News reports from Simi Valley, California; the Cook Islands, Israel, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, Walla Walla University, Martinique and Papua New Guinea

According to a Facebook post by the hospital, Adventist Health Simi Valley has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award and the Target: Stroke Honor Roll for the second year running.

Four Adventists were elected to parliament in the recent election in the Cook Islands. Kitai Manuela Teinakore and Tereapii Maki Kavana are newly elected MPs, while Toka Hagai was re-elected. Henry Puna, the re-elected Prime Minister of the Pacific nation, is also from an Adventist family. The independent island nation has 24 MPs and more than 7,500 people voted in the election. The population is 18,600 out of which about a thousand are baptized members of the 15 congregations in the Adventist denomination.

Pastor Oleg Elkin leads Adventist congregations among the Russian immigrants in Israel. With the help of Luba Belder, a Global Mission volunteer, these congregations have had significant growth in recent months. On May 26 a total of 11 people were baptized into Yeshua [Christ] in the Jordan River. A Pathfinder Camp was conducted earlier this summer at Ben Shemen Forest with 82 young people under the leadership of youth worker Sergey Gregorev.

A Protestant festival was held July 5 through 8 in Zurich as part of the Reformation celebrations, and the Adventist denomination joined the other denominations for lectures, concerts, worship events, an art exhibit, theater and open market. The Adventist Church was represented with a book stall operated by Advent-Verlag, the publishing house in Zurich and an information table about the Adventist faith and the humanitarian projects of ADRA Switzerland.

A five-year study has shown that hunger has increased in Zimbabwe with the current drought, reports the Adventist Development and Relief Agency unit based in Switzerland. In the Zvishavane and Mbire regions, south and north of the capital Harare, ADRA has been effective in fighting hunger with water projects, building dams, community gardens with drip irrigation and teaching the cultivation of vegetables. These projects are co-funded by the United Nations World Food Program and have helped feed 2,200 families.

Walla Walla University (WWU) film students can now spend a semester at the Los Angeles Film Study Center. This gives young Adventists the opportunity to improve their filmmaking skills while learning from professionals in Hollywood, the center of the film industry. The opportunity is made available under a new agreement between the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the center, which offers 250 hours of internship experience with major companies in the film industry and works to develop the artistic voice of students in the classroom. The program is faith-based and can benefit students by integrating their study of film with Christian values and themes. Over the years, WWU’s membership in the CCCU has also made it possible for WWU students to attend Oxford University in England.

About 400 people participated in the first Adventist Film Festival in Martinique, an overseas department of France in the Caribbean. A total of 15 short, Christian films were shown June 30 and July 1. “We wanted to use this festival to encourage young people to use new technology and contemporary language to share the gospel,” said Pastor Jean-Luc Chandler, organizer of the event. It was the first Adventist film festival in the region. First place went to a team from the Adventist congregation in Le Robert, Martinique for a film entitled “Fidèle” (“good” in English) about a Christian who lost his job and his faith. Other films focused on charity or messages against violence. Another film festival is planned next year.

Samuel Koney (age 44), a local elder in an Adventist congregation in the capital of Port Moresby, was appointed cabinet secretary for planning by the government of Papua New Guinea on July 6. The planning secretary oversees the preparation of the nation’s budget and the development projects funded with international aid. Koney has been a staff member in the planning department since 1999 and completed a Master in Public Administration degree.

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