Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hope For Humanity: The New Ingathering

Next Friday, June 26, I will travel to El Salvador to prepare for a group of about 65 people who will be setting up mission projects for their local congregations and conferences. In addition to local pastors and lay church leaders, the group will include several local conference presidents, plus the officers of the North American Division and the Inter-American Division. I am using vacation time to serve as one of two photographers for the group, but I am hoping to find time to update this blog daily. With this post I have included photos from literacy schools in El Salvador from a similar trip I took in 2004.

I don’t know who all my travel companions will be, but I am aware of at least eight people from the Pacific Union Conference; members and pastors from The Place, Moorpark, Camarillo and Santa Clarita congregations.

Hope For Humanity, a service of the NAD, acts as sort of a matchmaker, establishing relationships between local congregations in the NAD and already effective ministries in other parts of the world. To learn more about Hope, go to If you click on the Learning Circles video you will see that the work in El Salvador focuses on about 150 literacy schools. I’ll write more about that after I get there.

It is sometimes said that Hope For Humanity is a new name for Ingathering. But the real change is far deeper.

Ingathering (formerly known as Harvest Ingathering) was invented in 1904 by Jasper Wayne, a traveling salesman from Sac City, Iowa. Wayne discovered that neighbors and strangers would give money to support foreign mission work if given the opportunity. Ingathering was a lay movement – like an ASI project today. But in 1908 the General Conference recommended “the ingathering plan” to all churches. The Encyclopedia lists these five goals.
• 100% membership participation.
• Total coverage of the territory
• Searching for persons interested in the gospel
• Increased offerings, and
• A thorough follow-up of interests.

By the late 1960s, when I entered the ministry in the Washington, lip service was given to finding interested persons and a thorough follow-up, but ever-increasing goals, visiting every home in the area of the city or county where the church was located, and enlisting 100 percent of the members in going door to door asking for money had become a primary measure for the effectiveness of pastors – and often a condition of employment. When I arrived in the Texas Conference in the early 1970s, I found that pastors received an extra month’s salary if they raised the goal assigned to their church by the end of December, and they were not allowed any vacation time until the goal was raised. Some pastors were still begging their members in June and July to finish raising their goal. The pastors themselves were expected to approach all the businesses in their territory and ask for business donations. Some pastors and some congregations ingathered 12 months of every year.
Obviously the joy had gone out of supporting mission work, at least for the pastors. In most parts of the NAD, Ingathering vanished during the 1980s when younger presidents – who had hated Ingathering when they were pastors – declined to impose goals on other pastors.

But throughout the world, Adventists with few resources were giving all they had to minister to their neighbors through such things as health ministry, orphanages and literacy schools. They were doing it as a church ministry and they were winning many new Christians and members of the church family – and they needed help. From the ashes of Ingathering rose the fresh flower of voluntary mission projects for local congregations. Its name is Hope For Humanity.

Watch this blog for details on how this trip will strengthen participating congregations in the NAD and minister to the real needs of people in very poor countries.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dinosaurs on Noah's Ark?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. Last night I read a new book for (smart) children from Pacific Press, "Dinosaurs: Where did they come from . . . and where did they go," by Elaine Graham-Kennedy, Ph.D., from the Geoscience Research Institute in Loma Linda. The book is well-written and beautifully illustrated with photos on every page. And it's fun to read. I expect it will soon be found in nearly every Adventist elementary classroom above the second grade, and probably most secondary school libraries. But the book, which is carefully non-sectarian, deserves and will probably find a much wider audience. I plan to loan a copy of the book to the Grace Brethren elementary school my grandson attends in Simi Valley, Calif., and I expect the school will order several copies.

Of course the book won't please everyone. At a time when the creation/evolution, faith/science debate is often polarized and emotional, Kennedy insists that both science and scripture must be taken seriously and she speaks respectfully of those with different views. Some of the most radical Creationists will object to her declarations that dinosaur bones, eggs and tracks are real and that they are found all around the world. And, of course, others will not agree with the author in her bedrock assumption that the Genesis stories of creation and the worldwide flood are literal accounts of historical events, and that the truth about dinosaurs must be in agreement with those stories.

But the majority of her readers will welcome everything in the book. Dr. Kennedy never seems dogmatic. She suggests reasonable answers to dinosaur questions, but says much is not known and leaves room for other understandings. She points out that dinosaur remains are found in only the Mesozoic layers of rock and that no human remains have ever been found in the same rocks as the dinosaurs. But she makes it clear she believes dinosaurs and humans coexisted; we just haven't found the evidence yet.

This may be the first book from Pacific Press to accept the notion that the lower layers of rock are older than the upper layers, though she suggests the difference in age may be only days or weeks. Thus, the dinosaurs in the lower (Triassic) layer may be those killed during the first few days of the flood, while those in the upper (Cretaceous) layer may be those killed later in the same flood. Or maybe not.

Kennedy believes dinosaurs were created by God and placed in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Why? Because the Bible says everything was created by God. She suggests those pre-sin dinosaurs, even the T-rex, were peaceful vegetarians and might have been quite beautiful. She points out that most dinosaurs ranged in size from a large dog to a giraffe, so pairs of most dinosaur species could have fit on Noah's ark. And it is clear that she believes many dinosaurs were on the ark, though she admits there is no proof they were or were not.

She doesn't know why or when dinosaurs became extinct but suggests some species may have disappeared before the world-wide flood, some during the flood, and some (the species preserved on the ark) in the centuries after the flood.

And along the way, she tosses in many little-know facts about dinosaurs.

If you would like a copy of this book for your kids, or for yourself, the ordering information is in the book: call 1-800-765-6955 or order online at Price: $15.99