Groundbreaking Adventist University
Local Seventh-day Adventist Church officials in West Africa held a groundbreaking ceremony recently for the con- struction of an Adventist uni- versity in Liberia, the first denominational tertiary insti-tution in the nation and the fourth in the church’s West-Central Africa Division.
The school will be called Adventist University of West Africa, so named for its location within the denomination’s West African Union Mission, with headquarters in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. The construction site is located on 100 acres of land in Gbeh Town in Margibi County.
When completed, the school will initially launch as a junior college and offer two-year associate degrees in education, business, nursing, and theology.
Government officials have previously commended the Adventist Church for its contribution to education in the nation. The church there operates several elementary and secondary schools, including the country’s only boarding school.
The development of a university marks the church’s first tertiary education offering in Liberia, and church officials hope to contribute to national development following periods of civil war.
Shelton Beedoe, acting president of the Adventist University of West Africa, was quoted in a local newspaper, The Inquirer, as saying the university would offer a “new dynamism” to the educational sector of Liberia and that the university will make a difference among other universities in the nation.
Liberia’s director of the National Commission on Higher Education said the Adventist Church’s development of a university was “long overdue,” since the beginning of Adventist work in the country 83 years ago.
The commissioner also said the endeavor supports the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy in the area of manpower development.
Liberian and Adventist leaders attended the March 27 ceremony, including the assistant minister of operation of the Ministry of Public Works, members of the National Legislature, and J. A. Kayode Makinde, president of the church’s Babcock University in Nigeria.
According to The Inquirer, Makinde said, “AUWA needs to grow so as to meet the educational needs of Africa to reduce the illiteracy rate and reduce the poverty rate around the continent.”
During the ceremony, a representative of the denomination’s Columbia Union Conference presented a $50,000 check to the construction project. Columbia Union is the administrative unit of the Adventist Church in the Eastern Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
The establishment of the university dates back to 2003, when Liberia’s legislature granted a university charter to the Adventist Church’s Liberia Mission. But the project was delayed by civil skirmishes and the lack of a permit from the National Commission on Higher Education. The permit was later granted in 2010, and the Liberia Mission acquired land for the project.
The school will be the eighteenth Adventist university in Africa.
Liberia is home to some 3.8 million people, with approximately 26,000 Adventist Church members, according to local records.
—Emmanuel Gamoe Kla George with Ansel Oliver
Guatemala Outreach Yields Baptisms
The Central American nation of Guatemala has been playing host to big evangelism efforts by both training evangelists and holding local campaigns, which have yielded results in thousands of new members.
Leaders for the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Inter-American Division held an evangelism training summit in April to coincide with the culmination of local efforts.
The Adventist Church in Guatemala has been evangelizing aggressively this year, holding more than 1,000 campaigns resulting in nearly 5,000 baptisms in three months, said Gustavo Menendez, personal ministries director for the church in Guatemala.
This month’s training summit brought together about 50 pastors for continuing education on conducting public evangelism.
The bulk of local campaigns have also included leadership by lay members. The Adventist Church’s Vision 60,000 program here is part of the division’s call to involve 1 million lay members for discipleship building.
Abraham Tzic, field secretary of the 16,000-member Northwest Adventist Mission office in Totonicapan, said 1,200 active church members have registered in the discipleship program since October 2011. The region aims to have 3,000 by the end of 2012.
Like many ministers in the region, Tzic pastors more than 25 churches.
With a shortage of pastors, Vision 60,000 has drawn more participation from church members and laypeople who have taken it upon themselves to reach those around them with the gospel, with positive results, said Guenther Garcia, president of the Adventist Church in Guatamala.
“So far, this has been a record-breaking year for Guatemala,” Garcia said.
A baptism of more than 300 people in Lake Atitlan on April 1 drew spectators to see the results of their months-long efforts to bring the gospel to their friends and neighbors. The Adventist Church in Guatamala typically holds a mass baptism in the lake each year on the last Sunday of the first quarter, Menendez said.
—Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division
Millions of Books Shared in One-Day Outreach
Before the start of a massive March 24 evangelistic outreach in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, Ted N. C. Wilson, General Conference president, had encouraging words: “Everyone can be part of God’s remnant church.”
Speaking to a congregation of 2,000 at the São Paulo Adventist University Center (UNASP) Church—with another 5,000 to 6,000 viewing a broadcast at other locations—Wilson said he planned to join thousands of church members that day in distributing what turned out to be 4 million copies of The Great Hope, an outreach book based on The Great Controversy, by Ellen G. White, a pioneering cofounder of the Seventh-day Adventist movement. A total of 25 million books are to be distributed throughout the South American Division in one day, he noted.
Officials in the South American Division emphasized that the March 24 effort is not an isolated venture. The following Sabbath, March 31, was a “friendship day” in which neighbors were invited to participate in an Adventist worship service and lunch with Adventist families. The goal of the “Impact Hope” campaign is to inspire Seventh-day Adventists in the South American Division to live a lifestyle of personal evangelism.
For his part, Wilson lauded the division’s massive one-day literature outreach, and said other world church divisions could benefit from similar programs.
“The beauty of all this is that it motivated the entire church on every socioeconomic level to participate in distributing the book to loved ones, friends, neighbors, and others,” Wilson wrote later in an e-mail message. “It got the church out into the community to meet the people, and the Holy Spirit blessed the efforts enormously. . . . It has shown that a single-event approach, along with every other personal outreach activity and local church outreach, can be a huge rallying point to galvanize God’s people for witnessing and missionary work. Divisions and unions around the world need to use this approach to bring church members together in something that is far bigger and grander than anything we could do individually.”
Along with a burgeoning Adventist medical missionary outreach in the region, Wilson said literature distribution is a key means by which megacities such as São Paulo, with a municipal population of 11.3 million (and an additional 8 million in the surrounding metropolitan area) are to be reached. The city will also be one of 12 host cities when Brazil welcomes the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer championships.
“The world church has committed itself to distribute 175 million copies of The Great Hope and the larger version [The Great Controversy] this year and next year,” Wilson told the congregation.
Wilson added, “God uses His Word to change people’s lives. He uses books like this [The Great Hope] to change peoples’ lives.”
That change was evident in the life and testimony of Sheyla Guimarães, a homemaker from the city of Mineiros do Tietê, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) from the city. Her video testimony was played during the worship service, and described the story of a spiritual seeker who was dissatisfied. In October 2011 Guimarães’s daughter found a copy of The Great Hope in the family’s mailbox. She “devoured” the book, and said she found answers that were not provided in other churches. Today she’s a Seventh-day Adventist.
Guimarães and her daughter came to the platform and were greeted by Wilson and other church leaders. She told Wilson and the congregation how happy she was to be a part of the family of God.
—Mark A. Kellner, news editor
European Youth Rally to Evangelism, Commitment
Approximately 1,300 Seventh-day Adventist youth from several European nations assembled in Mannheim, Germany from April 5-9 for an annual prayer and worship conference called Youth in Mission. This year’s included guest speakers Dwight Nelson, pastor of Pioneer Memorial church in Berrien Springs, Michigan; and Martin Pröebstle, a pastor and theology professor at the Adventist Seminary Schloss Bogenhofen in Austria.
The results of the event can be captured in numbers, but only as a beginning: 180 participants decided to spend one year working for Jesus, 140 decided to get baptized, 37 said they want to become Adventist pastors, and more than 600 are going to study Ellen White’s book The Great Controversy during the next 12 months. More than 800 young people joined the outreach on Sabbath afternoon and visited people in the city of Mannheim.
“God changed me inside out during this congress,” said Fabian Raudies, from Bietigheim, Germany. “I got answers to so many questions, felt welcome in this unique family, and was looking forward to every sermon. I got to know similar thinking people, people with similar questions, and I could talk to them and get encouragement.”
Added Johannes Waniek, from Kraichtal, Germany, a conference organizer: “In my heart the YiM conference holds a very special place. God talks to me, talks to other people through me, and [this] is where I catch fire for this task. This is where my place is, this is where I want to be.”