North American Division News
Alex Dorival, 112 at the time, was seated in his favorite pew as Jeffrey Thompson and Ruben Joseph did tag preaching at New Generation Adventist Church on Sabbath, April 20, 2019. A week of energetic preaching was brought to a climax with four people led to Christ by the two pastors who exchanged pulpits, but preached the final sermon together at New Generation and Fort Lauderdale Adventist churches.
Dorival, a farmer, was born on Aug. 10, 1906, in the city of Port-de-Paix, Haiti. In 2006, he migrated to the U.S. and became a citizen. Dorival spent most of his life as a Roman Catholic, but at 99, in 2006, he became a member of the North Miami Seventh-day Adventist Church (now New Generation Adventist Church).
He dresses immaculately for church every Sabbath. He is probably not just the oldest Adventist in Florida, but likely in the U.S. He can walk with the assistance of a walker, which he started using at age 110. At age 105, Dorival started using a cane for the first time.
“He is the father of 10 children, but I cannot tell you how many grandchildren or great-grandchildren,” said Bernadette Dorival Mercilus, his daughter and caretaker. “He does not speak much these days, but he prays before going to bed every night,” said Mercilus. “He sings songs in French Creole most days, and likes to say ‘Alleluia.’” His favorite hymn is “Power in the Blood,” while Psalm 3 is his favorite Bible chapter.
What about his diet? There is plenty to eat at his breakfast and lunch table. He likes oatmeal, avocado, mangoes, watermelon, black beans, sweet potatoes, and homemade Haitian pumpkin soup. At 112, Dorival can still hear when spoken to loudly, and does not wear a hearing aid. He has no significant health issues other than glaucoma. He has never worn glasses. In remarkable health, he likes to walk outside his daughter’s residence on the green lawn in Miami, Florida.
Dorival didn’t always like the Adventist Church. For instance, in 1972 Mercilus had a unique dream that directed her to join the vibrant Adventist church in Haiti. “My father was upset. I prayed, ‘Lord let my father become a member of the Adventist Church.’ My prayer was answered in 2006 when my father was 99,” Mercilus said.
— Jeffrey Thompson, Ph.D., is a pastor in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; the original version of this article appeared in the September 2019 Southern Tidings magazine.kmaran Wed, 09/18/2019 - 10:24
Carlton P. Byrd, speaker/director of Breath of Life Ministries and senior pastor of Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama, believes that spiritual health is partially dependent on personal involvement in outreach. One way Byrd encourages members to be active participants in sharing the gospel is through literature distribution. While organizing members to distribute literature isn’t a new concept, for some churches, it is a newly revived practice that generates a lot of enthusiasm.
“Praise God for the spoken word and the sung word, but some will be won by reading the word of God and truth-filled literature. I am a proponent of literature; because when literature goes out, it can go places we can’t go,” said Byrd.
This emphasis birthed Breath of Life’s first sharing book, FREE: Revisiting God’s Plan for Oppressed People, which is co-authored by Byrd and Christopher C. Thompson, communication and marketing director for Breath of Life. The pocket-sized volume points readers to a deliverer who is concerned about the social, economic, and political circumstances that oppress people and suppress the voices of millions in America and around the world.
Released on June 19, FREE has already been distributed to hundreds of people in preparation for the ministry’s public evangelism meetings. Several churches in Miami, Florida have shared the book throughout their neighborhoods, but especially in the city’s Brownsville community.
After receiving a copy and reading several of its pages, one community member said, “Thank you for this. I love this!”
Brownsville is the home of Bethany Seventh-day Adventist Church, which served as the location of the “Breath of Life Summer Revival.” At the end of the revival, Byrd and area pastors baptized 120 people into the Adventist Church.
“It is Breath of Life’s sincere desire that this project will help empower local churches to similarly experience the joy of personal outreach in preparation for public evangelism,” said Byrd. “Jesus isn’t coming anywhere until the gospel goes everywhere.”mylonmedley Tue, 09/17/2019 - 07:37
Christian Record Services for the Blind (CRS), a ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, has extended access to its proprietary online library to all of the divisions outside North America. This includes several different reading formats, including audio streaming, large electronic print and refreshable Braille.
The library is available to verified members who are legally blind and can be accessed through computers, tablets and some smartphones. This offer represents collaboration with Special Needs Ministries of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Equally important to providing this special library worldwide, CRS offers options for additional services as contracted by the division headquarters of the Adventist Church. These options may provide members who are blind with the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide in Unified English Braille or audio, or Guía de estudio de la Biblia (Spanish Sabbath School lesson) in audio. Another option is the member’s choice of subscriptions to Braille, large print, and audio magazines, including Christian Record, the longest-produced Christian Braille magazine, first published by Christian Record in 1899.
