Ted N. C. and Nancy Wilson speaking with President João Lourenço of Angola

Pastors praise God for deliverance

Luanda, Angola

Seventh-day Adventist Church leader Ted N. C. Wilson met with Angola’s president, João Lourenço, to thank him for intervening in a horrific case in which six Adventists were falsely accused of kidnapping and extortion.

“From the day that I was put in prison, I prayed that God would use the situation to glorify His name to all Angola,” said Burns Musa Sibanda, treasurer of the North-Eastern Angola Union Mission, who spent 62 days in prison. “God has done just that.”

Four pastors, including Sibanda, and two laymen were falsely accused of kidnapping and extortion in a case that church leaders and the government have linked to epidemic corruption in the country. One of the laymen died after being brutally assaulted in police custody in an attempt to force him to testify against the others. Angola’s Supreme Court fully acquitted the Adventists in 2019.

Wilson thanked Lourenço for cracking down on corruption and urged him to keep up the fight, saying, “God is on your side.” With Lourenço’s consent, he shared three Bible verses, including Philippians 4:8, which he said would offer special encouragement in his fight against corruption.

The 30-minute meeting ended with Wilson praying for Lourenço, his family, the government, and the people of Angola. National television channels featured the meeting on their news broadcasts that night and on regular news bulletins throughout the next day, emphasizing Wilson’s encouragement in the fight against corruption and highlighting the Bible verses that he shared with the president. The main front-page headline in the country’s largest newspaper, Jornal de Angola, read, “Adventist World Church Leader Backs Fight Against Corruption.” The accompanying news article quoted the entire text of Philippians 4:8.

Wilson also expressed appreciation to the country’s attorney general, Hélder Pitta Grós; parliamentary speaker, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos; and interior minister, Eugénio César Laborinho for their assistance in the case of the falsely accused Adventists.

Ganoune Diop, director of the Adventist General Conference’s Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department, said he was grateful to God for the support and work of the attorney general and ministers during four trips to Angola during the ordeal. “I still keep praying that our Lord will help our brothers and their family heal from this traumatic experience,” he said via WhatsApp.

Wilson, recounting the government meetings during his Sabbath sermon to 35,000 people gathered in a sports stadium, called on all Adventists to be honest and mission minded. He noted that the instigators of the false accusations were Adventists.

“It doesn’t matter which tribe you come from, which local language you speak, or which people group you are from,” he added. “All of us who love Jesus are one in the Lord, and we ought to be focused on one thing: the mission of the church. I want to ask all of you in Angola to unite in the mission of telling others that Jesus is coming soon!”

On Sabbath afternoon, Wilson comforted the widow and other family members of João Alfredo Dala, the Adventist layman who died at age 45 from internal injuries suffered as a result of the violent police interrogation.

“Our hearts are heavy,” he said. “He died as a martyr for Jesus.”

The church plans to create a trust fund for the widow and her 10 children.

Sibanda, the union treasurer who was jailed for 62 days, also described Dala as a martyr for Jesus. “If he had agreed to tell a lie against us as he had been asked to do by the authorities, we would still be in prison,” he said. “I owe him the freedom that I am enjoying today.” [Andrew McChesney]


COVID-19: Generate health in the community

PUNTA CANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Aware of the current global situation due to the threat of the coronavirus COVID-19 and the possible repercussions it brings, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the territory of the Inter-American Division (IAD), with headquarters in Miami, Florida, is working with the Adventist World Church to implement any contingency plan required with regard to different activities and/or possible scenarios.

Elie Henry, IAD president, stated, “Our priority is the health of persons. We recommend that our employees, leaders, and church members increase hygiene measures, take necessary precautions, and stay informed, doing everything possible to help prevent the spread of the virus. We ask you to continue to pray for those affected, the efforts to eradicate the virus, and encourage you to keep faith in God in these key times in the history of mankind.”

The Division has maintained a proactive approach to community health. On January 23, 2020, Tricia Penniecook, vice dean for education and faculty affairs and associate professor in the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida in the United States, addressed church administrators and health leaders during the IAD Health Summit in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Penniecook, MD, MPH, former dean of the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University, and former vice president for academic administration at Oakwood University, stated, “If you think the role of the health promoter is about celebrating activities on World Health Day, presenting health nuggets each Sabbath, or holding health fairs or expos in the community once or twice a year, waiting for people to come to us, you’re wrong. Your role is to generate health in the community.”

The first step is to find out the causes of death in the country, she explained, as she led the group to search online at the Pan American Health Organization’s webpage. Looking at the different age groups in the population will help in your research to find out more about your community, she explained.

Penniecook advised health leaders to join the community’s local health commission, its disaster commission, the waste management commission, and a public school that can have an impact on children. “Encourage this generation to study public health and get academic training so that laws can be changed and effective, long-lasting impact can occur.”

It’s about getting members involved, too, she said. Programs like “I Want to Be Healthy,” which teaches the eight natural remedies for a healthy lifestyle, can have lasting positive effects in generations to come, Penniecook said. “We must connect with the fabric in the local community. As a church, we have a vast range of action. But if we lack compassion, love, and grace, our health message will not help anyone.” [Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division, Adventist Review and Jeffrey Brown, Ministry]

COVID-19 Pastoral Support Resources


Mental, emotional, and spiritual health of clergy is the focus of New AdventHealth Study

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES

Highly publicized resignations and reports of distress and burnout among pastors and faith leaders have raised concerns about the mental and emotional health of those who serve in ministry. A new study led by AdventHealth University, in conjunction with Florida-based AdventHealth, aims to better understand the health and well-being of clergy.

The research study is open to clergy and faith leaders across the state of Florida. The survey consists of questions about the respondents’ social support and occupational distress as well as their emotional and spiritual health.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five US adults experiences mental illness each year. NAMI also notes that 43 percent of adults with mental illness received treatment in 2018.

Martin Shaw, lead researcher for the study, stated, “While clergy is a somewhat understudied group, it is critical that we gain greater insight about their mental and emotional well-being and ways to mitigate issues where present. Our ultimate goal is to better understand how best to care for and support our clergy and the communities they serve.”

Clergy interested in learning more and participating in the research study can do so confidentially by visiting the Clergy Wholeness Study web page at clergy
wholenessstudy.wordpress.com. [Globe Newswire]

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April 2020

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