January 14, 2014

January 6, 2014

Help for the Church

“Help, I Care About My Church!” (Dec. 26, 2013): Yes, the enemy still has
designs on the church’s unity. Thomas Lobitz’ essay is nicely put together. The
key to our success is having one Head. The balance provided by Ellen G. White
appears to have kept us on the rails times without number.

Lobitz’ thoughts are neatly capsulized in his statement, “You are
part of God’s mission to this world.” It’s not the be all and end all, but it’s
a part. Pray that it works.

–Richard Burns
Cleveland, Tennessee

A Timely

The article about Leona Running, “A Living Tribute: Leona Running” by Karen K.
was both well written and touching—especially since Running was
my professor at the seminary when I studied Hebrew. She was an amazing and
vibrant teacher. I appreciate Abrahamson’s tribute given now rather than later.


We Nurture Each Other

The article
“Landmark Survey Reveals In-depth Beliefs, Perceptions of Adventists” (Nov. 27,
2013) was an eye opener. Especially when I read, “From 2000 to 2012 more than
13.6 million people joined the church, mostly through baptism. But during the
same time, 5.9 million Adventists were lost (and that doesn’t include those who
died). That’s a loss rate of nearly 43.4 per 100 new converts.”

Reading this article inspired me to give a voice to our lost
members. After attending a Revelation seminar, both my husband and I became
members of the Adventist Church because of its belief in the Sabbath. We left
behind many friends and an abundance of love and support at our former church.

After several months at a large Adventist church in our area, we
stopped attending because we felt so isolated and alone. No one, no one, except
for the greeters, ever spoke to us. The visitors’ luncheon was a free for all
in which no one invited us to sit with them. Sadly, we weren’t missed because
no one knew we were there.

A year later we decided to try a much smaller Adventist Church.
The results were mixed. The church had a friendlier atmosphere on the surface,
and we thought this just might be our church home. Pressed into transferring
our membership to the new church, we became involved in some church activities
to try to breach the gap from outsider to member. But try as we might, the
relationships remained at a superficial level over the next two years.

We haven’t attended church for about a year now. When unforeseen
trials occurred, we found no one wanted to listen nor cared to hear about them.
We turn to the Lord and He saw us through the dark days, but how we missed the
companionship of a church family.

To the credit of some members, an elder, and the pastor, we have
been contacted about returning, but no one has asked why we left. So what’s the
reason for us not returning?

Regrettably, genuine fellowship was missing. To us, true
fellowship encompasses togetherness, unity, empathy, sympathy, understanding,
companionship, friendship, and love to everyone. It should be considered a
blessing to share someone’s trials and tribulations, and see them blessed by
God for their faith.

Our Adventist church missionaries, at home and abroad, do a
terrific job of spreading the word and bring many into the fold; shouldn’t we
feel the same responsibility to keep those who come to our churches in our
churches with genuine fellowship?

I’m ready to return and reach out to all those around me.

–Deena Sherwood
Via E-mail

Regarding “At
First Retention Summit, Leaders Look at Reality of Church Departures” (Dec. 12,
2013): I hope the church is taking an honest look at this issue, and is willing
for some advice from one who has gone out the backdoor.

When I was an active member of the Adventist Church I found people
to be concerned about economic and social status. When you are new to a church,
among the first things they ask is what kind of work you do. The response is
much like what is written in James 2:3.

Those in the medical, teaching, or ministerial profession get a
lot of respect. They get offered higher positions in the church. If a person is
of the blue-collar ilk they may get offered a position distributing bulletins,
collecting the offering, ushering, greeting people. Necessary skills are a nice
smile and a kind word.

One day I watched as an elder saw a car enter the parking lot.
He got so excited and was moving so fast he stumbled on a concrete curb. His
big hurry was to shake the hand of someone driving a nice looking Jaguar. All I
could think was would he have killed himself if someone drove up in an old wreck
of a car.

But, what struck me even more was that after I quit coming to
church, no one called to ask why I wasn’t coming. Yet for more than a year I
received solicitations in the mail for donations. It seems the Seventh-day
Adventist Church missed my money more then it did me.

As a student of biblical and religious history I recall what won
the battle for Christianity against Pagan Rome. It wasn’t might or military strength
that won that battle. It was how Christians treated others. When Romans saw that
Christians did not do as the Roman leaders said about them; how the Christians
were kind, caring, and willing to help others, the lies of the Roman leaders
were cast aside.

Living the message of Jesus Christ is what makes the difference.

Adventists have a powerful message. But when people join and are
not treated as Jesus would treat them they go right straight back out the door.
And when the only thing following them is a hand stretched out asking for money,
they will not come back.

you for printing “Think of Malala” by Wilona Karimabadi (Nov. 28, 2013).

This article touched me because I often take
school for granted. In fact, some days when my mom gets home late from school
(she’s studying to be a physical therapist), I despise it.

In our country, where education is easy to come
by, it is easy to take homework, school, and teachers for granted. Malala has
become one of my role models. From now on I will think of Malala. I hope those
who read this article will remember to count their blessings.

Niles, Michigan

Gripping Story

I read “Dear
Father . . .” (Nov. 21, 2013) with bated breath. The flow of emotion in
Joseph’s words gripped me. The article was educational and inspiring, a great

–Heather Gerber
Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Excitement and Blessings

you for blessing me with a subscription to Adventist
. As a new member of the church I am so excited to learn more about
the church.

I enjoyed reading the article about people
who join the church while they are married to someone who isn’t interested in
joining. I realized I was doing everything wrong. Now I’m learning to just
enjoy my church, and stop being angry that my husband isn’t with me.

Four years ago, when I first read Matthew
25, I decided to write to women in prison and share with them the gospel. I
knew very little then, but the message from Jesus was powerful. I’ve been
writing to prisoners all over the United States, and they have given me a gift:
I get to forget a little about me, me, me.

I missed the article “Willing Hearts” (Oct.
17, 2013) about prison ministry. But I read about it in “Letters From Our
Readers.” I hope to generate an interest in prison ministry at our church. I
could talk for hours about the blessings I’ve experienced from writing to women
in prison.

–Laura Elizabeth Coryell
Tehachapi, California

Short and Sweet

article “Beyond Words” (Oct. 24, 2013) is powerful. When I was at Teen
Leadership Training I noticed some of the teens getting agitated. I myself was
losing interest in the presentation. When it was time to go to the next
program, I was reluctant.

But when I got in the room, I was interested
in what the presenter was saying because his presentation was much shorter than
the others.

Stephen Chavez wrote, “Our idea of evangelism
is a 45-minute verbal presentation.” Jesus understood communication. When he taught
in public He used short, engaging parables.

Long articles have their place, but shorter
articles are much easier for me to understand. I thought this was a great
article with a good message.

–John K.
Niles, Michigan