“We are delighted to collaborate with Larry Evans, Adventist Church Special Needs Ministries leader, and the division leaders of the Adventist Church to share the Blessed Hope with all who are blind throughout the world,” said Diane Thurber, president of CRS.
The services offered to the divisions contribute to the development and growth of ministry with people who are blind throughout the world. All contracted resources are provided to people who are blind without cost to them.
Divisions may request bulk pricing for resources such as books in large print and Braille (if permissioned for their region), Bibles and the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal. Christian Record can facilitate translation from text to Braille in some languages. Costs vary, based on the project. The division collaboration agreements renew annually. Questions about the terms of a division’s collaboration agreement should be addressed to the division’s Special Needs Ministries leader.
ABOUT CHRISTIAN RECORD SERVICES, INC.
In 2019, Christian Record Services for the Blind celebrates 120 years of “empowering people who are blind to engage their communities and embrace the Blessed Hope.” By providing accessible faith-based services, CRS makes a significant impact in the lives of its members each day. CRS is supportive, caring, and eager to provide access to Braille materials, audio books, large-print magazines, Bibles, and more that will enhance the life and spiritual journey of others. For more information about CRS, please visit www.ChristianRecord.org or call 402.488.0981, Option 3.kmaran Mon, 09/16/2019 - 07:08
Two siblings and star high school tennis players went to court to defend their right to compete in the state championships while keeping their Sabbath day.
On Aug. 6, 2019, Paul and Iris Chung sued the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association in federal court on behalf of their children, Joelle and Joseph. In Chung v. WIAA, Joelle Chung was barred from competing in the Washington state tennis postseason tournament because the championships fell on a Saturday, her Sabbath. As faithful Seventh-day Adventists, the Chung family observes the Sabbath by devoting time for rest and worship every week from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown.
In 2019, her senior season, Joelle was undefeated and expected to win in the qualifying tournaments and advance to the state championships. But the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) scheduled the state championships for Saturday. This meant that, according to WIAA rules, she was disqualified from participating at all in the postseason, even though the only conflict between the Sabbath and the tournament would have been the very last day.
“As a senior, it was hard giving everything I had to support my team all season, only to be forced to sit out the entire postseason simply because of my faith,” said Joelle Chung. “I’ll never get the chance to play for a state championship again, but hopefully this case will protect other Seventh-day Adventists like my brother from having to choose between sports and their faith.”
Each year the WIAA holds a statewide postseason tennis tournament. According to WIAA rules, all participants must certify that they will be able to participate in each level of the tournament to qualify for the championships, with exceptions for injury, illness or unforeseen events. Hoping to make a compromise, the Chungs asked the WIAA to move the state championships to a weekday or simply allow Joelle to participate in the qualifying tournaments and use an alternate for the championships, just like athletes with injuries or illness can. The WIAA flatly denied their requests. The Chungs took their case to court.
Becket, the Chung's counsel, argues that no student-athlete should be kept on the sidelines for their faith when accommodations are possible and is asking that the rule that kept Joelle from competing be changed so that her brother Joseph can participate in the state championships this fall.
Joelle was a top athlete on her high school’s girls’ tennis team for four years before graduating in 2019. Joseph is a current high school student and is already a star player on the boys’ tennis team as a sophomore. The Chungs are talented and dedicated tennis players, but a discriminatory rule has kept them from playing the sport they love because of their beliefs.
“No student-athlete should be kept from competition because of their faith,” said Joe Davis, counsel at Becket. “The WIAA’s rule hurts religious minorities and students of many faiths who honor the longstanding practice of keeping the Sabbath.”
The Chungs are active members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Chehalis, Washington. They take their faith very seriously. Joelle even missed her own high school graduation because it fell on a Saturday. Joelle and Joseph became tennis players because they knew that the sport was primarily played on the weekdays, so it would not interfere with their religious observance.
On Aug. 27, 2019, the WIAA added religious observance to the list of exceptions allowing a player to withdraw from competition without being penalized. But this rule change is only a partial victory because the WIAA continues to insist that it cannot adjust the schedule of the tournament to accommodate religious observance, even if one of the remaining contenders has a Sabbath conflict.kmaran Thu, 09/12/2019 - 13:41