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Have a blessed New Year!

Have a blessed New Year!

EUD President, Mario Brito.

The message of the EUD President for the new year

December 30, 2015 | Bern, Switzerland. | Mario Brito, CD EUDNEWS.

As we observe nature, we discover plenty of cycles – days, months, seasons of the year, etc. – full of objective lessons, conveying great wisdom. 

Each new cycle brings renewed energies, the joy of a new commencement, hope and the opportunity to learn and improve as we progress in the various domains of our lives. 

However, in order for us to learn the best lessons of our past accomplishments, we need to be open and authentic in the way we evaluate them and ourselves. 

We live in a world in which wars, natural disasters, growing antagonism and violence among individuals and nations are increasing in an unprecedented intensity and frequency. As a result, among many other things, the number of displaced people worldwide and in some of our countries has enormously increased. 

The phenomenon of mass migration that is affecting Europe as a whole is also binding our churches. In some of our countries, our churches are offering welcoming support and shelter to the newcomers. Even though restrained, these projects are a valuable contribution to the migrants and give them a little comfort to help them recover, although very slowly, from their awful wounds. We have to admit, however, that, overall, our response to the refugee crisis has been very slow and timid. 

Wars and violence that are in place and that feed the breach between enemies find no justification in us. Most of these conflicts, wet by blood, are believed to be in the name of God. 

Such conflicts and challenges are taking place at the doors, and even inside, of our countries. In one way or another they affect us all. Fear generated by the attacks, above all in Paris, as in other European and non-European countries, cannot leave us indifferent. 

Many local and national leaders have recognized or demonstrated by their actions that they were not prepared to face such contests that threaten the peace and stability of their nations and the world. 

Are we, church leaders at all levels of our church organization, prepared to give the best answers to the challenge of natural disasters, increasing violence, war and its consequences?

We need to lead people from chaos, fear and insecurity to Jesus Christ. Very often, we get stuck with a hopeless presentation of the signs of the times. We preach about them in a minute and detailed manner, forgetting that they are not the goal in themselves but Jesus Christ our Saviour. In Him we can find peace in the midst of the world’s most intense turmoil and have the assurance of salvation and eternal life. People need to hear that there is a way out of the nightmare they are going through. 

New philosophical, theological and religious currents are actively undermining the values and principles on which our Christian societies are founded. As a consequence, the attendance and membership of the main Christian churches are rapidly diminishing. Many of the members of these communities end up adopting lifestyles and behaviours in complete opposition to the teachings of the Bible. 

Although the attendance and membership of our churches have not been dramatically decreasing as with other Christian communities, we have been struggling. On one hand, we have baptised souls, inaugurated new churches and our missionary projects continue to spread the Adventist message in this particular European context. On the other hand, however, we have been losing a substantial number of our church members, especially among the youngest groups, and have not been able to set in place a well-established plan to retain the newcomers and reclaim the ones that have left us. The end result is a very shallow growth rate.  

But it is also a matter of ideological conflicts, based on contrasting positions, due to lack of dialogue rather than the pursuit of an ultimate ideal. Our church is not immune from such conflicts, the resolution of which can only be granted by the common implication of goodwill to the benefit of all.

We are aware that the positions taken regarding allowing some of our world divisions to ordain women to pastoral ministry marked a worrying line between two parties. However, our commitment is to focus on common beliefs and mission, remembering that we belong to a World Church and as part of which we are called to continue to grow together no matter what hurdle we may come across.

In conclusion, I would like to present, in a concise manner, some of the most important lessons that we have learned as we evaluate our performance during the last twelve months: 

  • The massive waves of immigrants coming to our shores showed that we were not prepared to respond in an efficient manner to such a challenge.
  • We need to learn how to better communicate the Adventist message. Not just repeating the hopeless message transmitted through the media, but being able to provide a tangible and friendly relief in the moments of crisis without forgetting to lead people to the real solution of our problems, Jesus Christ.
  • We need to train our leaders and set up a system that allows us to network and be more efficient in responding in cases of big crises. 
  • We are not a dying church but something must be urgently done if we don’t want to become one. 
  • Each local church needs to have a clear plan on how to retain, by actively involving and caring for, all members of the family and how to recuperate the ones that have left the church. 
  • Our churches need to become the centres of life to our communities. They need to become hospitable and caring places where our youth and children feel loved and welcome.
  • Our churches need to be encouraged and trained to serve and support insiders and outsiders.

This is the time for us to praise and thank our Heavenly Father for the many blessings we received during the year that is finishing and to recommit ourselves to being a permanent anthem of praise to our God and Creator, as we serve Him and those with whom we will be in contact during the upcoming year! 

Have a blessed year of 2016!

Mário Brito

 

 

 

 


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