In terms of resources, our country is for one's fellow men, the dignity of unbelievably wealthy. Though a variety of impressive resources could be listed, Seventh-day Adventists believe that the greatest resource of our nation is people. Every person is important. The value of the individual is incalculable. freedom from fear through trust in a greatest resource of our nation is people. God who cares.
From His earliest years, Christ lived but for one supreme purpose—to bless and serve others. He would have given His life to save just one of these who He created in His own image. Because of this, from their inception Seventh-day Adventists have endeavored to improve the lot of the Individual through a better way of life. This includes a philosophy that promotes love for one's fellow men, the dignity of labor, the responsibility and privileges of citizenship, better health habits, and freedom from fear through trust in a God who cares.
Major community concerns of the church include the stability of the home and family, the education of our children, and relief of suffering from whatever cause. What follows is a report of current activities sponsored by the private initiative of the more than 650, 000 baptized American Seventh-day Adventists as they help the individual citizen of every race, color, and creed to enjoy life to the fullest possible extent in our great land.
One of every 390 Americans is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. These 650,000 baptized members who believe in the imminent return of Christ attend 3,769 churches and last year gave an average of $769 or a total of $430 million, not including tuition for their children's education in the church's school system. The school system itself includes 1,133 institutions from elementary to graduate levels.
Other types of institutions include 76 health-care facilities with about 12,700 beds, four publishing houses, and a broadcasting production center. These are directed through 59 administrative headquarters scattered across the country. Employees total 39,634.
Seventh-day Adventists originated in New England about 135 years ago fol lowing a broad-based religious revival. They now have established work—evangelistic and humanitarian—in 190 countries of the world. Total world member ship as of September 30, 1981, was 3,615,507, and total world giving exceeded US$660 million last year.
Community and disaster services
In conjunction with Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Seventh-day Adventist Community Services is dedicated to helping the underprivileged and the emergency-stricken. Throughout the United States 2,000 Community Services centers and units provide clothing, bedding, food, and crisis counseling to those in need. Last year alone over 2 million people received such aid. All services are rendered without cost to recipients. Unpaid volunteers provide the manpower, and thousands of high school and college students give their time and youthful energies to assist regular Community Services workers. In the interest of coordinating disaster activities and avoiding duplication the Seventh-day Adventist Community and Disaster Services has joined National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
Our nation's young people
"As go the youth so goes the nation" is a valid axiom that Seventh-day Adventists believe and practice. "Good Neighbor" camps for youth not able to afford the experience of camping is one example. Integrated into an extensive camping program either through church-generated or community-generated funds, thousands of youth escape the cities for new and cleaner environments. Youths who scorn the better values of life are placed in numerous rehabilitation homes and ranches. Run by dedicated individuals, the facilities provide extended care and return their tenants to society with more stable and positive attitudes. Young people must also be prepared for the possibility of a military draft. Exciting and imaginative weekend seminars that orient them to such an eventuality have been blueprinted and readied for implementation whenever needed. Nineteen eighty-five has been designated the International Youth Year by the United Nations. Adventists note with pride that an artist of our fellow ship submitted the logo that has been accepted by the UN Youth Caucus Committee. The design now goes to a larger international screening in Vienna.
Initiatives regarding higher education
Not satisfied with the annual support received from the 75,000 alumni of its ten colleges and universities, the Adventist Church created a $2 million challenge fund to inspire greater financial support.
The General Conference (SDA World Headquarters) invested $375,000 of this amount and invited wealthy Adventists to contribute the balance. (Gifts ranged between $5,000 and $375,- 000.) The fund—concluding its second year of operation—has more than doubled alumni dollar support and tripled alumni donors. When the program concludes in 1985, the $2 million will have generated more than $8 million and increased the number of givers from 3,500 to 20,000.
Over and above these important and interesting monetary considerations, the ultimate value of this Business Executives' Challenge to Alumni centers about the emerging loyalty and commitment that graduates are now giving to Christian higher education. Our conspicuous private initiative is already stimulating other programs within the church as it continues to foster both academic achievement and the acquisition of salable skills, trades, and vocations.
