Reviewing the Review: ASI Edition


(system) #1

August 12, 2010 - Vol. 187, No. 26

GENERAL COMMENTS This is an Adventist-Layman’s Services & Industries (ASI) issue. The projects mentioned by Sandra Blackmer in SHARING CHRIST IN THE MARKETPLACE can be contacted via their site. JANET’S CHILDREN reported by Conna Bond is a MUST READ. Mark Finley’s description of the medieval church seems shockingly modern, and Cliff Goldstein’s newfound humility and admirable writing skills are turning me into a fan.

Bill Knott’s editorial, SCOPE AND SCALE is a hymn to Christian service that seems to make room even for progressives.

In a million places unobserved by us, the kingdom’s seed grows secretly, watered by kind words from an Adventist neighbor, enriched by sacrificial gifts that never get recorded by the church’s accountants. Orphans are fed, minds are changed, HIV/AIDS victims are touched and loved with fearless kindness—all seen by Heaven but only rarely by the church. Hundreds of supporting ministries staffed by tens of thousands of Adventists who will never be found on the church’s payroll push out the boundaries of God’s kingdom seven days a week, 24 hours a day—all in the service of that Day when “time shall be no more.

“And you, reader, are part of that movement of destiny, God’s remnant people, whatever you may think of your skills or assets or bank account. Jesus designs that your gifts, your words, and your acts of love will enlarge the boundaries of His kingdom, whatever your vocation, wherever your location. Multiplication has always been His favorite ministry—loaves and fishes, spiritual gifts, and Spirit-filled disciples.” In PRESSING TOGETHER, Norm Reitz offers a forward-looking description of ASI.

As an organization of laypersons, ASI’s primary goal is to empower members of local churches to minister to others. ASI member ministries provide resources and visit local churches and camp meetings to train and educate local church members in evangelism and outreach techniques. A growing roster of ASI ministries and the services they offer is available on the ASI Web site (www.asiministries.org) and from the national ASI office.

Mark Finley’s RECAPTURING THE PASSION is an unwitting critique of today’s Adventist organization and ethos.

One of Satan’s greatest deceptions is that soulwinning, witnessing, and evangelism are the work of a few highly trained clergy specialists. This falsehood has its roots in the Middle Ages when various heresies compromised the church. In that era, the clergy were elevated far above the laity. Their standing before God was sharply divided from that of their congregations. The clergy were considered to be spiritually strong and the laity spiritually weak. The clergy were thought to have special privileges as dispensers of the sacraments and interpreters of Scripture.

As a result, the laity remained spiritually dependent on the clergy. The clergy had a spiritual calling for the work of God, and the laity a secular calling. And according to the theology of the day, in heaven the clergy would occupy special positions close to God that ordinary believers could not enjoy. We might summarize the medieval understanding of clergy and laity this way: the clergy were spiritually strong and the laity were spiritually weak. The clergy had a spiritual calling and the laity a secular calling. The clergy would receive a special reward in heaven and the laity would receive an ordinary reward.

In FROM WORSHIP TO REVIVAL, Dan Houghton underlines “the power of art in worship and praise”.

Sandra Blackmer features eight ASI projects in SHARING CHRIST IN THE MARKETPLACE: VIDA International Honduras; Riverside Farm Institute, Kafue, Zambia; Riverside Farm Institute Kafue, Zambia; An orphanage village in Tanzania built by Global Vessels Inc,; Reel Inspirations in movie making; Wings Over Nicaragua Mission; Anchor Point Films; Outpost Centers International, and WIN! Wellness.

JANET’S CHILDREN, reported by Conna Bond is an inspirational MUST READ. Here is a taste. If you don’t have a subscription, and even if you do, check out the Eden Valley Foster Care website.

These young girls [from Kafue, Zambia] were leaving the villages,” she recalls. “They were going out into the big cities, getting pregnant, getting HIV, and coming home with a baby—another one for the grandmother to care for. And boys, they would come home terribly sick, and then they would die. They used to blow a trumpet when somebody died in the village, and that trumpet used to blow almost daily

No trumpets blew while I was visiting Mago village. New medicines prolong the existence of HIV/AIDS sufferers, but that doesn’t make their lives easy. They must find a way to make a living.

I saw that we needed to do something for these young people,” said Janet, “so that when they were finished with school, they would have some way to support their families other than being at the end of a garden hoe all day. So we decided to start a sewing and carpentry school for the youth. The local school was generous enough to give us two classrooms where we started a carpentry school and a nursery school for the little ones. We rented another building and started our sewing school. We started with just maybe 6 sewing machines and kept adding until we had 7, then 10, then 12, then 15 or so sewing machines. But it seemed that maybe we were teaching them too little, and so the vision grew. There was still something lacking, and more was needed.

Soon the villages were vying for where Janet would live. She was given a large piece of prime property overlooking the valley, and she recently received an imposing container from ASI with 37 One-Day Church structure kits in it. She now has a house and a little church with a baptismal tank. A four-classroom block, a carpentry and mechanic shop, and a cafeteria are in place. Soon she will begin accepting students for yearlong courses in mechanics and advanced tailoring. She has a full-time assistant and three Bible workers who share her vision and her smile.

Even though no one has all the answers, Cliff Goldstein’s SEND ANNIE THE CARBON is a courageous essay that confronts the evil in the world with clear eyes and Christian confidence. Here is a paragraph.

The great controversy, though, can’t explain every instance of evil. To explain it would be to justify it, and we never want to do that. The great controversy can reveal the grand issues behind evil; the motif tells us little, if anything, about each instance of it. The closest to any answer is the cross, where the Lord Himself “took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” (Isa. 53:4). All the pain, all the sorrow that we experience only as individuals—and never more than as individuals—Christ experienced corporately, at once, forever revealing that no one has suffered from sin, from evil, more than our Lord Himself. It’s not an answer to every specific woe; it’s only the assurance that God has felt each instance of it.

__ Editor note: Indefatigable reviewer Andrew Hanson will be off for a few weeks traveling and undergoing surgery. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2608