IMS PUBLISHING ASSN.
625 West Avenue
Cedartown, GA 30125
It was not yet completely light on Friday as we walked to the large tent that had been erected for the Friday and Sabbath services. In addition to the presentation of the newly elected officers, Sabbath preparation and photography were on the program for Friday.
Pastor Carlos Lopez read Jeremiah 6:16: “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” A common saying is, “All roads lead to Rome,” meaning that it doesn’t matter what path one follows; he will end up in the same place, no matter what.
But the above Bible verse contradicts such ideas. God has placed signs showing the right way to go, and the promise is that rest will be the result. Regardless, rebellious Israel at the time of Jeremiah and mankind in general defy this godly instruction. The Lord asks, “Where are you going, and why?” He places stop signs in strategic places and especially at crossroads to keep anyone who will listen from the danger of the path he is traveling.
Jesus’ cry was, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Over and over again, the same warning is sounded. The meetings we are attending give the church an opportunity to stop and reconsider its spiritual condition.
We are in danger, for new theology is permeating the religious world and Adventism. All of the basic landmarks are being corrupted or obliterated. It is totally foolish to put away old standards that are based on universal principles and God’s law. We should not be surprised at this, because Satan wears a mask to hide his evil purposes. Meanwhile, signs in the natural are warning people everywhere to pay attention to God’s “old paths” and “good way” so they will be safe in the day of trouble.
PRESENTATION OF INCOMING OFFICERS
The outgoing General Conference President, Pastor Idel Suarez, Jr., welcomed all participants with the words, “The grace of Jesus Christ be with you.” This gathering in Italy is a joyful one as it commemorates five hundred years of Reformation–the time since Martin Luther stunned the religious world by posting his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Approximately 125 delegates met for two weeks to discuss proposals, make resolutions, and elect new officers. The organization has baptized members in 135 countries, and people are waiting for baptism in 20 additional countries
In Isaiah 11:1, 2 is a listing of the seven qualities that will be given to those who are led by the Holy Spirit: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” We pray that these qualities will fill the new officers.
Pastor Suarez called the new officers to the front one by one. They will serve for five years, 2017-2022. Also elected were officers for the Divisions, Ministries, and Departments.
President – Tzvetan Petkov (Bulgaria/U.S.A.)
Vice President – Humberto Avellaneda Blanco (Colombia)
First Secretary – Douglas Francis (Sri Lanka)
Second Secretary – Yony Delgado Cotrina (Peru)
Treasurer – Evance Mtikama (Malawi)
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE – The five officers listed above
GENERAL CONFERENCE FULL COMMITTEE
The five officers listed above, plus:
Jose Vicente Giner Hernandez (Switzerland) (Social Ministry Leader)
Idel Suarez, Jr. (U.S.A.) (Ministerial Committee Leader)
Morris Lowe (Canada) (Help Ministry Leader)
Pablo Hunger (Austria/U.S.A.) (North American/Caribbean Division Leader)
Francesco Caputo (Italy) (European Division Leader)
Anton Salavyov (Bulgaria/Australia) (Oceania Division Leader)
Alfred Ngwenya (Zimbabwe) (African Division Leader)
Danilo Lopes Monterroso (Guatemala) (Latin American Division Leader)
Roland De La Paz (Philippines) (Asian Division Leader)
Elijah Zwane (Swaziland/Madagascar) (African Division Vice President)
North American/Caribbean Division
President – Pablo Hunger
Vice President – Idel Suarez, Jr.
Secretary – Teofilo Palacios
Treasurer – Morris Lowe
Member – George Gowie
President – Francesco Caputo
Vice President – Jose Vicente Giner Hernandez
Secretary – Vladimire Marinov
Treasurer – Stefano La Corte
Member – Adalicio Fontes Souza
President – Anton Salavyov
Vice President – Andrie Jules Kalengkongan
Secretary – Sanaila Ravia Kenivale
Treasurer – Michael Graham Brewer
Member – Tony William
President – Alfred Ngwenya
Vice President – Elijah Zwane
Secretary – Sevith Moyo
Treasurer – Parmenas Shirima
Member – Bright Fue
Member – Leonardo Jastiva
Member – James Mbaka
Latin American Division
President – Danilo Valdemar Lopez Monterroso
Vice President – Luis Mestanza
Secretary – Alfredo Carmelo Fisicaro
Treasurer – Manolo Najera
Member – Lauro Clever de Souza Vasconcelos
Member – Rafael Angel Acuña Sanchez
Member – Argemiro Astudillo
President – Roland De La Paz
Vice President – Arnolfo Cortez
Secretary – Mathivannan Sypherion
Treasurer – Yujie Wang
Member – Ruben David
HELP MINISTRY Leader – Morris Lowe (Health Department Leader)
Good Samaritan Department – Stefano La Corte
Health Department – Morris Lowe
Architecture/Engineering Department – Edison Martinez
MISSIONARY MINISTRY Leader – Pablo Hunger (Evangelism Leader)
Evangelism Department – Pablo Hunger
Publishing Department – Raquel Orce
Canvassing Department – Joel Barnedo
Multimedia Department – Jose Fernando Leon
SOCIAL MINISTRY Leader – Jose Vicente Giner Hernandez (Youth Department Leader)
Family Department – Adalicio Fontes Souza
Education Department – Margaret Seely
Youth Department – Jose Vicente Giner Hernandez
Ministerial Department – Idel Suarez, Jr. (U.S.A.)
Evangelism Department – Pablo Hunger (Austria/U.S.A.)
Canvassing Department – Joel Barnedo (Philippines/U.S.A.)
