| WORLD REPORT
Adventists Respond to Chilean Quake
Four Seventh-day Adventist Church members in Chile are confirmed dead in the wake of the magnitude-8.8, February 27, early-morning earthquake that struck the central part of the South American nation, church officials have confirmed.
At the same time, the division reports, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with ADRA volunteers at Santiago’s airport on March 2 and commended the group’s relief efforts.
“Thanks to those who prayed and continue praying for our brothers and all who have suffered from the earthquake that happened last Saturday in Chile,” Köhler wrote in an e-mail message March 5, 2010. “We remain united in intercession and supporting our fellow Chileans.”
Köhler added, “Until now we have news of four Adventist brothers killed, and some still missing. We’re still waiting for more news. Furthermore, we have two headquarters, the South Chile Conference in Temuco and Central Mission in Talca, Chile, [that are] highly compromised. More than 10 churches have been almost completely destroyed and some [church-related] colleges and schools suffered significant damage. Many of our brothers [and sisters] are homeless, struggling to find food, water, and a place to stay.”
According to Köhler, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is continuing its assistance in the region.
“ADRA is supporting the delivery of food, blankets, and tents, as well as having a Canadian team working with water purification and a group of nearly 100 volunteers helping in Santiago to arrange the food to be sent to needy regions,” he reported.
“Now we begin to come together to seek resources and help from church institutions (temples, schools, and offices) to return its [normal] use, and support our believers in their personal challenges,” he added.
According to Karen Cordovez writing for the division, “Hillary Clinton, after meeting with [outgoing Chilean] president [Michelle] Bachelet, spoke with [then-president-elect] Sebastian Piñera [at the Santiago airport]. Clinton approached the 80 ADRA volunteers there to see their work.
“Cristián Pincheira, project coordinator for ADRA Chile, spoke with [Mrs. Clinton] about the work that ADRA is doing in the country to help the [earthquake] victims. Clinton expressed her appreciation for the work of the volunteers and related her own awareness of ADRA’s work in the United States.”
—By Mark A. Kellner, news editor, with information from the South American Division.
In Philippines, Adventist Bloggers Rise to Internet Challenge
When one sees how workable a Weblog, or blog, can be to reach people and invite them to experience Jesus in their life, a blog enthusiast will not think twice before going into this more modern form of ministry. He or she will take advantage of its features.
This has been the impression of participants resulting from a three-day workshop on communication media entitled “Bridge the Gap,” conducted by the Communication Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the south-central Luzon territory (SCLC) with the help of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD), January 25-27, 2010.
At the workshop, which was held at SCLC headquarters in San Pablo City, Philippines, 28 participants learned how to use the Internet in ministering to people’s social and spiritual needs. Participants learned to build their own Web site and blog site, get connected with the Internet, as well as reach out to friends and would-be friends with inspirational messages.
They learned other skills including community relations concepts and programs, news and feature writing, and videography.
The presenters during the workshop were Winelfred Pasamba, Webmaster of the Adventist University of the Philippines; Mary Lorelei Escasa, staff member of Amazing Grace Media Productions and a blog enthusiast; Welsie dela Cruz, SSD assistant director for media productions; and Jonathan C. Catolico, SSD communication director.
“We have envisioned reaching out to the community by employing a more modern method of communication,” said Joel B. Macaraig, SCLC communication director and workshop organizer. “We are starting with this new team who has come to help us realize this vision.”
Asked whether he perceives a gap between Seventh-day Adventists and non-Adventists on certain matters, Catolico indicated that such “perception varies from one place to another. Other communities know the Adventists very well as not only a ‘people of the Bible’ but as a group of believers involved in community projects.” However, he said, “We need everybody in the church to take part in reaching out to his or her neighbors by helping them with their many needs through youth or health programs, family services, educational uplift, and a lot of other ways; and by employing our new communication skills. The realization of such objectives is not far-fetched; by this we may narrow the gap, if [one] exists.”
