WWC Students Aid Children in Calcutta

embers of the Walla Walla College (WWC) chapter of Amnesty International raised more than $10,000 in six weeks to help children of prostitutes in Calcutta, eastern India.
 
When Rachel Davies, a WWC senior theology major, served as a student missionary in Calcutta, she interacted with the children of prostitutes in the city’s “red light” district. There she met Urmi Basu, who had started an organization called New Light to help these children find a better life. The organization soon expanded to also provide a home for older girls who would eventually be forced into prostitution. The home, named Soma in honor of a little girl born out of prostitution who died needlessly, is dedicated to protecting, educating, and empowering these children while offering them hope of a new life.
 
PROJECT ORGANIZERS:Pictured are members of the Walla Walla College chapter of Amnesty International who helped raise more than $10,000 to assist children of prostitutes in Calcutta.. [Photo: Walla Walla College]
Davies learned that the lease on Soma home was about to expire and the organization needed $10,000 to purchase the building. She approached Jen Drake, a senior history major and president and founder of WWC’s Amnesty International chapter, about taking on the project. Drake called a chapter meeting early in January.
 
 “More than 25 people crammed into my small basement apartment,” Drake says, and Project Red Light was born.
 
In less than a week, as chapter members raised student awareness of the children’s plight in Calcutta by showing a film depicting the lives of youth in the brothels, they raised more than $4,000—donated mostly by students. A student-led worship service called The Awakening then took on the project, as did the college’s Improv Church, the women’s dormitory, several Sabbath school classes, and the Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.
 
The result was more than $10,000 raised for the project. Organizers say funds keep pouring in to ensure Soma will be taken care of in the future and to sponsor children to attend.
 
 “Now 36 children have the chance at a life away from prostitution,” Drake says. “Now I have faith in the passion of a unified body of hearts that rise up and take action.”
 
To find out more about Project Red Light, e-mail Amnesty_International@wwc.edu or call (509) 527-2656.
 
Nearly 1,900 students attend Walla Walla College, located in College Place, Washington.
                                                                                                                  —Walla Walla College Media Relations/AR.
 

 Small Groups Form to Share Gospel in Non-Christian City
 
In one city of 16 million, rocked by radical fundamentalists who have blown up the meeting places of those whose beliefs differ from theirs, 700 people recently gathered to learn how to “Tell the World” about Jesus.
 
 “Local church leaders [in the city] had expected 500 people who they would train to start 500 small groups,” said Michael L. Ryan, a vice president of the Seventh-day Adventist world church. “Instead, 700 people showed up.”
 
Small groups in big cities are integral to the church’s plan to share Jesus’ message of hope in the world’s largest cities, w here almost 3.1 billion people live, Ryan said.
 
Since launching an initiative to reach out to big cities at the Adventist Church’s 2005 meetings in St. Louis, Missouri, the church has broadened its evangelistic efforts. With a project called Hope for Big Cities, the church has intensified outreach in large cities where millions of people from culturally diverse backgrounds live. In the city referred to previously—unidentified to protect church members living there—small groups will meet to study the Bible with the help of DVD players and special software.
 
 “By the end of July we hope to have taken 4,500 people through the Bible,” Ryan said. The small-group Bible studies will then culminate in 30 small, one-week public meetings, a safer alternative to a large public meeting.
 
Through the Hope for Big Cities plan, the Adventist Church in that city plans to add 106 worshipping groups during the next five years.
                                                                                                                                           —Adventist News Network/AR
 

SCOTLAND: Church Leaders Celebrate First Church Plant
 
Adventist church leaders and members on February 24 inaugurated Scotland’s first church plant of the twenty-first century. A branch of the Glasgow church, the new congregation is meeting in the Faifley Parish church, located about 16 kilometers (10 miles) west of Glasgow.
 
Scottish Mission president Llewellyn R. Edwards and Glasgow church pastor Clifford Herman participated in the services.
 
Five families—eight adults and 15 youth—comprise the membership of the new congregation. Led by Britius Habwangabwanga, a Scottish Mission Bible worker, the branch members plan to engage in outreach to the local community, which includes a large immigrant population.
                                                                      —British Union Conference Communication Department/AR.
 

