Stories from Nigeria, Ecuador, Los Angeles, Australia, Adventist Health System (United States), Zambia, North America and the Philippines

Adventists have urged lawmakers to not adopt a proposed law to regulate religious preaching in Kaduna State, Nigeria. Pastor Francis Daria, president of the Northern Nigeria Union Conference, stated that “the proposed law is against the provisions of Section 38 of the constitution … which provides for freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” according to Leadership, an influential newspaper in the country. He said that the Adventist denomination shares the government’s concerns about violence by extreme religious groups, while urging the governor and legislative leaders to withdraw the proposal. It “clearly forbids public preaching and evangelistic activities which the [Adventist] church is known for,” the newspaper reported, and goes so far as to restrict playing or distribution of recordings such as cassettes, CDs, DVDs or flash drives.

The Palmitas Adventist Church in Pedernales, Ecuador, was meeting Saturday evening (April 16) when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit. The group immediately ran outside and no one was hurt when the building collapsed a little later, reported Pastor Giovanny Izquierdo, president of the denomination in Ecuador. At least four Adventist church buildings were destroyed in a disaster in which nearly 500 people were killed and 4,000 hospitalized. The 600 Adventists in Pedernales have set up an emergency distribution center to provide groceries and other necessities to neighbors who had their homes destroyed. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is delivering food to refugee camps in other areas of the country.

A massive free clinic is being organized next Wednesday through Friday (April 27-29) in the Los Angeles Convention Center by an Adventist group. The project is called Your Best Pathway to Health and is similar to what was done last summer in San Antonio, Texas, prior to the General Conference Session. It is sponsored by the Adventist-Laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI) in collaboration with Loma Linda University, Adventist Health and the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. About 4,200 volunteers, many of them health professionals, will provide doctor visits, pap smears, mammograms, heart evaluations, immunizations, STD screening, x-rays, lab tests and even surgical procedures as well as consultations with specialists. Dental care will also be provided, including crowns, fillings, extractions, cleanings; also vision testing and eyeglass fittings, pharmacy services, physical therapy, haircuts, legal services, financial counseling, chaplaincy services and a free meal. Many thousands of people are expected on a first-come, first-served basis. No fees, no insurance and no identification are required. It will operate from 7 am to 4 pm each day. Similar events have been conducted in a number of cities in the last year.

Queen Elizabeth II presented an Adventist graduate student with the Commonwealth Pacific Young person of the Year award in recognition of his work to provide scholarships for teens in a rural area of Papua New Guinea. Bal Kama, a doctoral student at the Australian National University law school and a member of a local church in Canberra, was honored for organizing the Kama Scholars Foundation and providing 57 scholarships to high school students in Simbu Province over the last three years. At least 75 percent of these scholarships went to girls, reported the Adventist Review.

Adventist Health System (AHS) was one of the “150 Great Places to Work in Health Care” published this week by Becker’s Hospital Review, a major trade journal for health care institutions in the United States. The institutions and systems on the list were selected by the editors based on employee benefits, wellness initiatives, and efforts to improve professional development, diversity, work-life balance, and a sense of community among employees, according to a news release. The journal noted that last year AHS received the Gallup Great Workplace Award for the fifth year in a row. AHS is an Adventist health ministry that operates 45 hospitals in the U.S. south and Midwest.

Six Adventists died Saturday night (April 16) in Zambia when a tire blew out on a speeding van returning from a church event in Luanshya on the 43-mile highway trip to Kitwe. The van rolled and the driver and three women died on the spot, while two others were declared dead on arrival at Kitwe Central Hospital, reported The Post. The newspaper quoted police to the hospital.

Last weekend (April 16-17) “several hundred thousand” Adventists participated in community outreach projects such as serving meals at homeless shelters and handing out flowers at shopping centers, according to Pastor Jose Cortes, Jr., an associate director in the ministerial department of the denomination’s North American Division. “We planned the Day of Hope and Compassion with the objective of celebrating what we as a church are meant to be doing every day, sharing a hope for a better future and facilitating hope in the here and now by blessing those around us in practical ways,” he was quoted by the Adventist Review. The goal of the initiative is to get local churches to commit to conducting a project each month and inspire members to volunteer a total of 10 million hours in 2016.

Dr. Rudy Baloyo was elected executive secretary of the denomination’s Southern Asia-Pacific Division last week. He had been serving as vice president and replaces Dr. Saw Samuel who became division president in March. Baloyo has been a pastor and conference president in the Philippines, as well as dean of Central Philippines Adventist College. He graduated from Mountain View College and completed both a master’s degree a Doctor of Ministry degree at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS).