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Christian Record celebrates 120 years of service

Lincoln, Nebraska, United States— Christian Record Services, Inc., (CRS) celebrates 120 years of ministry to the blind in 2019. “With the Lord’s guidance, it is the members, donors, volunteers, and employees who have made Christian Record impactful all of these years,” said Diane Thurber, president of Christian Record.

In 1899, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists endorsed the ministry, which at that time consisted of a Braille magazine called Christian Record and a few pamphlets. CRS is now owned by the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists and Christian Record is still published to this day.

Christian Record led the way for many other innovations and services that together inspire and transform lives. It was the first organization to offer a blind camp, beginning in the 1960s. The camps give individuals who are blind an opportunity to be themselves and freely create and engage with the community. A couple of decades later, the organization was the first to pioneer a new kind of book that provides Braille along with images, print, and an audio disc for the entire family to enjoy.

There is an online library of nearly 2,000 titles. Members may request many of these titles in formats specifically for them, including refreshable Braille, large print, audio streaming, downloading, and on National Library Service’s digital cartridges. Through the online library, they may request Bibles.

In collaboration with the Voice of Prophecy, Christian Record Services for the Blind has available the new Discover Bible Study Guides in large print and Braille for people who are legally blind.

“I am excited that local congregations can now offer Discover in accessible formats for their members to use in outreach,” said Richard Clark Jr., the Bible School coordinator at Christian Record. “The large print and Braille formats will empower members who are legally blind with a convenient way to lead Bible studies.” The completed guides are mailed to Christian Record’s office for grading.

The new large-print and Braille Bible guides are currently available in the United States and its territories, Guam-Micronesia, and Bermuda but soon may be available in other regions of the world. To request the first two lessons of the new Discover Bible Study Guides without cost for you or some-one who is legally blind, call Christian Record’s office at 402-488-0981, or send an email to services@christianrecord. org. This is also the way to sign up for the course by correspondence.

Since the 1980s, Christian Record has awarded college scholarships to students who are blind and who demonstrate academic promise. In 2018, a total of eight scholarships were awarded. For more information on CRS, please visit the Christian Record website at christian record.org. [Christian Record Services]

In Cyprus, young and old learn how to share their faith through social media

Nicosia, Cyprus—Members  of Seventh-day Adventist congregations in Nicosia, Cyprus—aged 9 to almost 90—spent the weekend of April 5–7, 2019, learning more about both the theology and practical skills of using social media for God.

Social media is now an integral part of many people’s lives, including the residents of Cyprus. Program participants recognized the need to be active and increase the profile of the church using personal social-media access to share their faith.

For one teenager, that meant creating a 60-second video clip sharing how he managed to keep the Sabbath even though a major competition was scheduled for a Saturday (Sabbath). That was just one of many ideas that came from the Sabbath-afternoon breakout groups that led to a number of recordings on participants’ mobile phones.

To prove that social media is not just for the young, Jony Manasian, a retired pastor and former Middle East Union president, was filmed by another volunteer, Branislav Hrubik, telling a story from his days in the Iranian army in the days of the shah.

“Recent presentations in Iceland, Scotland, and Lithuania led me to realize that getting people ‘hands on’ with the equipment and in front of the camera means they can then have the confidence to continue once the training is over,” Trans-European Division Communication director Victor Hulbert said.

Both in Lithuania and Iceland, Hulbert took attendees outdoors to interview local people, creating a feature with local interest. Filming in certain locations could build bridges with local communities.

The Sunday morning training also included photography skills, such as knowing the difference between a snapshot and a creatively planned image. [Trans-European Division News]

New Zealand Adventists connect with Muslims in attack aftermath

Christchurch, New Zealand—In the wake of the devastating Christchurch attacks on March 15, 2019, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South New Zealand has produced resources to help members connect with and support Muslim friends and neighbors in culturally appropriate ways.

With both video and printable assets, the simple techniques aim to break down barriers at a time when the people of Christchurch are struggling, according to South New Zealand Conference president Mike Sikuri.

Making connections is where Sikuri sees the resources as being important to coach church members. Yet, he said, he also recognizes that it is not only the Muslim community that is hurting. Christchurch Adventist School is quite close to the scene of one of the mosque attacks and was placed in lock down during the incident. While counselors and pastors have been providing support, Sikuri said, there has been a rise in the number of children responding violently to disagreements and having anxiety and panic attacks, particularly those who watched a video of the attack. Leaders in the conference church region are looking at how to best provide mental health first aid to the children and staff.

In the aftermath of the event, there was an outpouring of community support, Sikuri said, and the conference and ADRA are committed to long-term support as more needs become evident in the future. “We’ve touched base daily, offered accommodation at the Pascoe Park campground, including breakfasts from the Adventist food factory at the family center, but we are committed to helping with needs that may come up down the track.”

On the first Saturday (Sabbath) immediately after the attacks, most Adventist churches made time in their services for reflection. Sikuri said, “Some churches provided spaces where people could talk and process or a special time for prayer.”

Sikuri paid tribute to his pastors, especially Christchurch regional coordinators Stephen Wilson and Younis Masih. Both have had experience working with Muslim communities in the past. Masih is originally from Pakistan, and Wilson worked in Albania.

“We had a vigil of Christian churches,” Sikuri said. “Imams and Muslims turned up because of the Adventist connection. Stephen and Younis had been there [at the family center] almost every day. They have developed our resources to coach people to be culturally sensitive, and we’ve shared those with other Christian churches.”

Adventist churches are also gearing up for evangelism meetings in October. In some ways, Sikuri said, the tragedy has reminded local residents of the essential things in life, and they are prioritizing relationships and connections as never before. [Jarrod Stackelroth, Adventist Record]

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