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SOUTH AMERICA: Learning to Read Brings Many to Jesus

o combat the prevalence of illiteracy in South America, and using the theme “Alphabetize to Evangelize,” the Women’s Ministries Department of the Adventist Church is leading a series of reading workshops throughout the continent.

Statistics indicate that approximately 860 million people worldwide do not know how to read, and, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), about two thirds of all illiterate people are women. In many areas of the world women are often the last to receive any form of education, but in South America women are leading the fight against illiteracy. Here the illiteracy rates range from 2.3 percent in Uruguay to 11.6 percent in Brazil, according to the United Nations.

While the literacy program isn’t new, South American Division Women’s Ministries director Evelyn Nagel says that 2005 is the year the Women’s Ministries Department is emphasizing the issue.

“There are many women who are very enthusiastic about this project, each one doing their part—people who are interested in helping spread the word in their churches and encourage others to participate by donating funds or material,” says Nagel.

The program involves many in the Adventist community, from the church’s education department to its publishing houses in Brazil and Argentina, as well as church members throughout South America.

“Alphabetize to Evangelize” has a dual purpose: to end the crippling cycle of poverty that is often a result of illiteracy, and to share the gospel with students. While the program uses traditional teaching methods, the entire content is based on Bible texts. Each student who successfully completes the program is presented with a Bible.

Adds Nagel, “In this manner we are helping to decrease illiteracy rates. At the same time we want to take the gospel to all people.”                                                                                                        --Adventist News Network/AR.


CHINA: ADRA Receives World Habitat Award

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency in China (ADRA/China) received the 2005 World Habitat Award on October 3 from the Building and Social Housing Foundation of Great Britain for providing practical and innovative solutions to current housing needs and problems. Linda Zhu, program director for the Energy Efficient Straw Bale Housing Technology Transfer Project in ADRA/China, and consulting architect Kelly Lerner received the award in Jakarta, Indonesia, on World Habitat Day.

The project utilizes straw to build energy efficient and earthquake-resistant housing suited for cold climates.

--Adventist Development and Relief Agency/AR.


GREECE: Adventist Pastors Receive Training from Griggs University

Answering what may well be termed a true “Macedonian call,” Rex D. Edwards, associate vice president and dean of religious studies for Griggs University, held a continuing education seminar in Athens in early October for Adventist pastors and local church elders serving in Greece. A veteran preacher, Edwards spoke on two topics: “Transformational Proclamation: Preaching That Changes Lives” and “The Priesthood of All Believers.”

In a nation of 10.7 million people, 98 percent of Greeks claim an affiliation with the Greek Orthodox Church. Only 500 Adventists reside there, with eight pastors to serve them—four of whom are from overseas. Greece, the land once visited and preached to by Paul, is considered a mission field for Adventists today. The pastors who work there are in need of continuing education in order to meet the needs of their church members.

Apostolos Maglis, president of the Adventist Church in Greece, shared his goal of the mission becoming a conference by the year 2010. To this end, the Greece Mission is concentrating its efforts on training pastors and elders “to help members fulfill the mission statement of the church, “to prepare a people to the Lord, and to care for our neighbor.”                                                                                                 --Mark Kellner, ANN/AR.


SWITZERLAND: Christian Leaders Focus on HIV/AIDS

Leaders of a wide range of Christian churches met in Geneva, Switzerland, in October for a series of consultations on the challenge of HIV/AIDS. The Conference of Secretaries of the Christian World Communions has met annually for some 40 years, and provides a venue for frank and open dialogue in an informal setting, according to the current conference secretary, John Graz, director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Adventist Church.

“This conference is very much valued as a space in which representatives from the different Christian communions can interface and communicate on a wide range of issues,” says Graz. While the agenda is not public, and there are no formal decisions, the opportunity to meet and discuss matters of mutual interest is of benefit to all, he concludes.

“This year we did ask for all representatives to speak on the subject of what their community is doing to help the HIV/AIDS challenge,” Graz continues. “Faced with such a devastating pandemic, all Christians need to demonstrate their compassion and concern in very practical ways. It is important that we know what each other is doing so we can be aware and bring the maximum benefit to those who are suffering.”

This year’s conference brought together 27 representatives from most of the main Christian denominations under the chairmanship of Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

--Public Affairs and Religion Liberty Department/AR.


Poland's First Adventist Day Care Center Opens

In a one-story house in Podkowa Lesna, children are attending the first day care center run by the Adventist Church in Poland. The center, which opened in September, is only the second Adventist educational institution in the country.

The center comes under the auspices of Nadzieja.pl Limited, from which it gets its name, Nadzieja.pl Day Care Centre. Joe Smoczynski, president of Nadzieja.pl (Nadzieja means “hope”), a Christian online company affiliated with the Adventist Church, donated the house that is being used for the center.

“This idea can be fulfilled not only in Podkowa Lesna. There are several places in Poland where there is a lack of this kind of service,” Smoczynski says. “All over the world there are numerous Adventist schools, universities, and pre-schools. So why not finally start the same here?”

--Trans-European Division Communication Department/AR.

New Evangelistic Efforts Being Geared for Serbian Young Adults

The Central Adventist Church in Belgrade has recently begun two new evangelistic initiatives to reach the younger generation in this city of 2.5 million people.

Using the church facilities the members are providing free evening classes for those wishing to learn English. Two hundred and fifty people registered for the first class, and many more were turned away because of lack of space. The Bible is being used as one of the textbooks, sparking interest in attending Sabbath worship services at the church.

The second initiative, run by the church’s youth department, is a café group called “Bárka” (meaning “ark” in Hungarian), during which nearly 80 young adults meet each week to fellowship and study the Bible.

--Trans-European Division Communication Department/AR.


OMAN: Muscat Church Celebrates Fifteenth Anniversary

 The Adventist Church in Muscat, in the Sultanate of Oman, recently celebrated its fifteenth anniversary, attended by Middle East Union Conference president Mike Porter and more than 130 people from Adventist churches in the region.

Addressing the church in a 30-page booklet published for the occasion, Porter said, “You, the Muscat Church believers, are here for a reason. You are here because God has called you to be His witnesses. What an honor, what a privilege, what an enormous challenge it is to be God’s witnesses in these important days in history.”

The celebrations included a multimedia presentation, a service tracking the history of the church, and music and audience participation in a litany of praise.

According to local church officials, the first known Adventist presence in Oman dates back to the late 1970s, when Adventist nurses arrived to work in the Sultanate’s health-care system. Members then started to connect with one another by placing ads on local hospital notice boards. The first formal meetings began in 1990. Eight of the individuals who were part of the original group were present for the occasion.

--Middle East Union Communication Department/AR.


 
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