Old Paths Masthead

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. 24, No. 11 Straight and Narrow November 2015

Healing Herbs_ThinkstockPhotos-509513817 copy.jpg

The Lord has provided antidotes for diseases in simple plants.

In this issue:

Microbes and Antimicrobials: The Problem

Microbes and Antimicrobials: The Solution

The 60th General Conference Session, Report 3

Youth’s Corner — Semi Freedom

The Upward Path

Insight from Ellen G. White

Publisher Information


Microbes and Antimicrobials
The Problem

Genetically Engineered Organisms

The first International Genetically Engineered Machine Contest was held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004, and the most recent competition was completed in September 2015 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts, with an estimated 4600 participants, representing 280 high school and collegiate teams attending from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The competition was sponsored, in part, by Google, the National Science Foundation, Integrated DNA Technologies, and MathWorks. It is, obviously, a major competition. Prior to attending the contests, teams work “for months to solve real-world challenges by creating novel genetically engineered systems” (Laurie Garrett, “Biology’s Brave New World,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2013; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted). These students “see the genetic engineering of existing life forms and the creation of new ones as the cutting edge” (Ibid.) of biology and as the fresh, emerging field of a new science.

Artificial Bacterial Cell

J. Craig Venter is included in Time’s 2007 and 2008 lists of the one hundred most influential men in the world and in 2010, New Statesman (a British magazine) listed Venter as one of the world’s fifty most influential men. He has been awarded the Biotechnology Heritage Award, the Double Helix Medal, the National Medal of Science, and the Benjamin Rush Medal, among others, and he was one of the first to sequence the human genome, the set of chromosomes a human cell contains.[1] He is also the first person ever to transfect a cell. To transfect a cell, in his case, means to make an opening in the cell wall and to inject within the cell a substance. What Venter injected was a synthetic genome, a man-made set of chromosomes, he had constructed of a virus that normally infects bacterial cells, but he made his genome from informational pieces of the DNA and not from the literal genome of the cell itself. He then injected the bacterial cell with his synthetic viral genome, and it became, what was termed, a “functioning creature” (Ibid.) In 2010 he repeated the process, only on a larger scale. This time he sequenced more than one million coded bits of information, known as nucleotides, to make a more complicated creature. For this creature Venter and his team constructed “an artificial bacterial cell, inserted their man-made DNA genome inside, and watched as the organic life form they had synthesized moved, ate, breathed, and replicated itself” (Ibid.) and then announced it as “the first self-replicating species on the planet whose parent is a computer” (Ibid.).

Blood Poisoning

We will return to the artificial engineering of life forms in a moment, but first let us consider Joe McKenna, who was a young husband, a semi-professional basketball player, and a fireman in New York City. In 1938, on one of his days off, he went to the firehouse to polish the brass on the trucks, when one of the fire hose nozzles, a giant, heavy piece of metal, toppled off a shelf and hit him. A few days later his shoulder started to hurt. Two days after that he developed a fever. The fever steadily climbed. His wife was caring for him, but nothing she did made a difference and when the local doctor arrived, nothing he did helped, either.

So, they took him to the hospital. The nurses recognized that he had an infection, what they called blood poisoning at the time, and knew immediately that there was nothing they could do to help him. Penicillin, the first antibiotic, was three years in the future. People with infections often died. Joe was in the hospital for a week, shivering, dehydrated, and delirious, and he finally lapsed into a coma. His organs had begun to fail. His condition grew so desperate that his fellow firemen lined up to give him transfusions, hoping to dilute the infection surging through his blood, but nothing worked. He was only thirty years old when he died.[2]



When Drugs Don’t Work

Professor Dame Sally C. Davies is the Chief Medical Officer for England, a position equivalent to the Surgeon General of the United States. Every year she publishes an assessment of England’s public health and advises the government where action should be focused. Her first in-depth study for the public was on infectious diseases. She said what she learned scared her, not just as a doctor, but also as a mother, a wife, and a friend. Her findings were threefold:

1) We are losing the battle against infectious diseases.

2) Bacteria are fighting back and are becoming resistant to modern medicine.

3) In short, the drugs don’t work.

Since the manufacture of penicillin in 1943, almost all of us have benefited from the medicinal effects of antimicrobial drugs—what we often colloquially and, as we will see, inappropriately refer to as antibiotics. These wonder drugs have stopped us dying from mundane infections such as a sore throat and have allowed us to routinely survive extraordinary operations, from hip replacements to heart transplants. Indeed, the World Health Organization estimates that antimicrobials add, on average, twenty years to everyone’s lives. . . .

. . . [but] if we do not change the course of history, and if we allow resistance to increase, in a few decades we may start dying from the most commonplace of ailments that can today be treated easily. . . .

. . . This is not a distant threat: already, resistant bugs are killing 25,000 people a year across Europe. (Professor Dame Sally C. Davies, The Drugs Don’t Work, 2013, Kindle edition, location 58–91)

An infection is caused by minute organisms found living in or on plants and animals, in water, and in soil. These organisms range from viruses and bacteria to fungi and protozoans and to larger multicellular organisms, such as parasitic worms. Although the majority of these microbes are too small to be seen with the normal eye and although they lack the complexity of higher life forms, they do share with humans many of the building blocks for the coding of genetic information, such as DNA and RNA, and they also share some structural and functional elements. This sharing limits the opportunities for treatment, since treatments need to be able to kill the microbes but not harm the human host.

If you look back through history . . . most people didn’t die of cancer or heart disease, the lifestyle diseases that afflict us in the West today. They didn’t die of those diseases because they didn’t live long enough to develop them. [Age is only one factor.] They died of injuries—being gored by an ox, shot on a battlefield, crushed in one of the new factories of the Industrial Revolution—and most of the time from infection, which finished what those injuries began.

All of that changed when antibiotics arrived. Suddenly, infections that had been a death sentence became something you recovered from in days. It seemed like a miracle, and ever since, we have been living inside the golden epoch of the miracle drugs.

And now, we are coming to an end of it . . . when simple infections . . . will kill people once again.

In fact, they already are. People are dying of infections again because of a phenomena called antibiotic resistance. . . .

Penicillin was distributed in 1943, and widespread penicillin resistance arrived by 1945. Vancomycin arrived in 1972, vancomycin resistance in 1988. Imipenem in 1985, and resistance to it in 1998. Daptomycin, one of the most recent drugs, in 2003, and resistance to it just a year later in 2004.

For seventy years, we played a game of leapfrog—our drug and their resistance, and then another drug, and then resistance again—and now the game is ending. Bacteria develop resistance so quickly that pharmaceutical companies have decided making antibiotics is not in their best interest, so there are infections moving across the world for which, out of the more than 100 antibiotics available on the market, two drugs might work with side effects, or one drug, or none.[3]

For example:

In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, identified a single case in a hospital in North Carolina of an infection resistant to all but two drugs. Today, that infection, known as KPC, has spread to every state but three, and to South America, Europe and the Middle East. In 2008, doctors in Sweden diagnosed a man from India with a different infection resistant to all but one drug at that time. The gene that creates that resistance, known as NDM, has now spread from India into China, Asia, Africa, Europe and Canada, and the United States.

It would be natural to hope that these infections are extraordinary cases, but in fact, in the United States and Europe, 50,000 people a year die of infections which no drugs can help. A project chartered by the British government known as the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance estimates that the worldwide toll right now is 700,000 deaths a year.

That is a lot of deaths, and yet, the chances are good that you don’t feel at risk, that you imagine these people were hospital patients in intensive care units or nursing home residents near the ends of their lives, people whose infections are remote from us, in situations we can’t identify with.

What you didn’t think about, none of us do, is that antibiotics support almost all of modern life.

If we lost antibiotics, here’s what else we’d lose: First, any protection for people with weakened immune systems—cancer patients, AIDS patients, transplant recipients, premature babies.

Next, any treatment that installs foreign objects in the body: stents for stroke, pumps for diabetes, dialysis, joint replacements. How many athletic baby boomers need new hips and knees? A recent study estimates that without antibiotics, one out of every six would die.

Next, we’d probably lose surgery. Many operations are preceded by prophylactic doses of antibiotics. Without that protection, we’d lose the ability to open the hidden spaces of the body. So no heart operations, no prostate biopsies, no Cesarean sections. We’d have to learn to fear infections that now seem minor. Strep throat used to cause heart failure. Skin infections led to amputations. Giving birth killed, in the cleanest hospitals, almost one woman out of every one hundred. Pneumonia took three children out of every ten.

More than anything else, we’d lose the confident way we live our everyday lives. If you knew that any injury could kill you, would you ride a motorcycle, bomb down a ski slope, climb a ladder to hang your Christmas lights, let your kid slide into home plate? After all, the first person [in England] to receive penicillin, a British policeman named Albert Alexander, who was so ravaged by infection that his scalp oozed pus and doctors had to take out an eye, was infected by doing something very simple. He walked into his garden and scratched his face on a thorn. That British project I mentioned which estimates that the worldwide toll right now is 700,000 deaths a year also predicts that if we can’t get this under control by 2050, not long, the worldwide toll will be ten million deaths a year. (Ibid.)

Antibiotics Are Not Perfect

While antibiotics have saved countless lives, they are not free of problems. Most antibiotics are considered broad-spectrum antibiotics because they do not target just one organism but kill a wide range of bacteria, which means they can change the composition of the microbes in the intestines. When side effects from the antibiotic occur, they usually clear within a few days following completion of the treatment, but some intestinal microbes do not always regain their healthy balance as quickly. Researchers in 2007 found that Bacteroides, for example, which specialize in digesting the carbohydrates of plants, were dramatically affected by clindamycin and still had not returned to their original composition two years later! (See Alanna Collen, 10% Human: How Your Body’s Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness, pages 156–158.)

This long-term impact on the gut microbiota has been seen for at least half a dozen of our most common antibiotic drugs, each changing the composition in different ways. (Alanna Collen, 10% Human: How Your Body’s Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness, p. 158)

This is a very real germ warfare.

While we may not agree with the method or principles of vaccination, we cannot argue with the millions of lives that have been saved by it. While we may not agree with the use of antibiotics or antivirals, we also cannot argue with the millions of lives also saved by them. And while we may not even like the idea of anesthesia, we, again, cannot argue with the lives that have been greatly helped and saved by it. These methods of treatment, however, often leave us in the difficult position of having to choose between the treatments’ possible side effects and the alternative—permanent physical damage, serious illness, or even death—and cause us to question if either way is pleasing to God. A valuable book to help those sorting through the many statements of Ellen White against the use of drugs is A Physician Explains Ellen White’s Counsel on Drugs, Herbs, & Natural Remedies by Melvyn G. Hardinge. Chapter titles include: “Medical Education in Ellen White’s Day,” “The Drugs That Physicians Dispensed in Ellen White’s Day,” “Drugs Defined,” “Natural Remedies,” “Herbal Remedies,” “Simple Remedies,” “Remedies Used by Ellen White,” and “Should Drugs Ever Be Used?.”

Without question, Satan is far more intelligent than any of us. He used amalgamation to produce tares:

All tares are sown by the evil one. Every noxious herb is of his sowing, and by his ingenious methods of amalgamation he has corrupted the earth with tares. (Ellen White, Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 288)

And he is also the originator of all disease:

Satan is the originator of disease, and the physician is warring against his work and power. (Ellen White, Counsels on Health, p. 324)

It certainly is an example of wicked genius to construct a deadly invader of our cells or of our bodies that we hesitate to kill for fear of causing additional harm to ourselves!

Artificial Life Forms

Today we have scientists and budding scientists working on constructing man-made life forms, most of which are made for the purpose of accomplishing good for mankind, but these are dual-use constructions, for they can also be used by sinister people to cause great destruction. An example of this new kind of work intended to help mankind was presented by the University of Edinburgh at the 2006 International Genetically Engineered Machine Contest:

Imagine a legitimate public health problem—say, how to detect arsenic in drinking water in areas where ground-water supplies have been contaminated. Now imagine that a solution might be to create harmless bacteria that could be deposited in a water sample and would start to glow brightly in the presence of arsenic. No such creature exists in nature, but there are indeed creatures that glow (fireflies and some fish). In some cases, these creatures glow only when they are mating or feel threatened, so there are biological on-off switches. There are other microorganisms that can sense the presence of arsenic. And there are countless types of bacteria that are harmless to humans and easy to work with in the lab.

