European leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church stood in a minute of silence and solidarity with the people of France following the Nov. 13 nighttime attacks that killed at least 129 people in Paris.
Leaders of the church’s Trans-European Division invited Mario Brito, president of the Inter-European Division, whose territory includes France, to the podium at the start of a Sabbath morning worship service in an emotional recognition of the tragedy being suffered by the people of France and, by extension, the rest of Europe.
“Today we are all French,” Brito told the group of 130 Adventist leaders and family members attending leadership training meetings in the Balkan country of Montenegro.
He expressed his “deep consternation” but also his solidarity with the people of France.
Brito said he has been in close contact with Ruben de Abreu, president of the church’s Franco-Belgian Union. While all churches in Paris were closed on Sabbath, Nov. 14, as part of a national state of emergency, the Adventist Church in Paris has made its facilities available to the authorities and was available to help in any way possible, he said.
Brito also said that such tragedies could not be unexpected “when people turn away from God's directions and wisdom.”
Church leaders and family members stood in a minute of silence as Daniel R. Jackson, president of the North American Division, led them in prayer. From the midst of the beauty and peace of Montenegro, Jackson prayed for the families affected by the tragedy, the brave police, and the authorities and the difficult situations they faced.
“As we are nearing the end of human experience, we are seeing through the gates,” Jackson said, making reference to his hope for the soon return of Jesus.
Jackson, who was involved in running two-day leadership training sessions titled, “Mission in Europe,” at the Trans-European Division’s Nov. 11-17 year-end meetings, prayed for wisdom for each Adventist leader and church member.
“While our hearts ache this morning … we may be instrumental in sharing with men and women, boys and girls, the saving grace of our Lord and Savior,” he said.
Trans-European Division president Raafat Kamal, a former ADRA director, noted that this was not just a problem for Paris but something that touches every life. Kamal knows something about violence and tragedy, having lived through the civil war in Lebanon
Sadness about Paris was visible in the eyes of Ian Sweeney, president of the Adventist Church in Britain and Ireland, as he said: “While in our prophetic understanding we know that evil and bloodshed will blight our world until the Savior’s return, it is nevertheless our duty to represent and share Christ’s love to those who are grieving and suffering through our prayers, comfort, and acts of practical kindness as opportunities arise. Our response to acts of hatred must be acts of Christ’s love.”
In a statement Friday, Adventist world church president Ted N.C. Wilson wrote: “Our hearts go out to the people and families suffering in the tragedy unfolding in Paris. Please pray for a return to safety and peace.” He added: “May dire situations like this awaken all to the need for God and His love to be supreme in our lives as we see prophetic events taking place which herald the Lord's soon return.”