ADRA volunteer coordinator Merilyn Beveridge (left) with a representative of Afri-Aus Care. Photo: ADRA Victoria Facebook

Retired pastor assists during unprecedented bushfires in Australia

New South Wales, Australia

As Australia reels from the ongoing destruction caused by multiple bushfires across the country, many, including Seventh-day Adventists, have rallied together to make a difference. New South Wales Rural Fire Service states that the fire has burned nearly 24,000 acres, trapping residents on the capital’s outskirts in terrifying conditions. Retired Adventist pastor Tony Campbell contacted Orient Energy Systems, who helped him find donors to purchase and deliver portable generators at a discounted price. Further cash donations from Nunawading church members were sent with the generators to provide them with fuel.

“We had businessmen offer us warehouses,” said ADRA Victoria volunteer manager Merilyn Beveridge. “Forklift drivers have offered us their forklifts [to transport goods onto trucks]. It’s been amazing!”

Along with food and hygiene packs, ADRA is providing furniture and even temporary accommodation to people who have lost their homes. Adventists and friends in the city of Victoria banded together to sew pouches and wraps for countless animals burned in the bushfires.

Seventh-day Adventist world church president Ted Wilson expressed profound appreciation for the work of ADRA and passionately urged a global prayer assault for this unprecedented tragedy. “Our hearts go out to our dear brothers and sisters down under, and to the entire country of Australia as they are experiencing a catastrophic situation with long-burning fires—resulting in enormous loss of life and property.”

ADRA in Victoria, in conjunction with the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, has been supplying personal hygiene packs to relief centers and contributing food to families in need. “We’ve been able to respond and have a significant impact because, for a year now, we’ve been running a food bank program and reaching the community,” Andrew Wilson said. “They trust us. We don’t care if they’re Christians or not; we just care for everyone.”

Contributions may be sent to [Maryellen Fairfax, Adventist Record and Adventist Review]

Photo: Pieter Damsteegt, North American Division News

Religious freedom prayer breakfast hosted by North American Division

Columbia, Maryland, United States

People from diverse faith traditions attended the second annual religious freedom prayer breakfast hosted by the North American Division (NAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The event recognized Religious Freedom Day (January 16) in the United States and included prayer for elected officials, the community, and the nation; for peace and places of worship; and for unity of spirit. Adventist, Jewish, Muslim, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and nondenominational Christian representatives offered the various petitions.

Special greetings from the governor’s office were shared by Boyd Rutherford, lieutenant governor of Maryland. Jonathan L. Weaver, the senior pastor of the Greater Mt. Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church and social justice advocate, delivered remarks during the prayer breakfast.

This commemorative day dates back to 1786, but, said Orlan Johnson, director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the NAD, “Religious freedom faces ongoing challenges in current public policy debates.”

Rutherford, during his remarks, talked about recent assaults on places of worship across the country. “We should all be willing to stand up for those who are subject to attacks, even if their views on religion are a little different from yours or mine. An attack on someone’s religious beliefs is an attack on all of us.”

Seven special prayers were offered during the event. “We express gratitude and thanks for the many churches in our community and for the men and women who lead them, and we ask You to bless them that their efforts might be sanctified and magnified by that Holy Spirit,” Eric Baxter, president of the Silver Spring Stake, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in prayer for the community.

“I pray that we will not think in terms of liberal or conservative, left wing or right wing, but that as one body, we will focus on what is central and not what is peripheral. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:3 that we should endeavor to ‘keep the unity of Spirit in the bond of peace.’ We ask for that unity today,” NAD vice president Tony Anobile implored. [Kimberly Luste Maran, North American Division News]

Jenő Szigeti and his wife. Photo: Hungarian Union Conference

Hungarian church leader receives community award

Budapest, Hungary

Jenő Szigeti, a former president of the Hungarian Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and a church historian, has been awarded a prize for his lifelong work in higher education and pastoral care focused on minorities. The award from the Wallenberg Association was presented at a ceremony hosted by the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities.

The prize is given to individuals or organizations that uplift high ethical standards and demonstrate serving minorities, underprivileged people, and those discriminated against in society.

In his acceptance speech, Szigeti highlighted that every human being is a minority because everyone is unique. “The core of our existence is to understand and accept others,” he said.

The annual award is in honor of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who served in Budapest, Hungary, during World War II. He handed special passports to thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary. Adventist pastor László Michnay then aided these refugees by hiding them in the central church building in Budapest and other places. The membership helped to feed them and to smuggle them to safety. The prize is given to perpetuate Wallenberg’s humanitarian ideals and nonviolent courage. [Tamás Ócsai, Trans-European Division News]

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March 2020

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