This week’s Adventist news round-up features stories from China, Ghana, California, Texas, and Bulgaria.
Chinese Authorities Now Dictate Church Service Liturgies. The first thing Chinese state-run churches sing after reopening from coronavirus lockdown will not be “Amazing Grace.” According to reports, the Chinese Communist Party will only allow churches to reopen if they preach “patriotism” to President Xi Jinping, tell stories of CCP valor in fighting the virus, and sing the National Anthem.
A Seventh-day Adventist pastor told Bitter Winter, the religious liberty magazine, that these requirements are aimed at “disturbing the minds of believers to transform their ideologies and change the essence of their beliefs.” Xi has ordered that religion in China should be “Chinese in orientation.” The Communist Party has attempted to rewrite the Bible in order to “update” it for socialism and “create a new version of Christianity.” The Adventist pastor predicted that the Chinese Communist Party will force more indoctrination on people of faith. “Its ultimate goal is to make all people believe in communism only,” he insisted. The pastor urged Christians to “stand guard against the CCP’s vicious intentions, not to become prisoners of communism.”
He suggested that it would be better for churches to go underground than to embrace CCP propaganda. “Three-Self churches should follow the path of house churches and hold meetings in secret to avoid being controlled by the CCP and save their pure faith,” he said.
A preacher from Zhumadian City told Bitter Winter that before his church reopened, he had to attend a conference organized by the local Two Chinese Christian Councils. Participants had to study President Xi’s speeches on preventing and controlling the coronavirus outbreak, and they had to listen to “heroic stories of fighting the pandemic.”
“The government demands to promote these things to congregations after churches reopen,” the preacher recalled. “These texts are published in a booklet over 100 pages long. Preachers must mainly talk about the state’s policies. Those who disobey will be arrested.” From PJ Media, “Churches in China Reopen After COVID, But They're Not Singing 'Amazing Grace.'”
Ghana SDA Caretaker Robbed and Killed. Four armed men on motorbikes robbed and killed Mark Amofah, a caretaker of the Bantama Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kumasi, Ghana, in broad daylight, on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Amofah was returning from the bank in the afternoon when the assailants on two unregistered motorbikes trailed him from the bank and attacked him. They reportedly took away GH4,300 in cash at the church entrance before shooting him at close range in the chest.
The presence of students of the nearby Adventist Senior High School that share a compound with the church and a security man on campus did not scare the robbers off.
Cries for help by the father of three is believed to have angered the robbers who shot him. Students and other eyewitnesses were drawn to the scene by the loud noise of gunshots fired by the robbers only to see the deceased pant for breath.
“At about 1:00 p.m. after school had closed, we heard a very loud noise. We thought it was a tire burst. Upon closer check, we saw the man in a pool of blood. He had gone to the Abrepo Junction branch of Ecobank, about five-minutes’ drive to withdraw some cash for the church,” one eyewitness told JoyNews.
According to another witness, motorists refused to convey wounded Amofah to nearby Komfo Anokye Hospital amid profuse bleeding. He was eventually transported there in one of the church buses. Doctors pronounced him dead a few minutes after his arrival at the hospital. From Joy News Online, “Police on manhunt for robbers who gunned down Bantama SDA Church caretaker in broad daylight.”
Black Lives Matter for Angwin Protestors. Demonstrators marched down Howell Mountain Road in Angwin, California, on Juneteenth. Leading the march is organizer Michael Andrianarijaona. The following link features a photo array of the march. From St. Helena Star, “Photos: Black Lives Matter protests in Angwin.”
Southwestern Adventist University Hosts “March in Solidarity: Celebration of Diversity.” The Texas heat did not keep over 100 people from walking one and a half miles in a march in solidarity. Southwestern Adventist University on May 29 hosted the “March in Solidarity: Celebration of Diversity,” inviting all to celebrate the diversity on its campus.
“One of the values we have at Southwestern Adventist University is that we value the image of God in all humanity,” President Ken Shaw said. “As a result we treat each individual with respect and seek opportunities to work together for good of all humanity. One of the reasons we’re marching today is to celebrate the diversity that we have on this campus. We are a minority-serving institution. We see that every student is a child of God, and we love them all. As we have experienced the terrible racial injustices over the past several months brings us to the second reason that we’re marching today.
“It is time to stand up and say enough is enough. As a Christian university, racism goes against our very core. Today we walk in solidarity to treat people like Jesus would. Today we walk in unity to stand for what is right and what is good. Today we walk in harmony desiring an end of racial injustices and discrimination.”
The march, which began at the historical Mizpah Gate, included eight stops at different landmarks on the campus. Each stop featured a different speaker and students and recent graduates conducting prayers. From Cleburne Times-Review, “March of solidarity; Southwestern Adventist University hosts walk around campus to celebrate diversity.”
Third-generation Bulgarian Adventist Teen Witnesses, Wins Folk Music Competition. Last year Yoana Sashova, a third-generation Bulgarian Adventist (also third-generation musician) won second place on “Voice of Bulgaria.” She turned the chairs of three out of four coaches at the blind auditions. She was asked to sing a second song, and it made her a real star. Her second song was trending at #1 on YouTube for a whole month and generated more than three million views, more views than the song sung by the original artist. Sashova writes her own music and lyrics and plays a guitar.
Yoana Sashova, 17, introduced herself as a believer in God right away. Sashova kept witnessing about her faith all through the whole competition. There were many positive comments on her singing on the social media platforms: “We will be praying for you. Thank you for presenting our God in the most dignified way—with words, deeds, talent!”; “A person gets goosebumps upon hearing the beautiful voice and the unique playing of the guitar. Well done, girl! God has given her a talent that most of the Bulgarian singers lack!”; “There is hope for this world once people have managed to appreciate a modest and talented girl without silicone! We are too used to vulgarity and pranks, it's a miracle when something normal appears!” — to quote just a few of them.
Despite the fact that she had been asked several times by journalists not to talk about her faith, Yoana was adamant: “I can’t help it! I owe Him everything!”
After singing her own spiritual song, her coach told her: "In these times, when virtues and values are somehow out of date, you appeared as a bright ray of light and are the absolute antithesis of the reality that surrounds us. You are a symbol of humanity, purity, and sincerity, of a great gift of God. To me, you are a hope!"
Another coach, commenting on her final song “Consolation,” remarked: “You are a believer in God. May He bless you!”
Sashova’s interview with Hope Channel Bulgaria generated unprecedented interest and people keep leaving comments on the great impression she made on them with her witness. “I met Yoana's family years ago,” said Corrado Cozzi, communication director of the Inter-European Division of Seventh-day Adventists, “a family with the gift of music that they transmit with passion and with a very deep spiritual feeling. Yoana could only follow this passion and transmit it with the same enthusiasm. We are proud of her.”
Sashova attends Roma Seventh-day Adventist Church in the town of Kyustendil, south-west Bulgaria. This Roma community has the densest Adventist population in Europe – there are 1,300 SDAs living there among 12,000 inhabitants and worship in two congregations. From EUD News, “Young Adventist Wins Second Place in ‘Voice of Bulgaria’ Singing a Spiritual Song at the Finals.”
Please note: Spectrum news round-ups are an aggregation of regional, national, and international publications around the world that have reported on stories about Adventists. As such, the accuracy of the information is the responsibility of the original publishers, which are noted and hyperlinked at the end of each excerpt.
Pam Dietrich taught English at Loma Linda Academy for 26 years and served there eight more years as the 7-12 librarian. She lives in Yucaipa, California.
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