Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant. Psalm 25:14
Vol. 10, No. 10 Straight and Narrow September 2001
The End of Time?
By Allen Stump
(The following article is based on a sermon preached on September 15 at the Smyrna Chapel.)
“America Under Attack,” “Horror,” “Another Day That Will Live In Infamy;” these were some of the newspaper headlines after the evil attacks upon New York City and the Pentagon building on the 11th of September. And truly it will be a day that will live in infamy!
The horrific nature of seeing the two World Trade Center Towers collapse sent chills and brought sorrow, not only to millions of Americans, but to billions in the world. At this time of fear and uncertainty, some have questioned to ask if God exists. If God exits, where was He on September 11? Does He really care about innocent people? Is He involved in men’s affairs today?
Perhaps many of these same people who doubt today, if polled on September 10 would have had a different reaction. Yet most of us have read about the flood described in Genesis, when all but eight people perished. We have read of the destructions of Jerusalem and didn’t question God’s existence or His caring. While there are few survivors of WWI, most alive today know of it by the records of history. Yet on September the 10th we did not question God because of WWI. There are still many survivors of WWII. It was the first major war that was well chronicled with film. We know of its horrors well. Yet on September the 10th we did not question God because of it. I do not wish to lessen the trauma and tragedy that played out on world-wide television September the 11th, but if we think it was the worst thing that ever happened, please remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Yet, it is not only the severity of the matter, but also the freshness of the matter that causes us to question God. But may I remind you of the first words of the prophet Daniel when called before King Nebuchadnezzar to interpret the king’s dream, “There is a God in heaven.” (Daniel 2:28) Beloved, God does exists and He is most assuredly interested in the affairs of men and women. He loved every one who perished in those attacks on September 11 so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for them, as well as for us. Today, we need to look to God more than ever. In the words of Isaac Watts, “God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.” The United States of America was taken by surprise that “black Tuesday,” but God wasn’t. He still lives and rules. He has not abdicated His throne!
Today, we as a nation, and we as a church, face new challenges. Based on Bible prophecy, Seventh-day Adventists have taught that the last end time events would progress with lightning speed. The United States of America would be the great final superpower. The world would follow the lead of America in forming an image to the Roman beast power of Revelation 13. We should not be shocked if we see events before our very eyes that may be leading to the final fulfillment of these prophecies!
Since the tragic attacks, the leaders from the United States, such as New York Senator Hillary Clinton, have talked of a new world, a new life, a new society. Mississippi Senator Trent Lott declared that we have a new society where freedom must find a new balance with security! Security is what Americans and others in the “free world” want. They want security from terrorism in the form of hijacked airplanes, biological and chemical warfare, and even nuclear sabotage. They want security from their water supplies being poisoned. They want security enough to be willing to make many changes, and even some drastic alterations! Already legislation has been drafted in the United States Congress to give the government more power in wire-tapping and to issue search warrants, further invading the basic right of privacy.
The scene of the smoking remains of the Twin Towers smoldering in lower Manhattan was dramatic. The area was sealed off “black Tuesday” with travel into and out of the area cut off. With the wickedness and the danger in large cities such as New York, it should not come as a surprise that God has counseled His people to live in the country. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, if you are still living in or near a large city, please get out while there is still time. Black Tuesday should help us to see what targets for terrorist attacks they are. It has given us an example of how easy it would be to be trapped within a large city without the ability to get out!
of September 11
Call Us to Seek God
This tragedy and its wake is a call, first and foremost, to seek God. As individuals, and as Americans, for those who live in the United States, this is a call to repent and seek God. While I do not accept the views of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell who attributed the attacks to the homosexual and abortion problems in this country, America, as a nation, is far from God. Abraham Lincoln could say even in His day:
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.
“We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us. ...too proud to pray.”
If this was true nearly a century and a half ago, how much more true it is today. While I do not wish to judge any person or nation, the events of September 11 should be enough to awake anyone who might have been sleeping spiritually. We need to pray for our nation and its leaders. (1 Timothy 2:1, 2) We need to pray for each other that we might be in Christ. Today, God is speaking to us: “Set thine house in order.” (Isaiah 38:1)
11 Calls Us to
Seek God as Our Only Hope
The events of “black Tuesday” are a call to seek God because He is our only help. The Scriptures state:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.” (Psalm 46:1-7)
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” (Psalm 91:1-11)
In this time of uncertainty and danger. God is our only hope. How thankful we should be that God offers hope to us.
“There are troublous times before us; the judgments of God are coming upon our world. The nations of the earth are to tremble. There will be trials and perplexities on every hand; men's hearts will fail them for fear. And what shall we do in that day? Though the earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and be removed like a cottage, if we have made God our trust, he will deliver us. ‘He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’ ‘Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee. . . . For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.’” (Review and Herald, March 15, 1887)
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11) God says that He has thoughts of peace and not evil toward His people. We can look to God because He is concerned about us. The above promise is especially precious in its context. Israel had been taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, the temple was in ruins, the people were discouraged. Many had felt forsaken by God. In the light of that backdrop Jeremiah wrote:
“For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” (Jeremiah 29:10-14)
This same prophet would also write:
“It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22, 23)
of September 11
Call Us to Seek God NOW
The events of “black Tuesday” were a call to seek God NOW, because “life at its longest is short.” How many of the thousands who died that fateful Tuesday could have had any idea that it would be their last day alive? The Scriptures teach us to pray that we might know how to “number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) The old saying, “we know not what tomorrow holds,” is more true today than ever. How many common people could have imagined the events of September 11 on September 10? If we ever needed to have a day-by-day experience with the Lord it is today.
