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This article is written by Jacqueline Gibson, Women's Ministries Director
Depending on whose vantage point, the topic above can be seen as completely true, from another perspective, it may seem questionable at best, and yet from another, completely false.
As women of faith, no matter the circumstance, can we dare to believe that God really understands our feelings and situations?
Heather-Dawn Small, our General Conference Women’s Ministries Director asks and answers the question. She writes, have you ever experienced a time when you faced a problem so difficult it seemed as if God did not know your distress? You may have even questioned if God cared about you or even saw your difficulties. At times like this, Satan whispers doubt into our ears that can lodge in our heart and mind.
Today, as Seventh-day Adventist women all across the globe observe International Women’s Day of Prayer, the sermon for this special day of prayer will focus on the story of the prophet Elijah. At some point or another, we all can identify with this prophet of old, whose prayers of desperation are similar to some of ours, whose feelings of being tired and out of options, are sometimes the way women feel, and his feelings of remorsefulness, as do all of us from one time to another, with our failures.
However, here is some good news! In spite of all we go through, God Understands! Just as God did not reject Elijah and did not condemn him, He will do the same for each of us. It is when we are at our lowest point, that God is the closest to us.
Chantal Klingbeil, our author for this year’s International Women’s Day of Prayer resource, quotes from the book, Steps to Christ, “We may have no remarkable evidence at the time that the face of our Redeemer is bending over us in compassion and love, but this is even so. We may not feel His visible touch, but His hand is upon us in love and pitying tenderness” (Ellen G. White, pp. 96, 97).
Our author believes that in the Bible we can read repeatedly God’s promises to be with us -Deuteronomy 31:6,8; 1 Kings 8:57; Psalm 37:28; Isaiah 42:16; Hebrews 13:5, 6, and many others. Yet in times of great despair, we find our hearts doubting these very promises. Why does this happen? How can we overcome these times of doubt and distress?
She further states that we enjoy those seasons in life when all seems to be going well: when we are thriving, reaching goals, family members are in good health and getting along, our daily needs are being met. We feel confident in who we are and where we are headed. Life is good. God is on His throne. And then . . .
The unexpected occurs, sometimes overnight. An automobile accident takes the life of a loved one. Medical test results give a frightening name to symptoms we’ve been experiencing and then issue a grim prognosis. A marriage breaks up. A child or grandchild disappears into the underworld of drugs. A severe weather event sweeps away our livelihood. Though almost unconscious of the subtle change, we begin focusing more intently on the struggles that life throws at us more than we focus on the Giver and Sustainer of life. Therefore, the light in which we thought we were walking now begins to dim.
Yet, as the story of the prophet Elijah reminds us, our loving Savior is never far from us no matter what our distressing situation. Though we cannot personally see Him, Jesus is near just as He promised He would be (John 14:12-18). We are not alone. Even when our prayers grow weak, despite obvious evidence of His blessings in our lives, Jesus still remains by our side. “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).
Though the failure and depression of Elijah’s experience reveal the frailty of human resolve, the continuing, unseen presence of God with Elijah reveals God’s patient pursuit of our hearts as well. Most of all, His presence confirms that whate’er befall, each of us is still His beloved daughter - individually unique, deeply valued, highly esteemed, and treasured “abundantly above all” that we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
My prayer for each of us is that as we believe God’s Word, we are assured that God understands and that He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Below are photos taken during a workshop for Children's Ministries leaders in the local churches on how to use the "Talking Backpack." This is a new initiative by the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. Children in the local churches will actually get a Backpack and after training, receive pins for achieving certain goals. The pins will be placed on the backpack. The workshop was held in the Committee Room at the Conference headquarters. The Children's and Adolescent Ministries Director for the Conference is Joan Scavella.
Photos by Joan Maria Scavella
Photo at the end by John Garcia
On Sabbath, February 24, 2018, over four hundred individuals packed the Hillview Seventh-day Adventist Church for the 23rd Annual Service of Thanksgiving for Law Enforcement Officers and Civil Servants. Attending where officers from the Police and Defense Force, and the Departments of Corrections and Immigration. Also in attendance was the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Dame Marguerite Pindling. The special honoree of the days was one-year-old Laura, Anderson of the Bluff Eleuthera Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Governor-General personal greeting Laura Anderson at the end of the service. She is still actively serving as first elder and treasurer of the church. The sermon for the service was presented by Pastor Paul Scavella, president of the South Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
February is celebrated as ‘Heart Month’ globally. According to the Department of Statistics, more than 24 percent of all deaths in The Bahamas are directly related to heart disease. To keep the heart strong and healthy it is important to take care of it physically and spiritually.
On a daily basis, we are reminded to guard our hearts by eating healthily; engaging in regular physical exercise; managing stress levels; getting enough rest; scheduling our annual checkups on our birthday; having blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels checked; cutting down on salt; drinking more water; and maintaining a healthy weight.
Spiritual heart care is more important than physical. In Proverbs 4:23 we are told to “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
‘Guarding your heart’ means to find forgiveness in your heart for those who have wronged you. Let go of bitterness and resentment. An article in an issue of Harvard Women’s Health Watch stated, “Not only is being able to forgive divine, it can be a blessing to your mental and physical health”. An unforgiving attitude produces the same body reactions as a major stressful event. It leads to tense muscles, higher blood pressure, and increased perspiration. Forgiveness, on the other hand, reduces stress and improves the heart rate and blood pressure.” ‘Guarding the heart’ also means being mindful of what you think about and what you allow to enter your mind through the avenue of the eyes and ears. Whatever we see and listen to are stored in the mind. Our heart and mind are closely connected.
What we think about affects our heart. The Bible tells us to think about things that are pure and clean. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). A healthy environment is created for the entire body when we follow this counsel. When we think good thoughts, the hormones that are released in our bodies are good for heart health.
God loves us and wants us to have a loving and pure heart. He sent His only Son to die in our stead. He loves us and wants what is best for us. God desires to have a deep and grounded relationship with us. We can learn to receive His love by getting to know Him better through the study of His word and prayer. The closer we come to God, the better we get to know Him and the more we fall in love with Him. Just as we spend time with those we love to form stronger ties, God loves it when we spend quality time with Him. This can be attained in a meaningful way by making Him our priority in the early hours of the morning.
Let us endeavor to guard our hearts spiritually by, communicating with God through the study of His word and prayer, loving and forgiving others, and by being careful with what we put in your minds.
Nathelyn LaCroix, Health Ministries Director
Kwadwo Owusu Boateng, a volunteer Adventist chaplain at The Bahamas Correctional Center, and a former ordained pastor (2002 to 2006), and former teacher of the Bahamas Academy of Seventh-day Adventists and the Ministry of Education, died unexpectedly at his home of Friday morning, February 16, 2018, Nassau, The Bahamas. He was 58. Kwadwo Owusu Boateng was known for his friendly smiles and gentle spirit. He is survived by two sons, Komali and Shadven; one daughter-in-law, Rynesha Boateng; one grandchild, Zuri; brothers and sisters, his former wife, Marva Boateng, resident of Exuma and numerous other relatives and friends in Ghana, Africa; Europe; the United States of America, and The Bahamas.
The funeral will be on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at 1 p.m., at the Hillview Seventh-day Adventist Church, 135 Tonique Williams Darling Highway, Nassau, The Bahamas. The homily will be given by Pastor Danhugh Gordon.
2016 South Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.