Dateline

Religious news from around the world.

Religious Freedom, Lifesaving Seminars, Growth in the Netherlands

Religious freedom report released

Silver Spring, Maryland, United StatesThe Religious Freedom World Report for 2006–2007 was recently released as a joint project of the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the International Religious Liberty Institute of Andrews University.

The report, which is published biennially, gives an account of the status of religious freedom in every country in the world, with a special focus on the Adventist experience. The report ranks each country on a scale of one to five regarding its religious freedom record. “One” represents countries that have full freedom, and “five” represents the most oppressive states. The report gives a general account of the legal, political, and social climate of each country in regards to religious freedom.

Managing editor Nicholas Miller says the details about the Adventist experience are useful for others as well as the church because Adventism’s minority status makes it a good indicator of the health of religious freedom in a country.

The general editor, John Graz, notes that in “many countries around the world being a member of a religious minority is a crime.” Despite this, Graz says, “the main positive factor is that religious freedom exists in a majority of the countries in the world.” The report, with the ranking of countries and the details of the treatment of Adventists, can be accessed at www.parl.gc.adventist.org. [Nicholas Miller]

Lifesaving seminars

Malakal, Sudan—More than 350 people attended evangelistic meetings in southern Sudan, December 14–30, 2008. The meetings, jointly organized by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Middle East and local Sudanese pastors, were advertised to the surrounding community as “Life Saving Seminars.”

Each program began with music and drama, followed by health and family-life lectures that were conducted by local pastors, Gai Dualnyuak and Jacob Frungus. Bern Yuot, evangelism coordinator for the Adventist Church in the Middle East, then gave the devotional presentation.

“The support of the local congregation made it possible for this evangelistic campaign to proceed smoothly,” said Yuot, who was moved by the fact that the local congregation in Malakal contributed their meager funds to feed the youth participants, pay guards, and rent a sound system that cost $100 a day. “Praise the Lord for their willingness and commitment to serve Him!” he added.

Toward the end of the campaign, the team handed out decision cards and 83 individuals made a decision to join the church by baptism. Fifty-one of these persons were baptized at the close of the meetings, having received additional Bible studies during the day, and the rest will be prepared for baptism by the pastoral team at a later date. [MEU News/ TED News]

Growth in the Netherlands

Huis ter Heide, Netherlands— From January to September 2008, the Adventist Church in the Netherlands saw a net growth of 105 members. Total membership has now grown to 4,781 members. In the same period, the tithe income increased by 7 percent.

The Netherlands has struggled against a tide of secularism; and these figures reflect the church’s determination to do something about this.

“This is good news. All efforts for church growth and stewardship have been richly rewarded and blessed by our good Lord. We are hopeful for the future of the Adventist work and presence in the Netherlands,” says Wim Altink, president of the Adventist Church in the Netherlands. [TED News]

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