Adventist Researchers See Hope in Snake Venom at Loma Linda

Also in brief: ADRA builds refugee classrooms in Rwanda, and the Swiss Adventist publishing house undergoes a generational shift.

Adventist Researchers See Hope in Snake Venom at Loma Linda

A research team at Seventh-day Adventist-owned Loma Linda University is testing rattlesnake venom as an immunization agent to reduce bleeding and swelling in brain tissues during and after brain surgery.

If the study succeeds, snake venom could alleviate damage in the estimated 800,000 brain, neurologic, or spine surgeries performed annually in the United States, including 2,000 operations a year at the Loma Linda University Medical Center in California, said John Zhang, the medical doctor leading the research story.

“The potential result of this research for many patients is that they would no longer be in danger of losing other important functions from complications of brain surgery,” Zhang said in a statement.

Preliminary results of tests indicate that pre-surgical immunization reduces bleeding during surgery by as much as 30 percent and reduces post-operative brain swelling by up to 50 percent.

“We are tremendously excited about what the findings could mean to medicine,” Zhang said. “Our team is studying surgical brain injury and, currently, when a surgeon removes a brain tumor, the liver, or some other organ is often damaged in the process. By immunizing the patient with snake venom ahead of time, we can reduce the trauma that is associated with the surgery.”

The five-year study, supported by a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health, is slated for completion in 2019.

The Adventist team is also considering follow-up research with the venom of spiders and scorpions.

Burundian children waiting for emergency food supplies to be distributed by ADRA workers in Rwanda. (ADRA)

Rwanda: ADRA Builds Refugee Classrooms

ADRA will start the construction of dozens of classrooms for Burundian children at the Mahama Refugee Camp in Rwanda by the end of the month.

The construction plans, funded by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and implemented by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, call for 60 classrooms in the first phase and at least 112 classrooms when the school year starts in January, Rwanda’s New Times newspaper reported.

In the meantime, 96 makeshift classrooms have been set up for a five-month program to prepare Burundian grade school and high school students to enter the Rwandan education system.

“Within the program, the pupils are given assignments and continuous assessments to determine their grades because some of them do not have academic records to show their levels,” Gerard Ingaboyamahina, the ADRA education coordinator at the Mahama Camp, told The New Times. “If not, some may take advantage of the situation and skip classes.”

More than 66,000 Burundians fled across the border to Rwanda amid politically tinged violence ahead of national elections last June, the report said.

ADRA has distributed food and other basic necessities to refugees in Rwanda for several months.

Dominik Maurer, 33, will take the reins of the Advent-Verlag publishing house, pictured, from Oct. 1. (EUD)

Switzerland: Generational Shift at Publishing House

Advent-Verlag, the Adventist publishing house in Zurich, Switzerland, has decided to replace its departing 55-year-old chief executive with its 33-year-old sales manager amid a shuffle that marks a generational shift in its management.

Dominik Maurer will take the reins of the publishing house from Oct. 1, filling a position held by Christian Alt since 1997, the Adventist Church’s Inter-European Division said.

Maurer, a former bricklayer, completed four years of pastoral training and worked as pastor’s assistant before joining the publishing house as sale manager two years ago. At the publishing house, he has overseen the work of 23 literature evangelists.

Alt, also a pastor, informed the publishing house’s board in fall 2014 that he wished to step aside to take up new challenges after 18 years as CEO.

“He is pleased about the arrangements for his successor and is convinced that the young CEO … will bring new impetus,” the division said in a statement.

The position of sales manager will be filled by Helmut Kienreich, 38, who has worked as a literature evangelist for the Adventist Wegweiser publishing house in Austria for two years.

Meanwhile, Thilo Schneider, 37, has been appointed as chief financial officer of the Swiss publishing house. He will divide his time between the publishing house (40 percent) and ADRA’s Swiss office (60 percent), where he has worked since leaving a senior management position with Migros, the largest supermarket cooperative in Switzerland, in 2012.

