GENERAL CONFERENCE PRESIDENT CLARIFIES SOCIAL JUSTICE REMARKS

General Conference President Clarifies Social Justice Remarks |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

Elder Ted N. C. Wilson succeeded in getting a conversation among African Americans going with a couple of statements in his Annual Council sermon of Sabbath, October 13, 2018. In the sermon that was delivered in historic Battle Creek, Michigan, Wilson bemoaned current worship trends, claiming that they did not align with the worship practices of the early pioneers, and he frowned upon the tendency of some to overemphasize social justice issues while downplaying biblical truth.

I have heard from constituents and colleagues in ministry regarding the sermon, their emotions spanning the spectrum from confusion to anger. The General Conference president has been indicted for everything from ignorance to insensitivity.

On Tuesday, October 16, Elder Wilson sought to clarify what he said about social justice in his Sabbath sermon, telling the assembled delegates that he was all for social justice that was couched or pursued in the context of the gospel.   A couple of African American pastors at the Annual Council went to the microphone to express appreciation for Wilson’s clarification, and the Office for Regional Conference Ministry issued a statement on the matter.

Social justice is a broad term that covers a spectrum of issues. Gender equity is a justice issue, as is caring for creation (environment justice) and being kind to the foreigner and stranger. Our urban communities are inhabited by millions caught in the clutches of poverty and exploitation. Relieving the pain and anxiety of people living on the margins or the underside of society is ministry that God finds acceptable (Isa. 1:17; 61:1-4).

The Holy Scriptures clearly show that God has always sided with the oppressed. Justice issues are core and central in Old Testament theology, with God often reminding Israel of their condition before their miraculous deliverance (Ex. 22:21; Lev. 19:34; Deut.10:19). Amos, Isaiah and Micah inform us that worship that is not grounded in justice is unacceptable to God (Micah 6:1-8; Isa. 58; Amos 5:21-24).

God’s unmistakable identification with and advocacy on behalf of the oppressed continues in the New Testament, where God’s Son, Jesus Christ, begins His public ministry by quoting Isaiah (Luke 4:16; Isa. 61:1-4). Christ’s ministry was one of standing in solidarity with the least and the lost, the have-nots and despised, and the neglected and rejected. He interacted with women and children, liberating both from a life in which they had little, if any, rights, and in touching the sick, Jesus upended religious traditions that were a burden to the suffering (Mark 10:13-16; John 4:1-30).

Jesus drove home His deep appreciation for have-nots by saying that in the Great Assize at the end of the ages, the basis of the separation of the sheep from the goats will be the benevolence shown to the rejects of society (Matt. 25: 31-40). Our Lord’s reminder shows that social ministry and the gospel stand together or fall apart. Those who champion social justice causes are demonstrating a healthy understanding of what the gospel is all about, and are truly serving and living in the tradition of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who will make all things new when He returns. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).R. Clifford Jones

Pastor/President

IN APPRECIATION OF OUR PASTORS

In Appreciation of Our Pastors |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones“And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jer. 3:15).

Have you ever wondered what being a pastor is really like? What is an average day in the life of a pastor? Do pastors even have such a thing as an average day? Many people believe that pastors have it easy, that, beyond preaching, pastors lead a life of leisure and laxity. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Pastoral ministry is one of the toughest vocations there is. Pastors wear several hats, all at once. They are leaders, managers, administrators, worship leaders, preachers, counselors, and shepherds, to name some of the more common roles they play. In one week, sometimes in one day, a pastor will prepare a sermon, pray for a terminally ill person in the hospital, counsel with a family in distress, meet with a political or civic leader, chair a board, and review a budget. Little wonder some pastors burn out so quickly, leaving the ministry in frustration for less demanding occupations. Adding to their frustration are the expectations of the saints, many of whom think their pastor is superman or superwoman endowed with supernatural strength and stamina.

One reason pastors express for leaving ministry is lack of appreciation. Members, colleagues, leaders, and even their families often fail to demonstrate gratitude for their service, taking them for granted. Ministry may be a divine calling, but pastors are human beings who need affirmation. They need to hear a word of encouragement or an expression of support.

October is Pastor Appreciation Month and in the Adventist Church Oct. 13 is Pastor Appreciation Day. During this month you have an opportunity to affirm and appreciate your pastor, which is in keeping with the admonition of the apostle Paul (1 Thess. 5:12-13; 1 Tim. 5:17). How may you affirm your pastor? How may you celebrate your pastor’s work? How may you honor your pastor’s contributions and commitment? How may you pay tribute to your pastor’s dedication? What can you do to encourage your pastor?

You may let your pastor know that you’re praying for him or her. Beyond praying for your pastor, send him or her an encouraging note or card. Let your pastor know that his or her ministry matters, and that they’re making a difference.   Volunteer your services; be willing to do, not just talk. Commit to being a part of the solution. Be as copious with compliments as you are with constructive criticisms.

Pastoring is a sobering, sublime responsibility, especially in times like these. God promised His people that He would give them pastors with hearts like His, pastors who will lead their congregations in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:2), pastors who, as good undershepherds, will feed and not fleece their flock (Eze. 34:1-31). I believe that the Lake Region Conference is blessed with such pastors, and I am deeply grateful for each one of them. I encourage you to remember your pastor during Pastor Appreciation Month, demonstrating your appreciation in some tangible way. Thank you for what you will do to encourage and affirm your pastor.

Your partner in mission and ministry,

R. Clifford Jones
Pastor/President

STOP THE VIOLENCE

Stop the Violence! |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford JonesIf I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it several times. African American males are less likely than their counterparts from other racial and ethnic groups to live beyond their 30th birthday. More disturbing still, it is alleged that an appreciable number of those who succeed to live past 30 do so because they are incarcerated. To say that the outlook is not bright for young African American males in this country is not to be pessimistic or pathological, or to be hyperbolic or overreactive.

Sad to say, gun violence and black-on-black crime are two of the causes for the brevity of the lives of young African American males. Wanton gun violence continues to plague our inner cities. Innocent lives continue to be indiscriminately snuffed out, leaving in their trail unbearable pain and unspeakable sorrow. Black-on-black crime continues to stalk our communities, accounting for a disproportionate number of the black lives that are prematurely cut short. The statistics are stark and sobering. Jolting may be a more apt term.

Carvell Goodlow became a statistic of gun violence and black-on-black crime on Sunday, September 16, 2018, when he was gunned down in a senseless act of violence. Yet, from what little we know about the events in Huntsville, AL, during that weekend, Carvell Goodlow was not gunned down during the commitment of a robbery or a drug deal gone awry.  Oh no. He was felled by an act of violence that has become disturbingly pervasive in our community.

Goodlow had fled the crime-ridden streets of his native Detroit for the safety and sanity of the streets of Huntsville, AL.  He was a young African American male who was bent on disproving the stereotype that young black men are trigger-happy gangsters woefully lacking an appreciation for life. And isn’t it ironic that Goodlow would succumb to the very type of violence from which he was fleeing back home in Detroit?

