There are many routes to our roots. Ours started early Tuesday morning with a trip to Reagan International Airport, a busy airport close to the heart of Washington, D.C. Sonya,1 our driver greeted us in a festive mood, wearing a colorful green holiday outfit from her native Senegal. Sonya is a warm-hearted and quick-thinking Muslim who had driven us already several times to one of the airports surrounding Washington D.C. We’ve had wonderful conversations with her and talk freely about our distinct roots. Several times over the past months, we’ve even prayed together.
Roots determine who and where we are. A tree with deep roots will grow strong and tall. Shallow roots will result in superficial growth. We can see the importance—yet I wonder if we get the root metaphor when it comes to our Adventist heritage. James and Ellen White, Uriah Smith, or J. N. Andrews are easily recognized Adventist brand names and, if asked, we may even be able to recall their significance. However, what about the lesser-known heroes of the Advent movement? What about the nitty-gritty of a young movement struggling to stick together and to articulate—by God’s special guidance—the unique message that Adventists are to bring to a world that needs to hear the cries of the three angels? Do I remember the urgency of the Advent message when I sit in my office at the General Conference editing and writing for the Adventist Review?
As I embark with my wife Chantal and many others from the North Pacific Union on a journey to our roots, I pray for open eyes and ears and for the mental ability to walk where our pioneers have walked. On this journey our guide will be Jim Nix, director of the Ellen G. White Estate at the General Conference. His enthusiasm for Adventist heritage is contagious and he surely knows his facts. However, more than the facts, he tells the personal stories of the big and small things that shaped a movement willing to participate in God’s mission to planet earth. Let’s go.
1. Not her real name.