“For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)
of September 11
Call Us to Forgive
The events of “black Tuesday” are a call for forgiveness. Arizona Senator John McCain stated, “I say to our enemies, ‘We are coming, God may show you mercy. We will not’.” Retired General and leader of the Desert Storm forces, Norman Schwarzkopf said, “God may forgive them, but we won’t.” While we believe that those who have perpetrated this evil must come to justice, let us remember that God is the ultimate Judge. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
If Jesus could say, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:34) what about us? Is the tragedy that America suffered any worse than the death of the Prince of Heaven? Could it be worse than the outright murder of the Son of God? You might think, “But this was thousands of lives!” Yes, that is true, but the blood of that One Life was more than equal to all the souls that have ever lived on this earth.
The United States government claims Osama bin Laden is responsible and will soon reveal the evidence to prove so. Perhaps he is guilty. However even if he is, what good will it do us to hate or harbor ill against him and/or those who helped to commit these acts of terrorism? Also, let us not stereotype Arab people or those who differ from us, but let us show the love of God in an effort to reach out to those who are twisted in mind, that they might find the only true God and His kingdom.
of September 11
Call Us to Draw Together
The events of “black Tuesday” call us to draw together as a people united in truth and love. Those who have petty differences and problems, grudges, and other unchristian feelings and thoughts, need to “grow up.” In the light of September 11, how important are our grudges and personal differences we think we have? Our friendship and brotherhood is needed now more than ever.
“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
Millions who do not know God as we claim to know Him have united and drawn together to give support to the victims and their families. Volunteers have given money, blood, and labor in the recovery effort. Americans all across the United States have accepted a comradery not displayed since World War II. If those who do not know God as we do can draw together, what about those who claim to know God?
While some Adventists predicted that the end had surely come in both WWI and WWII, neither of these events brought the end of the world. While America as a nation was no saint during those conflicts, and far less than perfect, God allowed her to triumph over evil. While Satan may use these movements to start a chain of events, we do not yet know God’s exact timetable. Let us pray that we might be as the tribe Issachar in the time of David, “which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” (1 Chronicles 12:32)
According to Bible prophecy, are we at the very end? Honestly, I do not know. But I do know that we are at least on the edge of the very end, if not the very end itself. NATO is solidly behind the United States. More countries each day are following the lead of America and lining up behind her to form an international coalition. The United Nations looks to be involved as well. One insightful writer wrote:
“The days in which we live are solemn and important. The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth. Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude. The agencies of evil are combining their forces, and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones.” (Christian Service, p. 52)
New, wild, fanciful interpretations of Daniel’s prophecies made up to fit the recent events are not needed or helpful. The study of Nostradamus’ prophecies is a waste of time. We do need to carefully study the recent events in their whole spectrum in light of Bible prophecy. If God’s people will diligently study His Word and humbly seek His face, God will direct them.
“If those who are workers together with Him will be men of opportunity, doing their duty bravely and faithfully, God will convert men who occupy responsible positions, men of intellect and influence.” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 140)
While there is an interest in spiritual things and end time events among the people of this earth, let us be men of opportunity! This is not a time for self-interests, but a time to share the good news! Jesus has instructed His church to occupy till He comes. (Luke 19:13) Let us not be “cumberers of the ground, unfaithful watchmen,” but rather faithful stewards whom their Master will find working when He comes. Let us be courageous Christians, knowing we have a God who will watch over His own.
I feel a deep anxiety that the youthful disciples of Christ may grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. Progression is as much a law of spiritual as of physical life. The Scriptures speak of our growing up into Christ. Young converts are represented as babes, who need the tender care of those older in experience than themselves. They cannot by one great effort attain to the perfection of Christian growth. They are children, who must advance, little by little, until they reach the stature of men and women in Christ.
None should be satisfied with a mere profession of Christianity. We should be ever seeking to know more of the plan of salvation, and striving diligently to copy the Pattern set before us. Those whose eyes are just opened to see the love of Jesus, cannot at once fully comprehend his life, his character, or his requirements. All have daily lessons to learn in the school of Christ, and a daily experience to gain, that they may understand their duty as his children.
Many an honest, well-meaning person makes no advancement in the Christian life because he does not see the necessity of constantly learning more of Jesus. When first converted, he rejoices that he has taken his position on the Lord's side. A year later, he bears the same testimony. There is no evidence of spiritual growth; he is still weak as a child.
Much is lost to the Lord's cause because souls that have just entered the school of Christ are left to pick up their education as best they may. Young Christians are not properly instructed, and this is why there are in the church so few strong, active workers for God. The first experience of the new convert is happy and joyous; but trials come; the perplexities of life are to be met; sinful traits of character that have not been controlled, strive for the mastery, and too frequently obtain it. Then come a loss of confidence and peace, neglect of prayer and the reading of the Scriptures. For want of the knowledge and experience which they should have, many are overcome by Satan. They do not know how to discern his temptations, or to resist them.
The young should ask counsel from those who are older in experience in the Christian life, and should be humble enough to receive instruction. And older Christians should have a watchful care for these young disciples, and be ready to encourage and instruct them. Here is an opening for missionary labor of the most important character. How necessary that there be in the church faithful members, who have a love for souls, and who will lead them into correct paths of religious experience. This is a work in which all Sabbath-school teachers should engage. They should know Christ and his saving power for themselves,--no others should be teachers in the Sabbath-school, --and then they should seek earnestly to lead their pupils to the Saviour. By reading the Scriptures and praying with them, they can direct them to Him who is the way, the truth, and the life.
Dear young friends, be careful to begin right in the Christian life. Have faith in Jesus as your helper. Remember that you are not to choose your own work, or follow your own ways, but to look to Jesus as your guide and pattern. Keep his example before you, and constantly ask what will be pleasing in his sight. Learn from him lessons of self-denial and self-sacrifice. Study how you can be like him, in thoughtfulness for others, in meekness and humility. Thus may you "grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ;" you may reflect his image, and be accepted of him as his own, at his coming. (Ellen G. White, Youth’s Instructor, December 5, 1883)
Mission Reports Inside
This month we are pleased to be able to bring two special mission trip reports.
First, we have the report by Brother Lynnford Beachy on the visit that he and Brother Howard Williams, of Restoration Ministries, made to southeast Africa. This report has been a real blessing to me. I am encouraged to see how swiftly God’s truth for this time is spreading to other areas, such as Africa, and how receptive the people are.
The second report, by Willis Smith, on the visit that he and Ben Vela made to Peru, was equally thrilling. To see the Lord move in such a manner in a land so filled with idiolatry was quite uplifting to me and I am sure it will be to you as well.
Please take time to read both reports and share in the blessing.
Work in Peru
By Willis Smith
“And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.” (Daniel 8:24, 25)
(The following is a report about a mission trip to Peru, taken in September, by Willis Smith and Ben Vela. This report was written by Willis Smith with input from Ben Vela. Editor)
I arrived in Peru around 5:00 a.m on Friday, the 7th of September. There were hundreds of people standing around waiting for people to arrive. They were calling out to me in Spanish. I could not understand what they were saying. I was to meet Brother Aland, a Messianic Jew who has accepted the truth about God, but we had never met and, to top it off, I had no idea what he looked like. I wondered if he was calling my name in Spanish and I didn’t know it? My fear left when I heard someone hollering “Brother Willis, Brother Willis.” My heartbeat became normal again.
Aland and I waited another hour and a half or more before Brother BenVela’s plane arrived. By God’s grace, we were able to pass out a few tracts while we were at the airport.
The Work Began
Friday morning, and part of the afternoon, we rested from a nine-hour flight. That evening we traveled to Chaclacayo for our first meeting, Friday evening there were around ten people present and some of them were children. We had two visitors off the street, who also attended services on Sabbath. One man who visited brought his wife and daughter on Sabbath morning. He had been searching for truth, and he stated that he thought this was a good place to find it. The message Friday evening was about the greatness of our Father’s love in giving His Son for us. Aland translated all the messages for us. He was so involved that he sometimes added extra. Brother Ben Vela knew enough Spanish to realize that it was always helpful tips.
Sabbath morning we had around 22 people attend the service, including four visitors. I presented the Sabbath School class on the state of the dead. The people were learning the truth about the dead, and it was amazing to watch our Father pull down the doctrines of error from these people’s minds. Aland, who has been working with this subject, was very comfortable with the topic and understood the material well. The children were beautiful. They showed that they had been memorizing the Scriptures. Ben presented the message on the Sanctuary and the 2,300 days, focusing heavily upon the work of Christ as the Son of God, cleansing His people from their sins, and emphasizing that Christ was the true Messiah because He was anointed of His Father in 27 A.D. and died in 31 A.D. according to the prophecy of Daniel 8, 9. The people listened attentively, and committed themselves in the future to study to understand them better.
We also had lunch on Sabbath together. Because the members are very poor, Aland and his wife Karina provided everything. We noticed their willingness to even provide bus fare for the members to go to church, and the means that were provided for the work here went to help with food, travel, and literature during the time we were there.
We printed over 1,000 tracts while we were there, and we passed out around 2,000 tracts. We were able to sow the seed of God’s Word in, Lima, Cieneguilla, Cañete, outside Lurigancho prison in the north part of Lima, Chaclacayo, the mountains of Huaycan, Santa Beatriz, and Lince. The tracts we distributed outside the prison were also taken inside the prison by some volunteers who were Christian workers going into the prison. The tracts were “The Love of God,” “The Holy Spirit,”and “The Truth About God,” all in Spanish.
We had a total of five successful, planned, organized meetings with members of the church, but we had many other unplanned, one-on-one, spur-of-the-moment, studies with people we met on the streets.
On one such occasion, we had been passing out tracts at one of the prisons on Sunday morning and went for brunch afterwards. Right around the corner from the restaurant is a statue of Mary with a child in her arms, and another female statue worshipping her. In a very high-pitched voice, I began to ask Mary if she could hear me; paying no attention to the three young men passing by us at that time. When Aland saw them turning to see what I was doing, he figured that they were very upset with me making fun of their beloved lord. Finally, they stopped, and we caught up to them. Much to our surprise, they were renegades from the Roman system as well as the Pentecostal church. They had a thousand questions and right there on a busy street corner, we had a nearly two-hour Bible study on a variety of subjects.
Before we left them, with prayer, we exchanged addresses and set up a meeting for Tuesday, that did not come about. But we still have the contact. Aland did the translating. (However, when Ben and I went off on our own, Ben did the translating and talking through an electronic dictionary translator. God really blessed.)
Ben and I stayed in Petit Thouars Hotel on Petit Ave. It was a nice, clean, but small hotel. Undoubtedly it was one of the cleanest places in the city. We met a pastor of a small Pentecostal church who has a church in this hotel, and an office on the first floor where the church is. We joined him for a study, and for the first time he realized that the Trinity was introduced to the world by the Roman Catholic Church, and that it is false. He wants as much material, on any subject, that we have in Spanish.