New Assistant Director Joins GC Stewardship Department
 
Maria Ovando-Gibson [Elizabeth Lechleitner]
Maria Ovando-Gibson, a former instructor at Fuller Theological Seminary, is the new assistant director of the General Conference’s Stewardship Department.
 
While at Fuller, Ovando-Gibson contributed to developing and designing curriculum for Fuller’s online master’s degree program. She was also the online adjunct professor for the seminary course Adult Formation and Discipleship. Ovando-Gibson served on the Southern California Conference Executive Committee from 1993 to 1999, and has taught small groups for 15 years.
 
Ovando-Gibson holds a master of divinity degree with an emphasis in Christian Formation and Discipleship, as well as a Ph.D. in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. She is married to Lawrence, and has one adult son, Nathanael.
 
 “Maria’s field experience in small-group ministry and her skills in curriculum development, particularly in the area of discipleship, will enhance our emphasis on growing responsible followers of Jesus Christ in the Adventist Church,” says GC Stewardship director Erika Puni. “Her perspective as a Christian practitioner and a woman will be valued, and I know she will contribute well to the Stewardship team here at the General Conference.”
                                                                                                                                                                          —AR
 

TEXAS: Former Union President Dies
 
Benjamin E. Leach, former president of the Southwestern Union Conference, died February 26 in Woodville, Texas. He was 87.
 
Leach served the Adventist Church for 40 years as a pastor and administrator. He was Southwestern Union president from 1966-1985. He also served as a pastor in Ohio, New England, and Texas, and as president of the Texas Conference from 1958-1966.
 
Leach is survived by his wife of 64 years, Helen, two sons, a daughter, 10 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. He was preceded in death by son and daughter-in-law Daniel and Billie Anne Leach.
                           —NAD Communication Department/Southwestern Union Conference/AR
 

Former ASI Secretary-Treasurer Dies
 
William Charles “Conn” Arnold, former executive secretary-treasurer of Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI), died on March 19 from complications following surgery to remove a tumor from his brain stem. He was 83. 
 
Arnold began his ministry in the Florida Conference in 1954. He served the church as a teacher, a principal, and a pastor. He was also a departmental director for the Florida, Alabama-Mississippi (now Gulf States), and Kentucky-Tennessee conferences. His last position before he retired in 1991 was executive secretary-treasurer of ASI for the North American Division.
 
Arnold is survived by his wife, Dorothy, a daughter, a son, and four grandchildren.
                                                                                                             —NAD Communication Department/AR
 
 
One Mansion, in Paradise, Rent-Free                                                  News Commentary
 
 BY MARK KELLNER, freelance writer, Rockville, Maryland
 
For Dorie-Ann Kahale and her five daughters, it must have seemed as if heaven came down to earth one day.
 
A native Hawaiian family made homeless when her rent zoomed by 50 percent, Kahale got the keys to a $5 million “mansion” from Genshiro Kawamoto, a Japanese real estate magnate who owns much real estate in Honolulu. The family can stay there up to 10 years, rent free, but must pay utilities and maintain the home.
 
The Associated Press paraphrased Kawamoto as saying “giving away mansions shows more dedication to helping Hawaii's homeless than just handing out wads of cash.” He added that the cost of the eight homes he would make available to families such as the Kahales “is pocket money for me.”*
 
Kahale became homeless in 2005, after that massive rent hike. She and her children first stayed with relatives, but moved into a homeless shelter in September, 2006. At the same time, she wrote a letter to Kawamoto, who had announced his plan to open the homes to families in need.
 
Her eyes welling with tears, she said her family had to be grateful for their new digs: “What we need to do is appreciate,” Kahale told the wire service reporter. “As fast as we got it, it could disappear.”
 
There’s an even better offer awaiting Kahale, and anyone else who will put their faith in Christ: “In My Father’s house are many mansions,” Jesus says in John 14:2 (NKJV). “If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
 
Whether you translate it as “mansion” or “dwelling place” or “room”—and reliable Bible versions have used all three—Jesus’ offer isn’t for a decade. It’s for forever!
 
*Audrey McAvoy, “Millionaire Gives Mansions to Homeless,” Associated Press, Mar. 22, 2007, accessed online at http://tinyurl.com/yt8kes on Mar. 27, 2007.
 


 
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