Hundreds of Global Mission Projects
Given Green Light
ore than 200 Global Mission projects got the go-ahead on August 17, keeping 2006 on track to become one of the largest years ever for projects and funding. Meeting at the Adventist Church world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, the Adventist Mission Committee approved all 266 proposed projects, most of which are located in the East-Central Africa and Northern Asia-Pacific regions. Funding approved for the projects totaled more than US$1.7 million, pushing the 2006 project funding total to approximately $9.7 million.
|PREACHING & TEACHING: The Adventist Mission Committee recently approved 266 projects, most of which are located in the East-Central Africa and Northern Asia-Pacific regions. [Courtesy of Adventist Mission]
Most of the projects approved at the August 17 meeting are located in areas with little or no Adventist presence. In one region with 2.7 million people, the only Adventists are the two Global Mission pioneers who will start an outreach project. The types of projects vary, ranging from health-related outreach in rural areas to church planting efforts in major cities.
“Global Mission pioneers are an integral part of the Tell the World initiatives to plant 20,000 new churches in the next five years, and to give every person on earth a chance to accept the gospel by 2010,” says Homer Trecartin, planning director for Adventist Mission. “This immense challenge will take a significant increase in funding. We all need to be reaching out to those around us, be faithful in our tithes and regular mission offerings, and dig even deeper to help fund these [initiatives].”
Total projects now underway this year number 1,069, with many more yet to be formally proposed and approved. During the past nine years, Global Mission projects have averaged about 1,200 annually.
Since 1990, Global Mission, a special initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has undertaken more than 11,000 outreach projects in previously unentered areas of the world. Global Mission pioneers typically spend at least a year on these projects, establishing a congregation within their own culture. Thousands of these pioneers are currently active around the world.
For more information about Global Mission, go to www.global-mission.org
--Steve Hamstra, summer intern for Adventist Mission.
Reaching Hearts for Kids Delivers Global Impact
AS TOLD BY NORMA NASHED, director of Reaching Hearts for Kids
The idea of caring for needy children started brewing in the mind of Norma Nashed about seven years ago while working for the General Conference Youth Department in Silver Spring, Maryland. During the next few years, Nashed’s belief that God was calling her to a new direction of service eventually led her to her first mission field—an apartment complex right in her own community. Here she began visiting homes of children who, as Norma describes, were “going to bed hungry at night,” so she did what she could to help them both physically and spiritually.
Her work for children soon expanded to include the nearby communities of Takoma Park and Langley Park, where there is a large Hispanic population. She coordinated visits with translators from local Adventist churches to communicate with the people and assist them with their needs.
|HELPING THE CHILDREN: Reaching Hearts for Kids is currently helping more than 600 needy children in eight countries. [Courtesy of Reaching Hearts for Kids]
“The worst thing I learned is that children sometimes go to bed hungry right here in our own backyard,” said Nashed.
Nashed realized that more needed to be done, so eventually she organized and headed a community services ministry named Reaching Hearts for Kids (RHK), supported by Reaching Hearts International, an Adventist congregation in Spencerville, Maryland. November 2006 marks the fifth anniversary of the official beginning of RHK, now a global humanitarian outreach of Reaching Hearts International, which serves as a mission of the Allegheny East Conference and is a member of Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI).
“Reaching Hearts for Kids reaches out to those in need, without regard to race, ethnicity, or religious background,” says Nashed. “As Ellen White writes in the book Welfare Ministry, ‘our neighbors are the whole human family,’ and we ought to aid others irrespective of their faith” (page 46).
Nashed adds, “So many children in the world today suffer from what the United Nations terms ‘silent tsunami’; namely, AIDS, poverty, disaster, forced child prostitution, child labor, and slavery. Nothing is more important to a displaced child than a stable environment. We try to give them hope, without which their futures will be too short and bleak.”
Norma works out of a small den in her Beltsville, Maryland, home, and for the first four years exhausted her own resources to volunteer full-time for the ministry. Now she relies on donations to fund most of the work, as well as part-time volunteers to assist her.