A sophomore at Oakwood University, Carvell was a promising student in the prime of his life. He leaves to mourn his untimely passing, a loving family and an affirming community. Both groups are in tatters. Spiritually and emotionally, his family and schoolmates are groping about in the supernatural darkness, desperately seeking for that which can make sense of the incredibly senseless. They are asking, “How long, O Lord, how long?” (Rev. 6:10).

It is high time that we stop the violence that is decimating African American communities across our nation. It is high time that we act in ways that demonstrate that we value human life. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain asked after the senseless slaughter of his brother Abel (Gen. 4:9). It is high time that we answer in the affirmative with convincing words and compelling action.

Young African American males do value human life. They are moral beings who yearn to belong and fit in. They want to know that they make a difference. Like all humankind, they cherish acceptance and affirmation.

The Lake Region Conference joins me in expressing deepest condolences and sympathies to the Goodlow family on the untimely passing of Carvell Goodlow. Please know that we are partners in your grief and sorrow, and are united with you in faith and hope. We pray that the unexpected passing of Carvell will cause us all to pause and reflect on life, as well as the needs and challenges of our community, particularly those affecting our youth and young adults.

May the promise of the blessed hope strengthen and sustain us all during this difficult time and in the days ahead. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).

R. Clifford Jones

Pastor/President

REMEMBERING A LEGEND

Remembering a Legend |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford JonesOne of the most powerful and moving evangelistic sermons I’ve ever heard was preached by Dr. Philip C. Willis Sr. Reflecting depth and breath, the sermon appealed to my head as well as to my heart. Had I not been a Seventh-day Adventist, I would have given my heart to Jesus that Sabbath morning. I went home not just enthralled but transformed as a result of the Christ-centered, Spirit-drenched exposition of the biblical message by Dr. Willis.

A legend is someone known for doing something reasonably, if not extremely well, and a legacy is something handed down from one generation to another. Dr. Philip C. Willis Sr. is a legend whose legacy will be enshrined in our hearts for years to come. And what is the legacy of this gallant warrior and soldier of the cross? His is a legacy of sacrifice, soul winning, stewardship, and solidarity. His is a legacy of unswerving commitment to Christ and selfless service to His church.

Like the Philip of the Early Christian Church, Dr. Philip C. Willis Sr. was an evangelist who was blessed with four prophesying daughters—and a preaching son for good measure. His wife was his lifelong partner in the home and in the church, in mission as well as in ministry. Indeed, their marriage was a ministry that instructed and inspired. Dr. Willis and his devoted wife Edith were the quintessential and consummate ministerial couple, a dynamic duo that God used to prove that marriages in this day and age may not just survive, but thrive.

In a time of ambivalence and uncertainty about the future of public evangelism, his was a clear, compelling voice crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” (Isa. 40:3; Mark 1:3). Uncompromising and unbending, Dr. Willis preached the everlasting gospel in the context of Rev. 14:6-12 with power and conviction, calling men and women to repentance and to Jesus Christ. Part of a vanishing genre of evangelists who apologetically proclaim the distinctive truths of Adventism, he preached as one who really believed that Jesus would come before he died. The tone of his voice reflected his passion and his energy in the pulpit was palpable.

For 27 years he battled the condition that ultimately felled him, the soldier in him refusing to succumb without a fight. He kept coming back, each time more determined to slog on. A man of prayer and devotion, he never failed to look to the hills, from whence his strength and help emanated (Psalm 121). He was sustained by a litany of miracles that provided convincing proof that God was on his side.

That one day soon he will hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” is beyond dispute (Matt. 25:23). He was a Christian soldier who died with his proverbial boots on. He successfully and admirably fleshed out several important roles with aplomb—husband, father, grandfather, preacher, pastor, evangelist, brother, and friend. He was a servant of God and a friend to humankind, a gentleman of decency and integrity who spoke his mind, and even when he disagreed with you he was never, ever disagreeable.

The Lake Region Conference joins me in honoring the memory and legacy of Dr. Philip C. Willis Sr., who served with devotion and distinction. He sleeps in Jesus, awaiting the call of the life giver. Paul affirms that “the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17).   “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).

R. Clifford Jones

Pastor/President

YOU ARE AMAZING!

You Are Amazing! |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, mothers-to-be, and mothers-in-Israel of the Lake Region Conference. As people worldwide pause to remember and celebrate their mothers this weekend, I wish to let our mothers know that they are deeply loved and appreciated.

Ellen G. White has a lot to say about mothers. In the chapter entitled “The Mother” in her classic book, The Ministry of Healing, White reminds mothers that they should begin to prepare children for life on this earth before the children are born. She cites Jochebed, the mother of Moses; Hannah, the mother of Samuel; and Elizabeth, the mother of John, the Baptist; as shining examples of mothers who invested in their children before they actually entered the world.

Motherhood is a priceless, sacred responsibility that is little understood and appreciated. Yet no other responsibility rivals it in importance.   In fact, White says that angels could not ask for a higher mission that that of motherhood, which is a responsibility that spans into eternity.

Many of the positive, enduring images I have of my childhood have to do with my mother. She was a God-fearing woman who fiercely loved her children, often denying herself so that we could have. My mother was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church when she was carrying me in her womb, and she believed I became a pastor because of the Bible studies she received in preparation for baptism. She was a prayer warrior who seasoned her admonitions to my siblings and me with promises from Scripture, and her faith and courage continue to inspire us today, years after her death.

The mother of my children has taken over where my own mother left off. I’m happy to say that my wife is also a woman of boundless faith and optimism.   She is a mother of deep spirituality who exemplifies the values she teaches and honors. Her love for God and people are refreshing, as is her passion for sharing with others the blessings of God.

It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” The sentiment expressed by the former United States president powerfully captures the central role mothers play in the lives of their children. The power of motherhood cannot be overestimated.

And so, Happy Mother’s Day once more to the mothers, the mothers-to-be, and the mothers-in-Israel of the Lake Region Conference. May God’s richest blessings continue to attend you as you seek to influence your children for now and eternity. Please remember that, to a great degree, the moral temperature and tone of every society depends on mothers, which makes you, amazing!

Continued blessings and success in all you do!

R. Clifford Jones

Pastor/President

TEACHERS CARE

Teachers Care |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

When you review your educational journey, does a particular teacher come to mind?   Maybe you were a failing, floundering student who was rescued by a teacher’s belief in you. Or perhaps you were thinking of giving up when a teacher talked you into pressing on.  Maybe you were confused about a career choice and a teacher’s counsel helped steer you into a worthwhile vocation. Or perhaps you were struggling in your faith development when a teacher’s listening ear and heartfelt prayer helped to steady you. Maybe you were excelling in the classroom and a teacher’s mentorship caused you to rise higher and accomplish more.

It is difficult to overestimate the impact teachers make. After parents, teachers exert the most profound and protracted influence on children, and, given that some parents are absent from their children’s lives, the impact of teachers on these individuals tend to be more significant and telling. Teachers are often the first models and examples of steadiness and dependability.