To combine these elements in your lab, you need to install an appropriate software program on your laptop and search the databases of relevant companies to locate and purchase the proper DNA units that code for luminescence, on-off switches, and arsenic sensing. Then, you need to purchase a supply of some sort of harmless bacteria. At that point, you just have to put the DNA components in a sensible sequence, insert the resulting DNA code into the bacterial DNA, and test to see if the bacteria are healthy and capable of replicating themselves. To test the results, all you have to do is drop some arsenic in a bottle of water, add some of your man-made bacteria, and shake: if the water starts to glow, bingo. . . .

The most difficult part of the process now is putting the DNA components in a sensible sequence, but that is unlikely to be true for long. The world of biosynthesis is hooking up with 3-D printing, so scientists can now load nucleotides into a 3-D “bioprinter” that generates genomes. And they can collaborate across the globe, with scientists in one city designing a genetic sequence on a computer and sending the code to a printer somewhere else—anywhere else connected to the Internet. The code might be for the creation of a life-saving medicine or vaccine. Or it might be information that turns the tiny phi X174 virus . . . into something that kills human cells, or makes nasty bacteria resistant to antibiotics, or creates some entirely new viral strain. (Garrett, “Biology’s Brave New World,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2013.)

And these last possibilities can become a national security nightmare, for the key component of synthetic genomes is simply information—information that can be uploaded to and downloaded from the Internet.

While virtually all current laws in this field, both local and global, restrict and track organisms of concern (such as, say, the Ebola virus), tracking information is all but impossible. Code can be buried anywhere—al Qaeda operatives have hidden attack instructions inside . . . videos, and a seemingly innocent tweet could direct readers to an obscure Internet location containing genomic code ready to be downloaded to a 3-D printer. Suddenly, what started as a biology problem has become a matter of information security. (Ibid.)

Synthesized Genomes

We cannot tell if what Venter has done and if what the young people are doing at the International Genetically Engineered Machine Contests, for example, are similar to what the antediluvians did that resulted in the destruction of life on the Earth by the flood, for what Ellen White meant by the term amalgamation in reference to this is unclear; however, keep in mind that whatever she meant, it was something that resulted in an “almost endless” variety of species or that in some way involved man and beast:

But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere. (Ellen White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 69)

Every species of animals which God had created was preserved in the ark. The confused species which God did not create, which were the result of amalgamation, were destroyed by the flood. Since the flood, there has been amalgamation of man and beast, as may be seen in the almost endless varieties of species of animals, and in certain races of men. (Ibid., p. 78)[4]

Although the first quotation above allows for the possibility of some kind of combination between man and beast[5] because the amalgamation involved the image of God, we are not specifically told anything about this combination, and we also do not know what the antediluvians were doing in biological sciences before the flood. What we do know now is that the man-made cell and genome that Venter constructed (and what the young people are attempting to do at places such as the International Genetically Engineered Machine Contests) were not made from all of or from part of a living cell grown in agar or in a similar way or from the literal genome of another living cell but were artificially constructed. Whether this matches or goes beyond what the antediluvians did we cannot say, but we are at least fast approaching the antediluvians in this area, and we know the dire result of their demonic foray into science.

Not only were the antediluvians bent on producing their, so-called, own life forms, they were also pleasure-seeking and morally corrupt, and so we find it today:

Many are eagerly participating in worldly, demoralizing amusements which God’s word forbids. Thus they sever their connection with God and rank themselves with the pleasure lovers of the world. The sins that destroyed the antediluvians and the cities of the plain exist today—not merely in heathen lands, not only among popular professors of Christianity, but with some who profess to be looking for the coming of the Son of man. If God should present these sins before you as they appear in His sight, you would be filled with shame and terror. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 218)

The sin of the antediluvians was in perverting that which in itself was lawful. They corrupted God’s gifts by using them to minister to their selfish desires. The indulgence of appetite and base passion made their imaginations altogether corrupt. The antediluvians were slaves of Satan, led and controlled by him. They worshipped selfish indulgence—eating, drinking, merry-making—and resorted to acts of violence and crime if their desires and passions were interfered with. (Ellen White, Ms24–1891, par. 43)

We should sigh and cry for the abominations done in the land, not only for the spiritual abominations, but also for those abominations done in the physical sciences.

Venter and his colleagues are not the only ones to have used genetic information to produce life forms:

In 2002, researchers at SUNY Stony Brook made a living polio virus, constructed from its genetic code. Three years later, scientists worried about pandemic influenza decided to re-create the devastating 1918 Spanish flu virus for research purposes, identifying key elements of the viral genes that gave that virus the ability to kill at least 50 million people in less than two years. . . .

On September 12, 2011, Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Center, in Rotterdam, took the stage at a meeting in Malta of the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza. He announced that he had found a way to turn H5N1, a virus that almost exclusively infected birds, into a possible human-to-human flu. At that time, only 565 people were known to have contracted H5N1 flu, presumably from contact with birds, of which 331, or 59 percent, had died. The 1918 influenza pandemic had a lethality rate of only 2.5 percent yet led to more than 50 million deaths, so H5N1 seemed potentially catastrophic. Its saving grace was that it had not yet evolved into a strain that could readily spread directly from one human to another. Fouchier told the scientists in Malta that his Dutch group, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, had . . . [turned] the bird flu into something that could infect ferrets (laboratory stand-ins for human beings). And then, Fouchier continued, he had done “something really, really stupid,” swabbing the noses of the infected ferrets and using the gathered viruses to infect another round of animals, repeating the process until he had a form of H5N1 that could spread through the air from one mammal to another.

“This is a very dangerous virus,” Fouchier told Scientific American. . . . Shortly after Fouchier’s bombshell announcement, Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a University of Wisconsin virologist, who also received funding from the National Institutes of Health, revealed that he had performed similar experiments, also producing forms of the bird flu H5N1 that could spread through the air between ferrets. (Garrett, “Biology’s Brave New World,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2013.)

And in 2013, “a team of scientists at China’s National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory . . . manufacture[d] 127 forms of the influenza virus, all based on H5N1, combined with genetic attributes found in dozens of other types of flu. The Chinese team had taken the work of Fouchier and Kawaoka and built on it many times over, adding some synthetic biological spins to the work. And five of their man-made superflu strains proved capable of spreading through the air between guinea pigs, killing them” (Ibid.).

. . . a simple, ubiquitous microbe such as E. coli, a bacterium that resides in the guts of every human being, can now be transformed into a killer germ capable of wreaking far more havoc than anything on that registry [a registry partly overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. (Ibid.)

Antibiotic resistance, coupled with the very real threat of synthesized bacteria and viruses getting into the wrong hands, will cause some people enormous concern. How we can address this concern will be considered in the next part of this article. ?

Onycha Holt

[1]. For more information about the genome in cells, consider http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/08/17/why-do-all-cells-have-the-complete-genome/

[2]. Adapted from maryn_mckenna_what_do_we_do_
when_antibiotics_don_t_work_any_more/transcript?language=en#t-31218; accessed 8–2–15

[3]. Maryn_mckenna_what_do_we_do_when_antibiotics_don_t_work_any_more/transcript?language=en#t-31218; accessed 8–2–15

[4]. This last quotation cannot mean an amalgamation of man with beast, but must mean two separate amalgamations, one of man and another of beast, because the “almost endless varieties of species of animals” present in Ellen White’s day and in earlier days were not human-animal combinations.

[5]. If this were true, current DNA/RNA synthetic constructions suggest the possibility (and only the possibility) of an amalgamation accomplished through DNA/RNA recombinations.

Microbes and Antimicrobials
The Solution

Natural Alternatives

Our lives, as we now know them, may radically change because of antibiotic resistance and because of synthesized microorganisms, and just as we must prepare spiritually for the almost overwhelming delusion soon to come upon the earth, so must we prepare physically.

As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour’s advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. Revelation 1:13–15. The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: “Christ has come! Christ has come!” The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was upon the earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Saviour uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion.

Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures and who have received the love of the truth will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. By the Bible testimony these will detect the deceiver in his disguise. To all the testing time will come. By the sifting of temptation the genuine Christian will be revealed. Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible and the Bible only? Satan will, if possible, prevent them from obtaining a preparation to stand in that day. He will so arrange affairs as to hedge up their way, entangle them with earthly treasures, cause them to carry a heavy, wearisome burden, that their hearts may be overcharged with the cares of this life and the day of trial may come upon them as a thief. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 625)

Now is the time we should be fluent in the true remedies—“pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, [and] trust in divine power” (Ellen White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 127)—and strong in courage, hope, faith, sympathy, and love, for they “promote health and prolong life” (Ibid., p. 241), and this will become even more critical as time goes by. An excellent book, in fact, to help us prepare physically, as well as spiritually, is The Ministry of Healing, and a companion study guide is available from the White Estate at http://www.whiteestate.org.guides/MH.html.

Herbs for the Promotion of Health

God has given us many herbs that promote health and healing:

The Lord has provided antidotes for diseases in simple plants, and these can be used by faith, with no denial of faith; for by using the blessings provided by God for our benefit we are cooperating with Him. He can use water and sunshine and the herbs which He has caused to grow, in healing maladies brought on by indiscretion or accident. (Ellen White, Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 289)

In 1978 the Federal Health Agency of Germany “established an expert committee, known as Commission E, on herbal remedies . . . to evaluate the safety and efficacy of phytomedicines”[1] and by 1993, the commission had prepared about three hundred monographs of herbs. The monographs were brief and without references, for they were intended for use as inserts in packages, so an expanded version of many of the monographs was later published, which included the references, the chemistry and pharmacology for each herb, lengthy overviews, enlarged sections on usages, etc. Because information about the medicinal properties of plants is constantly being updated, a revised version of the monographs is again needed. For example, in the expanded version, Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs, no contraindications are listed for St. John’s wort, but serious interactions have since been reported (in Lancet) between St. John’s wort and anti-rejection drugs, and the possibility of negative interaction of St. John’s wort with other medication has been noted in other places. Also Dr. Moumita Das reports, in her book Chamomile: Medicinal, Biochemical, and Agricultural Aspects, the effectiveness of chamomile in the treatment of leishmaniasis (a sometimes difficult-to-heal disease that affects millions of people), but this also is not mentioned in the Expanded Commission E Monographs.

The World Health Organization has developed five volumes of monographs of medicinal herbs (covering over one hundred twenty plants) which may be of help and which are available as free PDF downloads, one of which has been translated into Russian.[2] The PDR for Herbal Medicines (4th edition) may also be useful, as it lists over seven hundred herbs. Whatever source of information you use, however, always consider a second opinion and do not depend on folklore alone for your information because some herbs may be fine in one situation but contraindicated in another and because not every book is comprehensive. Some perfectly good herbs can be dangerous, for example, to the unborn. Natural Remedies: A Manual, by Phyllis Austin, Agatha M. Thrash, MD and Calvin L. Thrash, Jr., MD may be profitable but because it was published in 1983, it also does not offer up-to-date information.

We should also become proficient in the various uses of water (compresses, wraps, baths, etc.) for the treatment of illness, in the use of charcoal in the care of the sick, and in the use of other simple remedies, such as salt water gargles. One book that may be of value in this area is Drs. Agatha and Calvin Thrashes’ Home Remedies: Hydrotherapy, Massage, Charcoal, and Other Simple Treatments.

Country Living

Again and again the Lord has instructed that our people are to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one. We should now begin to heed the instruction given us over and over again: Get out of the cities into rural districts, where the houses are not crowded closely together, and where you will be free from the interference of enemies. (Ellen White, The Adventist Home, p. 141)


Living in the country is one of God’s ideals for his people.


Raising a garden sufficient to meet the needs of a family is truly a benefit of living in the country, but another advantage is the abundance of fresh air, air that is free from the air pollutants and from the infectious agents possible in city life. We may be much more thankful for that one day.

The physical surroundings in the cities are often a peril to health. The constant liability to contact with disease, the prevalence of foul air, impure water, impure food, the crowded, dark, unhealthful dwellings, are some of the many evils to be met.

It was not God’s purpose that people should be crowded into cities, huddled together in terraces and tenements. In the beginning He placed our first parents amidst the beautiful sights and sounds He desires us to rejoice in today. The more nearly we come into harmony with God’s original plan, the more favorable will be our position to secure health of body and mind and soul. (Ibid., p. 135)

He [God] loads us with His benefits. We are indebted to Him for the food we eat, the water we drink, the clothes we wear, the air we breathe. Without His special providence, the air would be filled with pestilence and poison. He is a bountiful benefactor and preserver. (Ellen White, Counsels on Stewardship, p. 17)


Two of the most important things you can do to either prevent infection in yourself or prevent the spread of disease to others are frequent hand-washing and the covering of the mouth and nose during coughs and sneezes. In the future the spread of infections may be a much more serious issue than it is today, so we should establish these habits of hygiene now. It is regrettably true that a great number of people do not take the time to wash their hands at key points during the day.

