In Mexico, Tragic Bus Accident Leaves 17 Dead and More Injured

Motozintla, Chiapas, Mexico | Libna Stevens/IAD

Map of the State of Chiapas, Mexico. Image by Google Maps.

Seventh-day Adventists in Chiapas, Mexico, are still in shock after a rented bus carrying 46 church members, mostly young people, fell into a 90-meter ravine yesterday killing 16 and sending 26 to nearby hospital. One 17-year-old girl died this morning because of her injuries, bringing the total to 17 deceased, church leaders said. The group was returning from a large youth spiritual retreat held on the beach in Costa del Sol, in the Pijijiapan district, on the pacific coast in southern Chiapas.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the accident in that mountainous region in Motozintla.

“This is a terrible tragedy,” said Pastor Ignacio Navarro, president of the church in Chiapas, Mexico, during a telephone interview today.

“Our hearts are heavy and broken with sadness right now,” said Navarro, who drove four hours to Motozintla with fellow administrators and union leaders minutes after hearing of the accident last night. “One young person lost his little sister, brother and mother, another lost his wife, daughter and mother so there’s really not much we can say other than hug them and let them know we are here to support, and that they will soon see their loved ones when the Lord returns.”

Throughout the evening, church leaders worked with the local authorities and relatives of the deceased on transportation arrangements and prayed for the surviving family members who traveled to Motozintla. Dozens of pastors from throughout the different conferences and missions in Chiapas stayed with families at hospitals and churches to pray and offer hope in the midst of the tragic news.

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CJC Family plunged into Mourning over Pastor’s Death

Pastors, workers and members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Central Jamaica Conference are in mourning over the death of their colleague, friend and Pastor--Wilton Mckoy.

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Pastor Wilton Mckoy | Credits: File Photo

Pastor Wilton Mckoy, former Pastor of the Spaulding District of Churches, died on May 16, 2017, approximately 8 PM at the Hargreaves Memorial Hospital in Mandeville after developing complications following a surgery.

Pastor Mckoy, who joined CJC in 2014 from the North Jamaica Conference, was a committed, hard-working and faithful worker. So said Pastor Levi Johnson, President of CJC.

“It was totally a shock”, said Pastor Johnson. “I thought Mrs. Mckoy was joking when she told me of her husband’s passing. There were no warning signs.”

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Six persons received outstanding service awards during 2-day Communication Workshop for Pastors and Local Church Communicators

The Communication Department of Central Jamaica Conference concluded its 2017 workshops for Communication Secretaries and Pastors by recognizing six individuals for their remarkable contribution to the field of communication.

Former Director of Communication for Central Jamaica Conference (CJC) Pastor Kemar Douglas was recognized for his outstanding contribution to the development of the work in the department over the five years that he served as Director.

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In Photo (From Left): Front - Orphiel Brown, Mandeville Church, Paul Beckford, Kitson Town Church, Abel Marquez, Communication Director, IAD, Hernel Latty, Bless TV and Braeton Church. Back - Nigel Coke, Communication Director, Jamaica Union Conference, Damian Chambers, Communication Director, CJC, Charles Bulgin, Associate Communication Director, CJC. Missing - Kemar Douglas, Judith Cheeze-Morris and Michael Spence. | Credits: Andrew Johnson

Meanwhile Mr. Hernel Latty of Bless TV, Mr. Michael Spence of Premier Entertainment Services, Mrs. Judith Cheese-Morris, who assist the Conference’s Communication Department with editorial work, Mr. Paul Beckford of the Kitson Town Church and Orphiel Brown of the Mandeville Church were recipients of awards for their outstanding contributions in Communication to their local churches and the conference.

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‘Read Across Jamaica Day: A Success’

Mount Salem, St. James…Adiese A. Jonas Murphy/JAMU

While civic and corporate leaders were engaged in reading day activities across the island on Tuesday May 9, 2017, the thought of impacting the Mount Salem Primary and Junior High School blossomed into a reality for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Western Jamaica.

Through the efforts of the Children’s Ministries Director, in conjunction with the Harrison Memorial High School, approximately 40 purpose-driven students charged into the neighbouring institution’s classrooms with the sole intent of reading to them.

According to the Director of Children’s Ministries for the Adventist Church in Western Jamaica, Mrs. Carol Smythe James, it is critical for the Church’s presence to be evidenced in the community.

“It is important for us to build relationships with the schools, churches and in our community,” she said. “I’m happy about this initiative because the students from Harrison High really motivated the students at the Mount Salem Primary and Junior High School to be better individuals and to do better. I was pleased to see how attentive and receptive the students were by our visit,” she added.

