Stories from Germany, Fiji, Malawi, Florida, Jamaica, Dayton (Ohio), Zimbabwe, Loma Linda (California), Pacific Adventist University in Papua New Guinea and plans for Global Youth Day around the world

Anna Krikun from ADRA Germany arrived in Fiji early this week to work with the local ADRA staff in providing emergency aid to 500 families in the Rakiraki area, north of the main island of Viti Levu, APD has reported. ADRA Germany has provided an initial 15,000 euros for the project. Cyclone Winston has caused at least 42 deaths known at this point and thousands have lost their homes. It was the most powerful storm in the history of Fiji. She will visit the small island of Vanua Balavu where ADRA Germany already had a project underway to build solar systems to supply energy to the households. APD is the Adventist news service in Europe.

Women from the Adventist church in the Malawi city of Blantyre spent Sunday (February 21) cleaning up Limbe Market. They swept the streets, cleaned the drains and removed garbage from unofficial dump sites, reported The Maravi Post newspaper. The project was part of the Keep Blantyre City Clean Initiative supported by churches, civic organizations and local government. “We believe that good hygiene promotes health,” Mary Chimbalanga, coordinator of the project for the church, told the Nyasa Times. Citizens “should be responsible enough to make sure we dump our garbage at designated dump sites.”

Adventist Health System has agreed to pay the United States government $2 million to settle claims related to misuse of chemotherapy drugs with cancer patients, reported Becker’s Hospital Review this week. A hospital belonging to the system used remaining portions of single-dose vials to save money in violation of safety regulations, according to accusations from the Federal Department of Justice. “These actions put patients at needless risk,” a government spokesman told WMFE,  the Public Radio station in Orlando (Florida). The practice occurred in one facility from late 2007 through mid-2011 and was voluntarily reported by the health system in January 2012 and about $820,000 has already been reimbursed to the government to adjust for billings related to the practice.

Pastor Laundale Munroe has challenged local churches in the Adventist denomination’s West Jamaica Conference to organize special-needs ministries and reach out to people with disabilities as part of mission ACTS (Adventist Churches Transforming Society). One example is training volunteers to translate sermons into sign language for the deaf, he told the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper. He referred to the recent Disability Act in the Caribbean island nation and stated, “We cannot allow the government to be doing things for those with special needs and we are not doing anything. The gospel cannot be communicated only to those who are able-bodied.”

Good Neighbor House, the Adventist community service agency in Dayton (Ohio) was a key partner in a task force to study hunger with the United Way and retired United States Ambassador Tony Hall on Tuesday (February 23), reported the Dayton Daily News. The city ranks ninth worst in the nation in terms of food hardship, according to the Food Research and Action Center. Good Neighbor House served 27,562 people through its emergency food pantry during 2015, a 61 percent increase over the previous year. It is located downtown in a Midwestern metropolitan area of nearly one million population and operates the only food program for people with special dietary needs in the region. The center also provides medical, dental and optical clinics for the working poor who make too much to qualify for the government Medicaid program but do not have health benefits from their employer. Hall was the congressman from Dayton for 23 years before he became the ambassador representing the U.S. to the United Nations World Food Program and then retired from government service.

Nyazura Adventist Secondary School in Zimbabwe has agreed to settle with a family that accused the school of violating the rights of their two children, reported The Herald newspaper on Monday (February 22). Their daughter was enrolled in Form Three and their son started Form One when the new school year began recently, but the principal claimed that he had not approved the son’s enrollment and dismissed him from school. They parents had to withdraw the daughter also and their lawyer sued for the fees they had paid the school for both children, the cost of school uniforms, etc. The lawyers for the school have announced that they are meeting with the parents to settle the dispute, according to the Zimbabwe Daily News.

The Weniger Award was given to three Adventists last Sabbath in Loma Linda (California): Pastor Robert Lemon, the recently retired treasurer of the General Conference; Pastor Sandra Roberts, the first to serve as a conference president in the denomination; and posthumously Dr. Roy Branson, an academic and social justice advocate who died of a heart attack at the age of 78 last summer. Professor Charles E. Weniger was a noted scholar and preacher who taught at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary and lived from 1896 to 1964. The Weniger Award was established by two of his former students, United States Congressman Jerry Pettis, who was also an Adventist pastor, and Dr. Clinton Emmerson, an Adventist dentist. The award is given to individuals who demonstrate the servanthood and compassion taught by Weniger.

Pacific Adventist University in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has joined a partnership to promote bird-watching trips by international visitors to the South Pacific nation. In addition to the university, the partners include the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority, the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority, and the Koiari local government. The focus is to sponsor bird-watching activities in Varirata National Park, the adjoining university campus and the Sirinumu and Laloki catchment areas, reported Papua New Guinea Today.

Sabbath, March 19, is Global Youth Day for Adventists as voted by the denomination’s General Conference (GC) executive committee. The idea is for teens and young adults to literally be the hands and feet of Jesus that Sabbath instead of the usual round of activities. Each local church or youth group is encouraged to plan practical projects demonstrating the compassion of Jesus in the community along the lines of this schedule: 9:30 am, meet at the church or other location, have a short devotional and prayer; 10 am, leave for Acts of Kindness; lunch break and continue with Acts of Kindness to about 5 pm, then gather for dinner, share testimonies from the day and have a thanksgiving praise service. The GC youth department Web site has many resource materials to use in planning. Last year local groups in more than 150 nations participated and a number of their projects are documented (some with video) at the Web site. Adventist Today would like to hear from local groups who participate. Please send reports by Email to atoday@atoday.org.