Proper hand-washing with soap and water is the single most important thing you can do to help reduce the spread of infections and help protect you, your family and those around you. The most common way for spreading bugs is by your hands: we have between 2 and 10 million bacteria between fingertip and elbow. . . . most of these bugs are harmless, but some can cause serious infection. . . .

. . . all it takes [for protection] is fifteen to twenty seconds of vigorous hand-washing with soap and water—this is about how long it takes to sing “Happy Birthday to You” twice through. (Davies, The Drugs Don’t Work, 2013, Kindle edition, location 539–549)

Giulia Enders is a medical student in Germany, who has written a book that is both informative and fun to read about how the intestinal tract works and about the balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria in the gut. She says there are four ways we can naturally combat harmful bacteria—dilution, temperature change, drying, and cleaning.

One example of bacteria dilution in the home is washing fruit and vegetables. Washing dilutes most soil-dwelling bacteria to such a low concentration that they become harmless to humans. Koreans add a little vinegar to the water to make it slightly acidic and just that bit more uncomfortable for any bacteria. Airing a room is also a dilution technique. . . . (Guilia Enders, Gut, p. 227)

Kitchen sponges [or dishcloths] offer the perfect home for any passing microbe—nice and warm, moist, and full of food. . . .

Kitchen sponges [or dishcloths] should only be used for cleaning the worst of the dirt off. Plates, cutlery, and so on should then be rinsed briefly under running water. The same is true for dish towels or drying-up cloths if they never get a chance to dry out. They are more useful for spreading a nice even layer of bacteria on your utensils than for drying them. Sponges and cloths should be thoroughly wrung out and allowed to dry—otherwise they become the perfect place for moisture-loving microbes.

Bacteria cannot breed on dry surfaces. Some cannot survive there at all. A freshly mopped floor is at its cleanest after it has dried. . . . (Ibid., pp. 227, 228)

Refrigerating food is an extremely important part of our daily lives, but a fridge contains so much food that it remains a paradise for bacteria even at low temperatures. The optimum temperature for your fridge is something below 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius). (Ibid., p. 228)

Let’s move on to another household appliance—the washing machine. Most washing machine programs use the dilution principle to clean our clothes and that is sufficient. However, damp kitchen cloths, a load of underpants, or sick people’s laundry should be washed at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) or more. Most E. coli bacteria are killed by temperatures above 104 degrees (40 degrees Celsius), and 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) is enough to kill off tougher Salmonella bacteria.[3] (Ibid.)

Alcohol’s Antiseptic and
Disinfectant Qualities

Dr. Frank Bures, a retired dermatologist in Winona, Minnesota, writes a weekly “Healthful Hint” article for the Winona Daily News, and his column for the week of Thanksgiving is always about something in the field of medicine for which we should be thankful. His choice for 2012 was isopropyl alcohol’s use as a disinfectant and as an antiseptic:

Once again it’s . . . time to give thanks for the good things we have. This year’s Thanksgiving column is for rubbing alcohol. It’s old, cheap but it still works . . .

Rubbing alcohol has and still is making a significant difference in things medical, both as an antiseptic and disinfectant. The difference between these terms is that when the same substance is applied to living tissue, it’s called an antiseptic; when put on an inanimate surface it becomes a disinfectant. . . .

Both alcohols, ethyl and isopropyl, can kill several bacteria in 10 seconds or fewer in the lab, including Staph aureus, Strep progenes, E. coli, Salmonella typhus, and Pseudomonas species, some of the bad actors in infections. For M. tuberculosis, it may take as long as five minutes of contact. Many, but not all, viruses are goners, too, like HIV, hepatitis B, herpes, influenza, etc. [Note—not because the virus is killed but because the cell hosting the virus is killed. We address viruses later in this article.] Even some systemic bad fungal infections are susceptible, but again not all. . . .

Perhaps we need to do a little back-to-the-future utilization of what has been and can be a very beneficial, cost-effective antiseptic approach for a lot of instances where we now use goops to prevent infection.

The straight stuff is the best, not the little pads. Ironically, a 70 percent concentration with water kills better than 90 percent because the water lets the rubbing alcohol into the bacterial cells more completely for the “cidal” effect. (Frank Bures, “Dr. Frank Bures: Simple rubbing alcohol reason to be thankful,” Winona Daily News, November 18, 2012)[4]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also acknowledges that both ethyl and isopropyl alcohols are useful as disinfectants. They are often bactericidal (but will not destroy the spores of bacteria), tuberculocidal, fungicidal and virucidal (again, the virus itself is not destroyed):

These alcohols are rapidly bactericidal rather than bacteriostatic against vegetative forms of bacteria; they also are tuberculocidal, fungicidal, and virucidal but do not destroy bacterial spores. . . . Their cidal activity drops sharply when diluted below 50% concentration, and the optimum bactericidal concentration is 60%–90% solutions in water (volume/volume). (http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/Disinfection_Sterilization/6_0disinfection.html; accessed 9–28–15)

Please note: Use isopropyl alcohol only externally, as it can cause blindness and death if ingested, and use in a well-ventilated area.

The Dreaded Landa-Landa

In December 1994 Menga Kitambala was camped deep in a forest in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). He was felling trees into large pits and setting them afire, after which he would lightly cover the fire with dirt so that the wood slowly smoldered and turned into charcoal. Selling charcoal was the way he supported his family of five small children who lived in Kikwit, a city of about 450,000 people, a city where houses crowded close against each other and where houses were without electricity, running water, sewers, and telephones. At some point on the way home, Menga developed a fever, sore throat, fatigue, and achy muscles. By the time he reached home, he felt exhausted. Later his fever spiked, and his wife took him to the local clinic, where he began vomiting blood. Eventually he was transferred to Kikwit General Hospital, where he later died. Then his brother died, then his wife, and then his two sons, an aunt, grandparents, in-laws, nieces, and nephews; and then others in Kikwit, total strangers, began dying.

It was the dreaded landa-landa, a malady (or event) supposedly caused by evil spirits which the ancient ceremonies of the Zairians usually seemed to stop. Landa-landa was a belief important to them, for it provided an explanation for all the bad things of life—death, pain, accidents—but this landa-landa kept on going; nothing stopped it. Even doctors were perplexed. For example, Kimfuma, a lab technician at Kikwit General Hospital, who drew blood samples from the patients dying of landa-landa, also fell ill, and the doctors were desperate to help him, for he was one of their own. So they performed an laparotomy, thinking his appendix had ruptured, but his appendix was normal. When he did not improve, they performed a second laparotomy for what they thought was an intestinal perforation as the cause of his landa-landa, but no perforation was found. Blood, however, was found, and it spewed forth onto the surgical team when the opening abdominal incision was made, but no cause for the bleeding could be found. The surgeon could only suture Kimfuma back up and send him to the postoperative ward, where he later died. What they did not know was this landa-landa was caused by a virus, not by an evil spirit, and there is nothing known that will kill a virus. In fact, a virus really is not alive in the first place, for it is simply RNA or DNA code,[5] a code which is replicated within the living cell it invades.

Consider the Ebola virus as an example. Ebola RNA is enclosed in a membranous package and projecting from the membranous surface are glycoproteins that bind to receptors found on human cell surfaces. These human cell receptors are present to catch nutrients which feed the cell. So, when the receptors bind with Ebola RNA, the cell wall thinks it has grasped a particle of nutrition and it engulfs the RNA, like a wave of the sea engulfs a surfer, and pulls the RNA inside the cell. Once there, the viral RNA connects with the human cell’s proteins, and the virus then replicates, piece by piece. Once the replication is completed, the copies of the RNA move to the cell membrane, bud off, and travel along until they find new cell walls onto which they can attach.[6]

Ebola virus contains a type of genetic material called RNA, which is similar to DNA and contains the blueprint for assembling new virus particles. Unlike animals and plants, which also use DNA as a repository of information, viruses are not technically alive because they are incapable of replicating without help. In order to create new viruses, the virus must infiltrate a living cell, where it hijacks the host cell’s machinery to fulfill its own goals. In order to get into the cell, Ebola must travel through the cell membrane, which is a barrier that protects the cell from its environment. However, all cells need nutrients, which must have ways of entering the cell; the viruses hitch a ride into the cell via one of these established nutrient-uptake entryways. Ebola virus takes advantage of a non-specific engulfing process called macropinocytosis, which allows the virus to be “eaten” by a wave-like motion of the cell membrane.

Once inside the cell, the virus hijacks the cell’s own machinery to create more copies of itself. Often, this appropriation of the cell’s replication machinery comes at the expense of the cell being able to make all of its own needed machinery, leading to the death of the cell or at least an inability to function properly. After all of the pieces for a new virus have been assembled, the viral pieces “bud” from the cell, using the cell’s own membrane to make a capsule for its safe travel to new cells nearby.[7]

I am sorry to say no hydrotherapy can destroy the enemy RNA or DNA and neither can herbs or charcoal. A medical doctor, who also has his PhD in the field of AIDS, recently explained to me that the only thing that can destroy a virus, so to speak, is the immune system. As noted above, viral DNA or RNA hitch rides into our cells, and then these cells are taken over by the virus. While this is occurring, our immune system becomes alerted to the invaders, but it takes time for the immune system to recognize the specific virus and to mount an attack. While the immune system is prepping for the attack, the virus vastly overruns our bodies and we suffer physical sides effects from its proliferation. Once the immune system is armed and ready, however, it begins to kill—not the RNA/DNA, but the cells of our bodies that host the virus—and the virus eventually loses the battle, our symptoms abate, and the influenza or other viral infection is over. (This does not work so neatly, of course, for lingering HIV or for the deadly fast-acting viruses, such as Ebola, which can kill the human host before the immune system can mount a lethal attack.)


Ebola virus


When we look into the face of nature, we see the beauty, the complexity, and the intelligence of the wonderful mind of God, but when we look into the face of disease, we see the evil, devious, dastardly mind of Satan at work. Satan is the master genome manipulator; Venter and like scientists are just babes in the field. Consider again Satan’s deadly concoction—the Ebola virus, a virus which targets critical liver cells, immune system cells, and the cells of blood vessels—and consider how deadly and how evil this archenemy of God truly is:

Ebola virus is characterized by a variety of symptoms, beginning with fever, headache, and muscle pain, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, and internal bleeding. Upon entering the body, the virus targets specific cell types, including liver cells, cells in the immune system, and endothelial cells, which line the inside of blood vessels. Once inside the cells, one of the proteins made by the virus is called Ebola virus glycoprotein. The glycoprotein can disrupt cell adhesion, so that cells have trouble sticking to each other and [sticking] to a scaffold called the extracellular matrix, which in healthy tissue helps to hold the cells together. The loss of cell adhesion is detrimental to any solid tissue, and by infecting blood vessel cells, the virus causes the vessels to become leaky, leading to hemorrhaging and internal bleeding.

By targeting liver cells, the body’s ability to clear toxins out of the bloodstream is compromised, and by infecting the immune system, whose cells travel everywhere in the body, Ebola has an opportunity to increase rapidly its area of infection. Over time, infection of cells throughout the body can cause organ failure, while fever, internal bleeding, diarrhea and vomiting can cause severe loss of electrolytes, blood plasma, and fluid. Ultimately, organ failure and shock caused by the internal bleeding lead to death. (Ibid.)

What a terrible, terrible disease! It certainly behooves us to keep our bodies in top operating condition so that our immune systems can do their jobs efficiently, effectively, and as quickly as possible.

The deadly landa-landa in Kikwit was the fast-acting Ebola virus. Menga probably became infected by eating freshly caught, but contaminated, meat while camping in the forest, and he, in turn, quickly infected his family. (See Laurie Garrett, Ebola: Story of an Outbreak; Kindle version, location 333.)

We do not know what viruses or bacteria we may be exposed to in the future, but we have many defenses we can utilize in the absence of antibiotics and antivirals—herbs, cleanliness, country living, charcoal, hydrotherapy, etc., and the eight true remedies as recorded in The Ministry of Healing, which include a healthful diet, exercise, fresh air, and a trust in God.


Let us consider our diets because what we eat can be a means of allowing disease to not only enter our bodies (think of Menga) but to flourish.