One of the most fascinating things I saw and realized in Lima, was an age-old blessing that God has provided them, right out of the Garden of Eden. Even though this dreadful place is heavily cursed because of the idolatry of this Catholic-controlled country, God is showing forth His mercy, and His grace. Just as there was no rain on the earth before the flood, we saw very little, if any, rain during our stay. Yet, every morning the ground and streets were wet. One night we were riding home in the bus, and the driver turned on his windshield wipers because the windows had become wet. He kept them on while moving because they were needed. But when he stopped, there was no need for the wipers. There was a mist, just like in the Garden of Eden. I believe God sends this mist in order to clear away some of the foul odor for those people to be able to bear living there, and to show His love and grace toward them; giving them time to choose His Son as their Lord and Saviour.
The Wrong god
Lima, Peru, like the rest of the country, is engulfed in idolatry. There is one sure way of knowing where Catholics are in control: you will find many statues all over the place. They have many statues representing Mary, and Jesus. They have statues of men and women, and of beasts, and of creeping and crawling things, and of the fowls and other flying things. You will find these things inside, on the top of and all around their homes, as well as many other buildings.
As Ben and I stood on the front porch of where we were staying in Peru, we always noticed how dull and dingy the houses looked. They look like something out of a newspaper comic strip. We were told that these places were occupied by Catholics. Catholicism is the prevailing religion in Peru and, as you would have guessed, they own most of the country. They rent the houses to the people, and tell them that God wants them to live a humble life and He will save them and reward them in the end. In other words, “You can earn salvation by living in a rutty condition now, for great will be your reward in heaven.” We learned that most of the Catholic people believe this lie, and are well satisfied with their situation. What a stronghold this is for Satan. Only God can break this hold.
These people need to know that God has sent His beloved and only begotten Son to show us the way of salvation. It cannot be bought. In fact, it has already been paid for. We (they) each have the opportunity to accept the free gift offered in the only true Son that God gave in our (their) behalf, as an offering for our (their) sins. Our God is looking for the same love in return for the love that He gives to us.
After seeing all the gloom and filth of the cities, it was a pleasure to be taken to a beautiful park by a neighbor and sister in Christ. She showed us some of the most gorgeous flower arrangements that I have ever seen. There were purple heart-shaped, red, yellow, orange, blue, and white flowers in all kinds of shapes. There was a beautiful, small pond with geese, ducks, and an array of other smaller birds, including quails. That’s right, the same kind of bird that God gave to the children of Israel when they desired to have the fleshpots, when God was teaching them (among other things) to be vegetarians. Yet, even amid all the beauty of the floral arrangements, the devil had to have his portion of attention. Right in the center of all this beauty, there were statues of nude men and women in a spouting water display. The water display was very nice, altered in its beauty only by the display of the statues, even in the sight of the children.
God’s Mighty Power
On the last Sabbath we met a couple more young men who came the previous Sabbath to Chaclacayo. They also wanted to know about last day events, and seemed thrilled to be visiting the synagogue there. We hope they will continue to meet with the church.
One of the most important contacts was Karina’s mother. She came to the Wednesday night prayer meeting, and I was giving my second presentation on the state of the dead, and the fact that we cannot be praying to sleeping Mary. Of course in Catholic Peru, this is a very sensitive subject. On this occasion we were shown the power of God in our behalf, for the sake of one precious soul. Karina’s mother was a staunch Roman Catholic who believed in talking to the dead. She had just recently cursed her daughter’s church and home because of what they were teaching. However , though I was speaking in English, she heard the teaching in her own language (Spanish) and she got a complete understanding and denounced the Catholic teachings. Praise God for His Mighty Power.
Peru’s Great Need
The great need in Peru can only be demonstrated by the tall rock mountains that many of the people live on. There are no trees or grass on the rocky cliffs. The children are idle all the day. Dead animals rot in front of the homes, and many of the homes have no roofs, no water source, and no sewers. The streets are very filthy from people throwing bottles, cans, paper, etc., right down on what we call the tree-lawn [the space between the street and the sidewalk]. Fortunately, they have street sweepers to come around every day to sweep and pick up the trash, but for the most part, it is always dirty. It amazed me to see business men and women throwing trash on the streets.
With the means provided, we helped one family to purchase a water container. Many of the children were found to have worms. Some of the herbs that Ben and I brought helped with this condition and the colds that the children were getting. We heard of the attacks on New York and Washington, yet there is the tragedy of these poverty-stricken people too. Poorer than any that worked in the Twin Towers, their unheard cry goes up before our Father in Heaven. While we must help in disaster, let us also remember those who suffer from poverty, famine, etc.; thousands of needy people with no hope, no future, no real opportunity. We need to finish the work and go to our Father’s house.
Please pray much for these people. Many of them are trying to break the yoke of Roman Catholic oppression and live in the light of the gospel.
Willis Smith & Ben Vela
(To learn more of how you can help with the work of the gospel in Peru, you may contact either Willis or Ben. Their addresses are:
Ben Vela 2080 NE 167 ST, Miami, Florida, 33162 Phone: (305-945-4787) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Willis Smith P.O. BOX 94054, Cleveland, Ohio, 44101 Phone: (216) 271-9045 E-mail: email@example.com
Work in Africa
There has been an increasing number of people in Africa who are interested in knowing the truth about God’s love in giving His Son. We have been receiving letters from people in several African countries, some of whom requested us to visit them in Africa. By the grace of God, last month Brother Howard Williams of Restoration Ministries in Jamaica joined me on this mission to visit some of the brethren in the countries of Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Tanzania.
