The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Grantham, England, hosted a church service to recognize World Refugee Day on June 17, the first held in the town. The service highlighted compassion and hope away from home, as reported by Katie Green for the Grantham Journal.
Councillor Mark Whittington, Mayor of Grantham, read a bible reading and Councillor Charmaine Morgan, Deputy Mayor of Grantham, gave a warm welcome to people who have come to Grantham for safety.
A spokesperson for the church said: “A group of children from the SDA Church, all pupils of Dudley House School, read out some myth-busting statistics from the Refugee Council and were told the story, ‘My Name is not Refugee.’ ”
Pastor John Duncan of New Vision Pentecostal Church and Caroline Milligan spoke about compassion shown to the people living in Grantham from Afghanistan by Churches Together in Grantham on arrival and Alive Church's continuing 'Blossom' activities project.
Karen Marlor, from the Jubilee Church Life Centre, and Elisabeth Carnell, from the SDA church, spoke of the help being given to Ukrainian refugees within the town. Parts of the service were in Ukrainian with the help of Sergiy Nykyforov, from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency.
—From the Grantham Journal, “Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Grantham Holds Special Service To Mark World Refugee Day.”
Three Southern Indian Adventist Congregants Assaulted by Fellow Church Members
On June 17, eight members of a Seventh-day Adventist congregation in the Indian state of Telangana assaulted fellow church members Muthangi and Yadayya Amurtha and Shyamalamma, falsely accusing them of practicing witchcraft. Other residents of the village then joined them, tying the three to a tree by their feet and beating them “repeatedly with sticks and stones,” according to a report by Anjana Meenakshi for The News Minute.
[A] confession was forced out of the Madiga Christian couple initially by their own caste group, who mistakenly believed that they had been chanting 'mantras.' . . . The torture [of nearly eight hours] ended only when the police intervened at around 5 p.m. Among other claims, the villagers—those who bore witness and those who actively participated in the assault—accused the couple of causing a buffalo to fall sick through witchcraft, and Shyamalamma of causing a young man’s death by suicide a few years ago through similar means.
“We kept saying we had nothing to do with witchcraft, but they didn’t listen. They said if we didn’t admit to it, they would pour petrol and set us on fire. We finally admitted to witchcraft even though we had nothing to do with it, as the pain was too much to bear,” said Amrutha.
The Kolkur incident was not an isolated one. Activists opposing superstitious beliefs by promoting scientific thinking in the Telugu states say that in the last 10 years, at least 300 cases of ‘witchcraft’ accusations and misbelief have surfaced in Telangana, with many other instances going unreported. These accusations usually emerge as explanations for either simple accidents, or complex situations concerning mental health. The victims who face these accusations and consequent persecution are typically either Dalits or members of Other Backward Classes (OBC) communities, with women among them suffering the worst, according to Ramesh Babu, a member of the scientific organisation Jana Vignana Vedika. In the absence of dedicated laws to tackle the problem, activists blame authorities for not doing enough to curb crimes stemming from superstitious beliefs.
When asked about the churchgoers’ animosity towards her family, Amrutha mentioned that on one occasion, her elder daughter, a person with disabilities, wet herself while the church prayers were ongoing. Since then, the couple and their two daughters stopped going to the church, except on special occasions, because of the girl’s health, Amrutha explained.
“While beating us, they asked why we didn’t attend church anymore. We have our own circumstances [which are stopping us],” said Yadayya to The News Minute. During last week’s assault, Yadayya was accused of colluding with another resident Shyamalamma, who herself had been accused of witchcraft by the village residents around 10 years ago. However, the underpinning of contempt for the family who wasn’t visiting the church frequently came through from the couple’s statements, though the ostensible reason for the violence was witchcraft.
On Tuesday, June 20, . . . eight people were arrested and sent to judicial remand under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). . . . Murali Karnam, assistant professor of law at National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) University, Hyderabad, remarked, “The political economy of the village is at play from the top-down. I have heard of cases where lowered caste individuals were accused of witchcraft by dominant castes because roosters or hens had died. These are important assets for people residing in a village. Village elders would often organize prayers, call some ‘godman’ or the other to get rid of ‘evil forces’ and demand money from everyone in the village for the very purpose,” he said.
—From The News Minute, “How Superstition and Prejudice Led to Persecution of Dalit Christian Couple in Telangana.”
Barbados Seventh-day Adventist Church Provides Students School Supplies for over 20 Years
“The Workman’s Seventh-day Adventist Church is committed to assisting students in its community in a big way," according to an interview with Winston Walcott, Workman church associate elder, by Shamar Blunt for Barbados TODAY. The church provided school supplies and words of encouragement to 18 students who would be taking their Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination (BSSEE), also known as the 11-Plus.
Walcott told Barbados TODAY that the church sees it as an important activity each year to give back to the students.
“For the past 25 years, the Workman’s Seventh-day Adventist Church has been impacting the community around us. We see it as very important for the young people as they make that step forward into their secondary school life, that we give them a word of inspiration [and] encouragement to carry them along this pathway because they are going to be going into a new environment and new setting.”
He added: “We believe that the spiritual component is very important to these young people, [to] let them know that God has a purpose and plan for their life. We can see the results of the students that have passed through this program, the steps they have taken and the roles they have played also, [so] we believe that this program has been extremely impactful.”
—From Barbados Today, “Seventh-day Adventists Help Students Prepare for 11-Plus.”
