Wintley Phipps Brings Hope
to Slovenian Prison
Wintley Phipps, Seventh-day Advent- ist pastor and singer, visited prison facilities in Dob, Slovenia. Invited by European Union (EU) parliament member Lojze Peterle, Phipps per-formed in front of prisoners, their families, prison personnel, and invitees from political and church domains.
Phipps started the program with a rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer,” then included some well-known worship songs and spirituals and finished it majestically with “Amazing Grace.” Through the messages of songs and his short presentations between them, Wintley truly “brought hope to all of us,” as Joze Podrzaj, prison director,
said in his thank-you speech. Inmates thanked Phipps with heartfelt applause and a handmade beehive panel, a traditional Slovenian souvenir. “It was truly an inspiring visit of a special person who invests his life in encouraging those who need encouragement most,” said Peterle in his statement to AdventPress.
Phipps arrived to Slovenia together with his wife, Linda, from Brussels, where he sang at the annual Prayer Breakfast for EU parliament members. During his short visit he also met with Robert Friskovec, a coordinator for chaplaincy ministry in Slovenian prisons, and Zmago Godina, president of the Slovenian Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
—reported by TEDNews
Southernmost Adventist School
Graduates High Schoolers
After 57 years of academic life, the Liceo Adventista de Punta Arenas (Punta Arenas Adventist Academy) had its first high school-level graduation. In a ceremony filled with emotion, 29 students graduated as the class of 2011. Some of these have been accepted into engineering, medicine, or education programs for advanced study.
Founded in 1954 with the pastor’s wife as the only teacher, the school now enrolls 520 students in grades kindergarten through 12. Ten of this year’s 29 graduates completed all of their education at Punta Arenas Adventist Academy. The school is valued in the region both for its academics and for its Christian values, and there is a waiting list for admissions.
Situated on the Strait of Magellan facing Antarctica, Punta Arenas Adventist Academy is the southernmost of all 7,806 schools in the Seventh-day Adventist system. Within this system there are 1,680,153 students worldwide.
Augusto Aguila and Isolina Olivares, together with the Melgarejo-Andrade couple, were present, representing the generation that saw the beginnings of the dream of having an Adventist church school in the southernmost city of the world. The guest list also included Cesia Aguila and Eliana Dobson, who received special recognition for being the first teachers in the institution.
Also present was Margarita Goic, lawyer for the secretary of education for the Magallanes Region, and Nelson Santana, supervisor of the Department of Education for Magallanes Province, both representing the minister of education of Chile. “We will continue to support the school,” said Goic, who was instrumental in the school’s receiving authorization to award secondary degrees. School principal Juan Carlos Diaz Costa added, “Ms. Goic has been a tremendous asset and support to the school.”
The ceremony was historic because of the presence of Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, education director for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, who spoke to the more than 300 persons gathered in the gymnasium. Beardsley-Hardy emphasized the importance of continuing their Christian education and challenged the graduating class to be adventurous and choose from among the 111 Adventist colleges and universities in the world. She encouraged them to be faithful in whatever task lay before them and to place their dreams before God in prayer, because it is His will to bless them and to bless others through them.
Diaz Costa spoke about the importance of the student body developing faith. He recognized the work of those who had played a part in the development of the institution in the past. Special mention was given to Cesar Beroiza and his wife and to Maruricio Galdamez, who are now serving in Talca and Angol, Chile. Both teachers were special guests of the graduating class and were recognized for the significant work they had done for the school.
Special music was provided by the insititutional choir and by the well-known Chilean Army trumpeter, Lt. Fernando Leiva.
—reported by David Mauricio Sandoval Romero, El Liceo Adventista de Punta Arenas; translation by Myrta Rojas
Revived by His Word Initiative to Begin
A new General Conference initiative coordinated by the movement’s Revival and Reformation Committee, “Revived by His Word,” is especially designed to strengthen the spiritual experience of each church member through Bible reading.
Armando Miranda, a General Conference vice president and chair of the Revival and Reformation Committee, said, “Nothing can possibly replace listening to God speak to us through His Word. Prayerfully meditating on Scripture is a primary source of spiritual strength.”
“Revived by His Word” is a unique approach to reading the entire Bible through. Church members worldwide will be encouraged to unite in reading or listening to one chapter of the Bible each day, beginning April 17, 2012, during the church’s Spring Council. The Bible reading plan will conclude at the General Conference session in San Antonio, Texas in 2015.
There are 1171 days from Spring Council 2012 to the beginning of the General Conference session on July 2, 2015. There are 1189 chapters in the Bible. By reading one chapter each day, and two chapters during the General Conference session, millions of participating members will complete their journey through the Bible by the end of the General Conference session. An Internet component on the Revival and Reformation Web page sponsored by the world church’s Ministerial Association will allow participants to share inspirational devotional thoughts internationally.
“Revived by His Word” is much larger than reading or listening to one chapter of the Bible each day. It will direct the attention of the entire membership to the importance of knowing Jesus through His Word.
—reported by Mark Finley, assistant to the president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Moscow Conference Highlights
Participants at a recent high-level religious freedom meeting in Moscow vowed to keep the plight of persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East and Africa in the international community spotlight.
About 100 million Christians worldwide—mainly in the Middle East and parts of Africa—suffer persecution or are caught up in violent religious conflict, according to conference organizers.
The three-day International Conference on the Freedom of Religion and Discrimination against Christians began November 30, 2011, and brought together a diverse group of leaders from the Orthodox, Protestant, Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Islamic communities. Topping the agenda was the growth of what some have called “Christianophobia” in many countries where dominant religions or ideologies exert significant political and social power.
Vasiliy Stolyar, public affairs and religious liberty director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Euro-Asia Division, said conference participants were united in their resolve to do more to alleviate the plight of religious minorities suffering persecution worldwide.
Discussions at the conference also focused on the impact of the so-called Arab Spring on the rights of religious minorities in countries that have experienced dramatic political change.
John Graz, secretary general of the International Religious Liberty Association, described the issues raised at the conference as a “significant and growing concern for religious liberty advocates.”
Graz said the IRLA has been tracking an upswing in social harassment and attacks against religious minorities in the region over the past year, including a rise in anti-Christian sentiment. He pointed also to United Nations reports that have tracked a steady exodus of Christians from Iraq and, more recently, Libya—a trend that indicates a significant sense of unease among minority religious groups.
“We urge governments around the world, along with international bodies such as the United Nations, to do everything in their power to ensure that religious freedom, as a fundamental human right, is both recognized and protected in these countries,” Graz said.
—reported by Bettina Krause/Adventist News Network