On Monday, August 20, 2001, Howard and I began our trip, not knowing what to expect in these strange countries so far away from home. We were very encouraged as we began our trip when we met a man on the flight to South Africa who was very interested to hear the truth. This man was from Congo and he listened attentively to Howard as he shared the truth about God’s love in giving His Son. We studied with him for four hours, and he accepted the message gladly. We had a short layover in South Africa before we flew to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe for our first visit.
At noon on Tuesday, August 21, we arrived in Bulawayo and were warmly greeted by about fifteen people from the local church. We were surprised to see so many people greet us, and were even more surprised when we found out that they had all come in one vehicle. Brother Ephraim Ngwenya owns a small van that holds twenty people. Of course that is a tight fit. Here in the United States we use a van nearly twice as big to hold fifteen people. This was one of the many buses that comprise the main transportation for most of the people in Africa. This is also Ephraim’s source of income.
Ephraim and his family opened their home to us and gave us a room to stay in while we were in Zimbabwe. We appreciated this very much.
We began our meetings on Wednesday, which gave us Tuesday afternoon to try to adjust to the 6-hour time change. We spent the mornings visiting and studying with people, and in the afternoon we had meetings with the church about church organization. Each evening we went to a rented meeting room and had evangelistic meetings focusing mainly on the love of God in giving His Son. Each evening there were between twenty-five and thirty-five people who attended.
We found that most of these people already had a very good understanding of the truth about God. In fact, many of them had already been disfellowshiped from the Seventh-day Adventist denomination because of their stand for this truth. Ephraim Ngwenya had already written a booklet on this subject. This booklet is very well written, and, the Lord willing, we plan to publish it in the near future.
To give you an idea of the large numbers of Seventh-day Adventists in Zimbabwe, 1 out of 38 people in Zimbabwe is a Seventh-day Adventist (in the United States 1 out of 322 people are SDAs). There are 288,380 SDAs in Zimbabwe, and 83,000 in Bulawayo. (These and the other statistics in this report are from, Almost Home, a publication distributed by the S.D.A. General Conference.)
Every day there were new people who came to the meetings. Some of the things we shared (such as the complete death of Christ) were new to many people, yet we had very little opposition to the message. This was very encouraging. The people there were very eager to learn, and committed to stand for the truth. On Sabbath there were about fifty people who attended the services throughout the day.
There are many people in Zimbabwe who understand the message and who are very capable of sharing it with others, yet they work with very limited resources. We have sent some literature to Zimbabwe, and we took as much as we could with us, yet there is still a great need for more literature in Zimbabwe.
While we were there, the Lord provided an opportunity to purchase a duplicating machine (similar to a Risograph), at a very reduced price, that is capable of duplicating large amounts of literature inexpensively. It works similar to a photocopying machine, but it makes a master plate first, then duplicates at a rate of up to 120 copies per minute.
The ability to duplicate literature in Africa eliminates the need for us to ship boxes of literature to Africa on a boat, which takes up to 4 months, and costs a great deal of money in postage. The people in Zimbabwe will be able to duplicate and distribute literature to several of the nearby countries. Please pray that many souls will be won through this means.
We fell in love with these dear brethren in Zimbabwe, and it was with heavy hearts that we left them for our next destination, Zambia.
On Wednesday evening, August 29, we arrived in Lusaka, Zambia. Brother Benny Kayamba, his associate Charles Chiloma and a few other brothers, warmly greeted us and gave us a ride to the hotel where we would be staying while we were in Zambia. We stayed in the Anglican Church Council guesthouse, where we were treated very nicely. This guesthouse, along with nearly every home and business, was surrounded by concrete walls nearly 10 feet high, with pieces of broken glass or curved spikes cemented into the top to prohibit anyone from climbing over. They also have a 24-hour security guard to discourage thieves. I had never been to a city where security was such a high priority.
We were instructed not to go out of the fence after 8 or 9 p.m. because of the risk of being robbed. The following day, Thursday, we ventured out to find some food, and noticed police standing in front of several buildings, armed with what appeared to be AK-47 machine guns. This was a common sight in Kabulonga, the suburb where we were staying. Yet, we later discovered that we were in one of the better parts of town!
On Friday we used the public transportation system to visit a couple places in Lusaka. The public transportation was the same as it had been in Zimbabwe, consisting of mostly minivans packed with 20 people. It was a very interesting experience. We first had to go downtown and switch buses to go to our final destination, and then repeat the process to return. This was our means of transportation during our stay in Zambia. Benny and Charles joined us as we visited one of the shops in the suburb of Matero where Benny and his brethren distribute literature. We were shocked to see the poverty that surrounded these little beacons of light. The shop itself was very small and, like the rest of the businesses around, it seemed to be patched together and in need of much repair. It was enclosed, and locked securely, due to the high risk of theft, and covered with a patchwork of tin to keep the rain out. There were no police to be seen in this, obviously poor, neighborhood.
While we were in Matero we went to visit an elder in the nearby suburb of Lilanda who had been in an automobile accident just two weeks prior, and had lost his left arm and suffered other injuries. The poverty in that neighborhood was overwhelming. We prayed with him and his family and left him a copy of “What did the Pioneers Believe?”