Youth Department – Jose Vicente Giner Hernandez (Switzerland)
Health Department – Morris Lowe (Canada)
Good Samaritan – Stefano La Corte (Italy)
Publishing Department – Raquel Orce (Spain/U.S.A.)
Education Department – Margaret Seely (U.S.A.)
Family Department – Adalicio Fontes Souza (Portugal)
Multimedia Department – Jose Fernando Leon (Mexico/Italy)
Civil Engineer/Architect – Edison Smit Guerrero Martinez (Peru)
Idel Suarez, Jr.
Orlando Florez Moreno
Alfredo Carmelo Fisicaro
Wendy Araujo (Venezuela)
Beatriz de Cabrera (Venezuela)
Linda Kolyn (Canada)
Jenifer Campos (Costa Rica)
Marvin Giron (Guatemala)
Maria Oliva Peña
Pastor Idel Suarez, Jr., charged Pastor Tzvetan Petkov and then all of the newly elected officers with upholding the doctrines of Scripture, the Principles of Faith, the Church Manual, and the Ministerial Manual for the protection and advancement of God’s cause in the earth. He called forward two past General Conference presidents, Henry Andrade (1993-1997) and Antonino Di Franca (1997-2002), to greet the new officers. There are now three past General Conference presidents alive.
Pastor Tzvetan Petkov spoke a few words, stating that we think, but God carries out everything according to His will. He read Philippians 2:3: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” We are all equal before God, therefore we need to resist the temptation to consider ourselves better than another. If we strive for anything, let it be to have the mind of Christ.
THE SECOND COMING
Pastor Humberto Avellaneda Blanco stressed that the teaching of Jesus’ second coming is the main theme of the Scriptures. The promises of redemption and restoration were given to Adam and Eve when they left Eden, and ministers of the gospel presented it down through time to the first advent. Enoch, Moses, Isaiah, and Jesus Himself preached those things, and the angels who stayed behind when the Saviour ascended to heaven said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11.
Jesus’ promise in Revelation 22:20–“Surely I come quickly”–sustained the thousands of people who gave up their lives to defend the Bible as the sole source of truth. The reformers were ready to enter the tomb and be resurrected at the last day; they were moved by the hope of seeing their loving Lord. They were attacked and persecuted in many different ways but clung to the pillars that stand as firm as the eternal hills.
Jesus’ coming is nearer than when we first believed. What God wants of His people today, as in the time of Noah, is to practice and preach the present truth. He will come, and will not tarry. Let us practice the patience of the saints, knowing that giving our lives now will result in saving them for eternity.
Pastor Francesco Caputo presented eight candidates for baptism, expressing his great joy that they had chosen to follow God’s way. Often especially young people look for things that are far away from God, thinking that making their own choices will make them happy. But this is not so. The things of earth are temporary, and life can change and even end very quickly, with eternal consequences. We are here in this world for just a moment. The prodigal son discovered for himself the follies and dangers of going away from his father; he came to the point where even pigs would not share their food with him.
Without God's righteousness, the every person has nothing. The day came when the prodigal son made the best decision of his life: "I will go back to my father." That was the most beautiful moment. He was dead, for when one is far from God, he is dead. The father welcomed him and covered his rags with the best robe, representing justification, or imputed righteousness. Imparted righeousness–sanctification–followed, for everyone needs to work constantly and take good care of his own character. The most important decision in one's life is to choose to go home; it is a covenant between him and God, who promises always to be with him.
Everyone walked to the beach for the baptism. It was a little windy, and the waves were strong enough to knock someone over. However, the four pastors successfully laid the candidates in the watery grave, after which we returned to the big tent, where the hand of fellowship welcomed each person into the fellowship of God's family.
The afternoon was devoted to Sabbath preparation and taking official conference photos.
THE GREAT GOSPEL COMMISSION
For the Sabbath beginning service, Pastor Pablo Hunger, the incoming Evangelism Department leader, stated that the reason we were at this conference was because we have received a commission from the Lord. A lady in Mexico City was in a building with several stories when an earthquake struck. She was caught between two floors in a small space that was totally dark. She waited for 36 hours and was then rescued. Now she says that she had two birthdates. Disasters of different kinds are increasing around the world, along with political problems and strife.
Just as the lady was in the dark and could only wait to be rescued, thousands of people are in spiritual darkness, waiting for someone to show them the light. Every believer needs to work as a reformer to preach the message of the gospel and Jesus’ soon return–to shine heavenly light into darkened minds and hearts.
Why has Jesus not yet come? He will not come until the church is fulfilling the gospel commission, for which the Spirit of God is required. But we cannot wait for the latter rain; the time to proclaim the truth for this time is now. Hold on, for Satan wants to destroy the church. Hold onto your wife, children, family neighbors, and fellow believers, being willing to suffer and be a light to those who are lost.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16, 17.
THE HEALTH MESSAGE
Pastor Morris Lowe, the incoming Health Department Leader, repeated the principle that the health message cannot be separated from the gospel. The brethren desire to break down prejudice through introduction of those heavenly principles that need to be followed and preached.
Health is defined as the state of complete physical, mental, and social well being, not just the absence of disease or infirmity, and God wants His people to be blessed and to represent Him properly to others. The diseases of modern society come from different causes, including improper diet, inadequate hygiene, environmental factors, and failure to get adequate sleep. There are also social factors that cause people to be sick, such as the home environment, social standards or lack of them, education, unemployment, and constant stress.
The Health Department is requesting that every health professional in the church send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org as the Health Department seeks to develop an army of medical missionaries.