Lisbon, Portugal [CD-EUDNews]. At the end of a crazy summer, before University term starts again, a hundred international students, mainly belonging to the Seventh-day Adventist Church of the Inter-European Region (EUD), attended the International AMiCUS Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, from September 10-13.
The meeting venue was one of the Faculty buildings on the Campus of Lisbon University, a truly friendly and pleasant site.
Barna Magyarosi and Stephan Sigg, EUD Education and Youth directors respectively, were the organizers and hosts of the Congress.
“Together we want to celebrate Creation as an expression of God’s creativity and ingenuity”, said Sigg.
“This Congress was designed to foster faith in Creation and point out that both the universe and the life it contains originated by direct action of a supernatural and super-intelligent Creator”, echoed Magyarosi.
The Congress offered lectures and discussions in plenary sessions and seminars dedicated to the main theme, presented by 8 lecturers mainly from US Adventist Universities.
“I can see that the organizers of this Congress have gone to great lengths in finding a suitable location for this event. Among other things I appreciate the many speakers on such a wide variety of topics” said Jens Mohr, german APD correspondent.
The purpose of this Congress was also to offer opportunities to reciprocally share thoughts and ideas and to meet other EUD students.
Magyarosi and Sigg opened the Congress greeting all participants coming from Romania, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Ukraine, Switzerland and Portugal.
In his first presentation “Design in Nature”, Dr. James Gibson, Director of the Geoscience Research Institute at Loma Linda, California, pointed out that “when we examine the properties of the universe, we find that it has precisely those properties that are needed to support living organisms. We also observe that living organisms have precise specifications and that the known physical laws are insufficient to explain their origin. The best explanation for this, is that both the universe and the life it contains originated from direct action of a supernatural, super-intelligent Creator.”
Commenting on Gibson’s presentation, Roberto Iannò, Education director at Italian Adventist Union, declared: “I was captured by Dr. Gibson's thesis, that creation is the most logic explanation for what we observe in nature, such as its order and fine-tuning, the specific requirements needed for the heart to survive, the biodiversity and the sophisticated life of human beings compared to other living creatures.”
Dr. Tim Standish, professor at Loma Linda University Earth and Biological Sciences Department, the Adventist University of Africa and the Adventist International Institute for Advanced Studies, presented the theme ‘Struggle, Survival and Surrender’. “This theme of 'struggle' seems to be at odds with much of what is observed in nature and with the Biblical theme of surrender to God's will,” said Dr. Standish.
“After presenting the history of this concept in Malthus, Marx and Darwin, Dr. Standish showed that the idea of collaboration is much more adequate to interpret the complicated interlude of different biological entities,” said journalist Jens Mohr.
This emphasis also captured the attention of Marika Sutera, AMiCUS leader in Italy: “Unlike a reckless fight for the survival of humanity with no restrictions, "she said, "the most seemingly insignificant events of nature, including anemones, bacteria, fungi show us, as believers, that the expression ‘created by God’ rather implies an attitude of cooperation.”
By several examples, Standish pointed out that the animate and inanimate world prefer unity and solidarity in the fight for survival. He applied the same idea to the Christian who feels dependent on Christ, in need of solidarity and cooperation just as it is in nature.
In his presentation on ‘Toward a Responsible Theory of Creation’, “Dr. Gibson gave us an overview of the different evolutionary models of origin and their flaws. The only view that doesn't conflict with science is the agnostic point of view. If we adhere to the biblical belief of creation however, at least we share the same view as Jesus and his disciples...truth as a function of being in the right company” commented Patrik Aeschbacher, family doctor from Zurich.
At the end of Gibson’s presentation, Ignazio Barbuscia, Italian Adventist Youth Leader, pointed out: “There can be different ways to look at the world and its origin, to believe we often also rely on logic. And logic leads me to say that if I believe in God the Saviour, I cannot avoid believing in a Creator God.”
Dr. Jiwan S. Moon, Adventist General Conference AMiCUS representative, was also present at the Congress sharing information on AMiCUS worldwide.
Traditionally Friday afternoon is dedicated to visit the town where the congress is held. This was also one of the goals of the organizers, inviting participants to discover arts, traditions, culture, history and food of the cities hosting the event. Even though the participants had only a short afternoon to visit the sights, the fact remains that Lisbon is a real treasure.
In addition to the topic of Creation, the organizers of the Congress also invited Pastor Ron Pickell, Volunteer Coordinator of Adventist Christian Fellowship on public college campuses and Pastor Williams Cork who is experienced in university, hospital, and military chaplaincy.
They both gave a general perspective on how students can preserve their faith on a secular college campus. "... and in particular how to grow and share their faith on campus" said Pastor Pickell. “Institutional chaplaincy insists on working together with others in an atmosphere of respect and collaboration without compromising our distinctive beliefs” said Pastor Cork.
In fact, Seventh-day Adventist students in Europe are almost threatened by the challenges of secular culture in everyday life. This is good for their formation, but may be a threat to their faith.
The AMiCUS Congress gave all delegations the opportunity to each share their own local activities. Each country offered an annual congress to hold a debate on a popular topic, to share and build fellowship. All leaders presented their local projects, focusing on special outreach activities. All presentations were interesting and inspiring.
All the devotionals including the message on Saturday, were given by Dr. Derek Morris, Associate secretary of the Adventist General Conference Ministerial Association and adjunct professor at Southern Adventist University.
Dr. Morris is a dynamic speaker and an inspiring lecturer. The core of his message was that “our Creator wants us to see the world as He does, and to join Him in a work that will change the world,” Dr. Derek said.
“The AMiCUS Congress gives us an amazing opportunity to learn and discuss on a scientific level. Here you get to study opinions of scientists and real professionals and professors, who have kept the Adventist faith. This is an excellent opportunity to discover similarities and diversities in our scientific thinking worldwide. This will strengthen your personal belief in God,” said Simon Bernard, Student of Insurance Science.
AMiCUS (Adventist Ministry to College and University Students) is an Adventist Association that seeks to meet the spiritual, intellectual, and social needs of worldwide Seventh-day Adventist students on secular campuses. In cooperation with leaders at various church levels, its purpose is to achieve these goals by strengthening the students' faith commitment to Seventh-day Adventist beliefs and values, providing opportunities for Christian fellowship, preparing students to deal with the intellectual challenges that arise in a secular environment, developing their leadership abilities, and training them for outreach and witness on the campuses, in the communities, and in the world at large.
All presentations of this AMiCUS Congress will be available very soon on amicus.eud.adventist.org
pictures: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 participants of the AMICUS in Lisbon; 2. Barna Magyarosi and Stephan Sigg, EUD Education and Youth directors respectively (credits: Corrado Cozzi)