While the tendency is high among youth in the volatile Mount Salem Community to exhibit deviant behaviour, Grade 9 student of the Harrison High School Dawson Ho-Sang Junior, volunteered his time to not only read to the students, but to motivate them.

“It was a truly touching experience,” he said. “The class that I went to is known for having a lot of trouble makers, but since I started talking to them and reading to them, they hung on to every word. I believe that our visit really touched them and inspired them to become great people.”

Ho-Sang Junior was one of several students who heartily affirmed the West Jamaica Conference for initiating the impact. “I think it was a great idea by the school and by the West Jamaica Conference to spearhead this initiative to impact the Mount Salem Community. If it was left up to me, I would do it again,” he concluded.

Principal of the Mount Salem Primary and Junior High School, Dr. Ann Shaw Salmon was also appreciative of the visit. “It’s very good to have you all here today,” she said. “It’s a welcomed move, after all we are neighbours and collaborators in the business of Education. You provided role models for the students just by interacting with them.”

The reading impact initiative at the Mount Salem Primary and Junior High School is part of the national ‘Read across Jamaica Day’ and Child’s Month activities, that the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists participated in.

Evangelist Cop Baptizes Colleague and Five others during Evangelistic Series

St. Ann, Jamaica | Nigel Coke/IAD Staff

Police Corporal Wayne Bartley who serves as a church elder in the Ocho Ríos Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Ann, Jamaica, allowed the Holy Spirit to use him to spiritually arrest one of his colleagues and five other individuals during an evangelist series he conducted recently.

Bartley, who has been in the Jamaica Constabulary Force for the past fourteen years believes that while he works to keep law and order in the country, he has a commitment to God to rescue persons from the clutches of sin and point them to Jesus Christ.

“I always tell persons that I am a police by profession, but also a preacher by conviction and that’s why I take time out to do the work of evangelism,” declared Bartley, who has been an ordained elder for the past ten years.

Wayne Bartley preaches during one of his evangelistic campaigns in Jamaica. Image from Facebook

“I am inspired to try and balance the equation for lost/saved because it is said that there are more people that will be lost than who will be saved,” said Bartley, who was given the opportunity to baptize on March 11. On that day, church elders in the North Jamaica and other conferences were given the opportunity to baptize persons whom they have worked and studied the Bible with as part of the Lord Transform Me Baptism Sabbath, an initiative of the Adventist Church in Inter-America that seeks to involve active members in fulfilling the mission of the church by transforming lives through the power of the Holy Spirit, the study of the bible and daily prayer life.

Among the six persons baptized is one Bartley’s colleagues Woman Detective Constable Claudine Johnson, which he described as a joyful occasion.

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Adventist Leaders in Russia Address Fake News on Church Status

Leaders in the Euro-Asia Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a church region that includes the Russian Federation, released an official statement last week, as they try to counter false news circulating about the status of the church in that country. The statement, signed by the church regional president M. F. Kaminsky, and public affairs and religious liberty director O. Y. Goncharov seeks to allay fears after misinformation circulating online stated that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was about to be banned from that nation.

Below is the official statement released by the regional Adventist leaders.

Euro-Asia Division Official Statement Regarding Misinformation on the Status of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Russian Federation

In light of the information that has been published on the Internet on the plans for placing a ban on the activity of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Russia, we officially communicate that any such information from unofficial sources is not consistent with reality.

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In Inter-America, Church Leaders Honor Church Elders, Report Growth and Vote Initiatives

Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens/IAD

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America concluded its first business meetings of the year by praising the work of thousands of pastors, church elders, and laypersons in expanding the membership throughout the territory.

Dozens of executive committee members from the Inter-American Division (IAD) and its 24 union administrative offices met in Miami, Florida, on May 1, to a approve initiatives, activities and policies, and commit to nurturing the spiritual health of its constituents and motivate them to spread the gospel.

Honoring church elders

The IAD Mid-Year Committee honored three of the top church elders representing thousands more church elders in the English, Spanish and French territory. Elder Armando Hernández was honored for his 62 years of service in North Mexico, Elder Joseph Griffin for his 59 years of service in the Caribbean Union, and Elder Wilmer Bastien for his 45 years in Haiti.

“We want to recognize you for your outstanding and faithful work as church elders,” said Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America.  “We recognize your hard work in serving to lead in spiritual matters under the direction of church pastors.”

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J’can driving animation in St Vincent and the Grenadines

He has had many ups and downs, heard a lot of nos and had more doors closed in his face than he can count. But with a passion for animation and moulding young minds, David Martin is now a leader in the animation industry in the region.