Studies have confirmed that teachers play a critical role in the development and success of students.  Teachers do more than simply transmit information and share knowledge. When it comes to student success, the characteristics of the teacher trump facilities, financial affordability, and even curriculum. Over and over, people have stated that their teachers were the single most important factor in their successful pursuit of a diploma or degree. In other words, were it not for their teachers, many would not have made it.

Why do people become teachers? Certainly, not for the salary, as teachers do not earn that much. The low pay of teachers is well documented. It is not for the hours, as teachers work long hours that extend well beyond the classroom. It is not for the accolades, as teachers often suffer abuse and misunderstanding that betray society’s low estimate of them. I believe that people embrace the teaching profession because they genuinely care. The joy of seeing students grow in knowledge and faith development is what causes people to become and remain teachers. Truly, Christian teachers care!

We can never thank teachers enough for what they do and for pouring so much into our lives. Teachers are the reason so many succeed. We are indebted to our teachers and need to honor and celebrate them for the special work they do. They have earned and deserve our gratitude.

During this Teacher Appreciation Week let us take a moment or two to help make a teacher know that he or she is special. Let us thank a teacher for the significant roles he or she plays in society. The time and energy that teachers invest in their work continue to shape and transform lives for now and eternity, and it is because of the selfless service of our teachers that Adventist Education continues to provide a distinct advantage.

The Lake Region Conference wishes to thank you, teachers, for what you do and, more importantly, who you are! We deeply appreciate each of you. Continued blessings and success in your ministry.

ADVENTIST CHRISTIAN EDUCATION NEEDS YOUR HELP

Donate Today

Adventist Christian Education Needs Your Help! |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

Dear Friend of Adventist Education

Warmest Christian greetings in the precious and powerful name of our Lord, who desires that all our children should be taught of Him (Isa. 54:13).

The Lake Region Conference (LRC) takes seriously our Lord’s desire to have His children learn of Him. Yet we are acutely aware that providing quality Adventist education calls for an expenditure of funds that are often lacking or in short supply. As a result, each year scores of parents and guardians make the painful decision not to send their children to our schools. Simply put, they just can’t afford it.

I believe that we should do everything we possibly can to ensure that every child desirous of attending a Seventh-day Adventist school in the Lake Region Conference is able to do so. Lack of finances should NOT be the reason a child fails to register or withdraws from one of our schools.

To help provide financial scholarships to those in need, we are attempting to raise $300,000 on April 21, 2018. The plan is for 15,000 friends of Adventist education to contribute a minimum of $20 on or before that date. I believe that the plan is reasonable and doable, as $20 does not even represent the cost of a meal for two at most fast food restaurants.

The above graphic shows how the funds will be distributed. Twenty-five percent of all proceeds collected will be used as a base for future funding and scholarships, awarded through an application process. The remaining seventy-five percent will be divided equally among our eight schools for tuition assistance. Please prayerfully consider partnering with us in this worthwhile investment in our children.

Thank you for being one of the thousands who will make the dream of a child come true. Your tax-deductible gift will go a long way in keeping a child in church school, where he or she will receive an education for now and eternity. Remember, Adventist education does provide children with a distinct advantage!

Donate Today

LRCRELOCATION

We are Moving! |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

We rejoice to announce that we are getting ready to move into our new office building, located at 19860 South LaGrange Road, Mokena, Illinois. We anticipate moving into the new office building around the end of March, a little later than our earlier projections. The delay was triggered by some contingencies we encountered that required modifications to the approved building plans.

On Monday, February 12, the Board of Trustees of the Village of Mokena approved the modifications, clearing the way for the completion of the renovations.A grand opening of the building is being planned for the end of April. Please be on the lookout for an announcement and invitation to the event.

You are welcome to be present for the grand opening and to visit at any time. A new building provides opportunity for us to remember that we are a spiritual building whose foundation is Jesus Christ. And we should never forget that buildings are not intended to be monuments to human achievement or objects of pride, but facilitators of mission.

We praise God for providing us with this property. The building will help us to better meet your needs, as well as to witness more effectively to our region. Although we intend to minimize, if not eliminate, inconveniences during the transition period, we wish to apologize for any that may occur.Thank you for your continued partnership in mission and ministry.

Your support of our vision means a lot. May God continue to abundantly bless us as we unite in spreading the good news of a soon-coming Savior and Lord throughout the Lake Region Conference territory.

R. Clifford Jones

Pastor/President

SLIGHTSSLURSANDSTEREOTYPES

Slights, Slurs & Stereotypes |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The words are etched in stone on the Statue of Liberty, which stands in New York harbor welcoming, if not beckoning, immigrants from around the world. A monument to the hopes and aspirations of millions who have made America a true land of immigrants and New York City a veritable melting pot, the iconic Statue of Liberty is infinitely more than an American tourist attraction. It is a symbol of values like opportunity and inclusion, principles that formed and shaped the United States of America.

Yet, is it true that the words “the wretched refuse” are among those inscribed on the Statue? Those two words are perilously close to a phrase purportedly uttered by the President of the United States recently. In case you missed it, during a meeting to discuss immigration reform policy at the White House, Donald Trump allegedly called a few nations with predominantly black populations an expletive I will not repeat. The term the controversial president used is beyond colorful or salty. Having to do with excrement, the president’s vulgar, vile metaphor provoked a firestorm and furor near and far, with many condemning the president as a racist unfit to occupy the White House.

Where are you from? Is the place of your origin looked down on, and are people from your country stereotyped as undesirables? If so, be encouraged, because Jesus hailed from Nazareth, a place so despicable that when Philip informed Nathaniel that he had found the Messiah and that the Messiah was from Nazareth, Nathaniel asked, “Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46). Undoubtedly, the practice of stereotyping everybody from a particular place as the same is not a recent one.

Scripture makes it plain that Jesus was from a deplorable place. To begin with, Jesus was born in a stable because, ostensibly, there was no room for Him in the inns of Bethlehem (Luke 2:7). Animals were the first living creatures to behold Jesus, and among the things He first inhaled was the stench of the stable. Shortly after His birth, the parents of Jesus fled with Jesus to Egypt to escape the wrath of the government, making Jesus and His family refugees (Matt. 2:13-14). Later, the family of Jesus returned to Nazareth of Galilee, a region with a mixed population of lowlifes and a reputation that was anything but stellar (Matt. 2:22-23).

Throughout His life and ministry on earth, Jesus was identified as being from Nazareth (Mark 1:23-24; Mark 10:47), and the inscription on His cross identified Him as such (John 19:19). He was crucified outside the city walls of Jerusalem on a dung heap, where all kinds of salacious and sordid activities took place.   Without a doubt, Christ understands the plight of those who hail from over the proverbial tracks, the slums and ghettos of the world.

In coming to this earth, Jesus lived on the one dark, benighted spot in the entire universe (Desire of Ages, 26). Planet earth, not just one country or region, is a dark blot in God’s otherwise glorious creation. Thus, every human being is from a terrible place, period.

