I am God’s Favorite

I am God’s Favorite

Sep 25, 2017

by Clinton R. Brown Executive Director This year in June, I had the privilege to travel with Saul Alonzo, SDB pastor in the Washington, DC, area, to visit Christian brothers and sisters in Quito, Ecuador. The believers there have allied for the last several years to translate SDB Helping Hand materials from English into Spanish for their congregations in Ecuador. They publish the materials locally and export them to other Spanish- speaking SDB groups including some in the USA. The congregation in Quito was excited to have us and treated us like honored guests — caring for us, sharing with us, and giving us an opportunity to share some about our ministries and what is happening with SDB groups around the world. At one of our meals with some of the leadership, the conversation drifted to travel and they were curious as to where was my favorite place to visit in my ministry travels. As I began to explain that many of the locations have many positive attributes and were special in their own way, it reminded me of something one of the ladies in the Hopkinton SDB congregation in Ashaway shared with me. She recounted an experience where she was at a funeral of a relative and a pair of her young adult nephews came up to her. She hugged them and kissed them as she admired their sharp suits, and she told them that they were her favorites. They shrugged off the compliments with smiles and went and took their seats nearby. Soon after, two younger nephews approached her and she repeated the process including telling them that they were her “favorites.” Immediately one of the older nephews piped in, “Oh Aunt Susie, everyone is your favorite!” To that she responded, “Well, of course! All of you are my favorites!” It seemed ridiculous to the boys that their aunt would use “favorite” to identify each of them. However, she did not have a more concise way to express the feelings that she had about how she valued each of them in ways that made them uniquely prized and special to her. When she related that story to me, it made me think...

Gospel Feet 2017… Run for Hope!

Gospel Feet 2017… Run for Hope!

Aug 29, 2017

by Clinton R. Brown Executive Director   This year’s fifth annual Gospel Feet 5K Run was organized to raise funds to better enable SDB ministries across the globe to bring hope to people in their communities in desperate situations. The funds bring hope to the lost, food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, aid to the sick, and homes for children who have no one. This year’s 5K/1K Walk/Run had 58 participants. By the end of the General Conference meetings, $1,940 had been raised which the Missionary Society could use to partner in responding to needs near and far. Everyone who participated was a winner, but the first gentleman to cross the finish line this year was Seth Green. Not far behind him, our first place lady to complete the 5-kilometer run was Gabi Osborn. And our first to finish representing the Children’s Conference this year was Aaron Barbee. A big THANKS to all who participated, donated, and organized the event. It is an effort to which many contributed starting before the run began, and continues forward to bring the light of Hope in places of despair for God’s glory around the world....

No One is Outside the Mission

No One is Outside the Mission

Jun 23, 2017

by Clinton R. Brown Executive Director Our SDB leaders in the Cameroon have been working tirelessly over the last few years to bring the Gospel to the needy in their rural communities with medicine, food stuffs, clothing, shoes, and the Word of God. Though the material help is greatly appreciated, it is taking time for the message of salvation to penetrate the hearts of even the most desperate in the villages. The seeming lack of change among the people has apparently led to a little bit of discouragement. One of the leaders lamented to me that he felt many of the people there are just so uncivilized. So much so that the Gospel just was not able to gain a foothold in their backward hearts and minds. I understood his perspective, but was mildly amused at his assumption. I had done some genealogy research on my own family tree and subsequently missions and historical research on the Viking ancestors that I had come across. I remarked to him that my own family tree had roots that marauded and pillaged for their livelihood. My northern lands forefathers had been renowned as blood-thirsty savages and unscrupulous killers with no respect for the ways of God’s Kingdom. These uncivilized people, however, were conquered by the love of Christ. They took back Christian slaves and wives with their other plunder who carried within them the Gospel message. Eventually, this message converted those northern nations for a time to some of the most Christ-centered cultures in Europe. The idea that our God came with the power of salvation for only one people or another is not reflected in the Scriptures and diminishes the vision of what our objective should be and who our God is. The prophet Isaiah gave some insight to the bigger plans of God when he wrote to the Jewish people about the coming Messiah: [the LORD] says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”...