Our first meeting was held Sabbath morning in a schoolroom in the suburb called Lilanda that we had rented for that purpose. As we walked down a long narrow alley on our way to the school we were stunned to see the poor living conditions. Soon we rounded a corner and entered a gate. Inside was a very nicely maintained school—quite a contrast from the surrounding neighborhood. One of the men who was at the home of the man who lost his arm, was in the meeting room when we arrived. He was very enthusiastic about the message, and was sharing it with another man who was there. The day before was the first time he had ever read any material regarding the non-Trinitarian position. About forty people attended the first meeting. To our surprise, most of the people were unfamiliar with the non-Trinitarian message. Several of them had read some of our literature, but did not understand the message. Virtually everyone who came to these meetings, except Benny and the man just mentioned, was a Trinitarian.
The Lord blessed, and the message was presented clearly. Virtually everyone left that day a non-Trinitarian. It was really amazing to see. Not only had they accepted the message, but they were excited and eager to share it with others because they could see the value of knowing the only true God and His beloved Son whom He gave for our sins.
The following day there were not quite as many people in attendance, but there were several new people who had not been there the day before. For their sakes we covered the truth about the Father and the Son in the morning, and in the afternoon Howard shared the subject of the Holy Spirit. Again, every new person who attended that day came a Trinitarian and left a non-Trinitarian. The same thing happened the next day, and the next. On Tuesday evening, nearing the end of the last meeting, one young lady came into the room and immediately said, “I came here to find out if you could answer this question, ‘Does the Holy Spirit have a human body?’” Of course we know the answer to that question when we understand that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and His Son. However, it shows that even up until the end of the last meeting new people were coming who were curious to know the truth about God.
Just to let you know, there are 309,200 Seventh-day Adventists in Zambia. 1 out of 31 people in Zambia are Seventh-day Adventists.
The meetings in Zambia taught me something about our literature. Some of the people there had received and read some of our literature, but they still did not understand the message. Some of the literature may have been too complicated, but I believe the language barrier contributed more to the problem than anything else. These people required a personal visit which could do more than our literature could do. They needed someone to share the message clearly and answer questions before they could see the value of the message. Having a translator during all the messages helped a great deal to make sure each person understood what was being said.
Many of these people expressed to us that before we came they were hesitant to have us come to Zambia. The little they had heard about us had made them reluctant to hear the message we came to present. However, after we shared with them the truth about God’s love in giving His Son, many people were very excited about the message and determined to share it with others. Our translator, Elder Zulu, exclaimed, “We have received this message. It is not our job to sit idle, but we must carry this message to the whole country. We will teach others, and others will teach others, and others will teach others, and others will teach others, until the whole country will receive this message.”
In a personal e-mail that I sent home from Zambia, I wrote:
Things are going excellently here. There are many people here who have never heard the message before and who are accepting it gladly. Some of the leaders here were not grounded in the message, and now they see the value of the message and are very excited about spreading it. There is a fire started in Zambia that will not be quenched. Please keep them all in prayer. We really believe a very large harvest will result here. The people here are wonderful and dedicated.
I would like to share with you an e-mail I received from Benny Kayamba shortly after we left Zambia.
Greetings in the name of our heavenly Father and His precious Son. Thank you for helping us to know the fundamental truth about one God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We are so blessed by the ministry that God has given to you. The Lord’s time to teach and warn our SDA friends around Zambia and the world has fully come. Funds are needed to take the vital true historical Seventh-day Adventist messages to the world, starting from [the cities of] Lusaka, Kabwe, Kapiri, Mposhi, Livingstone, Mkushi, Serenje, Choma, Sesheke, Kaoma, Mongu, Senanga, Kalabo, Mumbwa, Liteta, Chongwe, Chisamba, Kafue etc.… through seminars and distributions of tracts, Bible lessons, and books. Men like Tyndale, Wycliff and Luther risked their lives to get the Bible to the people in their native tongue. Rome would never forget it; thousands of Seventh-day Adventists are afraid to stand up and do what they know is right because of fear. For this reason we request you to find for us some donors who can help us. Funds needed for completion: $1,000. We stand rebuked by God because many compounds, cities, families, provinces are unworked and un-warned! May the Lord abundantly bless you all.
Yours in Christian service,
Evangelist Benny M. Kayamba.
N.B: Send us books, tracts and newsletters. We want to print the booklets: “Who is Telling the Truth About God?” and “The Omega of Apostasy” for seminars. We need your response today! Please help us now! We have started witnessing door to door. Many people received the message.
The Progress of the Message
Another letter came in a few days later. It read,
God continues to open many doors for the proclamation of the fundamental truth about one God and His Son, Jesus Christ. The invitations for seminars are increasing. God’s people are hungry. Please pray for the progress of the message in every country. Dear Brothers Lynnford and Williams, the books and tracts have the message which has touched the hearts of many people. Right now we have no materials for seminars. Please send us money for printing. I agree with you it is so expensive to mail books, tracts and Newsletters and the materials take time to reach us (3 to 4 months). Funds are needed for printing! As funds permit we will print the tracts: “The God of the Bible,” “Which God?” “The Love of God.” Booklets: Who is Telling the Truth About God? and The Omega of Apostasy, here in Zambia. If the Lord moves on your heart to give of your means to this evangelistic work here in Zambia, we would appreciate it.
Again, it was with heavy hearts that we left Zambia for our next destination, Tanzania.
On Wednesday evening, September 5, we arrived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Brother Adam Mwambene and his son met us at the airport and gave us a ride to their home for dinner. We had a lovely African meal, and a nice visit with Adam and his family, along with a few other brethren who had come for the meetings.
