Personally, I have found the commitment to pray for a given district, institution, person or situation each day very engaging, strategic and intentional for it keeps me focused and sensitive to the needs and concerns of our church. Therefore, in the context of Lord Transform Me and Total Member involvement I officially launch the prayer initiative of The Atlantic Caribbean Union known as PUSH or Pray Until Something Happens for 2017.
Field administrators, directors, pastors, educators, office workers, other workers, church officers and members in general, it is my wish and prayer that you will embrace this initiative and together let us pray daily for the various emphases. It does wonders for one who knows that he or she is being prayed for. In fact, the words of Christ come to mind when in Luke 22:32 He told Peter, a follower of His, “I have prayed for you that your faith fail not.” I believe that Christ prays for us, and we must not become weary in praying for one another.
Therefore, I appeal to you to get involved notwithstanding your own prayer focus and pray and pray until something happens.
Dr. Leonard A. Johnson
By ATCU Communication Department
Recognizing that every field within its territory must be relevant in these rapidly changing times, the administration of the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) brought together the officers of its four fields to take part in the first ATCU Administrators’ Summit on November 13 and 14, 2016, at Comfort Suites on Paradise Island, The Bahamas.
Field presidents, secretaries, and treasurers from the Cayman Islands Conference (CIC), the North and South Bahamas Conferences (NBC and SBC), and the Turks and Caicos Islands Mission (TCIM) received presentations on leadership, financial transparency, and safety and risk management.
In the area of leadership, guest presenter Dr. Lowell Cooper, retired general vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GC), reminded the administrators that they had a ministry and not a job. “When I have a job, I think of what my work does for my career. When I have a ministry, I think of what my work does for others,” said Cooper. He also emphasized the positive impact effective training had on organizations and churches, pointing out that in addition to being trained for a specific job, individuals also need to be able to function in groups.
Paul Douglas, director of the General Conference Auditing Services (GCAS), provided information on the auditing process that all institutions within the Seventh-day Adventist Church must go through and underscored that the auditors of GCAS aim to help institutions develop, grow, and most importantly, be trusted.
Daisy Montes de Oca, customer representative, account executive of Adventist Risk Management, gave presentations on how to reduce risk in all areas of the church so that properties are safe for everyone who enters and uses them. “Prevention is most important,” admonished Daisy as she listed a number of preventive measures that churches and institutions can implement in order to have a more effective ministry with reduced risk.
The officers of ATCU also presented on topics related to their office. Dr. Leonard Johnson, president of ATCU, gave an overview of the current status of the union and outlined the union’s projections up to 2021 when it is expected that TCIM would transition to conference status and SBC would become two fields. “These projections are not made in order to split fields and create positions but to facilitate more effective management and better care of the members,” explained Johnson.
Pastor Peter Kerr, executive secretary of ATCU, spoke to the importance of care of members. “We must be intentional in caring for each member,” said Kerr. “We must not look at the member as a number but as a soul.” In addition, he reported on the ongoing process of the digitalization of the church registry with the Adventist Church Management System (ACMS), saying that ATCU is expected to be fully on ACMS by mid 2017.
Elder Roderick Sands, treasurer of ATCU, highlighted the importance of financial transparency, stressing that resource allocation must be aligned with the mission of the church. Sands indicated that evangelism must be priority, and this must be reflected in the field’s spending.
Dr. Johnson in his closing remarks challenged the officers to share the information received and to implement what was learnt.
ATCU Communication Department
Still happy and proud that the overall winner of the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists’ (IAD) 2015 Super Bible Boom championships came from within its territory, the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) held its 2016 union-wide Bible Boom finals at the Hillview Seventh-day Adventist Church on Saturday evening, October 30 in Nassau, Bahamas. Organized by the youth ministries department of ATCU under the directorship of Pastor Eric D. Clarke, the Bible Boom’s aim is to encourage and motivate young people to study the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.
Competing were the finalists from three of the union’s four fields. Stephon Forbes (North Bahamas Conference), Adrian Reader (Turks and Caicos Islands Mission), and Alexandria Scott (South Bahamas Conference) tackled fifty-five challenging questions from the Old Testament books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth as well as the first twelve chapters of the book Patriarchs and Prophets by Ellen G. White. Using individual computers to submit their answers, the contestants answered questions that were assigned different points and time limits in which to respond.