Scripture is clear as to how foreigners ought to be treated. Israel was encouraged to be kind to foreigners and aliens (Ex. 22:21; Zech. 7:9-10). For the Christian, “I was a stranger and you took me in” is more than inspiring language (Matt. 25:35). The implicit admonition of Jesus amounts to a litmus test for those claiming to be followers of Jesus Christ.

During Black History Month, let us not forget that it was people from Africa who built this country, and that immigrants from the countries disparaged by President Donald Trump are achieving the proverbial American dream in disproportionately higher numbers than those from other places. Better still, during Black History Month let us resolve to treat all people with dignity and respect, regardless of where they come from.

R. Clifford Jones

Pastor/President

SAVED2SERVE

Saved 2 Serve |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

Happy New Year! The officers of the Lake Region Conference (LRC) are happy to join me in extending warm wishes for a healthy and Spirit-filled year to each of you. We wish that 2018 will be a year of growth and gains for you and those you love and cherish.

The Lake Region Conference has declared that 2018 will be the Year of Adventist Youth and Young Adults. Why? Because our youth and young adults are a treasured resource the Seventh-day Adventist Church cannot afford to lose. Today, when a large percentage of youth and young adults view organized religion with suspicion, the admonition of the apostle Paul is needed. “Let no one despise thy youth” (1 Tim. 4:12). The words of my favorite Christian writer are also needed. “With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Savior might be carried to the whole world! How soon might the end come. . . (Education, p. 271).

Saved 2 Serve is the theme chosen for the Year of Youth and Young Adults. The theme neatly captures and powerfully conveys two central concepts—salvation and service—that form and shape the life of the Christian. Saved by grace through faith, Christians view a life of service as the natural outgrowth of an encounter with Jesus Christ. Engendering change and enriching communities are the byproducts of an encounter with Christ.

Elder Jason North, Director of Youth and Young Adults Ministries for the Lake Region Conference, believes that in 2018 our young people will, like Esther, realize that they have come to the kingdom for such a time as this (Esther 4:14). He is optimistic that our youth will “fulfill their God-given mission of service to Christ, for Christ, and in Christ.” Further, Pastor North believes that the youth and young adults of the Lake Region Conference are a wonderful group passionate about Jesus Christ and anxious to engage in mission and ministry for Him.

Did you know that one of the last visions Adventist pioneer Ellen White had was about young people? In it, she wished that the young would understand the true meaning of justification by faith, and she admonished adults “to encourage the young ever to keep the preciousness and grace of God highly exalted.” White longed for the day when the minds of the youth would be “impressed and molded by the sanctifying truth of God,” a desire that LRC leaders have and that aligns well with the aim of our Strategic Plan—Christ Alone!

We are committed to doing all we can to see our youth and young adults experience a deepening of their spirituality and growth in their discipleship. Reaching, Reclaiming and Restoring youth are priorities for us. We long to see our young people play a central role in advancing the kingdom of God in our communities, and will redouble our efforts to that end in 2018. We intend to show our youth that they are valued partners in mission and ministry.

R. Clifford Jones

Pastor/President

LETYOUR LIGHT SHINE

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

Among the many themes associated with the Christmas story is that of light. The holiday season is a festival of lights, from Christmas trees twinkling to menorahs flickering, and it is far from coincidental that Christmas occurs around the shortest days and longest nights of the year, making the need for the comfort of light all the more acute. The lights of the holiday season are beacons of joy and hope to young and old alike, dispelling the darkness of despair and depression that often overwhelm people around the end of the year.

The agnostic Bertram Russell once remarked that human life is a long trek through the night. Long before he expressed that sentiment, the prophet Isaiah said, “See, darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people” (Isa. 60:2). Few will deny that as technologically advanced and scientifically sophisticated as 21st century civilization is, our world is still enshrouded in darkness. Humankind of the early 21st century continues to grope about, lost and confused, in a darkness more dense and stubborn than a million nights.

The reality that darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the people is ironic given that light was the first thing that God created (Gen. 1:1-3). Light, like a unifying thread, is a theme that runs through the Bible, which itself is viewed as light (Psalm 119:105, 130). Isaiah writes, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isa. 9:2), continuing, “And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday” (Isa. 58:10).

Not surprisingly, light shows up early in the New Testament as a symbol of truth. The gospel writer John states that the role of John the Baptist was that of testifying concerning the “true light that gives light to every man” (John 1:1-9). Who was John talking about? Jesus Himself declared, “I am the light of the world.   Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). As He healed a man who had been born blind, Jesus said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).

Jesus predicted that an aversion to light would characterize human life just prior to His second coming. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of the light because their deeds are evil . . . Everyone who does evil hates the light . . . But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light” (John 3:19-21).

Those who are walking in the light enjoy sweet, wholesome relationships with others. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and we do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7).

Called out of darkness into God’s wonderful, marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9), Christians wholeheartedly embrace the call of Jesus Christ to be the lights of the world.   Once in darkness, we are now the lights of the world, and expected to live as children of the light (Eph. 5:8-9; 1 Thess. 5:5). That is certainly what the apostle Paul did as he sought to be a light to the gentiles (Acts 26:12-18).

In the chapter entitled “Light Through Darkness” in the classic book, The Great Controversy, my favorite Christian writer says that light was intended to dispel the darkness of hopelessness, despair, and sin. If ever the words spoken by God at creation are needed, it is now. “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3). Jesus admonishes, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).

During this season of lights, I wish to encourage you to let your light shine. Please brighten the corner where you are. Go light the world. Dark and lost, our world needs the light of love and hope. Where there is hate, let us ignite forgiveness. Where there is error, let us ignite truth. Where there is war, let us ignite peace.   Where there is retaliation, let us ignite reconciliation.

Of the New Jerusalem the apostle John writes, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light” (Rev. 21:23-24). John continues, “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord will give them light” (Rev. 22:5).

What a promise! What a future to which we may look forward! But until then, let us light the world. Until then, let us light the darkness. Until then, let our lights shine before others that they may see our good deeds and glorify God in heaven.

Season’s Greetings!

R. Clifford Jones

Pastor/President

WHEN EVIL COMES TO CHURCH

WHEN EVIL COMES TO CHURCH |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

Without question, there is a certain irony to what took place at the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, and at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, a couple of years ago. In both instances, barbaric acts of violence invaded church buildings to which innocent people had gone to worship and study God’s word.

There was a time when a sanctuary was a safe haven, a place of refuge from the setbacks and struggles of life. Churches were viewed as oases of hope and blessings in deserts of despair and sin, as places where one was sure to encounter God in worship and praise. Church buildings were sacred places and spaces.

The indiscriminate massacre of people gathered to study the Bible at Emanuel AME Church and for worship at Sutherland Springs Baptist Church calls into question the historic and traditional view of church buildings as safe havens. Moreover, the fact that the Texas gunman, who slaughtered 26 and wounded over 20, was embroiled in a domestic dispute that may have been the motive for the carnage does not eradicate the danger that now seems to hang ominously over houses of worship. That sanctuaries are places of safety to which people may flee in times of trouble is a proposition that is easily challenged these days.