. . . no one can have good digestive powers and a clear brain who will eat largely of sweet cookies and cream cake and all kinds of pies, and partake of a great variety of food at one meal. When we do this, and then take cold, the whole system is so clogged and enfeebled that it has no power of resistance, no strength to combat disease. (Ellen White, Counsels on Diets and Foods, p. 334)

Scanty, ill-cooked food depraves the blood by weakening the bloodmaking organs. It deranges the system and brings on disease, with its accompaniment of irritable nerves and bad tempers. The victims of poor cookery are numbered by thousands and tens of thousands. Over many graves might be written: “Died because of poor cooking,” “Died of an abused stomach.” (Ibid., p. 374)

People are continually eating flesh that is filled with tuberculous and cancerous germs.[8] Tuberculosis, cancer, and other fatal diseases are thus communicated. (Ellen White, Child Guidance, p. 382)

Since “the disease and suffering [in 1905] that everywhere prevail[ed]” were “largely due to popular errors in regard to diet” (Ellen White, Pacific Health Journal, July 1, 1905), it is important for us to understand what a good, healthful diet is. Later in the article, Ellen White explained:

Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. These foods, prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigor of intellect, that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet.

But not all foods, wholesome in themselves, are equally suited to our needs under all circumstances. Care should be taken in the selection of food. Our diet should be suited to the season, to the climate in which we live, and to the occupation we follow. Some foods that are adapted for use at one season or in one climate are not suited to another. So there are different foods best suited for persons in different occupations. Often food that can be used with benefit by those engaged in hard physical labor is unsuitable for persons who follow sedentary pursuits. God has given us an ample variety of healthful foods, and each person should choose from it the things that experience and sound judgment prove to be best suited to his own necessities.

Care should be taken to have all food in as good condition as possible. In the end, good food is the cheapest. Vegetables that are stale or of poor quality are likely to be unpalatable and unwholesome. So with fruits. Ripe and fresh, they are as wholesome as they are delicious; but green, partly decayed, or overripe fruit should never be eaten raw. When cooked, unripe fruit is less objectionable. So far as possible, however, we should use fruit in its natural state. The more we accustom ourselves to use it fresh from the tree, the greater will be our enjoyment of fruit, and the more benefit we shall receive from its use.

For use in winter a liberal supply should be prepared by canning or drying. For canning, glass rather than tin cans should be used whenever possible. It is especially necessary that the fruit for canning should be in good condition. Use little sugar, and cook the fruit only long enough to insure its preservation. Thus prepared, it is an excellent substitute for fresh fruit.

Nuts and nut foods are coming largely into use to take the place of flesh-meats. With nuts may be combined grains, fruits, and some roots, to make foods that are healthful and nourishing. Care should be taken, however, not to use too large a proportion of nuts. Those who realize ill effects from the use of nut foods may find the difficulty removed by attending to this precaution. It should be remembered, too, that some nuts are not so wholesome as others. Almonds are preferable to peanuts, but peanuts in limited quantities, used in connection with grains, are nourishing and digestible.

When properly prepared, olives, like nuts, supply the place of butter and flesh-meats. The oil, as eaten in the olive, is far preferable to animal oil or fat. It serves as a laxative. Its use will be found beneficial to consumptives, and it is healing to an inflamed, irritated stomach. (Ibid.)

Since the beginning of evil on this earth, Satan has been perverting our diet, starting with the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and today this perversion is manifest everywhere, even in things we think are wholesome. Consider our daily bread, for example. Many of us would agree that most bread on the supermarket shelf is highly processed and is probably composed of the lowest-priced wheat available, which would be wheat that is most likely genetically modified and pesticide rich. Because of this we might avoid purchasing our bread at the store and choose to make our bread at home but even if we grind our own wheat, we may not be much better off, if we use wheat kernels (or flour) from plants that have been sprayed with Roundup or with similar chemicals and/or that have been genetically modified. The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, which has been shown to be an endocrine disrupter in humans, even at low levels,[9] and has also been linked to cancer[10] and possibly to other diseases,[11] although some people dispute these connections.[12] The United States has limits on the percentage of glyphosate permissible in foods, but the limits in Europe are much more stringent, and some countries in Europe even relegate grains rich in glyphosate to animal feed only. Much has been written about genetically modified foods, both pro and con. A surgeon not long ago informed me that, in his opinion, genetically modified foods were a cause for the increase he was seeing in gallbladder dysfunction in female patients who were usually past the age of exhibiting such disease.

Veggies and Fruit.jpg

A proper diet of good, whole foods helps the body fight disease.


Especially for the past one hundred seventy-one years has Satan been on an intense campaign to destroy God’s people through diet. So much in opposition to each other is printed on the subject of food (as seen in footnotes 9–12 and in the contradictory claims concerning the safety of genetically modified foods, for example) that we often know not what to believe or how to sort truth from error, but God will give us stability through his word and through the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy. If we stick to these instructions and if we ask his blessing on that which we cannot control, we will be kept safely in his hands.

Ebola swept through Kikwit before the enemy was known and in the technologically advanced places of the world, a possible shrouded, menacing evil hovers in the form of genetically engineered bacteria, viruses, and food supplies. Our lives may be peaceful at this moment, but it will not last. Momentous events are on the horizon, as the conflicts of the east move toward the west, as local unrest builds, and as genetically engineered science expands. Yet, we will not be held captive by deception or by disinformation nor toppled from a firm stand for God, if we abide by the following counsel:

LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. (Psalm 15:1–5)

Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, focus on his ministry in the most holy place, and seek to live righteous lives, for the time is coming when his intercession will end:

When the work of the investigative judgment closes, the destiny of all will have been decided for life or death. Probation is ended a short time before the appearing of the Lord in the clouds of heaven. Christ in the Revelation, looking forward to that time, declares: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:11, 12.

The righteous and the wicked will still be living upon the earth in their mortal state--men will be planting and building, eating and drinking, all unconscious that the final, irrevocable decision has been pronounced in the sanctuary above. . . . Silently, unnoticed as the midnight thief, will come the decisive hour which marks the fixing of every man’s destiny, the final withdrawal of mercy’s offer to guilty men. (White, The Great Controversy, pp. 490, 491)

But while probation seems to be lasting, let us consider the great day we are living in:

We are now living in the great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart. The light, frivolous spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away. There is earnest warfare before all who would subdue the evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. The work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. (Ibid., p. 489)

Just as parents who mourn and plead with God for their children who are facing life’s tough circumstances without the hope and peace of a living Saviour, Jesus mourns and pleads for us before his Father. What a wonderful Saviour! Where would we be without their great love?

I saw four angels who had a work to do on the earth, and were on their way to accomplish it. Jesus was clothed with priestly garments. He gazed in pity on the remnant, then raised His hands, and with a voice of deep pity cried, “My blood, Father, My blood, My blood, My blood!” Then I saw an exceeding bright light came from God, who sat upon the great white throne, and was shed all about Jesus. Then I saw an angel with a commission from Jesus, swiftly flying to the four angels who had a work to do on the earth, and waving something up and down in his hand, and crying with a loud voice, “Hold! Hold! Hold! Hold! until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads.”

I asked my accompanying angel the meaning of what I heard, and what the four angels were about to do. He said to me that it was God that restrained the powers, and that He gave His angels charge over things on the earth; that the four angels had power from God to hold the four winds, and that they were about to let them go; but while their hands were loosening, and the four winds were about to blow, the merciful eye of Jesus gazed on the remnant that were not sealed, and He raised His hands to the Father and pleaded with Him that He had spilled His blood for them. Then another angel was commissioned to fly swiftly to the four angels and bid them hold, until the servants of God were sealed with the seal of the living God in their foreheads. (Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 38)

When the storms of life threaten, set your love upon God, for he has promised to deliver you:

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. (Psalm 91:14, 15)

Onycha Holt

[1]. Varro E. Tyler in Foreword for The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines, Mark Blumenthal, Senior Editor, p. ix

[2]. http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/pdf/s2200e/s2200e.pdf (volume 1); http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/pdf/s4927e/s4927e.pdf (volume 2); http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/documents/s14213e/s14213e.pdf (volume 3); http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/documents/s16713e/s16713e.pdf (volume 4); http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/m/abstract/Js17534en/ (volume 5)

[3]. Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause food poisoning, as well as skin disorders, such as boils and MRSA infections, is killed at 161 degrees Fahrenheit or 72 degrees Celsius (https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/publications/Documents/Staphylococcus%20aureus.pdf), and isopropryl alcohol (use only externally) also kills S. aureus (http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/Disinfection_Sterilization/6_0disinfection.html).

[5]. Human DNA/RNA, in the same way, is not alive. “Naked human DNA is a completely non-functional molecule. It does nothing at all, and certainly can’t direct production of a new human being. It needs all the accessory information, such as the histones and their modifications, and it needs to be in a functioning cell” (Nessa Carey, Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome, p. 73). If we could, we would ask Dr. Carey: What, then, directs the production of a new human being? How can there be a functioning cell for the DNA to inhabit, without the DNA first directing the development of that cell from conception onward? We know the answer—God in heaven directs all this! We are, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)!

[6]. Adapted from “Ebola Virus: How it infects people, and how scientists are working to cure it”; accessed at http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2014/ebola-virus-how-it-infects-people-and-how-scientists-are-working-to-cure-it/ on 9–25–15

[7]. “Ebola Virus: How it infects people, and how scientists are working to cure it”; accessed at http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2014/ebola-virus-how-it-infects-people-and-how-scientists-are-working-to-cure-it/ on 9–25–15

[8]. While we know that cancer is not caused by germs, Ellen White was using the word germs in the terminology of her day, which meant origin or that from which something springs (Webster’s 1828 dictionary). In other words, meat can carry the seeds (whatever they might be) of, or meat can carry the origin of, cancer, tuberculous, and other fatal diseases.

[9]. http://biblio.cpepesc.org/pdfs/glyphosate/28_Article_Elsevier_Toxicology_juin2009.pdf

[10]. http://ebdaegypt.org/files/Pesticides%20and%20Cell%20Cycle%20Regulation.pdf

[11]. http://jeffreydachmd.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Genetically-engineered-crops-glyphosate-deterioration-health-United-States-Swanson-J-Organic-Systems-2014.pdf

[12]. http://academicsreview.org/2014/04/debunking-pseudo-science-lab-testing-health-risk-claims-about-glyphosate-roundup/

The 60th General Conference Session, Report 3

Although Elder Ted Wilson was reelected president of the General Conference by a large majority of the delegates during the first week of the session, the defining issues would come in the second week, with proposed changes to the Church Manual[1] scheduled for Sunday, proposed changes in the fundamentals on Monday and Tuesday, and the issue of women’s ordination to come on Wednesday. While the ordination issue was delayed until Wednesday, much of the conversation on Sunday to Tuesday was tainted with the issue. As one delegate said on Sunday morning, “Wednesday is . . . in this room.”

July 5 (Sunday Morning — Fifth Business Session)

The Church Manual committee had prepared twenty-five changes to be submitted to the session for consideration. Since both sessions on Sunday, July 5, had been set aside for this discussion, the delegates would need to be able to discuss twelve to thirteen points during each session to be able to accomplish the task of dealing with the twenty-five points in one day. Quickly it became clear that had very little chance of happening.

The first point concerned “Church Organization Today.” The underlined portion in the following statement was considered for addition to the rest of the current statement:

The Seventh-day Adventist form of governance is representative, which recognizes that authority rests in the membership and is expressed through duly elected representatives at each level of organization, with executive responsibility delegated to representative bodies and officers for the governing of the Church at each separate level. The Church Manual applies this principle of representation to the operations of the local congregation. General Conference Working Policy addresses how this principle functions in the rest of denominational structure. This form of governance recognizes also that ordination to the ministry is recognized by the Church worldwide. (60th Session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p.  91; accessed at https://www.adventist.org/fileadmin/gcsession.adventist.org/files/galleries/2015-gcs-agenda-website.pdf; herein afterward referred to as Session Book)

As soon as the proposed change was read, it brought a negative reaction. Jay Gallimore (NAD) stated:

Thank you Brother Chairman. I’m a little uncomfortable with this, because it separates out the Working Policy of the General Conference from the Church Manual. The Church Manual covers far more than simply the local church. I would be a lot more comfortable with this if it said “The Working Policy, in harmony with the Church Manual.” The Working Policy is not subject to this body, and it’s this dichotomy that bothers me here. (General Conference Bulletin 4, July 7, 2015, p. 34. This quotation has been edited to match the audio transcript of the session. Future quotations given in this article may also be edited, if so noted, to match the audio transcripts of the sessions.)

