Pastor Bledi Leno leads the conversation with the Athens-based youth group, which now meets as a church in the western suburb of Egaleo. Photo: Yannis Vrakas

Pastor inspires youth ministry

Athens, Greece

Greek Mission (GM) youth had the honor of hosting Pastor Bledi Leno, Multi-Ethnic Ministries and Adventist Mission director for the Greater New York Conference. His visit, part of the Christ for Europe initiative, sparked engaging discussions centered on youth ministries, with a particular emphasis on university students and the Public Campus Ministry (PCM).

Accompanied by GM President Claudio Gulyas and Executive Secretary Yannis Vrakas, Leno set out to motivate young Adventist students by visit-ing two universities located in the urban expanse of Egaleo, on the western fringes of Athens.

In his inspiring presentation, “Being and Making Disciples,” Leno’s challenge was clear: create cluster groups in your immediate circles and become catalysts for positive change in the name of Christ. Leno emphasized the value of starting small, including organizing social events like open mic nights, karaoke sessions, movie screenings, and other gatherings that create community. Drawing from his own experiences during a recent visit to Japan, he highlighted the success of weekly cooking demonstrations.

“Remember that Moses can’t be everywhere,” Leno remarked, alluding to GM Youth Director Moses Siwale. “This is your chance to impact someone’s life.” He encouraged the students to visit each other’s universities, offer mutual support through prayer, and gradually establish their groups within their respective academic institutions. Leno concluded his presentation by advising students to align their event planning with the academic calendar, ensuring accessibility to most students.

Pastor Leno’s words left a profound impact on GM students. Although immediate action was not possible due to upcoming final exams, students are actively seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit and preparing to serve across various campuses and communities throughout Athens in the coming semester. [Moses Siwale with tedNEWS]


Reaffirmation of the biblical criteria for pastoral ministry and the biblical teachings on human sexuality

SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a worldwide body of believers who accept the Bible as their only authority and share common biblical beliefs and practices and a worldwide structure. The Adventist Church issues ministerial credentials to its pastors based on biblical criteria.

In April 2023, the General Conference, division, and attached union officers delivered a consensus statement regarding pastors and the biblical teachings on sexuality.

The Adventist Church adheres without reservation to biblically grounded beliefs that include the divine ideal of pure, honorable, and loving sexual relations within a monogamous heterosexual marriage, and believes that lowering this high view is detrimental to humanity. We see the struggle, pain, and fear of rejection of those who wrestle with their sexual orientation. Many have chosen, through God’s strength and a personal relationship with Him, not to practice their unbiblical sexual orientation. Our pastors are called to walk alongside them in what is often a very difficult journey.

The pastor’s responsibility to our members on this difficult journey is to point to the Word of God as providing the best counsel in this struggle. In Romans 1:18–32, we read a long list of sinful practices that can be overcome only through the direct power of Christ. The integrity of the Word of God and His instructions for daily living give us the opportunity as human beings to maintain a direct connection with the Source of all power. We are called to overcome sin in every form through the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. When we submit completely to God and accept the grace and merits of Jesus Christ to change our lives in conformity with His plan, we receive His justifying and sanctifying righteousness to save us. We become “new creatures” in Christ Jesus—“therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV).

Above all, the responsibility of the pastor is to proclaim to all persons the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:6–12), which has at its core the power to transform lives through His grace and righteousness. The ability of God to transform our lives is indisputable, and those who are called by Him to be ministers must be seen in word and deed to uphold this truth. “ ‘For with God nothing will be impossible’ ” (Luke 1:37, NKJV).

For full statement, please see https://adventist.news/news/reaffirmation-of-the-biblical-criteria-for-pastoral-ministry-and-the-biblical-teachings-on-human-sexuality.


Erton Köhler presents his Annual Council Secretary’s Report. Photo: Lucas Cardino

General Conference secretary calls for refocus on mission

SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND

Mission Refocus is an initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that seeks to redirect planning efforts and funds to reach others for Jesus, particularly in challenging areas of the world. General Conference Secretary Erton Köhler listed some of the pressing challenges the Adventist Church is facing as it tries to accomplish its mission.

He mentioned the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted church life and the ongoing wars that have disrupted the supply chain even in developed countries.

Social challenges include the rise of the “Me Me Me generation,” also called the “Selfie generation.” Köhler said, “In terms of morality, 60 percent of millennials live by defining what is right for them—their own rules of conduct.” Yet it also comprises digital natives “eager to defend justice and constantly seeking to live a meaningful life.”

Another challenge is related to society’s understanding of human sexuality. Köhler spoke about social polarization and cynicism toward all authority, including church leaders. He also mentioned challenges brought by technology, including the impact of social media and, more recently, artificial intelligence.

Against that context, the best way to approach today’s generation is by highlighting our biblical message of hope, Köhler said. “A hopeless world is looking for a hopeful church . . . , which offers people a better life in Jesus and a new life according to His Word.”

Another opportunity for mission lies in focusing on disciple-making, said Köhler. Not only is it the heart of the great commission but also the best way to reach the hearts of people today.

Against present realities, “everybody can do something to keep the focus on the mission and to help us face our vast worldwide challenges. This is why Mission Refocus is not just a priority but an increasingly urgent priority,” he said. “Let us promote God-led changes. Let us promote Bible-based changes. This is what we call Mission Refocus in a time of change.” [Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]


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