March 24, 2016

How Should Adventists Respond to Brussels Attacks?

, communication director, Trans-European Division, and , news editor, Adventist Review

Question: How should Seventh-day Adventists respond to terrorist attacks such as the triple bombings that rocked Belgium this week?

Answer: Step up efforts even more to share Jesus’ love and the hope of His soon return, church leaders say.

Adventists believers in Europe and elsewhere were reeling after bomb attacks at the international airport and a subway station in Belgium’s capital, Brussels, killed more than 30 people on March 22.

Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for the bloodshed, and authorities have warned that additional attacks may follow.

Church leaders said, however, that Adventists have no reason to respond with fear but instead to pray and seek more practical ways to shower Christ-like compassion on those who are hurting.

“While in our prophetic understanding we know that evil and bloodshed will blight our world until our Savior’s return, it is nevertheless our duty to represent and share Christ’s love to those who are grieving and suffering,” said Ian Sweeney, leader of the Adventist Church in Britain and Ireland, a region that also has experienced terrorist attacks in recent years.

“Our response to acts of hatred must be acts of Christ’s love,” Sweeney said.

He said the acts of love included “our prayers, comfort, and acts of practical kindness as opportunities rise.”

Have Mission, Will Travel

Raafat Kamal, president of the church’s Trans-European Division, said terrorists aim to stir up fear and hatred, which are “totally contrary to the way of the people of God.”

“Such acts must not deter us from our mission — and that includes travel through international airports as needed,” he said.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s mission is to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” The church also proclaims the three angels’ message of Jesus’ soon coming in Revelation 14:6-12.

Adventist Church employees engage in considerable travel as they seek to spread the gospel, including within the Trans-European Division, a territory that encompasses 22 countries stretching from Iceland in the north to Greece and Cyprus in the south, and from the Netherlands across the Balkans and up through the Adriatic into Scandinavia.

“Clearly we must be cautious, but we will not give into terrorism,” Kamal said. “Our imperative is to let the people of Europe know God loves them, and to train and lead in the districts that we have responsibility for.”

Read also: Adventist Leader in Belgium Narrowly Misses Subway Explosion

Be a Spiritual Strength to Others

Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, appealed to church members living in Brussels to make a special effort to reach out to their neighbors this week.

“I have prayed for the people of Belgium and for our church members who can be a spiritual strength to others in this very difficult time,” Wilson said Tuesday on his Facebook page. “We thank our youth for having encouraged many in the city, including the police station, this last Sabbath on Global Youth Day. May our youth and members continue to provide Christ's ministry of love and compassion in Total Member Involvement during this traumatic situation.”

The leader of the church in Belgium, Jeroen Tuinstra, who narrowly escaped one of the terrorist bombs on Tuesday, said he had already joined church members in praying for the city.

“We express our condolences to the victims and pray for both their families and for the safety of residents,” he said.