Later Gallimore also stated:

We want harmony between the Working Policy and the Church Manual, and not dichotomy. There should be a harmony in principle. (Ibid.)

Gallimore saw in the new statement a division between the Church Manual and the Working Policy. Furthermore, if the General Conference in session is the highest authority in the church, but there is a division concerning the Church Manual and the Working Policy, with the Working Policy not subject to the body of the church in session, then the delegates of the General Conference in session do not constitute the highest authority. Instead the leadership that determines the Working Policy becomes the highest authority! Mario Veloso (GC) then stated:

The motion to change the wording related to the representation on separating the Church Manual just for the local church and the Working Policy for the rest of the organization poses difficulty whenever an interpretation will come in the future, and this dichotomy is really a problem for the church.

We have never had this before. We all understood clearly the role of the Working Policy. But reducing the Church Manual to only for the local church brings this situation that we have many links in the Church Manual to the entire church. How is that going to operate if we separate them?

There is also the problem that the Fundamental Beliefs are in the Church Manual. And if this is only for the local church, what is going to happen with the handling of any changes in the future? Somebody may come up with the idea that this body has no authority. Somebody could try to change the Church Manual at the local level or at the church or at the conference, and then the authority is confused.

The way it reads as it is now is more clear. And I would like to support the concept of making it clear that both are interpreted in a way that they are in harmony and they are for the whole church. In the Working Policy are items that make a link with the Church Manual, and that link we should not destroyed. (Ibid.)

The concerns of Gallimore and Veloso were received by the delegates, and Louis Torres moved to send the statement back to the Church Manual committee for corrected language. By the time the first of twenty-five points was referred back to the committee, twenty minutes had elapsed.

The second point of consideration was the “General Conference the Highest Authority.” The change involved deleting the struck-through portion of the statement and adding the following (non-struck-through) portion.

When differences arise in or between churches and conferences or institutions, appeal to the next higher constituent level is proper until it reaches an Annual Council of the General Conference Executive Committee or the General Conference Session. Between these meetings, the General Conference Executive Committee constitutes the body of final authority on all questions. The committee’s decision may be reviewed at a General Conference Session or an Annual Council. When differences arise in or between churches and conferences or institutions, it is proper to appeal to the next higher organization not directly involved in the matter. The decision of the organization to which the matter was referred shall be final unless that organization itself chooses to refer the matter with comment or recommendation to a division or General Conference Executive Committee/General Conference Session. During the interim between sessions, the General Conference Executive Committee at Annual Council shall constitute the body of final authority on all questions where a difference of viewpoint has been referred. Its decisions shall control on controverted points, but at the request of the division executive committee concerned, such a decision may be reviewed at a General Conference Session. (Session Book, p. 92)

The point in consideration did not involve the General Conference being the highest authority in the church but rather how the appeal process would work for local churches, conferences, unions, and even divisions, when differences were to arise in the manner of how those entities should be operated. This change did not discuss the appeal process of individual people. As the Church Manual had been written, an appeal process could be followed, from the local church, to the conference, to the union, to the division, and finally to the General Conference, if needed, but the new language would only allow one level of appeal, unless that level of appeal chose to send the matter to a higher level. This quickly brought concern from the floor. Jim Howard (NAD) stated, in part:

This seems to take any ability of appeal away from an individual church that may be in a situation like that, where their local conference is actually doing something very contrary to what this world church body has voted. And there is nothing they can do about it, because at that point that conference or union can simply say, “We choose not to allow this to go to a higher level,” and there is then no level of appeal allowed.

Even in our governments, they understand there must be the ability, for a matter of fairness, for those at the lowest levels to be able to make that appeal all the way to the highest levels.

So I would, because of that, strongly recommend that this be dropped altogether and that this be left as is, that this body simply vote no to this recommendation. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. (General Conference Bulletin 4, July 7, 2015, p. 35)

This was followed by Henry Moncur (IAD) moving to refer the statement back to the committee. The Chair (GC Vice President Geoffrey Mbwana) asked if the motion could be held until more delegates had a chance to speak to the issue. Mbulelo Nqumse (SID) then asked if this amendment had done away with the individual’s right of appeal. He then stated, though not reported in the Bulletin:

Chair, I find this quite very strange. And I say so because this church subscribes to the rules of natural justice. Conventionally, it is normal that you lodge your appeal to the tribunal that took the first vetting. Naturally that tribunal has made its decision, and therefore it is a higher tribunal that would be viewed objective to look at the merits of your appeal. (Audio transcript of session)

To this the chair simply responded, “Well thank you for your concerns; we will take note of that” (Audio transcript of session).

Eugen Hartwich (SID) then stated:

I’m also concerned with this amendment. During the explanation it was said that it is important to bring the Church Manual into harmony with the Working Policy. I understand that the Church Manual is higher in authority than the Working Policy, because the Church Manual can be amended only in this body, while the Working Policy can be amended also at the GC Executive Committee. So it would be better to bring the Working Policy in harmony with the Church Manual, not vice versa. And there should be always a possibility to appeal to the highest authority, which is the General Conference.

So when Ellen White says here in line 39, “But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered.” How can it not be stubbornly maintained and but surrendered if it never reaches the General Conference? (General Conference Bulletin 4, July 7, 2015, p. 35)

This was followed by an appeal of Louis Torres, most of which was not published in the Bulletin, to refer the amendment back to the committee. Torres stated in part:

Thank you again Mr. Chairman, I love my country. I’m a chaplain in police department, and one of the things we do in justice is allow the prerogative of appeal. If in the civil government, which is lower than the spiritual government, allows for appeals, then we as a church should do likewise. (Audio transcript of session)

Later Neil Nedley (GC) asked if the General Conference Executive Committee was getting so many requests for appeal that they were being overwhelmed and thus could not handle them. No clear answer was given to this question. Shortly after this Larry Boggess (NAD) moved to call question on the motion that the amendment be referred back.[2] To this Mbwana stated that he would like to allow two more persons waiting at the microphones to speak before taking the motion. This may seem like a courteous action, but it was in violation of the parliamentary procedures of the conference. Such violations continually happened, and many points of order were registered in response. After two other delegates spoke, a vote was taken on the motion to send the amendment back to the committee. This was also out of parliamentary procedure. The vote should have been upon the question called by Boggess to stop discussion and not upon the amendment itself. But nobody noticed this, or if they did, no one called a point of order concerning it. This issue also took a little over twenty minutes of time to discuss.

The third point of consideration dealt with the term “Licensed Minister,” and now the fireworks really began. Harald Wollan explained the change this way:

The next item is number 403. And it is just to bring the harmony of the Church Manual in the way we use the word “pastor.” In some places we use the word “minister” and in some “pastor.” We are suggesting to use throughout the Manuel to [use] the word “pastor” instead of “minister.” The suggestion we bring to you is instead of “licensed ministers,” use “licensed pastors.” And this goes through the whole page. The items where changes are suggested are underlined. I’d like to move that we use the word “pastor” in this particular document and throughout the Church Manual. (General Conference Bulletin 4, July 7, 2015, p. 36)

This left out one major change, as well. The actual document stated:

Licensed MinistersTo give men Licensed Pastors—To give individuals an opportunity to demonstrate their call to the ministry, especially in the area of soul winning, prospective candidates are granted ministerial pastoral licenses by the conference. The granting of such licenses confers the opportunity to develop the ministerial gift. (Session Book, p. 93)

In eight places within three other paragraphs of the proposed changes, minister(s) was changed in pastor(s). Notice that not only are ministers now pastors but instead of being designated as men, it is now individuals, leaving it open to men and women. The first speaker from the floor to address this point was Mario Veloso:

Thank you, Brother Chairman. This change that we have here is much more than just changing the word “minister” to “pastor.” It actually changes the language, too. And the language is coming now as gender-inclusive reading, and eliminating entirely the phrase “to give men” be changed for “to give individuals.”

So there are two items. One is the change that, to me, it is a little bit too fast to do it. We have the item to be discussed on Wednesday, and we should wait until after Wednesday if we will go into the inclusive language or not. That is one item.

The other one, the pastors or ministers. If we read Ellen G. White, we find a clear difference between the office of minister and the gift of pastoring. So in making this change, we would somehow be a little bit awkward with that language of the Spirit of Prophecy. It would make us a little bit too close for any solution that we would need in regard to creating some other offices beside this senior minister of the church. (General Conference Bulletin 4, July 7, 2015, p. 36)

Clinton Wahlen and Gerard Damsteegt (GC) were quick to give supporting words to Veloso’s comments, with over eighty percent of Damsteegt’s remarks deleted from the Bulletin. Here is the majority of what he said:

There are clear distinctions between ministers and pastors. If you study the book of Ephesians, you’ll find that pastoring is a gift, teaching is a gift, apostleship is a gift, prophecy is a gift; but minister is an elective office right from the very very beginning. In fact, our people, our pioneers made the distinction between two types of elders—one is the local elder, the next one, the one with the oversight of a number of churches. . .which is called our minister, as so when Ellen White talks about those things she doesn’t have in mind an office of pastor but a function and gift. At the same time if you eliminate this, if you accept this motion, there is nothing anymore in the Church Manual that refers to ministers as men. So this is a very very important change that many may misunderstand, but if you keep it mind in light of the Bible, and the Bible only, you see that pastor is a gift, ministers need to have this gift, but at the same time, they need also the gift of overseeing. And so keep in mind this is a very important point. (Ibid., edited with audio recording)

Wahlen and Damsteegt were quickly opposed by others who were supportive of women’s ordination, as they attempted to separate this point from the ordination issue. Ángel Rodríguez, former head of the Biblical Research Committee, stated:

Brother Chairman. The discussion on the ordination of women to the ministry or not should be left for Wednesday. The arguments presented by people on one side of the issue has been also been answered by people on the other side of the question. So I will ask the chair to rule out any attempt to transform the discussion on this item into a discussion on the ordination of women to the ministry. Thank you. (Ibid., edited with audio recording)

This was followed by Dan Jackson affirming from his viewpoint that the amendment on the floor was not connected to women’s ordination. He finished his speech by saying:

The reality is that this discussion today really has nothing to do with anything other than licensure, as I see it. (Ibid., edited with audio recording)

Jackson was followed by Elizabeth Talbot (NAD), a female pastor who reminded the session that in 1985 it was voted to have licensed women pastors and that it would be wrong to do anything that would reverse that position.

Mike Cauley (NAD) noted that most of the church membership was no longer in North America, Europe, and Australia and that they have little comparative representation and asked the world church to allow them to view these issues from their cultural perspectives. The problem is that culture does not determine right and wrong. It may be culturally correct in some countries to sell ten-year-old girls as brides, but that does not make it morally correct.

Shortly after Cauley spoke, Shirley Chang (NAD) called question on the motion to accept the amendment. This was followed by Louis Torres reminding the chair that he had delayed such motions earlier for the sake of those who had not spoken. Mbwana asked Chang for her permission to wait on her motion as he had earlier asked that motions be held till the people had a chance to speak:

Shirley, in honor of a commitment I made previously that I would like to honor, please allow me to entertain a motion I promised that I would entertain, which would possibly have the same effect, if you don’t mind. (Ibid.)

To this Chang remarked:

Actually, I do mind, because I believe we are being redundant. But if this is what the chair wants to do, I will back off of it. (Ibid.)

This gave Cecil Perry (TED) a chance to give an astute view of what was happening:

It is obvious that coming events cast their shadows, and the use of semantics has a way of coloring what we want to say. And I have not suspected but somehow it feels as if there is a division between the emerging world and the developed world.

But, in any language you find that the word “pastor” has a similar meaning from a biblical point of view. It is couched in a pastoral context of shepherding.

The word “minister” has to do also with service, whether it be by the deacons or whatever you may want to tag to it. And I am afraid from the information I am getting, that there’s a lot of anticipation that covers whatever discussion we may say it has nothing to do with what is coming on Wednesday, but you understand that perception is greater than reality and whatever you do, Wednesday is still in this room. (Ibid., edited with audio recording)

Later Neil Nedley brought up, with simplicity and clarity, the real crux of the matter:

Again, I am a lay person. I am trying to understand this. If we are getting rid of the word “ministers” in the Church Manual, which was stated this change would do, and there is no more reference to ministers. Then if we adopt this change, we can cancel Wednesday altogether, because that is talking about ordaining ministers, which we no longer have in the Church Manual. (Ibid., p. 37; edited with audio recording)

Doug Batchelor (GC), speaker of Amazing Facts, stated:

Mr. Chairman and friends, In light of what is coming Wednesday and listening to the other comments, I do believe that this is directly connected with the subject of ordination that will be addressed. Because, I notice on line 9 to commend a change. It says, “to give men” and the word “men” is struck out, and it then supplies “pastors” with “ministers.”