Having studied communications at Northern Caribbean University and subsequently worked as a video editor and motion graphics artist at the NCU Media Group, Martin transitioned fully into animation when he was employed to teach digital animation at the HEART Trust Southwest TVET Institute in Newport, Manchester.

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Taxi Driver risks life to rescue father and son from Flooded home

On a day when his church was flooded, Owen Taylor, a member of the Palmetto Gardens Seventh-day Adventist Church who is also a local taxi driver from the Palmetto Gardens Community, took swift actions to swim across flood waters to rescue Mr. Henry Blair and his adult son who were trapped in their home next door to the Church.
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View of the Palmetto Gardens Church (left) and Home of Mr. Henry Blair submerged under water. | Credits: WhatsApp

Owen and Junior George Wilson were forced to carry out this rescue operation, when just after lunch on Sabbath April 22, 2017, the Palmetto Gardens Church along with neighboring homes were engulfed with flood waters almost without warning.

Elder Maynardo Fogah of the Palmetto Gardens Church, said it rained all morning and they saw the water rising, but were not alarmed because in the past, the water would simply go away after a time.

However, he said, someone drew his attention to the fact that water was now coming inside the church. Elder Fogah said that “within 5 minutes the entire church was filled with water up to his waist.”

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Jamaica Union Shepherdesses Empowered to Thrive in Spite of Challenges

Mandeville, Jamaica...Lawrie Henry

Pastors’ wives seem to some to lead privileged lives and the role is often coveted. However behind the polished veneer lie unspoken hardships.These women often feel oppressed by weighty expectations, feel inadequate and struggle with loneliness and isolation.

Speaking at the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists' Shepherdess Convention held on Sunday April 9, 2017 at Northern Caribbean University, motivational speaker and minister's wife Patrice Williams-Gordon, said some of the frustration with being a shepherdess stems from making comparisons.

"Why many of us are frustrated as ministers' wives is that (we) look at other wives and try to be that shepherdess...God has blessed you with just what you need for the role that you are in...We need to walk in our own shoes and establish and appreciate our own talents," she said.

Williams-Gordon encouraged the ministers' wives to pray for a revelation of their spiritual gifts which they should then use to edify their families and the church. She acknowledged that being a shepherdess can be isolating for reasons such as unrealistic expectations of members, the demands of their husband's ministry and a difficulty making and maintaining sincere friendships in the Church.

Quoting from a recent survey conducted by the Global Pastors' Wives Network, Williams-Gordon noted that 80% of pastors wives feel left out and under-appreciated by church members, 56% say they have no close friends in the Church, 85% feel unqualified and discouraged in their roles, 80% feel pressured to be things in church that they are not, 60% expressed the need to further their training so they could serve better, 80% believe their spouse is overworked, and 80% wish their spouse could choose another profession.From the pastor's perspective, 80% say they have insufficient time with their spouse.

She advised pastors' wives to take active steps to help themselves cope with the pressures of being a ministerial spouse. "Honour your full being: spiritual, emotional, mental, physical and sexual. Nurture meaningful relationships. Celebrate your successes and grow through your failures. Participate in church, be a church member", Williams-Gordon said. She also advised that pastors' wives struggling to cope with the stress of the role should not be ashamed to seek professional help from a counselor.

Other presenter's at the Convention included Psychologist, Dr. Charmaine Garwood; Life Coach, Audrey Watson; and minister's wife and VP of University Relations at NCU, Yvonne Bignall.

The Shepherdesses’ Convention was held under the theme "Lord Transform Me through Empowerment, Bringing out My Best".Topics included the Shepherdess' Role and Function, How to Handle Emotional Neglect, and How to Dress for the Role.

The Convention was planned by the Jamaica Union Shepherdess Association, led by Lana Brown, Shepherdess Coordinator and wife of the Jamaica Union President. Brown said the event was meant to bring ministers' wives together to learn, pray, fellowship and strengthen each other. “We need the support and strength of someone who has been there and can provide guidance. Only another pastor's wife can truly understand”, she said.

Roxanne McKoy Chambers, a shepherdess of 10 years and attendee at the Convention said she found the event informative and relevant. “It was enriching and real. You felt comfortable because the presenters' shared real life, personal experiences with which you could identify. It really addressed issues and we left feeling empowered”, she said.

The event was supported by president of the Jamaica Union of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor Everett Brown and Stewardship and Ministerial Secretary of the Union, Pastor Astor Bowers. Both brought greetings and stayed for a portion of the event in solidarity with the Shepherdesses.

The Jamaica Union Shepherdess Mentorship Progamme was also launched at the Convention.

Upcoming activities of the JAMU Shepherdess Association include a Pastors' Kids (PK) Retreat in 2018 and a Shepherdess Retreat in 2019.