Early on Thursday morning, July 13, rockets fired from Israeli warplanes took out all three runways of Beirut International Airport, the only international airport in Lebanon, as well as specific targets in Beirut, some close to the Mouseitbeh Adventist School, currently on its summer break. No injury to members or damage to institutions have been reported, although BBC news reports suggest several dozen Lebanese citizens have been killed so far.
“The Lebanese Adventist members have patiently endured a turbulent history,” says Kjell Aune, president of the Adventist Church in the Middle East. “This beautiful country has recovered so remarkably from decades of civil war because of the resilience of its people. Our first priority to our members is to ensure that we do all we can to maintain their safety and keep open lines of communication for prayer and logistical support.”
As a routine precautionary measure expatriate church personnel have been placed on “Low Threat Alert,” which is in compliance with the church’s Evacuation Plan document issued by the headquarters office in Cyprus. “This requires staff to prepare an evacuation/survival kit, maintain close contact with their respective embassies, keep their mobile phones on at all times, and apprise us of any fresh developments,” says Conrad Vine, secretary-treasurer of the Adventist Church in the Middle East. “Currently there is an air, land, and sea blockade enforced, which would make a potential evacuation order more complicated to facilitate.”
Aune is calling on the worldwide Adventist Church to make the crisis in Lebanon a matter of urgent prayer. This is in light of a recent executive committee decision to move the Middle East church’s headquarters from Nicosia, Cyprus, to Beirut, planned for September this year. Renovations to the office facility and staff housing are almost complete.
The Adventist Church in Lebanon has about 300 members. It owns and operates two schools and is also the location of the Middle East University, the regional church’s only institution of tertiary education. --Middle East Union Communication Dapartment/AR
Georgia-Cumberland Youth Dies at Cohutta Springs Youth Camp
Officials at Georgia Cumberland Conference report that a 16-year-old youth died from apparent injuries suffered in a wakeboard accident at Cohutta Springs Youth Camp's Wakeboard Teen Specialty Camp.
Dead is Bethany Kacak of Cleveland, Georgia, who was pronounced dead shortly after 10 a.m. July 13 at Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
According a conference press statement, Bethany, a Georgia Cumberland Academy student, fell while wakeboarding around 3 p.m. July 11. Camp staff who saw Bethany fall say there was nothing that made the fall appear abnormal and that the boat was moving at a normal speed for wakeboarding.
When Bethany did not respond, a certified lifeguard on-board the boat entered the water and responded with first aid. A camp staff member called 911 from the boat, and when medics arrived at the pier and assessed Bethany, an air ambulance was called to take her to Erlanger Medical Center.
Doctors later determined that Bethany was brain dead. She was kept on life support until her request to be an organ donor could be honored. Along with other friends Bethany had signed a card requesting to be an organ donor last year during a church service at the GCA church.
Cohutta Springs Youth Camp Director Rob Lang says he and his staff are still in shock.
“We are devastated at the loss of Bethany,” says Lang. “Words cannot express to the Kacak family how sorry we are for their loss. The prayers of our entire camp staff and Bethany’s fellow campers are with the Kacak family.”
Born on March 15, 1990, Bethany, a member of the Gainesville, Georgia., Seventh-day Adventist Church, would have been a sophomore at GCA. As a freshman she was a member of the gymnastics team and participated in several spiritual outreach programs. .
Gainesville Adventist Church Pastor Maurice Witt baptized Bethany and has been with the family during this difficult time. “Bethany would always want to be helping in any way she could,” says Witt. “The family has felt her signing the organ donation card was very genuine and not going with the popular flow at that moment.”
Witt says the family feels that Bethany’s gift is a mirror of the gift Christ gave at Calvary, which brings life to those who accept it, but the gift comes at a high price that was paid by the giver.
Georgia-Cumberland Conference President Ed Wright says Bethany’s loss reminds us that in this world we are under attack and we need a refuge. “On behalf of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, I want to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Kacak family on the loss of Bethany,” says Wright. “At times like these, we don’t always have the answers, we simply trust the God who says, ‘I am your refuge and strength.’”
Bethany is survived by her parents, Robert and Laurie, by her sisters, Kelly and Laura, and by her brother, Micah.
A funeral service for Bethany is tentatively being planned for the afternoon of July 22.
- Georgia Cumberland Conference
Dog Sleds and Determination Deliver Bibles to Arctic
BY ELIZABETH LECHLEITNER, Adventist News Network staff
hether by plane, train, or--in this case--dogsled, Sebastian Tirtirau, founder and director of the Pilgrim Relief Society, matches the persistence of Arctic permafrost when it comes to reaching earth's remotest tribes with education, health care, and ultimately, the message of Jesus. Tirtirau delivered two tons of Bibles to the North Pole.
Headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the not-for-profit Pilgrim Relief Society was launched in 2001 and is committed to improving the quality of life for indigenous peoples. Currently, project implementation is focused on the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa, Amazonian forests of South America, Congo Pygmies, Papua New Guinea, and the Inuit people of northern Canada.
|Sebastian Tirtirau, founder and director of the Pilgrim Relief Society, poses with a team of sled dogs during Bible distribution to the Arctic.
And it's from Northern Canada that Tirtirau just returned. When he learned 5,000 Bibles translated into the Inuit's Inuktitut language--printed by the Canadian Bible Society and purchased by It Is Written--were collecting dust because no one could conceive of how to get them to the Arctic, Tirtirau saw a mission with his name on it.
Because 5,000 Bibles pose quite a shipping challenge--especially to the Arctic, where travel is costly--he split the cargo into two shipments, said Shawn Boonstra, speaker/director for the It Is Written TV ministry, which recently partnered with the Pilgrim Relief Society.
Upon his arrival to the Arctic, Tirtirau reunited with Inuits he befriended during an April 2005 mission trip. Not only did the Inuit people welcome Tirtirau back to their villages, they provided dogsleds and helped him distribute the Bibles. "If it wasn't for the kindness of the Inuit people, the North would be a much colder place," Tirtirau remarked.
Along with the ruthless weather and persistent poverty, Tirtirau cites boredom as one of the greatest challenges Inuit people face. During summer in northern Canada, the sun shines nearly 24 hours a day. The remoteness of the Inuit villages and their limited resources make books a rarity. "I am so happy that they have Bibles to read so they can get a fresh hope for the life to come," said Tirtirau. The smiles of those who received Bibles certainly echo his sentiments.
Bibles have now been distributed to the Inuit villages of Iqaluit, Apex, Kimmirut, Pangnirtung, Qiqirtarjuak, Pond Inlet, Clyde River, Nanisivik, Arctic Bay, Resolute Bay, Grise Fjord, Sanikayak, Igloolik, and Cape Dorset, among others. Three thousand homes (averaging five people each) have now received a Bible. And Tirtirau will be back with the remaining 2,000.
Also during this trip, Tirtirau distributed 40 Bibles in Inuktitut to a local prison, where he says inmates were "in a miserable state. The Bible will give them hope and will introduce them to Jesus," he said.
Supported by an It Is Written television team led by Boonstra, Tirtirau's next expedition will send him to South Africa's Kalahari Desert in August.