I agree with what Brother Damsteegt said. There’s a big biblical difference, it is not a cultural issue. There is a big biblical difference between the gifts of the spirit and ordained offices or chosen offices.

So I would recommend against these changes, and I would support the motion that we question the initial motion and vote on it. But I recommend we send these items back to the committee that is working on the manual, at least until after our vote on Wednesday. Thank you. (Ibid., edited with audio recording)

After clarification from Batchelor, the chair accepted Batchelor’s request as a motion to refer the amendment back to the committee. That motion was approved.

The Bulletin then records the discussion on the fourth point, but that was not the end of the discussion on the third point. The introduction of the fourth point began, but it was soon interrupted with points of order. The first was from Elizabeth Talbot, in which she scolded the chair for improperly conducting the session:

ELIZABETH TALBOT: Yes, I believe there is a violation of parliamentary procedure going on, already three times this morning. You said you would entertain the call to question before and you have decided which motion to take, even though there were two previous motions and there was a call to question. I believe there is a procedural problem going on right now with the chair.

GEOFFREY MBWANA: I’m sorry for that, and probably I missed that, and I apologize…

ELIZABETH TALBOT: Aside from apologizing, it is time that we vote the previous question that had been called, so aside from your sorriness, you should do something about it. (Audio recording)

Several others spoke to the need of making correction, but no correction was made. One delegate became frustrated with the seeming ignorance of the chair to see that improper procedure had been followed that she finally said, “Never mind, sorry sir.”

What made all this confusion inexcusable was the fact that Mbwana had the session parliamentarian, Todd McFarland, sitting beside him. Also, there were secretaries recording the discussion, and there were audio recordings that could be referred to, if all else failed.

The fourth point of consideration dealt with who is to be allowed to speak in Seventh-day Adventist churches. The change of the Manual in consideration was:

In order that enemies of the Church may not gain access to our pulpits, no No one should be allowed to speak to any congregation unless he/she has been invited by the church in harmony with guidelines given by the conference. presents a current denominational credential or license. It is recognized, however, that there are times when congregations may be addressed by government officials or civic leaders; but all unauthorized persons should be excluded from shall not be given access to the pulpit. (Session Book, p. 94)

This statement opens the way for someone who does not have denominational credentials to speak in the churches, if the local conference so deems that person appropriate. For example, if a liberal conference wish to allow a homosexual Methodist minister or a liberal theologian, like Desmond Ford, to preach in one of their churches, it would be fully allowable, according to the proposed change.

One of the first to address this proposed change was Larry Boggess, who spoke against it:

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I believe that some rewording would be helpful on this subject. I see that we have put most of the responsibility on the local conference, local field. I can tell you from experience that it is wonderful to have my big brother helping me to protect the pulpit. Whether they have credentials or not, I think it is important that we just do not to leave it open for people who are invited. I had a situation where somebody was invited who did not have credentials, who did not know anything about it. And so I think we need to have some pretty strong language knowing the times in which we live and knowing of how many people would like to be in our pulpits.

So I am not for sure, Mr. Chairman, how we can reword it. And I don’t like the word “invited,” and I don’t like that it’s left up to the local conference to decide. I see a trend here, away from the combination of the governance with the General Conference or the Union and local conference, which I don’t think is really the direction that we ought to be going. (Audio recording and General Confernece Bulletin, July 7, 2015, p. 37; emphasis supplied; edited with audio recording)

Boggess was followed by Eugen Hartwich, who gave an illustration of how the then current version was useful:

In my last district there was a church board that wanted to invite pastors from other denominations to preach regularly on Sabbath in the church. And I opposed it, so there was a tension. And we referred it to the conference, and the conference said that because of the Church Manual, it’s not possible to invite pastors from other denominations to speak and preach regularly on Sabbath to the congregation. So if we change this wording right now, you give the conferences the possibility to create different guidelines. And this will bring confusion to the world church. So my appeal to the congregation here is to leave it as it is. (Ibid.)

This was followed by Onalenna Balapi (SID), with a call for clarification:

In regard to the suggested change, particularly on the speakers that must speak in our churches, the idea doesn’t sound clear to me, in that we have several segments of times during which we address the church or speak the church.

For example, you have the Sabbath school program, lesson study, the main service, in some cases and Bible study in the afternoon. Now when we say, “someone has to be authorized” at what stage or segment of that day should this person be authorized? I plead that the Church Manual committee to make this as clear as possible. (Ibid., edited with audio recording)

A counterpoint was then brought up by Jiwan Moon (GC):

I want to believe that all the churches are under the pastoral leadership which is overseen by the Conference, that the local churches are operating on their behind line which is provided by the local conference. On the opening day of the General Conference session, for Sabbath worship I heard powerful preaching from a young girl. I believe she doesn’t have a credential or license, but I was most gracious that that young child was given a chance to speak to the congregation. So I’m speaking in support of the motion that the local churches be given an opportunity to invite them——of course, in consultation with the conference. Thank you. (Ibid., edited with audio recording)

An interesting point is that this experience to which Moon refers happened under the old system and yet, the General Conference made an allowance for this young girl and perhaps rightly so. However, it brings to light that regardless of how the Church Manual was written, the brethren did what they wanted to do. Such restrictions in the Church Manual are only there to be used as an excuse for the leadership when they choose to restrict the pulpits. The leaders usually have whomever they wish as speakers, and the proposed statement still allowed the congregations to be “addressed by government officials or civic leaders” in the pulpit, people who have no business in our pulpits. The sacred desk is for the preaching of the gospel not for welcomes, accolades, or social proclamations from civil leaders.

This motion to accept the new change was then voted, and it carried.

The fifth and last point of consideration in the morning session was about church discipline. The points of change to be considered were:

Violation of the commandment of the law of God, which reads, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14, Matt. 5:28), as it relates to the marriage institution and the Christian home, biblical standards of moral conduct, and any act of sexual intimacy outside of a marriage relationship and/or non-consensual acts of sexual conduct within a marriage whether those acts are legal or illegal. Such acts include but are not limited to child sexual abuse, including abuse of the vulnerable. Marriage is defined as a public, lawfully binding, monogamous, heterosexual relationship between one man and one woman. Violation of the seventh commandment of the law of God as it relates to the marriage institution, the Christian home, and biblical standards of moral conduct.

Sexual abuse of children, youth, and vulnerable adults, fornication, promiscuity incest, homosexual practice, the The production, use, or distribution of pornography, and other

Adhering Adherence to or taking part in a divisive or disloyal movement or organization. (Session Book, p. 95)

This proposed change brought a surprising challenge from Jeroen Tuinstra (IED), who stated that he would like to see the statement allow for consensual acts of sexual conduct, within or without a marriage. He stated:

I would like to speak in the behalf of the many members of the young adults that are faithful, tithe-paying, church-going Adventists but who live together. And I would like to speak on behalf of many of the children that some suppose are many of the delegates that live together. I am not diminishing the value of marriage; however, I do not want to diminish the quality of the relationship that many members or young adults who live together, often as a step-stone to marriage and often more healthy relationships than our marriages. I don’t want to sanctify living together, but I also do not want to vilify living together. (Audio recording)

Tuinstra was asking for the Church Manual to be changed so that couples could live together outside the safety of marriage and have intimate consensual relations and still be church members in good and regular standing.

This did not sit well with any of the delegation. It was quickly noted that this concept was diametrically opposed to the fundamental principles (#23) of the church. Question was called upon the motion, and it was quickly voted down.

John Bradshaw, speaker of the It is Written program, went to the microphone to commend the changes:

Mr. Chairman, I think it is very important that we recognize we are a living in a rapidly changing world and the moral tug that commonly exhibit moral practices are shifting beneath our feet like sand. I think that it is very important our church realize that. And I am encouraged that my church has recognized that by writing a statement that is at once very comprehensive and very biblical. I would like to commend those who have submitted this to us for our consideration. (General Conference Bulletin, July 7, 2015, p. 38; edited with audio recording)

But just as things seemed to be moving forward, Dan Jackson brought up a vital point. After agreeing with Bradshaw that the moral sands are shifting, he brought the session’s attention to the part of the change which speaks of marriage as a “lawfully binding . . . relationship.” Jackson then stated:

Even though it is identified on line 23 as heterosexual, in the United States and Canada there are now lawfully binding marriages that are not heterosexual. At some point consideration needs to be given to a redefinition of marriage to make sure that we work around what is lawful and what isn’t and keep it in harmony with the Word of God and with what the church has taught. I don’t think we should lose sight of this wording. The “lawfully binding” idea has changed in the past several years. (Ibid., p. 39)

At this point Elder Armando Miranda, of the Church Manual committee, reminded the delegates that the statement also said marriage is “between one man and one woman.” However, others felt that the statement “lawfully binding” stood apart and needed further consideration. Mario Veloso stated:

I would like to support Elder Jackson. He’s right on seeing a danger here. It is true that, later on, it is clearly said between one man and a woman. But the sentence “lawfully binding” stands by itself. If somebody would take us to court, this will play against us. The committee should look at it again. I support it. (Ibid.)

A vote was taken and approved to refer this change back to the Church Manual committee.[3]

The session was ended with prayer.

July 5 (Sunday afternoon — Sixth Business Session)

The afternoon session was chaired by General Conference Vice President Artur Stele. The session opened with a short presentation on a new handbook for deacons and deaconesses. After that the next item for discussion was on the Church Manual.

The sixth point to discuss on the Church Manual involved a one-word change in respect to church discipline.

Members have a fundamental right to prior notification of the disciplinary meeting and the right to be heard in their own defense, introduce evidence, and produce witnesses. No church should vote to remove discipline a member under circumstances that deprive the member of these rights. (Session Book, p. 97)

The older language restricted disciplinary action to disfellowshipping but left open the possibility of action being done without informing the accused that discipline was being considered. The new language protects the accused from being censured or disfellowshipped without notification on when their hearing was scheduled, and it thus provided for their ability to attend any such disciplinary hearing. This motion was quickly accepted.

The seventh to ninth points were brought up as a unit. The seventh point proposed:

“The church recognizes the right of the individual to withdraw membership. Letters of resignation should be presented to the board, where the resignation will be recorded with the effective date according to the resignation letter. Efforts should be made to restore the individual to the church family.” (General Conference Session Bulletin 4, July 7, 2015, p. 40)

The eighth connected item was:

“When a member requests in writing to be removed from church membership, the church board must act on the request. Efforts should be made to restore the individual to the church family.” (Ibid.)

In these items the church is expressing the right of an individual to leave any and all connections to the church. The idea is presented as the respecting the rights of the individual. Yet, the process, intentional or not, has the effect of helping to sweep the dirt under the rug and out of sight.

The eighth and ninth items on the Church Manual, officially numbered items 408 and 409, attempt to make a major change. Prior to this, membership was always dealt with by the whole church in a business meeting.

Part of the old wording read:

Letters of resignation should be presented to the board, which will forward them to a business meeting. (Session Book, p. 98)

Under the proposed change, requests for dropping membership would not be processed by the church body in a church business meeting, but instead by the board where a select few will deal with the matters. This is done in the name of protecting the person making the request from public scrutiny. However, a person usually has a reason for withdrawing his or her membership. Many today clearly see the apostasy of the church and do not wish to be a part of the corporate evil, but they wish also to clearly state their reasons for such belief and want to warn those still in the church by clearly stating the reasons for their membership withdrawal. Though the former member may wish to write to the church body, now the church body will not have access to such testimony. Only the church board will hear, and that is where it will stay!

Electronic Voting

During the discussion on this part of the Church Manual, the subject of electronic voting reappeared.

Originally, all the voting at the 60th General Conference was supposed to have been done electronically. The system was to be very straight forward; one button for yes and another for no; however, over the early part of the conference, it was shown that the system was not reliable. The system never recorded vote numbers in accordance with the number of the delegates present. A physical count of the delegates exceeded the electronic votes recorded by more than 500. During this session the voting device was tested again and failed.

The blame for the discrepancy was put upon the electronic system not working properly due to the design of the building or perhaps the wifi interference. To try to help determine if the voting was being disrupted in certain areas of the building, it was suggested that separate vote counts by divisions could be done, since the different divisions were seated in different areas. When I first heard this I wondered if the request came because they felt that perhaps delegates from the more underdeveloped areas might not be used to electronic equipment and wanted to ascertain if that was the problem; however, it was later stated in an unofficial report that there were blocks of voters boycotting the use of electronic equipment as a means by which the leaders of the sections could control the voting of that section. No request for division-by-division voting was accepted.