How should we relate to the indisputable fact that when people gather in a church building these days a gunman may open fire on them for no apparent reason?   Has the time arrived for metal detectors in church buildings? Should congregants be allowed to come to church armed? Should pastors pack a Bible in one pocket and a firearm in the next?

Some gun advocates have noted that the Texas gunman was allegedly shot by an alert neighbor, who recognized what was happening, grabbed his rifle, and began shooting at the assailant. When the gunman sped off, the neighbor hailed a motorist and, together, they pursued the fleeing, wounded gunman, who ostensibly took his life after running off the road in an adjoining county. President Donald Trump believes that more people would have died had it not been for the quick action of the neighbor, who was exercising his 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

Wasting no time to exploit an opportunity, the Michigan Senate, a few days after the massacre in Sutherland Springs, passed legislation to allow guns on school premises and in churches. Not surprisingly, Sutherland Springs has fueled the debate about gun control.

Seventh-day Adventists believe that guns and other weapons contribute to violence.   Guns are intended to harm, if not kill. In rebuking Peter who tried to defend Him with his sword, Jesus stated that those who use violent weapons should expect to die by violent means (Matt. 26:52). Admittedly, many in the general population argue that it is people who kill, not guns. These opponents of gun control contend that those who desire to purchase firearms should be better screened so that guns are kept out of the hands of those who should never have access to them, such as the mentally impaired and criminals.

The murder of innocent churchgoers in Texas and South Carolina also brings into sharp focus an issue that has perplexed cynics as well as believers for years.   Why does God allow evil?   Why is there evil in our world? Almost half of those killed in Sutherland Springs were children, the most vulnerable and helpless demographic of our population. Why didn’t God protect those children? Why didn’t God blow out the tire of the gunman before he got to the church, as a latecomer who escaped the massacre believed happened to her? Why did God allow this heinous, monstrous act that wiped out eight people from one family to occur?

Theologians have a word that captures the struggle for answers as to why a benevolent, almighty God allows people to suffer—theodicy. Yet the search for answers to the problem of pain is beyond the purview of this short reflection.   Suffice it to say that God is no masochist who lacks the power or will to control what happens in our world. Also, we must not forget that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are God’s ways our ways (Isa. 55:8-9).

Even as we search about in the supernatural darkness for answers and meaning to the tragic events in Texas and South Carolina, there are some practical steps that churches may, and should, take to increase the safety of church buildings. Following are just a few:

Have a plan. It may seem like a no-brainer, but having a well-thought-out plan of action will assuage the worry and concern of worshippers and help in the event of an incident.

Communicate your plan, making sure that it is understood and accepted.

Get to know law enforcement personnel in your community. Be sure to receive input and buy-in from them regarding your plan of action.

Acquaint worshippers with the layout of your church building. Be particular in pointing out the exits and safe zones.

Ushers and hosts should be trained to be on the lookout for unfamiliar worshippers behaving strangely.

If possible, have people patrol the outside of your building when service is in session.

Check with your insurer to ascertain what will and will not be covered.

Finally, live joyfully and without fear (Phil. 4:4-7). The possibility of violence invading your sanctuary should not steal your joy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). In the end, Christians are people who know this world is not their home and long for life in a restored world in which evil will be no more (Rev. 21:4-5, 8, 27).

R. Clifford Jones

Pastor/President

WHAT IF

WHAT IF … |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

Have you ever wondered what our schools would be like if money were not a problem? What would schools in the Lake Region Conference look like if constituents fully bought into Christian education? As the 2017-2018 school year begins to pick up steam, I’ve been reflecting on what Adventist education in the Lake Region Conference would look like if the answers to the propositions that follow were positive or affirmative.

Some comments made by Superintendent of Education Renee Humphreys during a recent meeting of the Conference’s Church Ministry Council triggered my reflection. Here are the propositions, in no particular order of importance.

1.  What if constituents were more acutely aware that we are living in the time of the end and that the second coming of Jesus will occur sooner than we think?

2.  What if we really believed that all God’s children should be taught of the Lord? (Isa. 54:13).

3.  What if we wholly embraced the idea that it takes a village to raise a child, a concept that mirrors the statement of Ellen G. White that Christian education is essentially a partnership of the church, the school, and the home?

4.  What if we viewed Adventist education not as an option, but as a mandate?

5.  What if we valued our parents, refusing to take them for granted, and treated them with respect and as true partners and key stakeholders in the education endeavor?

6.  What if we were to pursue excellence in all things related to education, meaning we eschew shoddiness and mediocrity with respect to curriculum design and instruction?

7.  What if we were to put our better foot forward with regards to customer service, treating students, their parents and sponsors, and the public with the respect they deserve, such as responding to their inquiries and concerns with timeliness and care?

8.  What if we were to put our money where our mouth is, walking our talk of commitment and support for education with concrete, sacrificial financial support that is dependable and sustainable?

9.  What if we saw Adventist education as a blessing, not as a burden that strains the church budget?

10.   What if we saw the church school as a center of redemption and transformation that transmits values that matter?

11.  What if the Bible were the core text in our schools and the Adventist in Adventist Education was an uncompromising commitment to Adventist distinctives?

12.  What if Adventist education were indisputably a journey to excellence whose twists and turns were viewed as challenges to be negotiated and conquered, not as debilitating and deadly detours conspiring to bring our efforts to a screeching halt?

13.  What if we honored and celebrated our teachers and all who work in our schools (including volunteers), letting them know that their ministry in and out of the classroom is deeply appreciated and makes a significant difference?

14.  What if we knew that Adventist education offers a distinct advantage?

15.  What if we were more creative and innovative with our instruction?

It is high time that we react to these propositions, which are not intended just for armchair intellectualism.   We must shun what Civil Rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “paralysis of analysis.”   We must be willing to match our eloquent words with bold, creative action that rescues and restores our schools, some of which are tottering on the brink of extinction.

As the Year of Adventist Education comes to an end, let us commit to making our schools vibrant and relevant.   Let us envision and work to have schools in which cutting-edge instruction is occurring and students are excelling to the heights of their God-ordained potential.   Let us sacrifice to make Adventist education affordable.  Let us do all we can to make our schools the head and not the tail.

Now, more than ever, we need to come together as one in the pursuit of our mission, which includes educating God’s children for life in this world and the one to come. Together, we can accomplish infinitely more than we will ever accomplish individually.

We need to be intentional and focused, knowing and believing that, in spite of the challenges we face, we will triumph.   Our attitude must be that of boundless optimism that does not discount or dilute the challenges before us, but exemplifies that all things are possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23).

Thank you for all you will do to make the 2017-2018 school year one of growth and gains in our schools.