At the end of the fifty-fifth question, Adrian Reader was victorious, winning the Waylon Johnson Bible Boom trophy with a total of 465 points and a time of twelve minutes and twenty-five seconds. He was followed by Stephon Forbes with 425 points. In third place was Alexandria Scott with 205 points.
Adrian Reader will now advance to the division-wide competition where he will represent ATCU in competing with over twenty other contestants for the title of 2016 IAD champion in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on December 10. There are five IAD Bible Booms held within a quinquennium, but the final is the Super Bible Boom where the winners of the four previous IAD tournaments convene to challenge each other for the Super Bible Boom award.
Waylon Johnson of the North Bahamas Conference won the IAD Bible Boom in 2011 and went on to emerge victorious at the IAD Super Bible Boom in 2015, winning over four thousand dollars ($4,000.00) in scholarship along with being named the youth delegate to the 2015 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GC) Session in San Antonio, Texas, where he was able to participate in the process of reviewing and amending the rules and policies of the world Seventh-day Adventist church.
We Are Blessed!
Every now and then I pause to consider what is happening around me and what am I experiencing. In doing so, I remark to myself that “We Seventh-day Adventists are blessed.” Quite naturally, the “Why?” question arises time and time again. “How are we blessed?” After all, like all others, we have our share of ups and downs, frustrations and disappointments. Like everybody else, we face the daily grind of survival coupled with a need to make things better. Nevertheless, we are blessed. However, we could be doubly blessed if we practice what we know.
What a Church to Belong to!
Admittedly, there are thousands of churches all around to fit each person’s likes and dislikes. But examining closely our church, I am awed by an apparent blessing that attends it. We are organized even if there is to some degree an absence or lack in your local church. We possess a network that connects one with another worldwide when it becomes known that you are Seventh-day Adventist. I have experienced this personally both as a recipient and a provider or initiator whether in Haiti, the United States, Guyana, Russia or Mexico. Then there is the academic emphasis. While I do not have the data to prove it-- it would seem as an Adventist that it is expected that one will pursue college or university studies more so than in another church denomination. This emphasis has provided the opportunity for many of us to achieve that which we would not ordinarily have accomplished. That, to me, is not a stroke of luck but a divine design, for did not God promise that He would bless Israel of old if they followed His ways and statues? (Refer to Duet. 28:3-6.)
Is There More?
Resoundingly “Yes!” When I consider the health focus of the church, even though some members scorn it, the benefits are real and far reaching. For me, I consider the simplicity of nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables. That is not to say that I am full vegetarian, as I eat fish. But I extol the virtue of these foods created by our Maker for human consumption. In fact, a parent remarked that it is costly to be a vegetarian. Without much pause, I responded that it is not. Having to purchase vegetarian substitutes can be costly, but learning to make meatless loaves and patties, etc. can be more affordable than purchasing meats- in some instances. And we are so blessed, for the Seventh-day Adventist Church provides free lectures and training, but to my surprise, the attendance at these could be better. Could the poor attendance result from a lack of promotion or a lack of interest? Or do we become serious when our health is threatened? As a side note, in a recent meeting I had with the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, while speaking about the proposed National Health Plan, I encouraged him to consider lowering tariff on fruits and vegetables thus making these affordable for everyone, as they would augment the national health plan insurance. Additionally, I offered the services of the church to do inner city training employing the “I Want To Live Healthy” model at no cost, except for materials.
Additionally, there is the prophetic message that the church has received. Whereas it may lack appeal to some of us internally, visitors are excited and awestruck by the way how we explain it. The relevance of Daniel 2, 7, 8 & 9 as well as the book of Revelation allows us to see from a perspective that gives assurance and hope, and prevents panic or reacting to every move of the pope, or who is elected president of the United States of America.
We Are Accountable
Unfortunately, with all of the blessings referenced and unmentioned, comes the element of accountability. That is to say – “Am I sharing these truths?” “Am I leading folks to embrace basic and practical principles?” “Am I embracing what I know?” The current Sabbath school lessons challenge me to do more especially in my immediate neighborhood. (Even the lessons that we study weekly can make us educated and wise beyond others. It is like going to a university for life). We, as a church, are blessed. That in itself tells me that this church is ordained of God. Need I say more? Need I do more? Need I be more?