Since the delegate vote count did not fall within any acceptable margin of error, it was voted (not by electronic voting) to discontinue any further electronic voting. Yet, after the vote, an unnamed delegate asked for another try at the voting, doing it division-by-division.

My concern is that since so much money was spent for these devices, and it has not worked, what would hurt in doing it division-by-division to find out where the problem actually lies. We could have an accurate count, if we did it by division. (Audio recording)

This request received a large round of applause but since it was already voted, Chairman Stele would not allow the idea to go forth; however, Megan Moore moved that the electronic voting be reconsidered. The motion was seconded. One delegate spoke in favor of this motion stating that it was “a reasonable request.” The motion failed, and this was greeted with mild applause.

The delegates were promised that any sensitive votes could be done by a secret paper ballot. However, during the whole conference, only the vote dealing with women’s ordination was voted in such a manner, and it was shown to be very laborious and time-consuming. If the electronic voting could have been used, then every vote could have been secret and an exact count could have been given, ensuring that the chair would not misjudge a close vote of uplifted cards.

The ninth connected item to be considered on the Church Manual was:

The clerk has no authority to add names to or remove names from the membership record without a vote of the church, which must always vote to add or remove a name, except in the case of the death of a member, or when a member requests in writing to be removed from membership. (Session Book, p. 100)

Later discussion showed some inconsistencies within these statements concerning the duty of the clerk. These were resolved with minor adjustments.

The next item was concerning the administration of the communion service. The recommended change was:

Who May Conduct the Communion Service—The communion service is to be conducted by an ordained ordained/commissioned pastor or an ordained elder. Deacons, although ordained, cannot Deacons or deaconesses are not permitted to conduct the service.(Ibid., p. 102)

The discussion on this point concerned the addition of the term commissioned pastor. A female pastor might not be ordained, and under the older manual she could not conduct the communion service unless she was ordained also as a local elder. Now any female pastor, ordained local elder or not, could perform the service. Louis Torres and Doug Batchelor both wished the change to be referred back to the committee or at least wait until Wednesday’s ordination discussion took place. However, Thomas Mueller (TED) brought out:

The wording already includes “ordained elders.” Let me remind the house that ordained elders includes both male and female. So the wording already includes the possibility of female ordained elders to perform the communion service. May I kindly request that people opposing women in ministry not to use every given opportunity to voice their resistance. On Wednesday we’re not rolling back on female pastors. We’re not rolling back on female elders. I stand here in support of the motion. (General Conference Bulletin 4, July 7, 2015, p. 44; edited with audio file)

Jeroen Tuinstra (IED) then noted:

Mr. Chairman, with all due respect to all the fellow delegates and the body that is here, I would like to support what was just said. Let’s not use every single thing coming from the Church Manual to raise up the discussion on women’s ordinations. Not everything has got to do with women’s ordinations. Please, as he said, we’re not rolling back women pastors. They need to be able to conduct these services in church. Even commissioned male pastors need to be able to do these things in church. Please, do not make it impossible in some countries to perform these services in church. It is hampering the mission of our church. Please do not use women’s ordination for everything. (Ibid., edited with audio recording)

Church historian David Trim (GC) then stated:

If this is voted down, all it will mean is that there is no prohibition on deaconesses conducting the communion service. I don’t think actually that the people who I have heard saying the motion should be voted down, want deaconesses to be able to celebrate communion services. I think we should look very carefully at this.

At the moment, the sense of the whole of the Church Manual is quite clear. A commissioned pastor, whether male or female, can only celebrate the rites of the church only if they are also an ordained elder. A local ordained elder being commissioned gives them no right to do something in light of being commissioned. Voting this down won’t change the right of a commissioned pastor who is an ordained elder to celebrate communion. What it would vote down is the attempt to make it clear that deaconesses, like deacons, are not to celebrate communion. That is something we can all agree on, and so I hope we can vote. (Ibid., edited with audio file)

All of the proposed changes for items 7–9 were accepted.

Nominating Committee Report

When the Nominating Committee came out during this session, Committee Chairman Trecartin noted that they had three groups of names to vote on. They would, however, not vote on any during this session. The first group was the six people nominated to be general vice presidents of the General Conference. They were:

Dr. Ella Simmons, who comes from NAD; Dr. Artur Stele, from EUD; Dr. Geoffrey Mbwana, from ECD; Dr. Guillermo Biaggi, from SAD; Abner De Los Santos, from IAD; Mr. Thomas Lemon, from NAD. (Ibid.)

These names were presented as a block to be voted upon as a group. A delegate asked for more information concerning these six; whereby, Elder Wilson, who was chairing this section of the meeting since Elder Stele was being considered, asked for Leslie Pollard, the secretary of the Nominating Committee, to give some background to each candidate. It was noted that the first three candidates were incumbents, and the last three were new candidates. There was immediate concern that two incumbents were being left out. Since four current vice presidents were retiring, it seemed logical to some that there was room to retain the two left off. Alvin Kibble, the vice president of the NAD very forcefully and with emphasis, stated:

I rise respectfully to make a statement and inquiry. Mr. Chairman, we love our church and we love our president, but it seems to some of us that the leadership of our church, the protocol of our church, the balance of executive authority in our church, is being restructured before our very eyes.

This reduction that you have presented before us involved the dismissal of two of our most seasoned, valued, and respected vice presidents, Dr. Pardon Mwansa and Dr. Delbert Baker. Just two days ago we evidenced the obvious growth and expansion of our church, by the seating of thirty-five new union territories. In view of the retirement of Elder Lowell Cooper, Armando Miranda, Mike Ryan, and Ben Schoun, I would ask what is the rationale for not incorporating them, these two that have been now displaced from the vice president listing that is being presented at this time? With the reduction that we already experienced through retirement, the additional reduction is a great loss of intellectual experience and history. And I believe that body would be well served if we could understand the rational and whether or not replacements will be made once our convention has come to a close. (Ibid., edited with audio recording)

Elder Ted Wilson calmly responded:

Normally we do not take these type of comments, when a report comes to a Nominating Committee. If you have a question, you can certainly speak to the leaders of the Nominating Committee, at which many things were shared and discussed. I ask for your assistance in the direction that we are attempting to go and which the Nominating Committee voted for, and that is to reduce the number of vice presidents.

I’ll give you a little rationale for that. We do not discuss names on the floor. If you have a problem you can speak to the Chair and Secretary of the Nominating Committee. (Ibid.)

Wilson then explained it was felt the General Conference could do with fewer vice presidents and the Nominating Committee responded to his request. Wilson further stated:

In no way do we wish to denigrate them [Mwansa and Baker]. These individuals you have indicated are fine people. They are individuals who can serve God’s church, but this is the report that has been brought into the body here for a vote. (Ibid.)

After this it was moved by Marvin Wray (NAD) to vote “on this and all future Nominating Committee reports . . . by secret ballot” (Ibid., p. 45) There was quite a strong reaction against this motion by James Makinde (WAD) who said:

I move that because we are leaders of opinion, because we should be able to stand and be counted for what we believe in or at what we preach, we should be able to be counted. When I vote for something, I want everybody to know that James Makinde voted for something, . . . (Ibid.)

Mankinde also compared the delegates voting to that of the United States Congress, where “every constituency has the right to know where their congressmen stand on issues” (Ibid.).

The difficult, time-consuming logistics of using a secret ballot were noted by Antonio Anobile (NAD). Then Larry Boggess (NAD) stated:

Mr. Chairman, I believe that in worship this morning we were asked to pray for the Nominating Committee, and I believe we did. And I believe that the Nominating Committee prayed that God would guide them as they processed their work today. I would hope that we as Christians would believe that our prayers work.

And so I today stand here as a sinner saved by God’s grace and I believe that we need to trust God with the recommendations that come through prayer.

And because of that, I believe that these names have come bathed in prayer, and we should not oppose what God has done. And so for that reason, I oppose secret ballots for Nominating Committee candidates. (Ibid., edited with audio recording)

While this might sound good, in effect it asked the delegates to rubber-stamp anything that the Nominating Committee presented, which would making voting irrelevant.

To Mankinde’s comparison to the US Congress, Tara Vincross (NAD) later noted:

I think it is possible for us to be technically correct and yet fail to hear one another. And from what I understand, our intentions as leaders, is to make sure that every voice is heard.

Now I recognize we are a very diverse church, and the way that we vote for political leaders is very different, and, therefore, we would have different expectations of this process, too.

But here we were casting votes for individuals in government that is kept private; whereas, other decisions that are representing the body are made more public.

So even in that consideration we should be able to allow for persons to be able to vote their conscience privately.

But to the broader issue, our hope and our desire as leaders is to make sure every person has a voice and that no one would be intimidated to vote against their will and in different parts of this world that is a possibility even right here; we all know that’s possible.

So we want to make sure that every voice has the opportunity to be heard. And that is the intention behind secret ballots. (Ibid., edited with audio recording; emphasis supplied)

After Roger Robertsen (Israel Field) made a short plea in behalf of secret ballots, Kendra Haloviak Valentine (NAD) made her plea, which we published earlier, stating:

Thank you so much. My concern and my urging of secret ballots comes from something I saw on the floor of the General Conference when I was a teenager. I was on the floor because I was a family member of GC workers, and I witnessed something that has stayed with me all these years since that General Conference session, I believe it was New Orleans. And that is, I witnessed with my own eyes a group of delegates who when their division president raised his card, they were all told to vote in unison. And I remember being so shocked as I witnessed that and heartbroken that that’s the way the work of my church would be conducted. And I fear that if we do not take seriously a secret-ballot vote, the decisions——the very important decisions that are made at this General Conference session——will have a similar questioning involved with their outcome. This is my concern Thank you. (Ibid., edited with audio recording)

What Valentine, Vincross, and others were clearly stating was that politics will be politics, even in the church, and without a secret ballot, it would be impossible for all delegates to vote their conscience. The fear of reprisal from leadership to those under them could not be ruled out otherwise.

Question was called, and a vote was taken on the motion to use secret ballots. The motion for secret ballots failed, thus moving the business of the delegates back to the motion to accept the nomination of the vice presidents.

Gina Brown (GC) asked that the report be referred back to the committee. Ted Wilson refused to do so, saying:

I’m going to rule that if you have a particular reason that you wish to speak to the leadership of the Nominating Committee, you can do that, Gina. I would ask that you do that and we will wait until that takes place.

If there’s anyone else on that list who has a question that they would like to pose to the Nominating Committee leadership, I would invite you to come backstage and to speak to the leadership of the Nominating Committee. (Ibid.)

Wilson refused to send the names back to the committee or to even entertain a motion to that effect. He did offer Brown and others with concern the ability to speak to the Nominating Committee leadership (Homer Trecartin and Leslie Pollard—two of the two hundred fifty-two members on the committee). This put veto power in the hands of two men to determine if Brown’s concerns or those of any others could be heard by the committee. When this happened the session was three-fourths through and in the remaining thirty minutes, the Nominating Committee was not heard from.[4]

After the end of the discussion on the nomination of the vice presidents, the discussion returned to what Elder Stele called “our beloved Church Manual” (Ibid. p. 45).

The discussion on the communion service continued, with Jay Gallimore (NAD) making a motion to refer the item back to the committee to have the “language cleared up” (Ibid.). That motion failed. Then both Louis Torres and Clinton Wahlen spoke concerning having the item tabled until after Wednesday’s ordination vote. Chairman Stele did not allow for such a motion. Wahlen then moved to strike the word “commissioned” from the statement.

Elder Armando Miranda, from the Church Manual committee, then spoke, stating that nothing was being proposed that was out of order. He noted:

Because the problem is that some people are just trying to see here something related to the discussion that will come on Wednesday. The “commission” is part of the current Church Manual. It was approved, and it’s not only ladies who are commissioned, but men too. So we need to be careful not to confuse and to try to see things that are not really there or in the Church Manual. We are currently have [sic] the word “commission,” and it’s approved. (Ibid.)

Discussion on the amendment took place, with points of order being registered, stating that it was not in proper order. These were denied by the chairman, upon the authority of the parliamentarian.