SDBs Gathered from Across the World – A Reflection on WorldFed 2017

SDBs Gathered from Across the World – A Reflection on WorldFed 2017

May 22, 2017

by Garfield Miller, Missions Coordinator I was privileged, in January 2017, to attend the 8th Session of the Seventh Day Baptist World Federation (SDBWF) held in Curitiba, Brazil, under the theme “The Kingdom of God is Like…” Permit me to reflect on that global gathering of SDBs. The Kingdom of God can be considered as a spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of those who willingly acknowledge the Lordship of Christ and surrender to God’s authority. This implies unity, kinship (therefore love), much like we experienced in Brazil. The Brazilian Seventh Day Baptist (SDB) Conference invited SDBWF delegates to attend their Family Conference, immediately preceding the World Federation Sessions, at the same venue. It was undeniably a wonderful experience, as they accepted us from different parts of the globe freely and openly. That kind of atmosphere promotes kingdom principles, and is a great ethos for the transmission of the evangelism and missions messages. What can we learn from the Brazilians? The SDBWF started with the dream of two SDBs — Gerben Zijlstra (Netherlands) and Everett Harris (USA) — to institute an association of SDBs around the world, resulting in its establishment in 1965. At the 2017 Session, we had the treat of interacting with two of the founding delegates; Rev. Jacob Tyrrell (Guyana) and Rev. Naval Harley (Jamaica). We don’t have to look too far across the member conferences to see the invaluable contribution the SDBWF has been making to the progress of SDBs globally. For many delegates, being at the Sessions confirmed for us our part in something bigger and not just in our individual corners of the world. Meeting with other SDB nationalities brought an energy that propelled many conversations and interactions, affirming self-value, re-igniting commitment to the mission of God. Fellowshipping with persons speaking different languages prompted me to think about the Babel Tower account in Genesis 11 — the dividing of mankind through languages — and the coming of the unifying force of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit played the role to empower, educate and unite in righteousness, and the congregation of SDBs in Brazil was for a similar reason: to empower us...

Family of Faith in Sierra Leone…No Matter What

Family of Faith in Sierra Leone…No Matter What

Apr 25, 2017

by Clinton Brown, Executive Director of SDB Missions Keep Mattia and our brethren in Sierra Leone in your prayers In April, I had the privilege of traveling with David Johnson to visit our Seventh Day Baptist brothers and sisters in Sierra Leone, Africa. They have had many struggles in their ministry work, particularly in recent years. I was originally scheduled to visit them two years ago, but an outbreak of Ebola in the region motivated the Missionary Society Board to postpone my visit. Seventh Day Baptists there were separated from their families by quarantine and sometimes death due to the disease. We helped by sending support received at the Society for necessary cleaning supplies to eliminate the virus in homes where there may have been contamination, thus preventing continued spread. Leading their ministry is Francis Mattia, a pastor and their conference president. Mattia has faced steep challenges and even persecution in Sierra Leone for his convictions as a Seventh Day Baptist. His wife’s father was a pastor in another Sabbath-keeping denomination. That group in Sierra Leon received much more financial assistance from overseas. Before she died in a car accident, Mattia’s wife had gone back to stay with her family in protest of Francis’ commitment to our family of faith. This is not the first sacrifice Mattia has experienced. About seven years ago, Kirk Looper planned to go to western Africa to meet in Guinea with a developing group of believers. A conflict of schedule forced him to change his plans. Mattia agreed to go from neighboring Sierra Leone to represent SDBs and encourage the new group in Guinea. While there, civil unrest erupted and Mattia was injured as the conflicts raged through the streets of the capital, Conakry. Breaking ground at the Maranatha Conference Distributing Ebola prevention supplies Francis Mattia of Sierra Leone Mattia recovered, but about two years later, the Sierra Leone SDBs went into partnership with the local government to establish and maintain a school for children. An SDB church member and the nephew of Mattia was appointed treasurer of the project and responsible for the finances of the partnership. The nephew and a friend succumbed to temptation when several thousands...

Whose Kingdom Are We Building?

Whose Kingdom Are We Building?

Mar 23, 2017

by Clinton R. Brown Executive Director This is the heart of the question we were contemplating with our SDB brethren in the Cayman Islands as they shared their vision for a permanent Seventh Day Baptist presence on Grand Cayman. The challenge is that those in the group there are primarily Jamaican visiting workers on temporary visas. They typically can stay for a few years then have to leave the country for a year to “reset” their status, and then can apply to come back and work. This means the leadership has to pass the baton as members are regularly forced to step away because of immigration issues. Their experience has been that the work goes slowly building their community of believers because they spend a good amount of attention on transition efforts. They also feel they are working with a disadvantage since they would expect the Cayman natives to be unreceptive to their ministry work because they hold the social position of foreign temporary workers in their society. They feel one way to overcome some of that stigma for their congregation is to call a pastor or missionary from a respected industrialized nation, like the USA or Canada, to bring credibility to their faith and practices. The first problem we identified was the lack of capable ministers willing to leave their careers and congregations to go for an extended amount of time and try to draw and disciple Caymanians to become leaders of an SDB church in the islands. The existing members confessed that they were all motivated to come to the Caymans primarily for economic advantage — not as a ministry calling. This was understandable. Then we realized that we had not been talking about what God wanted for this congregation, but what we wanted. We were interested in His timing and provision for our plans to have a permanent home for SDBs coming over to work from Jamaica. Now some of the congregation members began to sense that maybe God’s plan for their work is to identify the needs they can best address from their current abilities. They felt it was possible they might need to be focusing on reaching others in...