Advent-Verlag, founded in 1929, publishes literature only in German but also sells products in French, Italian, and English.

Villagers taking up arms against militants in northeastern Nigeria in February 2015. (Voice of America / Wikicommons)

Nigeria: Plea for Aid After Boko Haram Violence

ADRA is providing food and water to Nigerians displaced by Boko Haram violence, but far more assistance is needed, a local church leader said.

Nigeria’s armed forces are working hard to retake communities seized by the Muslim militants in northeast Nigeria, turning the region into a militarized zone where internally displaced children roam the streets without any operating schools and filthy conditions at temporary camps have led to deadly outbreaks of cholera, said Uzoma Nwosi, communication director of the Adventist Church’s Eastern Nigeria Union Conference.

“Some volunteers, nongovernmental organizations like the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, and the government of Nigeria have tried to provide food and water for these internally displaced persons, yet it is not enough,” Nwosi said by e-mail.

He appealed for contributions for both ADRA and the Adventist Church to help people in Nigeria and in neighboring Cameroon, where Boko Haram violence has spilled over. Suspected militants killed seven Adventists in a village in Cameroon last week, marking the most serious attack involving Adventists during Boko Haram’s five-year insurgency.

“Our hearts are filled with sorrow over this sad news of the death of the seven Seventh-day Adventists in Cameroon,” Nwosi said. “We pray that God will protect the remaining church members and the pastor.”

AIIAS leaders and students attending a groundbreaking ceremony for Scholarship Tower. (NSD)

Philippines: Scholarship Tower in the Works

An Adventist educational institute in the Philippines recently broke ground for a unique housing facility that will provide scholarships to worthy students.

The Scholarship Tower at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, or AIIAS, will feature 15 housing units and a mu
lti-purpose lobby that where about 30 students can live.

More importantly, proceeds from the building will be funneled into student scholarships, AIIAS president Stephen Guptil said.

“The unique feature of this Scholarship Tower is that all the proceeds from this building will be dedicated to worthy student scholarships at AIIAS,” Guptil said in a statement released by the Adventist Church’s Northern Asia-Pacific Division.

AIIAS Student Association president Alvaro Rodriguez praised the Scholarship Tower.

“We are not only building a tower but preparing new missionaries to go all around the world,” he said.

Hundreds of Pathfinders posing for a group photo at a camporee in Taiwan. (NSD)

Taiwan: 550 Drenched at Pathfinder Camporee

More than 550 Pathfinders, Adventurers, and youth leaders camped in heavy rain in southern Taiwan for a camporee meant to lay the groundwork for a larger division-wide camporee.

“Although there was a typhoon and pouring rain, the camporee proceeded as planned without cancellation of any of the programs, thanks to the devoted efforts and passion of the camporee team and volunteers,” the Adventist Church’s Northern Asia-Pacific Division, which includes Taiwan, said in a statement.

The camporee served as a dry run for a division-wide camporee planned for Taiwan in 2017, it said.

The Aug. 24-27 camporee, titled “The Good Soldier of Jesus Christ,” offered 20 booths as well as outdoor and community service activities at Saijia National Park.

The highlight was a drill and marching presentation, the division said.

“The participants could view themselves as good soldiers for Jesus Christ, united in Him,” it said.

Students praying outside Pacific Union College's library during a prayer walk on Sept. 20. (PUC)

U.S.: PUC Goes on Prayer Walk

Students at Pacific Union College didn’t start the academic year in the classroom but with a prolonged prayer walk around the campus in Angwin, California.

The evening before Monday’s first day of classes, a group of students and professors met outside the Irwin Hall classroom building to ask God to bless the new academic year. The prayer was led by college chaplains Jonathan Henderson and Shantel Smith along with college church pastor Mark Witas.

Then “the group broke into five teams and traveled all over campus, praying for each building, its occupants, and PUC,” the college said in a statement.

Robell Nyirendah, the religious vice president of the college’s Student Association, closed the evening with another group prayer at the campus flagpoles.

Pacific Union College holds the prayer walk every year.