Your partner in mission and ministry,

R. Clifford Jones

Pastor/President

 

SILENCE IS NOT ALWAYS GOLDEN

WHEN SILENCE IS NOT GOLDEN |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

As a child growing up, I was fed a robust diet of proverbs, one of which was “Silence is golden.” If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times. Silence was to be preferred over talking, whether one had good reason to talk or not.

Another proverb or saying I was fed was that it is better to keep quiet and be thought wise than to open your mouth and prove yourself to be a fool. The subtle message of that saying is that it is risky to speak or share your thoughts, especially if what you utter will provide convincing proof of your shallowness or ignorance. But is silence always golden?

In the wake of the horrific events of Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend of August 11 and 12, an eerie hush hovered over the White House initially, and when the President of the United States did ultimately speak, what he uttered almost justified his early silence. Saying that the blame for the riot that ensued during the demonstration was to be shared by both sides provoked a firestorm of protests, with many wishing that the president had kept his mouth shut. The three lives that were snuffed out as a result of the “peaceful protest” that went dreadfully awry speak eloquently, many contended, that intolerance, bigotry, and race supremacy have no place among civilized people.

Back in 1998, Adventist social ethicist Zdravko Plantak published The Silent Church, a provocative examination of the relationship between the Adventist church and the surrounding culture. As the title of the book suggests, the author believed that the denomination needed to involve itself in social justice issues more. I am proud that several Seventh-day Adventist organizations, including the North American Division, Oakwood University, and Andrews University, quickly issued statements condemning what took place in Charlottesville. The North American Division Regional Black Caucus, which coordinates ministry efforts pitched to the African American community, also issued a powerful statement condemning the atrocities. The statement reads:

“The deplorable and despicable display of bigotry and racism demonstrated in Charlottesville, Virginia, is totally unacceptable in a civilized society. The biblical principles to which we ascribe rebuff it. Basic intelligence repulses it.   Common decency spurns it.  As religious leaders in the black community, we renounce these acts in the strongest terms. The Adventist church cannot and must not remain silent or passive regarding these injustices. If ever the message of love and tolerance were needed in this ‘one nation under God,’ it is now. Spiritual and moral leadership must assume its rightful place to counteract hatred and evil, regardless of how high up in government it goes.”

The Lake Region Conference fully resonates with the statement of the Regional Caucus. Silence is NOT golden whenever human dignity is under attack. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel states,

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. . . . When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities are irrelevant. Whenever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.”

Martin Niemoller, a Protestant minister in Nazi Germany, sought to underscore the compelling need for Christians to speak out against racial and political atrocities when he wrote:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist.Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Trade Unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew.Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

For Niemoller, silence in the face of bigotry and intolerance was not golden, but complicity. His feelings echo those of Solomon, who penned, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31:8-9). James adds, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (James 4:17).

As part of their strategy to fight terrorism at home and abroad, several government agencies have been using the slogan, “If you see something, say something.” That slogan is certainly one that Christians should embrace, broadening it to include, “If you hear something, say something” and “If you feel something, say something.”

Yet it is not enough for us to merely speak out against injustice, racism, bigotry, and intolerance. We must act. Among the sayings I heard as a boy were “Talk is cheap” and “Actions speak louder than words,” by which was meant that one had to go beyond the mere utterance of words. Eloquent, erudite utterances must be matched by bold, courageous, decisive actions.   Moreover, one must be willing to put one’s money where one’s mouth is, meaning that one must be willing to expend one’s resources for the sake of equality and justice. There must be no gulf or chasm between pronouncements and actions in the struggle for racial equality.

Heather Heyer was not content to speak out against what she saw taking place in Charlottesville on August 12, so she decided to confront the neo-Nazis and Klansmen, losing her life as a result. She knew that silence is never golden when people’s inalienable rights are being attacked. Her non-silence led to her premature death and will forever speak eloquently that she stood against discrimination and oppression. It’s a stand that all Christians should take! Silence is not always golden.

R. Clifford Jones

Pastor/President

CHOOSE LIFE

CHOOSE LIFE! |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

“I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live” (Deut. 30:19).

The Lake Region Conference exists to disciple people and spread the everlasting gospel in the context of Revelation 14:6-12 so that people are ready for the soon return of Jesus Christ, and we envision a united conference of churches passionately engaged in mission and ministry when Jesus Christ returns. That is why this summer the Lake Region Conference churches in the Chicago area are teaming up with the Breath of Life Television Ministry to sponsor a major revival called Choose Life 2017 at the Shiloh SDA Church.

Dr. Carlton “Buddy” Byrd will be the speaker for the series intended to introduce people to Jesus Christ, who famously declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). It was Christ who also said, “I am come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Our English and Hispanic churches in Chicagoland are united in this exciting endeavor that aligns well with two of our strategic goals—Spiritual Revitalization and Innovative Evangelism—and our Chicagoland pastors are working as a team to ensure the success of the Revival. Whether you reside in Chicago or not, you are urged to fully support Choose Life 2017. How may you do so?   Following are a few ways through which you may demonstrate support for Choose Life 2017?

  1. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray for the evangelist, Dr. Carlton Byrd, the Bible Instructors, the pastors, all visitors, etc. Pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, since it is “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” that all things are wrought or accomplished (Zech: 4:6). It is still true that little prayer equals little power, and much prayer equals much power.
  2. Fast, if you can. Jesus emphasized that the kind of power that conquers the devil’s strongholds only comes by prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29 KJV). Fasting is a spiritual discipline that bestows tremendous benefits.
  3. Attend the meetings, if you are able to. It is a fact that a crowd draws a crowd, whether under a tent or in a building. So plan to attend the meetings, and try to bring someone with you.
  4. Spread the word. The hymn writer could not have said it better, “Lift up the trumpet, and loud let it ring.   Jesus is coming again.” Let everyone within your orbit know about Choose Life 2017. Be excited about what Jesus will do in Chicago this summer, and let your excitement be known.
  5. Contribute financially. Although salvation is the free gift of God, it costs money to spread the gospel. Your financial gift will go a long way in helping to defray the expenses of Choose Life 2017.

Thank you for your prayerful support!

R. Clifford Jones
Pastor/President

NEW LOCATION FOR LRC HEADQUARTERS

2014-2018 LRC Executive Committee in the LRC Board Room of our new location in Mokena, IL


WE HAVE MOVED: NEW LOCATION FOR LRC HEADQUARTERS 19860 S. LA GRANGE RD, MOKENA, IL

 |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Warmest Christian greetings in the powerful name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I am writing to share some exciting news with you. We have officially moved from 8517 S. State St in Chicago, IL to 19860 S. La Grange Rd Mokena, IL.

Our journey began on Thursday, May 25th, 2017 when the Lake Region Conference closed on this property. The purchase of the building was unanimously voted by the Executive Committee of the Conference after an extensive search and exploration of relocation options that were presented during the Lake Region Conference 2016 Mid-Term Review.

