by Jack Hoehn
By Jack Hoehn, October 23, 2013
Volvo just gave me a vacation.
For the price of a new station wagon for Deanne, they paid for round trip tickets for “Deanne and me” to Gothenburg, Sweden. There at the factory they handed us her new car built of Swedish steel at the rate of 54 cars an hour, the majority of which end up shipped to the USA, their largest market.
I’ve never owned a Swedish car before, although several people I like and respect have. One is my son Andrew. “Dad, do you know what the Volvo Mission Statement is?” he asked. I didn’t.
Perhaps, I teased, it is: “We no longer make the funniest looking cars on the road.” “Volvo’s don’t last forever; they just look like they do.” “Can’t afford a tank? Buy a Volvo.”
“No Dad, those would be advertising jingles. I mean a Mission Statement, a statement of goal or purpose.” “OK tell me.”
“No one will ever die in a Volvo by 2020.”
I let that sink in for a minute. Frankly I was very impressed. That was a lot deeper and more important than I had imagined. Volvo plans to build an injury proof car; so there will be no fatalities in one of their new cars within the next 6 years. (They are already producing their 2014 models.)
Sweden, Norway and Denmark are lands of the Vikings. Vikings lived on the glacier scoured granite of Northern Europe. In their well-built wooden longboats with tall curled dragon prows, they either traded with or more often terrorized the rest of Europe, until Christ came in the form of missionaries. Christianity soon replaced their Pagan religion with the story of a god-man who turned the other cheek and was bruised for our iniquities.
Instead of feared attack boats furthering rape and rapine, Scandinavians began to build wooden stave churches, using the same dragons found at the prows of their boats as the finials of the church roof, this time showing that Christ had tamed the Dragon. There would be no more human sacrifice, Valhalla heaven of endless warring gods, praise of bloodshed, and glorification of death culture. Jesus of Nazareth took down another culture.
Sweden today seems to be post Christian, but their national glory is still clearly Protestant culture based. Their national hero, King Gustav Vasa, used Luther’s rebellion to support his own, and Sweden became a refuge for persecuted Protestants, and in modern times, a refuge for the oppressed and downtrodden of all nations. The Nobel Peace Prize comes from Scandinavia. Many human rights organizations are Swedish based.
The Volvo factory runs 5 days of the week with just 2 shifts a day, no night shifts. Maintenance and repairs are done during the regular work day, no less–healthy night crews needed. It is Swedish neat and clean and non-polluting. Workers health and safety are carefully maintained. Each of an 8 or 10 person team changes their job every hour or so, to avoid boredom and repetitive work injuries. The 6 different models they make come down the assembly line in random array, so the worker is working on an XC 90 one minute, and an S 60 the next. Each model has a tank grade Swedish steel guard rail engineered into the side doors. Volvo invented and made freely available to all manufacturers without charge the 3 point seat belt all modern automobiles use. Their side air bags are different from the front air bags you have in your car, in that they are engineered to last for 6 seconds when inflated, unlike the front airbags’ immediate deflation after inflation, so that in a roll-over accident you will have protection for the period when the car continues to roll. So far only Honda and Volvo have re-engineered their cars to be safe in a partial offset frontal crash, where your front just clips a telephone pole or the headlight of an oncoming vehicle, unlike the head on crash for which all modern cars are designed for greater safety. (The majority of deaths in automotive crashes now come from partial offset crashes, now that full on frontal crashes have been engineered much safer.)
The Flamenco Red XC 70 all-wheel-drive station wagon they had built for Deanne is pictured here. Her car warns us when it wanders from its lane. It tells us when another vehicle is in the blind spot if we wish to change lanes. It automatically slows down from cruise speed when coming up behind a slower vehicle on the freeway. And it will stop itself below 30 mph if another vehicle, a bicycle, or a pedestrian suddenly moves into its path, with aid of a radar recognition system.
There are over 3,000 employees building Volvos in the huge complex northwest of Gothenburg. (They also assemble some models in Belgium, and their engines are built in other parts of Sweden. They partner with several companies for the marine engines, heavy trucks, and construction equipment Volvo also makes.) But instead of just the 3,000 assembling their cars, they also have over 6,000 engineers designing and refining their cars for safety and durability on the same site. They also design vehicles in California to make them visually attractive. But frankly they got me as a customer by their Mission Statement.
I’m not personally selling Volvos; I’m selling Jesus and his church.
So what is Adventism’s current Mission Statement? Sometimes they seem to be: “Sabbath starts at sundown.” “No pork or shrimp or coffee.” “No women in our pulpits.” “No domestic happiness permitted for homosexuals.” “No books or sermons by non-Adventists allowed.” “The world is 6,000 years old, believe it or not.” “The mother of Christ is not immaculate, but Sister Ellen was.” Ouch, it hurts me just to mischaracterize my church!
So here is a mission statement I’d like to copy from a Swedish business, once owned by Ford and now by a Chinese businessman.
“No one will ever be hurt in an Adventist church by 2020.” So help us God.