A friend of Nashed from the Reaching Hearts International congregation was the ministry’s first part-time volunteer. A second volunteer, John Shin, who is president of the Adventist Campus Ministry (ACM) at the University of Maryland—an evangelistic outreach of Reaching Hearts International—has also come on board. ACM was organized five years ago, with University of Maryland student Ryan Abel serving as the first president, and Michael Oxentenko, senior pastor of Reaching Hearts International, giving weekly Bible studies and training students to share their faith on a secular campus. Shin was also the student speaker for the graduation commencement exercises of the University of Maryland’s College of Computer/Mathematical and Physical Sciences Department in May, is the winner of numerous academic awards and scholarships, and plans to attend medical school next fall.
Another part-time volunteer, Geetika Bector, became a Christian and joined the Adventist Church after spending two years studying other religions and then taking Bible studies with Oxentenko. “I came to believe that the Bible is indeed a true testament to our God. I am a research scientist with a degree in Biochemistry, but the work I do for Reaching Hearts for Kids means more to me than anything I’ve ever done in the lab,” says Bector. “[When] I heard Norma Nashed advocate needy children in our church, I felt a tug at my heart . . . and now I’m here.” Bector conducts Bible studies for young adults and helps them prepare for baptism. She is currently pursuing her graduate studies in public health and working full-time at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
The work of RHK now extends to helping more than 600 children in eight countries. Many of these children are orphaned because their parents have died as a result of AIDS and they are left on the streets, victims of abuse and crime. RHK also partners with Vijay Nakka, a senior vice president of an American firm in Hyderabad, India, to sponsor a community school with 125 children who have been rescued from difficult circumstances in that region; as well as Two Mites Charity, headed by Adventist physician Devadas Moses in Loma Linda, California, to provide basic education to orphaned victims of the December 2004 tsunami in Kanyakumari, southern India. Adventist physician Erling Oksenholt of Overseas Medical Volunteers in Oregon is also a supporter of RHK.
Nashed says, however, that there is much work yet to be done. Funds are being raised to build an Adventist school in Mangalore, India, where Reaching Hearts International has planted a church. There had not been an Adventist presence in that region for 50 years. Better medical care for children with HIV and AIDS in Hyderabad, India, is also being pursued. In Nairobi, Kenya, RHK sponsors Motherly Care Home, where a woman named Mary Metobo is caring for 72 orphans in her own home. RHK also sponsors New Hope Center in Ambo, Ethiopia; and in partnership with Global Vessels of Maryland, RHK plans to go on a two-week mission trip in June 2007 to build a home for street children. The organization also sponsors two orphanages in Indonesia. Humanitarian organizations such as HELP International in Maryland, Amistad International in California, and Overseas Medical Volunteers in Oregon now partner with RHK on a limited basis in some of their projects. RHK also hopes to help alleviate the suffering of the “forgotten” children in Iraq and Sudan.
Helping children in need has become Nashed’s passion, and her efforts are making a difference in young lives.
“God has endowed each one of us with talents, skills, and resources,” she says. “What we do with them is what really matters.”
Ensuring Fairness in the Pay Packet
BY JAMES COFFIN, senior pastor of the Markham Woods church in Longwood, Florida
Legislators at all levels of government throughout the United States are currently debating whether workers should be entitled to more than the current federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour. The minimum wage hasn’t been raised in the past 10 years.
Granted that inflation-adjusted incomes for the nation’s poor have fallen considerably, the debate is far from academic. A complicating factor is the choice of many companies to move production overseas, where people are often willing to work for a fraction of even the U.S. minimum wage.
Do Christian employers and consumers have spiritual obligations that go beyond the monetary bottom line? Is the Christian’s obligation simply equal to whatever the free market will bear? What is our relative obligation to fellow citizens compared to those living in other regions of the world?
The Bible makes some interesting comments about wages and employment practices:
“Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight” (Lev. 19:13, NIV). But would it have been acceptable if he was so desperate that he agreed to delayed pay?
“I will be quick to testify against . . . those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless” (Mal. 3:5, NIV).
“Now listen, you rich people. . . . The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you” (James 5:1, 4, NIV).
And even animals, the Bible says, are entitled to appropriate pay for their work: “‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain’ ” (1 Tim. 5:18, NIV).
Granted, it’s not easy to know how to apply biblical-era mandates in our global, high-tech economy. But the Bible says enough to at least give us pause as we vote periodically at the ballot box and regularly with our pocketbooks.