The offices of the Lake Region Conference were located at 8517 South State Street, Chicago, for approximately 60 years. Decrepit and dilapidated, the State Street building served its time and was in dire need of repair. Yet repairing and/or remodeling the building was not a viable option for several reasons, including cost and declining property values in the area. After exploring many possible solutions, and scouring the Chicago area for approximately a year, the property in Mokena, IL was located, due process was exercised, and a unanimous decision was made to purchase it.

The new headquarters of the Lake Region Conference will not only continue to serve our constituents as before, but now, because of the renovations we made to the building, we will be able to host more effective ministry training to equip and empower the laity throughout the conference. Please feel free to stop by and visit during our hours of operation, Monday thru Thursday from 9AM-6PM. Our main number 773-846-2661 along with our existing fax numbers have been retained.

We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced as we made this monumental transition. It was challenging, but our pastors, the IT Department of the Lake Union Conference and many others volunteered their time to assist us. Thank you. We especially would like to thank our staff for their exceptional efforts to continue to minister to you, our constituents, while working through the transition to the new property. We are truly blessed to have such committed partners in ministry.

We believe that God led us in the search process for a new building. The process itself was a collaborative endeavor characterized by transparency and bathed in prayer and fasting that resulted in a clear sense of direction and choice.

Thank you for your prayers and continued support as we move forward into the next exciting chapter of our history.

In His Footsteps . . . Together!

R. Clifford Jones
Pastor/President

SAFELY THROUGH ANOTHER YEAR

SAFELY THROUGH ANOTHER YEAR! |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

Christians who keep the Sabbath holy often welcome the day of rest and gladness by singing the hymn “Safely Through Another Week.”   The hymn begins with the words, “Safely through another week, God has brought us on our way.”   I’d like to borrow those words, tweaking them so that they apply to the moment and occasion of the end of the 2016-2017 school year.   As we celebrate the conclusion of another school year, truly we can say and sing, “Safely through another year, God has brought us on our way.”

Without a doubt, the 2016-2017 school year was one of challenge and trial.   Providing quality Adventist education in a time of shrinking resources, societal changes, and waning commitments on the part of key stakeholders is a monumental undertaking that calls for courage and determination.  The questions and issues confronting the faithful are numerous and complex, defying quick solutions and easy answers.   Those involved in the delivery of Adventist education are acutely aware that, as the Psalmist put it, were it not for the Lord on our side, we would have been consumed (Psalm 124:1-8).   That the year is coming to an end and we are still standing is proof enough of God’s grace and goodness, and calls for celebration.

Let’s celebrate the achievement of our graduates who’ve received an education for now and eternity.   They go forth in faith and with hope to embody the values they learned in our schools.   We are proud of each of them, and pray that theirs will be a life in which they are ever learning, ever rising, and ever committed to our Lord and our mission as Seventh-day Adventist Christians.

Let’s celebrate the parents and guardians of our graduates, indeed all our students.   These men and women sacrificed in so many ways to keep their children in church school, demonstrating by doing so that they took seriously the biblical injunction that all God’s children should be taught of the Lord (Isa. 54:13).   Parents and guardians are valued partners in Adventist education who are often overlooked.   Yet without them we would not have church schools.

Let’s celebrate the dedicated teachers and principals for whom the ministry of teaching is a calling they do not take lightly.   They serve sacrificially while seeking to remain competent and cutting edge as professionals.   Our educators know that the delivery of quality instruction and mentorship are priorities that must not be compromised or jeopardized.

Let’s celebrate our school board personnel, pastors, church members, alumni, school staff, volunteers, Education Superintendent, and all who are committed to and serve in the arena of Adventist Christian education.   These individuals are vital partners in the endeavor, and it was because of their planning, prayers, and persistence that we made it “safely through another year.”

The words of another songwriter are apropos at this moment.   “We’ve come this far by faith.”   God has brought us safely through another year, and we give him honor and praise.   Moreover, we look to the future without fear or foreboding, but with hope and anticipation.

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

In His Footsteps . . . Together!

R. Clifford Jones
Pastor/President

TEACHERS DELIVER

TEACHERS DELIVER! |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

Without a doubt, the unsung heroes of the field of education are teachers, the men and women who untiringly extend themselves and expend their energies to shape, guide, and prepare their students for a fruitful life. More importantly, teachers do what they do for a fraction of the pay that others command for work that often pales in comparison and significance. If ever a group of people need to be shown appreciation for what they do and who they are, it’s our teachers.

May 8-12 is Teacher Appreciation Week and this year the theme of the week is “Teachers Deliver,” an apt reminder of the critical role that teachers play in our lives. It has been noted that teaching is the profession that produces all other professions, making teaching, in a sense, the mother of all professions.

Yet what do teachers deliver? For starters, teachers deliver knowledge and learning. They set children on a path that leads to nobility and wisdom, aspiring to do so in ways that will engender a lifelong appreciation for learning. In a world of instability if not chaos, teachers seek to provide balance and certainty, knowing that the pursuit of beauty and truth is a hallmark of true education.

Teachers are also dispensers of hope and optimism. Indeed, Colleen Wilcox avers that “teaching is the greatest act of optimism.” Ever resilient and irrepressible, teachers are dispensers of hope who by word and action instill in their students that education can and will change the social order and fuel their attempts to make the world a better place. Teachers inspire their students to believe that the best is yet to come, that to be ever learning is to be ever rising, and that education makes for progress and uplift.

Innovation and creativity are among the outcomes delivered by teachers. Good teachers foster in their students the ability to think; they know that pointing their students in a particular direction is fundamentally more important than telling or mandating what their students should see. Adventist pioneer Ellen G. White writes, “It is the work of true education . . . to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men’s thoughts” (Education, p. 17). As important as it may be to direct students to what others have thought and written, it is more important to point them to sources of truth. Blazing new trails and discovering new vistas of knowledge that challenge and stretch the thinking of students are aims of true education.

Teachers also deliver mentorship, a truth that cannot be overemphasized. Over and over, studies have demonstrated that the relationship that a student has with a teacher is the single most critical factor in the academic success of the student. It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “Tell me, I forget; teach me, I remember; involve me, I learn.” Teachers who go beyond classroom instruction, who engage and involve their students, and who establish and maintain personal, healthy relationships with them show that they understand the aim of education.

Finally, teachers deliver Christ, “the Teacher sent from God,” in whom “all true educational work finds its center” (Education, p. 73, 83).   As a teacher, Jesus taught with such authority that the people were astonished and exclaimed, “Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). Christ was the light of heaven whose life and ministry was a model of what teachers in Adventist schools should look like and be like—people of humility whose philosophy of education sees in every child infinite possibilities waiting to be harnessed and developed.

During Teacher Appreciation Week we wish to express deepest appreciation not only to our teachers, but to all our educators, including School Board members. Additionally, we wish to thank those who support our teachers as aides, office and business managers, custodians, etc. Each one plays a vital role in the delivery of quality Adventist education that seeks to prepare students for service in this world and life in the world to come. And deepest gratitude is extended also to Renee Humphreys, Superintendent of Education of the Lake Region Conference, and Latita Thomas, her Administrative Assistant, for their commitment and good work on behalf of Adventist Education.