There are 207,893 Seventh-day Adventists in Tanzania. 1 out of 147 people in Tanzania are Seventh-day Adventists.
The meetings in Tanzania were a little different from the other countries we had visited. We had invited several ministers from other countries to come to Tanzania for the meetings. There were also a few ministers from distant parts of Tanzania who were invited to come to Dar es Salaam for the meetings. The meetings in Tanzania were arranged primarily for ministers. It was like a training seminar to educate ministers from different parts of Africa so they would be able to teach the message in their part of the world. We had invited a few men from Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya. However, only two men from Uganda, Alfred Mukhooli and Fred Musungu, were able to make it from outside of Tanzania. Two men from Rwanda began their trip to Tanzania but were turned back at the border due to the instability of Rwanda. However, they will be receiving a visit from the brothers in Uganda in the near future.
Patrick Katambo and K. A. Kitomary who live in distant parts of Tanzania were able to attend the meetings in Dar es Salaam. There were also some brothers and sisters who live in Dar es Salaam who were able to attend the meetings.
After our evening meal Adam drove us to the home where we would stay during our visit. We were surprised by the beauty of the place. It was the very large home of a doctor who was away at the time. This would be our home for the next week, along with the four other brothers who had traveled there for the meetings.
We had a very tight schedule filled with meetings. Brother Adam Mwambene and his associate, Elisha Sibale, did a wonderful job of preparing for the meetings. The home, the meeting room, the schedule, and the food provisions were all organized very well.
The meetings began at 8:30 a.m. and continued, with a few breaks, until 6:30 p.m., or 18:30 as they would say in Tanzania, since they use military time instead of a.m. and p.m. There were not as many people attending these meetings as we had been accustomed to in Zimbabwe and Zambia, but most of those who attended were, or had been, pastors, Bible workers, or in some other leadership position in the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement (International Missionary Society).
The truth about God’s love in giving His only-begotten Son was a new message to everyone at the meetings. Some of them had read some of our literature, but were still very unfamiliar with the message. The Lord blessed Howard and me with the ability to share the message very clearly. All of the brethren were excited to learn the truth about God’s love in giving His Son, and they could see how Satan has sought to hide that love by inventing the doctrine of the trinity. One man said, “Now I can discard my idea that the Son of God was pretending to be a son, and now I realize that God the Father really has a Son, who was really begotten long before He sent Him into the world.” This was the basic sentiment of all those who attended. It was refreshing for them to know that God the Father loves them enough to give up His only begotten Son to die completely (not just pretend to die) for their sins. They were also relieved to know that when we receive the Holy Spirit we are actually receiving the Spirit of the Father and His Son.
Just as there was a fire started in Zambia that will not be quenched, there was a fire started in Tanzania and Uganda that will not be quenched. Everyone expressed their determination to go back to their home towns and spread this message far and wide regardless of the consequences. Several of these men are currently employed by the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement (International Missionary Society). However, as we have witnessed in the past, their employment will likely be jeopardized by their stand for the truth. Please pray for these brothers as they step out in faith.
Shortly after I returned home I received an e-mail from a Bible Worker, K. A. Kitomary, who attended the meetings. He wrote:
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s a great pleasure to have a chance to get in touch with you. It’s been some time since we met in Dar es Salaam during the seminar. I traveled safely back to Arusha, hope you too [have traveled home safely] despite the problems which have happened in your country. I feel sorry for all the troubles that have happened. How did you get home? I hope God answered our prayers.
After I left from Dar es Salaam to Arusha, I have fulfilled my promises as I promised before God and you with your associate Howard Williams.
First was to educate my family, of which I am still doing. Their response is very encouraging and they are all anxious to know more. Up till now I taught them:
1. The only begotten Son of God
2. To know the true God
3. The origin of sin
4. To know the character of God
5. The Love of God
6. The trinity
7. The Holy Ghost
I am still proceeding with other subjects and, if God wishes, by the 30th of September 2001 I will have covered a lot of subjects. I plan to travel on the 30th of September, 2001, to visit other members of our church. I will start with Tanga region from the 7th of October, 2001 to the 20th of October, 2001, and I have already informed them. From Tanga I will go to Mbulu/Babati where there are three churches—one in Dongobesh, one in Kutta and one in Dareda. All of these are situated in Arusha region. Remember that we have to preach to as many people as possible before Satan comes to their lives. As we have to complete this task early I will appreciate to receive your communication soon so as I could be able to travel to the parts that I have mentioned. My trip will take 2 months… Have a lot of greetings from my family and pass mine to your associate Howard Williams and friends.
In another e-mail he updated us on the progress of the message in his area. He wrote:
I am proceeding well with my family and on Friday, the 21st of September, I traveled to Moshi town where I stayed for three days and I was able to visit 12 of my students. They were surprised by the message that I gave to them, and they were very attentive. I was back home on the 24th of September and I left them anxious, as they wanted to know more about the Holy Word.… Will you allow me to translate the message into Swahili so that our local people here who are coming in great numbers can read?
I was very encouraged to receive these letters. I am excited to see people who are willing to do everything they can to share this message with others. Brother Kitomary also told us in an interview:
I do not see this message as the message of Lynnford and Howard, but rather, I see that this message came to me directly from God.
This is just one example of the experiences of all those who attended the meetings. In Tanzania the meetings had a broader scale of influence than in the other countries because they trained ministers to share the message in several areas, rather than in just one city.