Toward the end of the workshop, participants (who were divided into three groups) performed their videography assignments. One group was assigned with interviewing people in the streets to gauge their knowledge of the programs of the Seventh-day Adventists in their community. “Unfortunately, there were some who haven’t even known the Adventists,” said a spokesperson for the interviewing group. “Although a lot of them know the Adventists and their programs, and foremost of these programs is the educational work of the church in their community.”
—Reported by SSD communication staff.
German Grants Help Adventist University in Ghana
Grants from the German government and universities are helping a Seventh-day Adventist university in Ghana become one of the most conservation-conscious universities in West Africa, school officials said.
Valley View University, home to some 3,000 students, has received 1.3 million euros (US$1.78 million) for campus conservation projects, which include wastewater recycling to fuel conversion system, rainwater harvesting and storage, tree planting, and a new study center for environmental science.
“This center will create opportunities for interaction between local as well as international experts in the field of ecology,” said Seth A. Laryea, president of Valley View, during a February 23, 2010, ceremony to dedicate the Baobab Centre for Ecological Studies. On hand were project partners from Germany, Ghanaian ministers of state, students, and faculty.
Helge Wendenburg of Germany’s Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, said he hoped “to illustrate that not only here at Valley View University but also as a whole, German-Ghanaian cooperation in the field of climate protection is on a good track.”
The university’s conservation efforts were given a boost some six years ago when the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research provided a grant for the development of the university’s plan to become an “eco-friendly” campus.
Justus-Liebig University in Giessen, Germany, is collaborating with the university to plant 10,000 trees on campus and in the surrounding community, as well as to preserve existing tree species native to the area.
The Ecological Engineering Society is undertaking rainwater harvesting and storage while the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria, is responsible for the water treatment.
In another project, dry toilets are reducing water usage and human waste is used to produce biogas to supplement the liquid petroleum gas used for cooking in the university’s cafeteria.
Sherry Ayittey, Ghana’s minister of environment, praised Valley View University for its determination to showcase and disseminate conservation initiatives and promised to work with the university in replicating initiatives for other institutions.
Valley View became Ghana’s first accredited private university in 1995 and the country’s first charted private university in 2006. The university is located in a rural setting some 20 miles northeast of Accra, Ghana’s capital city.
—Adventist News Network staff report.
Belize’s Adventist Schools Closed to Protest Violence
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Belize closed all 25 of its schools on March 5, 2010, for one day to demonstrate against alleged violence on the part of police in the country that resulted in the death of a church member.
Teddy A. Murillo, Jr., was reportedly shot to death early Saturday, February 27, by a law enforcement officer who was questioned and later released.
Murillo, 21, was a member of the Mount Zion Adventist Tabernacle in Belize City—the first church established in the city. He was an active member of his church’s youth group and served as a church deacon.
Murillo is the second Adventist to fall victim to alleged police violence in recent years, according to Abilio Cima, executive secretary and communication director for the church in Belize.
A 19-year-old Adventist woman, murdered several years ago, was the first, Cima said, adding that two other cases were reported in recent years. One case is still in the courts, and the other was dismissed because of lack of witnesses, he said.
“People are afraid to testify [in court] because their lives are at risk,” Cima said.
“By closing our schools we wanted to show the community at large that we are against violence,” Cima said, adding that the Adventist Church is calling on the national government “to do something urgently to stop crime and violence.”
Hundreds of mourners crowded the Mount Zion Adventist Tabernacle on March 7 for a memorial service for Murillo, broadcast live on a local television station.
Murillo attended James Garbutt Adventist Primary School, Canaan Adventist High School, and was a freshman at the University of Belize, pursuing an associate’s degree in agriculture, at the time of his death.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is the second-largest church in Belize, with more than 34,000 members worshipping in 76 churches and congregations.
—Reported by the Inter-American Division.