Jim Howard (NAD) brought up the point again about the commissioned pastor being also an ordained local elder, asking:

I’ve heard a couple people mention that a commissioned pastor has to be ordained as a local elder. Can you show us that in the Church Manual? If that’s true, then that settles the issue. It’s not a male/female issue. . . . I’ve had pastoral interns working with me as associates, and I’ve had to make sure that they are ordained as a local elder before they can conduct the communion service. That is how I understand it, . . . that is how it is in the church. . . . Can you show us in the Church Manual where it is clear that a commissioned pastor has to be an ordained local elder. (Ibid., edited with audio recording)

In response to this Elder Miranda noted that pages 73 and 74 of the current Church Manual allowed for commissioned pastors who had been ordained as local elders to perform marriages. To that Howard acknowledged that the Manual spoke to marriage but stated that there appeared to be no “blanked statement in that section of the Church Manual for commissioned pastors” that opened up the way for them to have communion. Glenwood Bryant (NAD) then stated:GC Bulletin.jpeg

It’s found in policy L–2605. It’s not in the Church Manual. It is our policy in connection to the requirement for all of the credentials that the Seventh-day Adventist Church issues. (Audio recording)

To this Howard recommended that it should be in the Church Manual, and Miranda agreed it was a good suggestion.

Lowell Cooper (GC) then spoke against the amendment to remove “commissioned” from the statement. The amendment was then voted down.

Ronald Rice then pleaded for the original item so that we could “be inclusive and not exclusive” (From audio recording), thereby affirming in the minds of some that the issue was based upon a decision to promote gender inclusiveness. He also stated:

So it is important for us as we consider this, that the language that we will vote on Wednesday will take precedence on any of this. So those who are concerned about that should recognize that whatever the outcome on the votes on Wednesday is has precedence and will have precedence over the language that currently stands in the manual because it will be applicable based upon that vote. (Audio recording)

After Rice spoke the main motion was reread and voted by the session.

The next item was on church leadership, but it was skipped, without any mention, and the change concerning how deacons were to be trained was brought up. Before discussion could begin, due to the lateness of the hour, it was moved to adjourn. This was seconded and approval voted. Thus the time that had been allowed for changes on the Church Manual was over, with less than half of the proposed changes discussed at this point. The Church Manual will again be visited, but scheduled next was the discussion on the Fundamentals on Monday and Tuesday, which was to be followed on Wednesday by the ordination vote.

Next Issue: Discussion on the Fundamentals

[1]. It should be noted that the Seventh-day Adventist Church had no church manual until 1932. A manual was first discussed by the General Conference is 1878, and it was to be a policy book with “Constitutions and By-Laws” and guidance on parliamentary procedure (Ministry, April 1999). The idea was to have a set of guidelines and suggestions rather than rules and law. From 1907 to 1932 some looked to J. N. Loughborough’s work, The Church: Its Organization, Order and Discipline, for guidance.

[2]. To call question on a motion means that a vote is to be taken to see if discussion is to be continued. If the question fails, then discussion may continue. If the question passes, then the motion on the floor must immediately be voted upon, without further discussion.

[3]. For further information concerning the dangers of the civil government’s role in the marriage institution, please see the August 2015 issue of Old Paths.

[4]. Spoiler alert: The names, as given by the Nominating Committee, were later accepted. In fact, the General Conference Bulletin that carried the discussion for this session had a picture of the new vice presidents on its front cover!

Youth’s Corner — Semi Freedom

HAVING for so long a time scarce been permitted to make a move without orders, we could not readily accustom ourselves to any degree of freedom. And freedom this was to us, in contrast with cell life. Our march through the city seemed almost like a triumphal procession.

We were taken to the prisoners’ transportation station to await étape. The windows and doors of this building were barred, yet it was different from the prisons.

On the wall, we found written, in pencil, “You will receive nineteen rubles for warm clothing, and about eight rubles a month for food.” To this was signed the name of a prisoner who had occupied the same cell as we at the last jail, but had started forward the previous day. Before he went, we had requested that he leave some message for us, at the first opportunity, as to how he fared; and this was the way in which he had complied with our request.

One by one, we were conducted to the office of the pristav of Narym, in an adjoining building. There our places of exile were announced; and to each of those who most lacked clothing, nineteen rubles was given for the purchase of additional garments. One elderly clerk declared that no money should be given me, and he talked excitedly of the great war expenses of the government. But he left the room before I did; and after he had gone, a younger clerk gave me the regular quota.

Later the guard took us to the market, where we bought felt boots, fur mittens and caps, and such other necessary articles as our means would allow. Some of us afterwards asked permission to go to the post office; and this being granted, we hired a sleigh, and with a guard, flew off through the streets. Literally like flying it seemed to me, so delightful were the comparative liberty and the fresh air.

It was dark when we returned to the station, and horses and sleighs were in readiness for us. As we were taking our places in the sleighs, one of the Baptist evangelists came to us, in deep distress, to say good-by. A telegram had been received at the station, demanding his return to Odessa, for trial on a charge similar to that which had sent him into exile. Back over the dread route by which we had come, he was taken. After all this, he was acquitted of the charge; but he was nevertheless obliged to make the terrible journey to Siberia again, because of the original sentence.

Our long line of sleds moved off. As I was not well, the leader of our guard thought to show me exceptional consideration by giving me a place in a comfortable sleigh, with an aristocratic prisoner. But this man was an atheist; and his talk was so offensive to me, that I preferred less pretentious company. So I left him, and rode with Gorelic, in a small sled.

Under a starlit sky, we rode out upon the limitless fields of snow. When occasionally our driver stopped, we knew that a sled ahead of us had upset. Such occurrences were frequent, as the sleds were very narrow.

One of the prisoners of war seemed to be perishing from cold. Such of my clothing as I dared spare, I gave to him, or surely he would have frozen to death.

Sometimes we thought we saw wolves, and possibly we did; but in some cases, the dark objects we had supposed to be wolves, proved to be only bushes.

It was eleven o’clock when we reached the village where we were to spend what was left of the night. The people in the house where we stayed, regarded us quite indifferently; for a company of exiles stopped there every night. After warming our chilled bodies, we found places on the floor to sleep.

Early next morning, we were called to transport. At each village at which we halted—ten to twenty miles apart—there was a new relay of horses, also a change of drivers.

Some of the way, the snow lay smooth and level; but elsewhere it was heavily drifted, forming high ridges and deep valleys.

After the first night, we traveled mainly on the ice of the Ob. This river is the only highway in that part of the country, summer or winter. The population is very sparse, there being only little settlements along the banks. Scattered timber began to be seen, and a thicker growth as we advanced.

These were the last days of February. The ice was then about ten feet thick. Had we not been detained at Kursk, we should have reached this stage of our journey at a time when the temperature was far lower, and our supply of clothing less adequate. We had chafed and almost despaired at the long confinement in prison; but now we realized that it was well the Father had seen fit not to keep us from the trial, but rather to sustain us through it.

On the second and third days of our journey by sleds, I was quite ill. The third night, we were at Kalpasheva; and as I then had a high fever, it seemed necessary that I accept the counsel of our captain, and remain at the little hospital there. But Gorelic would not consent to our separation. He did what he could for me during the night; and the next morning, he laid me in our narrow sled, and with the aid of a prisoner of war whose good will we had won, he endeavored to keep me from falling off the unstable conveyance. He had obtained a sled that had a frame of reeds, and this made it more secure. Still, again and again I rolled off into the snow. This, however, was not a grave catastrophe.

Where we spent the next night, there were no beds, and the only food was fish, which I could not eat. How I craved some broth or other light food! But where was it to be found? Gorelic had a difficult task in caring for me.

On the morning of the fifth day, I was somewhat better. That night was the last of our journey. The room in which we stayed was well heated; but we were obliged to open the doors and the windows, and let the frigid air in, as a means of driving the thousands of bedbugs to their retreats in the log walls.

When morning came, my condition was further improved. Our hostess supplied us with milk and cream; and for the first time in four days, I was able to eat.

The people thereabouts were all Ostyaks. This tribe, not many years ago, were converted to Christianity—nominally, and in part forcibly. In some of their homes are still reminders of their former paganism, including images, which are said to be worshiped in secret.

The young horse attached to our sled was not inclined to keep to the beaten track, choosing instead to flounder in the deep snow.

Consequently the others went on without us. Only with Gorelic’s aid did the driver finally get control of the animal.

At noon, we left the river, with its bordering forest, for the open snow fields. Erelong from out the whiteness appeared a small village, and we were told that it was our destination—Alatayevo. As we came nearer, we were surprised to find such fair looking houses. They were built of logs; but as timber cost nothing except the labor of getting it out, the buildings were of generous size.

One more snow valley, little horse, and we shall be there. Away he gallops, to overtake the others. Some of the sleds ahead of us were overturned, throwing the occupants into the snow. Others of the exiles laughed at the trifling mishap. They had not laughed in months before.

We stopped in front of a house which I learned was that of the town constable. There, for the last time, we were counted, and then our guard dismissed us to find rooms for ourselves.

We now had to part with our fellow prisoner the imperial councilor. This we did with sorrow. He was taken farther north.

With Gorelic and the young man who had helped him to take care of me, I started in search of a room; but after going a few rods, I was too exhausted to walk farther, and said that I would wait for them at the house where we then were. The two others continued the search, but later they returned and engaged a room where I had stopped. We were to pay a monthly rental of seventy-five cents each. Afterwards we were convinced that our location was providential.

Our host was celebrating his birthday anniversary, and guests were present at tea. We were invited to eat with them. In these isolated sections, every holiday is accounted holy. Such superstitions are fostered by the priests, as a means of gaining a stronger hold upon the people.

I was inexpressibly relieved that I need no longer see prison bars and bared swords, or hear the clank of fetters and the harsh cries of the watchmen. Henceforth our watchmen saw us but once a day.

Had we been delayed a few days more, I should have been too ill to travel. The second day after our arrival, I could not rise. My fellow exiles did everything they could for my comfort. They gave me the one bed in our room, while they slept on the floor. They also purchased material of which they made a “tick,” or mattress cover; and this they filled with wild hay, which was abundant there. A luxurious bed I thought it, after having so long slept on the asphalt floor of a prison cell.

To be continued

The Upward Path

Recently I stopped at a “scenic view point” in the Cherokee National Forest. Needing to stop and stretch afforded the perfect opportunity to both see the advertised view and to get out of the vehicle. Fog was rising, partly obscuring the view, but the clouds added an artist’s touch to the landscape.

After viewing the surrounding hills and valleys for a few minutes, I noticed a walkway and some stairs that appeared to go slightly into the trees, at a little higher elevation. Deciding that there might be a nicer view and since it appeared to be only a short distance of just a few hundred feet, I decided to check it out.

As I started up the trail, a young woman was coming down, stating that she was too out of shape for this kind of walk. That surprised me, as it seemed to be a very short walk, but what I found was that when I got to where the trail went into the woods, the trail did not quickly stop. It kept going up higher. After going around a few bends and turns which I was sure would bring me to the top, I was confronted with still more trail, and it was becoming steeper! Finally, I came to the top of the hill and the end of the trail. The view was rewarding, and I felt good about being able to make the crest of the hill without being too winded.


Coming back down the trail



The view from the top


This experience reminded me of Ellen White’s first vision, recorded in Early Writings on page 14:

I turned to look for the Advent people in the world, but could not find them, when a voice said to me, “Look again, and look a little higher.” At this I raised my eyes, and saw a straight and narrow path, cast up high above the world. On this path the Advent people were traveling to the city, which was at the farther end of the path. They had a bright light set up behind them at the beginning of the path, which an angel told me was the midnight cry. This light shone all along the path and gave light for their feet so that they might not stumble. If they kept their eyes fixed on Jesus, who was just before them, leading them to the city, they were safe. But soon some grew weary, and said the city was a great way off, and they expected to have entered it before.

The Advent people are still climbing that straight and narrow path. It goes higher and higher, and we should be glad that God is not content to leave his people in the mire of the world. If we will keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, he will help us to finally crest the hill to the heavenly New Jerusalem. Let us not give up now, but press forward, “for yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37).

Allen Stump

Insight from E. G. White

“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children keep yourselves from idols.” The Lord is soon to come. We want that complete and perfect understanding which the Lord alone can give. It is not safe to catch the spirit from another. We want the Holy Spirit, which is Jesus Christ. If we commune with God, we shall have strength and grace and efficiency. (Letter 66, 1894, paragraph 18; written April 10, 1894.) Thanks to Brother Wilbur Hargreaves for bringing this jewel to our attention.


Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, 750 Smyrna Road, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web site. The url is: http://www.smyrna.org. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.