The accommodation of refugees
Long before passage of the Displaced Persons Act during the 1949 influx of European refugees, Seventh-day Adventists assisted in the sponsoring and resettling of refugees. In recent years this work has been the responsibility of Seventh-day Adventist World Service (SAWS), a member of the Immigration and Refugee Program of Church World Service. SAWS programs respond primarily to disasters outside the U.S., and the major part of its direct service to refugees involves the refugee camps of Southeast Asia. However, SAWS also locates sponsors in the U.S., and to date has done so for well over 11,000 refugees from Europe, Southeast Asia, Cuba, Haiti, and Africa. This is because the personal involvement of a sponsoring family in the life of a refugee is believed to be the best guarantee of normal transitions from one culture to another. SAWS also encourages centers operated by Adventist churches in areas of high refugee concentration such as Miami, Chicago, New York, and Harrisburg. In these centers refugees are provided supplemental food, clothing, shelter, medical care, job counseling, and orientation into American society.
Provisions for the blind
Since 1899, Christian Record Braille Foundation, Inc. (International), of Lincoln, Nebraska, has provided the blind with free inspirational reading and listening materials. These services include Braille, large-print and recorded magazines and books, a lending library with over 800 titles, Bible Correspondence School, full-vision books (books that combine Braille, ink print, and pictures for parents to read to sighted children), personal visitation to the blind by more than 100 district representatives in North America, and glaucoma screening clinics to help save sight. National camps for blind children, introduced in 1967, have attracted over 16,000 blind youngsters and afforded them the opportunity to discover and develop potential, improve mental-physical vigor, and develop an appreciation of God's love and care. The services of Christian Record are mailed to some 89 countries free of charge to the blind. Materials produced annually in Braille by CRBF, if stacked together, would reach higher than the Empire State Building. The program at CRBF is funded through public and private contributions. No tax money or government aid is received.
The enhancement of health
Seventh-day Adventists help their neighbors add years to their lives and life to their years by adapting a healthy life style. Adventists as a group live six to eight years longer than the average population. They also have fewer incidents of cancer and heart disease. But they are not concerned only about themselves: Seventh-day Adventists also work to make their community a better place to live.
A broad community health program is maintained through 700 community centers, 80 hospitals, 50 nursing and retirement homes, 3,000 health seminars, 1,250 schools, and thousands of Adventist physicians' and dentists' offices.
Adventists publish and make available three health journals—Your Life and Health for general readers, Listen for youth with alcohol and drug problems, and The Winner for children.
Millions around the world, and over 15,000 in the U.S.A. last year found better health by giving up tobacco through the Adventist-sponsored Five- Day Plan to Stop Smoking. Health-education seminars conducted regularly in many communities help people deal with stress, obesity, nutritional deficiency, and mental health and family problems. Through our five New Day Centers for Substance Abuse Services (for alcoholics and drug addicts), Adventists introduce a professional, proven program that helps people help themselves.
In wellness centers individuals learn to maintain their own health, promote good health practices, prevent diseases, and when needed, find rehabilitation after the occurrence of major health problems.
To help the millions living in the Greater New York City area toward better health, Adventists started mobile blood pressure screening vans in 1975. Beginning with only one van operated by a volunteer staff, the project has mushroomed.
Supported by faith and freewill donations, the public service vans had served more than 300,000 by the close of 1981. More than 50,000 were served last year by a fleet of five vans shuttling from borough to borough in the metropolis. Of the 50,000—11,000 had elevated blood pressure, with 9,000 needing referral for immediate treatment. More than half the number referred were unaware of their need
Although the project has captured the interest of people in New York City and across the nation, with some donations even coming from people in other nations, there still are many times when faith and prayer alone provide the money to meet expenses. The current annual budget is $325,000. Much of the work is still done by volunteers. Two hundred sixty-six volunteers contributed 1,500 hours last year. Doctors, nurses, and technicians frequently go to New York to serve on the vans at their own expense.
While blood pressure screening remains their primary service, staff members also devote time to counseling and help in other than health-related areas.
Success of the project has sparked interest in major cities around the nation. Other van programs are taking shape in Texas, Florida, Minnesota, and California. And one van is now active in Taiwan.
Church prison ministries
There are approximately 1,700 Federal correctional institutions in North America with an estimated 330,000 inmates. Seventh-day Adventist Prison Ministries reaches about 5 percent of these prisons.
The church has 192 requests from local congregations for training programs to help reach these many other prisoners. Director Russell W. Bates of Washington, D.C., says, "Laymen are funding this program and we expect to reach many more prisons this year to help turn prisoners around so they can live useful lives for God and country."
Seven hundred have been baptized in the last five years. In the same period seven former inmates have come out of prison to graduate from college and seminary and enter full-time ministry.