Photo: Elvie Rey L. Tapaya

Empowering leaders for God’s call

Negros Occidental, Philippines

I am with you … for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:10). Three hundred Seventh-day Adventist leaders across the central Philippines heeded God’s call in the Mission to the Cities trainers’ training held at Central Philippine Adventist College in Negros Occidental on January 26–28, 2023.

The event sought to emphasize the importance of understanding God’s method, acquiring the necessary tools, and embracing an appropriate attitude to carry out the mission to the cities.

Trainers included Robin D. Willison, an Adventist Mission consultant, and his wife, Zenaida, an international development consultant. Other speakers included Abner P. Dizon, the Southern Asia-Pacific Division director of Interfaith Services for Muslim, Secular, and Postmodern Ministries, and Eliezer T. Barlizo Jr., Central Philippine Union Conference president.

On Sabbath afternoon, the delegates participated in a group activity to make an action plan on how to carry out the work of the Lord in the cities. A commitment program closed the three-day training, as participants pledged to plead for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and empowerment as they dedicated their lives to reaching as many souls as possible. [Nadeth Quinto, CPUC Communication]

Photo: Yorkalie Walters

Pastoral couple marries ministry with law

Kingston, Jamaica

Omar Oliphant was a local church pastor in Jamaica, and his wife, Sharette (née Kirby), was the church’s youth and young-adult leader. Both nursed a passion for a legal proficiency that would complement their ministry, not replace it. First, God blessed Omar to add law to his graduate theological degree and become the first Adventist pastor in Jamaica called to the bar. Sharette’s master’s degree in counseling psychology and her law degree were followed by a call to the bar at the Supreme Court in Kingston, Jamaica on December 15, 2022.

Each spouse paid tribute to the other. “I give credit to my husband for being a ‘dream-enabler and people empowerment specialist,’ as he is always seeking the best for his people but especially for me and our family,” said Sharette.

“The truth is, it really does bring excitement,” Omar said. “I think it’s wonderful in the context of our relationship, where we share goals together and grow together as a couple, and for me, seeing her reach her goal to become an attorney, I’m over the moon.”

Their goals have transcended personal success to public service. While pastoring two churches, Omar also serves as Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director for the East Jamaica Conference.

Sharette is employed by a government agency addressing the training and development of youth and young adults, with plans to practice civil, conveyancing, employment, probate, and family law. “My dream moves beyond my personal desire to serve, advocate, and give support to issues of justice and equity in the workplace, family, and society.”

They have become the first Adventist pastoral attorney couple in their territory. [Jamaica Union Communication / IAD News Staff]

Photo courtesy of ADRA

Earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria—Seventh-day Adventist Church responds

The death toll has surpassed 50,000 in Türkiye and northern Syria in the aftermath of the 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes that struck the region in the early hours of Monday, February 6, 2023. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 26 million people in Türkiye and Syria have been affected by the disaster.

Within days of the disaster, Seventh-day Adventists quickly combined their resources to purchase water for those in the stricken area. Adventist members in more than two dozen sites in Türkiye met online the day after the quake to wrestle with what they could do in the middle of such a catastrophe. One member observed, “We cannot just stand by and watch. We are here to offer whatever we have.”

Within days, they raised money among themselves to buy food, blankets, and warm clothes, even bringing some from their own shelves and closets, and delivered them to government distribution centers. “Everything is broken. Death is everywhere. We can do so little,” one member said as he drove a load of food boxes toward one of the devastated areas. “But certainly, we can pray,” he added.

Middle East and North African Union Mission president Rick McEdward appealed to the world church to pray and help. “Pray that God will work beyond anything we do to bring His presence and help near. Pray for our members in Türkiye as they help wherever they can. Pray for the ADRA [Adventist Development and Relief Agency] Syria team who were engaged within hours, reaching out to a region where we have no Adventist members.”

ADRA established operations in Syria in 2013, and its staff has been deployed to the affected areas and is serving thousands. The greatest needs have been identified as shelter, health care, and food. People also need access to water and to sanitation and hygiene services to avoid the spread of illnesses such as cholera. It is also a priority to support affected families through the harsh below-zero temperatures during winter weeks and help decongest overcrowding at collective shelters.

Visit both to donate and to see firsthand the living, breathing examples of the worthy work being done. [Middle East and North Africa Union and Adventist Review]

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