38), and later ate with them after His resurrection (Luke 24:13-48). The Messiah even referred to Himself as the bread of life (John 6:35). These are just a few of the many examples of people coming to Christ and leaving spiritually and physically fed.
I was raised with food as a love language. My Abuela served flan and arroz congri as a love to be consumed. My Opa opened papaya, jackfruit, and watermelon for his granddaughters. I watched Food Network at an age when others gravitated to Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, with words like “emulsify,” “caramelized,” and “braised” dominating my lexicon. I checked out every Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazine from my local library, consuming the words of Barbara Fairchild with the same fervor that I wanted to consume the heirloom tomato carpaccio she described. In every phase of life, my dedication for food as a love language has only increased.
I know my limitations. I know that as much as I love baking and cooking, I could never be a professional chef. I move painfully slowly, my timing is atrocious (everybody who has forgotten to preheat the oven or defrost the chicken, raise your hand), and I sometimes view baking instructions the same way my dad views yellow lights: mere suggestions.
Despite all this, I love cooking. I see it as my chance to relax, reconnect, and recharge. Most satisfying of all is when I get to feed others. My first week in college, I made breakfast for a Sabbath School class of 40 people. The week after, I made pumpkin muffins for a charity bake sale. My friends and I crowded around the lobby table on Saturday (Sabbath) afternoons to eat together more times than I can count. I fed a friend after she suffered devastating pain. I made glazed Brussel sprouts at 3:00 a.m. as a way of taking a break after studying. I cooked enough garlicky white beans in the month my parents suffered from COVID-19 to choke a horse.
Food has been the foundation of my community, the active dedication in my friendships, my sanity in college, and my escape during quarantine. Laced within all of it is the seasoning of God’s love. As I’ve grown, I have balanced Martha's actions with a Mary heart. Cooking for others or even oneself is an act of holy intimacy that takes a base need and elevates it to artistry and love.
Why wouldn’t Christ teach us the meaning of ministry and love through food and fellowship? The two are inextricably linked, bound by a humanity that is humbling and a care that is a remnant of God’s love. It is the act of biblical hospitality that unravels satisfaction and purpose yet does not demand perfection.
In those moments of faith-filled hospitality, it doesn’t matter if we have training, if every carrot slice is even, or if we forgot to turn on the stove. Christ displayed what matters: we are building relationships with those around us, or even just with ourselves. What matters is that we share authentic, raw, love-filled plates of food with those around us, and always leave room for dessert.
How many lies has God told us in the Bible? That is, if billions of years of dog-eat-dog-survival-of-the-fittest competition of the strong over the weak were true, then how many lies were we told in the Word of God?
For starters, if evolution is true, our God lied to us about the origins of death. Romans 5:15 says “as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned,” a theme repeated in Romans 5: 15, 16, 17, and 18. Each verse which implies that Adam, “one man,” brought death, is a blatant lie if aeons of death predated any “Adam” to begin with. If what the evolutionists say is true, then the Lord also pulled the wool over our eyes with 1 Corinthians 5:21, which reads, “for since by man came death,” even though it was by death—by billions of years’ worth of death—that man came instead. That, at least, is Darwin’s narrative.
Next, in any evolutionary model, Genesis 2:1-2 tell three lies. “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” First, Genesis 2:1, which says that the original work of creation was “finished,” would be a lie because science claims that the creative process, evolution, is still going on. (Google Is evolution still happening? or the like). If so, then the work of creation has not ended, even though Genesis 2:2 says that God “ended His work which He had done.” Genesis 2:2 also says that God rested on the seventh day from all His work. The seventh-day of what? Creation (we’re told) took billions of years, and counting, and so this verse about Him resting on the seventh day “from all His work which He had done” must be another lie, but only if God used billions of years of evolution to create us.
So, if one counts Romans 5:12, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 1 Corinthians 15:21, that’s six untruths, and, with the three in Genesis 2:1-2, we’re up to nine.
Meanwhile, Genesis 2:7 reads, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” A fully formed human (with nostrils, which means lungs, which means blood, which means a heart, which means a nervous system, which means a brain, etc.; yes, a fully formed human)—who, only after being fully created, is then given life? It’s hard to imagine a creation account more at odds with what we’ve been assured really happened: billions of years of blunders eking out a hominid who was, somehow, translated by a genetic mutation (how else?) into the first human, Adam. Of course, if this scenario, or any version thereof, were true, then the Lord amplified the untruth in Genesis 2:7, didn’t He?
But Genesis 2:7 wasn’t half the lie starting 21 verses later (again, if evolution were true). “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:21,22). What a contrast to what evolution teaches; the same billions of years that, by chance, created Adam with his reproductive organs also, by chance, created Eve with hers (ovaries, womb, eggs, fallopian tubes, etc.). Compared to that story, the biblical account sounds much more plausible. Otherwise, what? The farfetched and impossibly implausible theory that, among all the other evolved organs and their functions, human sperm mindlessly evolved in a male while human eggs mindlessly evolved in a female? And that sperm and that egg, when together, just happened to be the start of another human being? That’s the story we’re expected to believe, which means that Genesis 2:7, 21 and 22 take us to lies 10 and 11. And what doozies too, if evolution were true.
And then there’s Genesis 1 itself, with the six-day creation of our present earth and life on it. Each day was unambiguously delineated an “evening and morning” (Genesis 1: 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), which, like ours and Moses’ 24-hour days, are made of an “evening and morning” as well. If creation took billions of years, as evolution teaches, but the Bible teaches six days, then we can count each day’s biblical account a lie. Six more, which now bring us to number 17.
Then these verses. “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Timothy 2:13, 14). And, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Pointing back to the Fall, the texts are simply reiterating the account in Genesis 3:1-6, which—if Darwin were right—must be a lie (number 18), and a big one, too. Especially because, Paul numerous times in Romans 5 attributes the origin of death to Adam, a scenario not even close to what science theorizes. (And, of course, each time in Romans 5 Paul links what Adam did--bring death—to what Christ did--bring life. But what if Adam really didn’t bring death, as he couldn’t in any evolutionary model. . . ?)
And what about the Ten Commandments, “written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18)? Surely there could be no lies there, right? Well, part of the fourth commandment reads: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11). Either, as the text explicitly says, God created the world in six days and blessed the seventh—which, as a literal day, is kept as a memorial of the literal six—or He didn’t. If evolution were true, He didn’t, which makes this bald-faced lie in the fourth commandment especially problematic because of the ninth commandment, which forbids lying. Could God lie to us in the fourth commandment but, in the ninth, command us not to lie? This (number 19) would make God, not just a liar, but a hypocrite as well. That is, if evolution were true.
Scripture tells us that “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18; see also Titus 1:2). Yet, in a Darwinian world, God started lying to us from the first pages of the Old Testament, and hadn’t stopped in the New, either. But if God cannot lie, then evolution cannot be true; otherwise God would be lying, which contradicts Scripture.
Unless the texts which declare that God cannot lie are, themselves, lies? After all, if God in His Word would lie to us 19 times about the origins of life and of death—why trust what He says in about anything else, including that He cannot lie? That’s number 20.
It all boils down to one question. What do we believe: God’s Word or humanity’s? When praying to the Father, Jesus declared, “Your word is truth,” (John 17:17) unless, as we have seen, Darwin’s is instead—which puts us at 21.
Clifford Goldstein, editor of the Adult Bible Study Guide, is leading an Israel tour June 18-27, 2023. For information, email [email protected]