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Lessons from the Beehive

Apprehensive and scared describes how I felt four years ago as I zipped-up my bee suit and inspected a hive for the very first time. The idea of harvesting my own honey was the motivating factor in placing myself in the flying path of thousands of bees and the potential of being stung multiple times. With temperatures in the upper 90s and humidity peaking near 85%, I was officially baptized into the awe-inspiring world of beekeeping. Over the years I have become relatively comfortable with the hives but not comfortable enough to neglect to wear a bee suit.

On or around April 21, 2011, I received a copy of the April 21, 2011 Adventist Review in my mailbox and its display of a honeycomb with a couple of bees buzzing about it caught my eye. The title was “Buzzin About the Beehive: How Vision Brings Sweet Results.”

The cover article showcased various groups of young adult college students, at several universities across the country, who had participated in a “Daniel Challenge” which developer Rico Hill says is “a new form of public evangelism—a perfect way to combine the gospel with the unique book of Daniel that has so many key elements of our Adventist faith presented in a balanced way.” The article also pointed out that

The concept of the Beehive came when Rico and Jared read about a vision given to Seventh-day Adventist cofounder Ellen White, showing two beehives representing outreach work in the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, California.

Then at the 2011 Annual Council, Ted Wilson preached a sermon on October 8, 2011 entitled “Mission to the Cities” where he elaborated on a comprehensive “beehive” plan. Wilson stated,

We need everyone dedicated to a comprehensive and sustained evangelistic outreach that will replicate the urban evangelistic work being done in the city of San Francisco in the latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century, which Ellen White called, interestingly, a “beehive” of activity.  In the Review and Herald of July 5, 1906


Quoting from Welfare Ministry, p. 112, “Many lines of Christian effort have been carried forward. . . . These included visiting the sick and destitute, finding homes for orphans and work for the unemployed, nursing the sick, and teaching the truth from house to house, distributing literature, and conducting classes on healthful living and the care of the sick. . . . Near the city hall, there were treatment rooms. . . . In the same locality was a health-food store. Nearer the center of the city . . . was a vegetarian café, which was open six days in the week”.

From this sermon, the charge under Wilson’s leadership is for the world church to embark upon a comprehensive multi-year evangelistic plan to reach city dwellers in the world’s major cities where the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.

Soon after Wilson’s sermon, the Annual Council voted and approved a document entitled Mission To the Cities. This document incorporates Ellen White’s “beehive” vision with a plan to reach 650 major world cities in 500 conferences culminating in July 2015. What caught my eye this time was the “Suggested Timetable” in the document’s addendum.

How does the Holy Spirit feel about the “Suggested Timetable?” All of these plans are comprehensive with the sole purpose of hastening the second coming of Jesus, however the following sentence stood out like a sore thumb. “A major focus of ‘Mission to the Cities’ is conducting 150-200 evangelistic meetings in New York City targeting varied ethnic and language groups in June of 2013.” Is it possible that the evangelistic thrust is solely for the purpose of increasing membership? What did “CLAim LA,” “Babylon Rising,” and “Revelation Speaks Peace” cost, and what were the results?

As I reflect on this year’s honey harvest, I am able to see several similarities between a honey producing beehive and the “beehive” Ellen White saw in vision. The honey producing hive is one where the matriarchal queen, workers, and drones with unique talents and gifts all work in a concerted effort for the common goal of producing honey. The worker bee, females with a lifespan of about 30 days, are engaged in taking care of the queen, performing repairs and construction, taking care of eggs, defending the entrance, foraging for nectar and pollen, making honey, and many other activities that are essential to their survival. The worker bee represents the Christian who loves her neighbor as herself because of her love of God and man. This worker even lays down her life for the good of the hive as an unconditional gift just like Christ did when He laid down His life for humanity.

In Ellen White’s vision of the “beehive”, the worker bees produce honey not only for their own consumption but for those outside of the hive who are not like them. If there are people outside the hive that are in need, the church gives them help (honey). Those who receive the honey know that it comes from the church. If they receive this honey without strings attached, then they are given the choice to change their relationship with God and the world. However, strings stifle choice and are based on the hidden assumption or belief that you are not free to choose. If there are conditions or a purpose in the gift, it is nothing more than a carrot and the person nothing more than a donkey. If we are going to give our love in ministry to a dying world, we need to ask God to fill us with His unconditional love. Is the underlying purpose of the “beehive” being promoted by the General Conference leadership to lead others to a genuine relationship with God or to become a member of the SDA church? Which one produces unadulterated honey?

—Ivan Campos writes from Virginia. He blogs about the beehive and other issues at

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