Brother Fred Musungu, from Uganda, attended the meetings. After he returned home he sent an encouraging letter. He wrote, in part:
We are at work now, beginning from our own families, our home churches, lastly to finalize—countrywide. We were in formalism by faith, but because God loves us He has opened our minds in understanding and knowing Him fully.
There are 106,119 Seventh-day Adventists in Uganda. 1 out of 198 people in Uganda are Seventh-day Adventists.
Near the end of the meetings an elderly Catholic man began attending. He listened attentively as we shared the wonderful love of God in giving His Son and explained how the trinity doctrine hides that love. He learned that the trinity doctrine was formulated by the Catholic Church in the fourth century, and how they base every other doctrine on that teaching. He also learned that Peter is not the rock upon which Christ builds His church, but rather the rock is the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. This man also learned the true state of the dead and that purgatory is a money-making, false doctrine designed to scare people into giving large sums of money to the Catholic Church. I don’t believe this man will remain a Catholic for very long after these meetings.
The brethren in Tanzania shared our grief as we learned about the terrible attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We were in the middle of a meeting when we received a call informing us of the unbelievable events. We ended the meeting shortly afterward and had a prayer vigil for the families who lost loved ones, the injured, and for the nation and the world. It was a strange feeling to be in a foreign country, separated by a vast ocean, and know that all US air traffic was closed down and that the US may go to war with another country or group of terrorists. My thoughts and prayers were with my wife and son back at home, my beloved church family, and my family and friends.
At the time of the attacks, we were scheduled to fly home in two days, but we learned that our flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to Atlanta, Georgia had been canceled. Even after the US air space was opened for traffic, they did not allow foreign airlines to enter the country.
On Thursday, September 13, we left Tanzania for South Africa with mixed emotions. We wanted to spend more time with our brethren, but we also longed to get home to our families. Howard’s wife was awaiting him in Jamaica, and the way the airplane tickets had been purchased he had to go through the US in order to get to Jamaica.
We arrived in South Africa to find that our flight was still canceled. Fortunately, the people in South Africa were very friendly and eager to help. We stayed in a lovely hotel until our airplane was cleared to return to the US.
I am happy to report that our airplane finally made it to the US and, as it landed, the passengers broke out in applause, happy to be in their home country. It was good to be reunited with my family after nearly four weeks of being separated.
As I look back on our visits with the brethren in Africa, I am filled with a sense of responsibility to help the work continue in these countries where the people live and work under very poor conditions, with limited resources. I have seen firsthand the dedication these people have to the message of God’s love. I have also seen their desire to share this message with others. I have seen many people grasp hold of the truth about God and I have seen their lives changed. There is something very special about knowing who you are praying to when you pray, and knowing that this Person truly loves you enough to give up every possession He owns in order that you might be saved. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) I have seen this message convert many laymen into missionaries. It has an effect upon people such as no other message has. Once a person first sees the love of the Father, they wish to share this valuable treasure with others.
Of the many people who attended the meetings in the different countries, and learned new truth for the first time, there were very few who offered any objection to it. Most of the people accepted it gladly. Of course we answered many questions everywhere we went, but the resistance to the message was very minimal. Of the objections we heard, 1 John 5:7 was always at the top of the list. However, after a brief examination of the text everyone agreed that it in no way supports the doctrine of the trinity. It says, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (1 John 5:7) “There are three…” Three what? Three persons? Three beings? Three gods? No! It just says “there are three…” The next verse says, “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” (1 John 5:8) Again I ask, three what? Three persons? Three beings? Certainly not! It is clear that the water and the blood are not persons, for verse six says, “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.” (1 John 5:6)
If you say there are three persons, beings, or gods in verse seven, you must say the same about verse eight if you are going to be reasonable and honest. This reminds me of a quotation I read recently that says, “When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken or cease to be honest!” —Author unknown. I am happy to announce that most of the people we met are genuinely honest, and have ceased to be mistaken regarding what the Bible says about God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit of God.
The people who are doing the work in Africa have many needs. One of the major needs is literature. Due to the high cost of shipping literature to Africa we have not sent much literature to these countries. However, with the new printing machine in Zimbabwe they can now duplicate large amounts of literature and distribute the literature to some of the surrounding countries. What they now need is a continued supply of paper, ink and other supplies necessary for keeping this duplicator running. If you would like to help with the printing project in Africa, when you send a donation please let us know that you would like your donation to be used for literature in Africa. Please keep this project in your prayers, along with the ministers who are sharing the message in Africa.
We found in each country that a minister and his family can be supported with $100 US per month. In Zimbabwe, a minister and his family can be supported with $50 US per month. There are several ministers in the countries we visited who are dedicated to spreading this message. If any of you would like to help support a minister in Africa, please let us know, and we will get you in contact with a minister in need of help.
Please keep the work in Africa in your prayers. The message spreads more rapidly in Africa then it does here in the US. Less than 10% of the world population of Seventh-day Adventists live in the United States, while nearly 25% live in Africa. There is a lot of potential in Africa for this message to spread rapidly. I pray that the Lord will abundantly bless His work in Africa, and I pray that you will add your prayers to mine.
“Many people are most receptive to our message. People are very much interested to know and understand this truth. The Bible to them became a new book, praise be to God. Now is the time to use means for God. We translated the tracts: “The God of the Bible” and “Which God?” into French, Bemba and Nyanja. We solicit your earnest prayers.” — An e-mail received from Benny Kayamba just before going to press.”
Old Paths is published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. It is sent free upon request. Office phone: (304) 732-9204. Web site: http://www.smyrna.org.
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This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013