Church members in China assist in the Philippines
Despite being gravely affected by the coronavirus themselves, members of the Mainland China Seventh-day Adventist Church wanted to help another country in great need—the Philippines. The first batch of rice distribution, held in the municipality of Silang, Cavite, assisted more than 1,260 families severely affected by the government lockdown due to the pandemic.
The bags were picked up by tricycle drivers, care group members, and utility personnel. The rice distribution was implemented under close supervision, to ensure the goods were distributed correctly while following health safety measures.
The second distribution of rice, organized four days later, benefited more than 890 families.
“The people in China also suffered, so they understand the challenges that people are facing here,” said Samuel Wang, Chinese evangelist to the Southern Asia-Pacific region. “They wanted to send a message that through unity, by love, and by working together, we can overcome this virus, so many helped out and responded to this call.” [Southern Asia-Pacific Division Communications]
Adventist pastor reaches hundreds of couples during the quarantine
Police officers have reported that long weekends and national holidays see a rise in domestic violence. As an indication of this, when the quarantine in China loosened, people went in unusually high numbers to apply for divorce.1
Gabor Mihalec, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and licensed couple therapist in Hungary, started “Couple-Minutes,” a ministry to support couples during social isolation.
Every evening at 9:00 P.M., Mihalec opens his personal Facebook page to conduct a live event. During this time, he gives counsel regarding conflict resolution, effective communication, and other relevant topics and answers viewers’ questions that have come up in their relationships during the day.
“I chose this time because the children are in bed, and the parents finally have some time for their relationship,” he said. “I want to give them insights to spend this time in a creative and constructive way.”
Mihalec has received much more feedback than he expected. About 400 people follow the live event every evening. The number of those who watch the videos during the next day reaches as high as 12,000, with many people sharing his advice across their social-media accounts.
This unique ministry has sparked interest across Hungarian media. Mihalec has been interviewed by a national radio station, Kossuth Rádió, and many websites are sharing his videos. Hungary’s leading financial magazine, HVG, published an article about the initiative, sharing it as a good example of how to ride out the crisis.
“This new door that God opened for us has given me more work than I had earlier,” Mihalec stated. It has also “brought our family members even closer to each other.” Mihalec is not able to travel as before, so this new initiative “has become our regular, common program every single evening. I don’t know anything about viruses; I am not able to heal people; but I am very happy that God showed me a way that my family and I can be of benefit to the world, in this time of need.” [Tamás Ócsai, Trans-European Division News]
- “Chinese City Experiencing a Divorce Peak as a Repercussion of COVID-19,” Global Times, March 7, 2020, http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1181829.shtml.
Church in Guatemala distributes food to thousands of families
Guatemala City, Guatemala
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Guatemala is distributing food baskets with rice, beans, cornmeal, oil, salt, and sugar to thousands of church members most affected by national COVID-19 quarantine regulations that limit them from going to work to provide for their families.
“Because of the government’s decree on quarantine measures and curfews in place, the country seems to be paralyzed. Fear has taken over communities,” said Guenther Garcia, president of theGuatemala Union Mission. “The crisis will intensify as another 30 days of isolation is scheduled this month, preventing so many from going out to earn money to feed their loved ones.”
Church pastors, members, and administrators assembled hundreds of food baskets for needy families. Juan Segura, an older member of the Chal Adventist Church in Peten, north Guatemala, was among several who benefited from food baskets last week. “Thank you for this gift from our brethren, because we know that the love of God is manifested this way,” Segura said. [Inter-American Division News Staff]
Remembering William Shea: Renowned Seventh-day Adventist scholar
Manassas, Virginia, United States
Renowned Seventh-day Adventist scholar William H. Shea died on February 15, 2020, in Manassas, Virginia, United States, at age 87. A medical doctor and surgeon, Shea graduated from Harvard University and the University of Michigan to become an esteemed Bible scholar and beloved seminary professor.
While working at Andrews University, Shea filled many capacities, including professor, chair of the Old Testament Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, and acting director of the Institute of Archeology. He was sought after at Bible conferences and extension schools around the world.
In 1986, Shea joined the Biblical Research Institute of the Seventh-day Adventist Church General Conference in Silver Spring, Maryland. During this time, he traveled internationally, preaching and lecturing on the Bible, archeology, and many other issues of interest to the church. Shea was happy to go wherever he was needed. He occasionally joked, however, that he wished there were more Bible conferences in Bora Bora or Tahiti.
Shea published several books dealing with topics ranging from ancient inscriptions to the meaning of Bible prophecy, and hundreds of articles, including many for Ministry. He brought to the world of biblical studies the acute intelligence of a diagnostician in the emergency room; the profound insight of a historian; and, with his proficiency in several Semitic languages, the intense precision of a linguist.
Reflecting on her father, his daughter Rebecca Erdelyi said, “What I find especially difficult to put into words is what a humble and unassuming person he was. He was the epitome of ‘walk humbly with thy God.’ ” [Adventist Review Staff, Ministry]