New Novel Features Adventist Characters
Canadian author and former Adventist Darcie Friesen-Hossack has published a novel titled Stillwater. Reviewed in the Prairie Post where her columns have been published for many years, the novel is available from Tidewater Press.
Stillwater tells the story of 16-year-old Lizzie, her Seventh-day Adventist father and Mennonite mother. “They and her younger brother [attempt] to escape a vaccine mandate,” explains Friesen-Hossack. “Lizzie’s father moves the family to an SDA commune in the north Okanagan, where the food is vegan and beige and women are expected to stand at the table until all the men have taken their seats. Lizzie is a budding scientist.”
“Seventh-day Adventists have never been featured in literature so far as I can find. They’re not the kind of people who really like to have a mirror held up to show them who they are,” noted Friesen-Hossack. “[But] that’s where I went to church, and that’s where I went to high school. It’s where I met my husband in Seventh-day Adventist Academy and was married by his Seventh-day Adventist pastor-father. I’m no longer part of that church in that community and I’m a little bit worried about the reaction.”
"She noted the third act of the novel is set near Maple Creek… [where] my Seventh-day Adventist grandparents farmed. They’re kind of between Maple Creek and Fox Valley; that’s a place [where] I would go visit my dad on long weekends, [and] I would take the Greyhound bus from Swift Current to Maple Creek and spend a long weekend. My dad would come from Calgary. We’d spend the weekend on the farm there, so it’s a place I remember. You know, I [would] get dragged to the SDA church and Maple Creek on the weekend, and you know, that’s where we experienced Adventist food for the very first time and all the advantages to food. Each chapter [of my novel] has a recipe at the end.”
Reviewer Ryan Dahlman observes, “You come away having learned something without it feeling like a lecture. It was more like having coffee with a friend.” Friesen-Hossack’s first novel is titled Mennonites Don’t Dance.
—From the Prairie Post, “Religion, Science Making a Riveting Mix for Book Filled with Pain and Overcoming the Odds.”
Cuban Teen Refugee Attends Upper Columbia Academy in 2022-23
Samuel Lores, a refugee from Cuba attended Upper Columbia Academy last school year, according to a profile by Cindy Hval for The Spokesman-Review.
He and his family fled Cuba in January 2022. Their four-month journey to the U.S. took them to Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico, where they were jailed because they’d entered the country illegally.
Though Lores had graduated from high school in Cuba, the government wouldn’t release his school records, so [he would need to repeat] his senior year. He knew exactly where he wanted to go—Upper Columbia Academy.
“I’d always dreamed of attending an Adventist school, but there are none in Cuba.” Initially, no spots were open at the school, and Lores was put on a wait list. “Two weeks before school started, . . . they said I could come. I’m not going to lie—this has been the best year of my life.”
Lores said UCA was everything he’d hoped for. “I like the environment. Everybody helps each other, and I needed help to improve my English,” he said. “The teachers are so patient with me.” He didn’t need assistance on the soccer field – he grew up playing the sport. The school’s team went to state this year and won the Fall Classic in Walla Walla.
[Lores] plans to pursue a career in nursing and will attend Walla Walla University in the fall. [Teacher Judy] Castrejón has no doubt Lores will be an asset to the medical community. “He’s very caring. I’m sure the Lord will use him in the ministry of nursing,” she said.
—From The Spokesman-Review, “Upper Columbia Academy: After His Family Fled Cuba, Sammy Lores Seeks To Help Others.”
ADRA Highlighted in Mainstream Canadian Media
The Globe and Mail reported content from the “Philanthropy in Canada Report” that features the work of ADRA in several areas of Canada.
When disasters strike – like the Fort McMurray fires, the floods in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley and the COVID-19 pandemic—the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA Canada) is often one of the first support agencies to mobilize responses, drawing on the expertise of the approximately 10,000 volunteers it has trained to work in emergency situations.
Daniel Saugh, the Canadian programs manager for ADRA Canada, says volunteers are a critical factor in the agency’s ability to deliver programs—from emergency responses to more than 30 pandemic-related support projects plus the many development initiatives it supports in Canada, and as part of the global ADRA network that works with communities to help them lift themselves out of poverty.
“Our volunteers are invaluable,” says Saugh. “They are the backbone of the success of our organization and our operations. Volunteerism is alive and well—without them, many of our programs and initiatives would not be successful, so we place a premium value on our volunteers.”
He says ADRA Canada has a National Emergency Management Plan, and each province or territory has a customized provincial emergency management plan. “We can activate and deploy volunteers as needed to a particular location or region,” he says, citing the organization’s contribution during the 2021–22 wildfires in British Columbia when ADRA Canada took the lead in managing the warehouse of in-kind donations to co-ordinate all the goods and contributions that were sent from throughout the province.
While the emergency responses often grab the headlines, Saugh points out that volunteers are also involved in development projects. “In northern Edmonton, we developed some eco-based community gardens in the Paul First Nation. We had over 25 youth volunteers who worked with Indigenous youth to build the gardens to produce fruit and vegetables, enabling community access to healthy food,” says Saugh.
To prepare volunteers to operate appropriately in emergency response situations, ADRA Canada provides cultural sensitivity and competency training in addition to the ideals of humanitarian principles as well as familiarizing them with gender inclusion and child sexual exploitation policies.
—From The Globe and Mail, “The Backbone of ADRA Canada’s Operations.”
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.
Title image by Freepik.
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