The unique ways in which Adventists affirm one of God’s greatest gifts.
Published on: 02-01-2020
As a faith movement whose message is centered on the Life-giver, Jesus Christ, how do we take that message into all the world? Three Adventists from vastly different regions share their thoughts. Perhaps in reading their words, you might find inspiration to share with others Christ’s special way of affirming the life He has given us.—Editors.
Our Longing for Identity
We live in a world that values work (career) and education. We spend most of our time gaining an education for that dream job we think will ultimately bring happiness. And we measure our self- worth by happiness. If we are successful, we feel good about life; if we fail, we question life. Thus, according to the world, when we “do,” then we “become.” But according to God, we “become,” then we “do” (Eph. 2:10).
I had a friend who played professional rugby. Because he made a living from the sport, he saw himself as nothing else but a rugby player—until a car accident ended his career. He became depressed and suicidal because his identity was dependent upon a career that was now over.
Our longing for identity and affirmation is not a selfish one; it’s an inherent desire to be loved and appreciated. It gives us a reason for our existence.
The first time the word “love” appears in the New Testament is during the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3:17.
Before Jesus even began His formal ministry, God uttered the profound: “This is my beloved Son.” That is identity. Then He said, “in whom I am well pleased,” the most powerful affirmation.
In this world, we work to achieve our identity, then seek affirmation. But with God, we stand still and receive our identity, then through His Word find our affirmation. The church is a gathering of those affirmed who have received their identity from Christ at baptism. Our identity as sons and daughters of the Most High gives us purpose and meaning. When this is established in the heart, we will no longer measure our worth based on what we do in life—both in the church and in our communities. Rather, our worth is counted and affirmed by who we are in life, who we are in the eyes of God.
Rome Ulia was associate school evangelist for the North New South Wales Conference in Australia. He has recently accepted a call to the Washington Conference in the United States. He is married to Keti Ulia, and they have five children. Rome has a passion for ministering to those who are unchurched and leading people to Jesus.
Hope Amid Pressure
My religion has been tested on life’s sea, but through its trial and battery, I have tasted flavors and caught aromas of grace from my God, who still commands the calm at the height of the storm.
I was in the womb when my parents chose Jesus, Adventism, and baptism.
Childhood Sabbath School classes taught me to memorize, share, and learn. Being an active youth leader taught me to stand up front and speak into a micro- phone; to plan a great program and motivate people to action. Pathfinders taught me to be strong; innovative; sing in my heart; and cheer someone along.
Adventist education chiseled and formed me from elementary through graduate school, wearing a uniform; learning much about math, Adventist pioneers, writing, and winning spelling bees. Most important, I learned faith—faith that with God I could make it through anything.
As His student missionary, He took me from tiny Tobago, population approximately 61,000, to India and its indescribable 1.4 billion, for six months of wonderful food and people living out the gospel at every turn. He took me there and brought me home.
The Lord took me into adulthood, where neither church employment nor marriage lasted. Divorce stained me. Fellow church members did not know what to do with me or for me; what to say or not say. I struggled to breathe, to believe, to find support. Where were my friends? Where was my church? Where was God, after I’d given Him everything? Something kept me going Sabbath mornings; some hope that I would hear a helping word.
I did. Under the pressure of life’s scorching hot oil, my tiny mustard seed of faith popped open. Miraculously, I tasted aromas of grace and mercy and caught whiffs of heavenly care that drew my battered, fainting heart right back to God. Now more than ever, I’m an Adventist because of the way my church has grown my faith to face life’s battering storms.
Carissa-loy Andrews, a young adult from Scarborough, Tobago, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, served the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the field of education for more than 10 years.
Potluck is a great Adventist tradition. In many congregations, people eat together regularly after the worship service. Rice, salads, delicious desserts, hearty soups, homemade breads, pasta, and cakes—the spread is always mouthwatering. The more international the congregation, the more colorful and interesting the buffet. It’s a real taste experience that tells stories of foreign countries and cultures with exotic spices: cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, saffron, and turmeric. All delight the eye and palate.
Our potlucks in the Adventist church in Stuttgart, Germany, are often joined by visitors, some of whom struggle with life and its many challenges. A friendly smile, a warm meal, and a tasty dessert mean a great blessing for them. In winter, we love to provide large bags of good food they need so desperately. They set off for home happy.
Food connects. Eating together is an excellent way to preserve and celebrate life. Jesus knew that. The Bible tells us that He often ate with His disciples and other people, such as scribes and tax collectors. This serves as an example for us as a church. Potlucks or fellowship luncheons are great opportunities to share healthy and nutritious meals with members and visitors, for we share more than just food. Caring fellowship is one way of sharing Jesus.
Jesus also invites us to eat together in the future. “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9, NIV). We can already look forward to the great wedding feast we will all have together in the New Jerusalem. Our Saviour will sit at the head of the table and celebrate the reunion with the redeemed of all the ages.
Will it be a potluck? I don’t know, but one thing I do know: It will taste heavenly!
Claudia Mohr serves in the Department of Public Relations of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany. She lives with her husband, Jens-Oliver, and their daughter, Melody, in Ostfildern.