R. Clifford Jones

Pastor/President

ADVENTIST EDUCATION-SOMETHING BETTER

ADVENTIST EDUCATION-SOMETHING BETTER |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

If you’ve been following the news of late, you no doubt know that Republican leaders in Congress attempted to repeal and replace President Obama’s signature health care program known as Obamacare with something else.In his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump promised to dismantle the Affordable Care Act with something better on day one of his tenure. These two words, something better, have a nice ring to them, and for many people life is all about pursuing something better.

Yet did you know that something better is the aim of Adventist education? In her classic work, Education, Ellen G. Whites writes: “ ‘Something better’ is the watchword of education … Let the students be directed to something better than display, ambition, or self-indulgence. Lead them to behold the One ‘altogether lovely.’ Once the gaze is fixed upon Him life finds its center. To honor Christ, to become like Him, to work for Him, is life’s highest ambition and its greatest joy” (Education, pp. 296, 297). Elsewhere, she writes, “The most essential lessons for teachers and students to learn, are those which point, not to the world, but from the world to the cross of Christ” (Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 11).

So what makes Adventist education something better? For starters, Adventist education points students and introduces them to Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega, who is life’s Center. Getting students to fall in love with Jesus is the overarching and enduring aim of Adventist education, making it redemptive and unique. The uniqueness of Adventist education is grounded in the denomination’s self-understanding, which gives form and shape to its apocalyptic mission and significantly contributes to an Adventist philosophy of education that preserves Adventist essentials. Students graduate from Adventist schools saturated with a sense of their special place and role in a world that is in the final phase of its history.

We’ve been told that higher than the highest human thoughts can reach is God’s ideal for His children, meaning that Adventist education eschews mediocrity and places a premium on excellence. Adventist education aspires to lift to the highest level, acutely aware that whatever God does is done well (Gen. 1:1-31). Excellence in Adventist education is brought about through the integration of faith and learning.

Adventist education is something better because of the centrality of the Bible in its curriculum. In Adventist schools Holy Scripture is the lens through which all is seen and viewed, and the Bible sifts all that is taught. It is not good enough to start each day or class with prayer; all must be aligned with the Word of God. It goes without saying that the Bible is the most important text in an Adventist educational institution.

The Bible states that Jesus went about teaching and preaching, showing that the earthly ministry of Jesus did not discount the important element of teaching or education (Matt. 4:23; 9:35). As the Master Teacher, Jesus modeled for all Christians His expectations for a life of mission and ministry. Living a life of faith and balance that is built on Godly values and reflects a biblical worldview is the responsibility of all Christians, not just those who are remunerated for their service as Christian teachers.

Christocentric to its core, Adventist education is undoubtedly something better that should be embraced by every Adventist who wishes the best for their children! Our  schools have always been lighthouses in a world of darkness, and the evidence shows that graduates of Adventist schools are far more likely to remain Adventist and be active in soul-winning.

Ellen White writes, “Higher education calls for something greater, something more divine, than the knowledge to be obtained merely from books. It means a personal, experimental knowledge of Christ; it means emancipation from ideas, from habits and practices, that have been gained in the school of the prince of darkness, and which are opposed to loyalty to God. It means to overcome stubbornness, pride, selfishness, worldly ambition, and unbelief. It is the message of deliverance from sin” (Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, pp.11-12).

Let’s work together to make Adventist education something better, something greater!

In His footsteps . . . together!

R. Clifford Jones

Pastor/President

GOALS-ADVENTIST EDUCATION-A DISTINCT ADVANTAGE

THE 5 GOALS OF THE LRC: N0. 5  ADVENTIST EDUCATION-A DISTINCT ADVANTAGE |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES

R. Clifford Jones

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).   “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isa. 54:13).

Have you ever pondered why Adventist schools exist? What is the purpose of Adventist schools, of which there are approximately 8,000 in the world today? To say that education is almost synonymous with Adventism is not to speak hyperbolically. Early Adventist pioneers intentionally established schools almost everywhere they traveled and settled, firmly believing that all their children should be taught of the Lord. Adventist pioneers held that the public school was a dangerous place to educate God’s children, whom they believed were not just to be exposed to information and knowledge, but were to be introduced to Jesus Christ and trained for service.

The grand objective of Adventist education is the transformation of lives, or restoring in “man the image of his Maker” (Education, p.  15-16). Adventist education is wholistic in that it seeks “the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers” (Education, p. 13). To be sure, Adventist education is also intended to equip students with competencies that will enable them to successfully compete in the broader society, and aims to develop within students a passion for service (Education, p. 13). Yet the acquisition of a diploma or degree is really secondary when it comes to Adventist education. Primary to the endeavor is character formation and development, helping students to become independent thinkers, and getting them to embrace a Christian worldview that is grounded in the Holy Bible.

A partnership involving the home, church, and school, Adventist education begins long before children enroll in church school (Deut. 6:4-9). Indeed, schooling and education are not to be confused. Godly parents play a key role in the education of their children, and are to be viewed as educators themselves. Christian parents know that they should seek to help their children to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (The Adventist Home, pp. 297-301).

Equally important in the education of God’s children are Christian teachers, who truly serve in a pastoral role and are instruments of grace and reconciliation in and out of the classroom. The personal relationship that teachers have with Jesus Christ, the Center of Adventist education, qualifies them more than anything else to educate God’s children.Adventist education calls for vision and passion, as well as commitment and sacrifice, to achieve its mission. It requires unwavering commitment and courage, and it cannot succeed without the power and work of the Holy Spirit. It must be admitted that Adventist education is no longer the centrifugal force it once was in the denomination, as evidenced by enrollments that are spiraling downward and the multiple closings of schools nationwide. In our postmodern, post-Christian society the call of the church school has been muzzled and silenced, and today many Adventist schools are struggling to keep their doors open.

In How to Kill Adventist Education and How to Give it a Fighting Chance, Shane Anderson argues, rather persuasively, that the survival of Adventist schools depends on them becoming and remaining unapologetically Adventist. Anderson believes that Adventist schools are struggling because that which is distinctly Adventist has been discounted, and he contends that Adventist schools will flourish if we were to be unashamed about our mission and prophetic calling.

Currently, there are 7 schools in the Lake Region Conference school system, one being a K-12 school. We remain committed to the notion of Adventist education, viewing it as a distinct advantage, and we are currently exploring how we may strengthen and grow our schools. We thank God for our team of committed Christian teachers and principals, courageous school board members, dedicated Superintendent of Education, and parents and members who continue to believe in and support church schools.

In the end, Adventist schools are intended to contribute to the preparation of people for the soon return of Jesus Christ. Adventist pioneer Ellen G. White believed that the work of redemption and education are one and the same, and that school buildings are just as important as church buildings. Christian schools are theaters of redemption and reconciliation that, not surprisingly, the enemy of God wishes to close. We should not and cannot allow that to happen.

Why? Because Adventist education provides a distinct advantage!