Maybe you heard about it--International Women’s Day. In case you didn’t know or hadn’t heard about it, it was yesterday, March 8, 2023.
Admittedly, it is strange for a man to be writing about women’s day, but please read on.
A day to celebrate women was born out of the labour movement in the USA when thousands of women marched through New York in 1908, demanding the right to vote, better pay and shorter working hours. Over the next three years, the idea developed and took on an international flavour. The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
Over a century later, you’d think that a day would no longer be needed to highlight the injustice, abuse and restrictions placed on women, but that’s not the case. Perhaps, in 2023, we need 365 days, not just one.
Yes, we are aware of severe restrictions and control placed on women in places like Afghanistan, Iran and elsewhere. Slavery, especially the sexual slavery of women, is rampant in our world. Evil people exploit vulnerable women everywhere, but we often close our eyes and our mouths because we think it’s only happening elsewhere or we can’t do anything about it. Meanwhile, in our own society, there are high levels of discrimination and obstruction that women daily have to overcome.
It wasn’t until my daughters moved into young adulthood and they related to me what they had to deal with in the workplace that I began to get a new perspective of a little of what women have to face. Being young women of colour further compounded the challenges they faced. I heard their pain, frustration and disappointment, but also their resolve. Like most women, they were still determined to thrive.
While society may place obstacles in the life of women, the church promises not only a refuge from discrimination and abuse but also hope. It is a hope that as followers of Jesus, those within the church will treat them with the same love that describes God. Instead, too often, they have to confront worse discrimination as some believers attempt to use the Bible to support their misogyny.
Some passionately believe that God made women less than men, even though the Bible is clear that Adam and Eve were both made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Sure, one consequence of sin was that Adam would rule over Eve, but when Jesus died on Calvary, He broke the power of sin over us. Males and females, saved through the blood of Jesus, can celebrate restoration and equality before Him.
Since God Himself created us equal, who are we then, to contradict Him and treat our sisters, mothers and daughters as if they are of lesser value to Him? The church must be the place where justice, equality and dignity are practised. Otherwise, how can it fulfil its God-given responsibility to speak out against injustice and wrong in society and in our world?
I want my church to be credible. What about you?
Virtual VBS Training
On Sunday, March 5th, the Children’s Ministries Department conducted our annual Vacation Bible School (VBS) training for ministry leaders across Ontario, under the theme “The Way.” Our day’s theme drew from a popular Bible verse—Proverbs 22:6, CSB: “Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
The virtual format of this training allowed for nearly fifty attendees from churches around the province. The day's training was made complete with a series of informative presentations, courtesy of several members of our Children’s Ministries Advisory team, in addition to a few willing volunteers. The list of presentations included “Preparing for VBS” by Cameile Henry of the Downsview church, “Conducting a Successful VBS” by Denisa Zita of the Bowmanville church, and two separate sessions on Best Practices for VBS Health and Safety led by our very own Dr. Maria McClean and Kevin Benta.
“I enjoyed the VBS training as both an attendee and presenter,” said Henry. “It is always interesting and inspiring to hear from fellow SDA Christians who facilitate experiences for our children. Hearing the voices of others virtually seeking strategies for outreach to our community’s children is invigorating. Our children are truly blessed to have enthusiastic and knowledgeable leaders.”
We Give God thanks for a successful and insightful training session, and pray that with His guidance, our leaders will continue the admirable work of winning young soul for Christ.
If you were unable to attend the training, please find content from the session online at www.adventistontario.org under Children’s Ministries.
Adventist News Network (ANN)
Adventist Global Children’s Day 2023
An opportunity for children worldwide to be agents of love
and disciples of “I Will Go!”
United States | Angelica Sanchez, ANN
9 March 2023
It is often said that children are the future of the Church. With a recorded global population of over two million children under the age of 15 attending Seventh-day Adventist churches in 2021*, the growth and development of these children, undeniably impact the future of the Adventist movement. Even at a young age, Christ invites children to be agents of His love to the world.
The Adventist Church is gearing up to celebrate Global Children's Day on March 18, 2023. During this annual event held every third Sabbath in March, “Thousands of children from around the World Church will engage in acts of service in their local communities,” said Dr. Orathai Chureson, General Conference Children’s Ministries director. This year’s theme is “Love is a Verb.”
This annual celebration is an opportunity to acknowledge the worth of children and the important role they play in the Church, Christ’s mission, and the world at large.
Chureson added, “This day provides children with the opportunity to engage in compassion ministry and service, spreading the love of God to their friends and neighbours and contributing to the proclamation of the everlasting Gospel.”
Agents of Love
God’s sacrificial love is a major theme throughout Scripture (1 John 4:8). Chureson notes, “Love is about action.” However, children are generally “self-focused,” she added. For this reason, she emphasized the significance of teaching children about God’s love and giving them numerous practical opportunities to demonstrate it to others.
“Children, as Jesus’ disciples and Christians, are to be inculcated with a Christian mindset, taught of God’s love, and are to learn to love in a sacrificial manner, even though their limited ways of witnessing and selfless service to others, [the] church, and [the] community so that they may grow in the stature as well as in the right spirit,” she said.
Chureson elaborates, “These desirable characters need to be given opportunities to develop through hands-on experiences, reinforcing and confirming good feelings or joy in doing something purposeful and pleasing to God.”
Therefore, the Adventist Church is encouraging its members to celebrate Global Children’s Day by identifying a need within their local communities and involving children to help satisfy the need in meaningful ways. For example, donating clothes and toys to those in need, or participating in a community clean-up effort are some examples of service activities local churches can organize.
Since this celebration coincides with the Adventist Church’s Global Youth Day, Chureson also points out that many churches join their youth to engage in service.
Global Children’s Ministries 2023 resource. [Photo: Provided by the General Conference Children’s Ministries department.]
The package includes memory verses for children to learn during the week, feature talks, suggested activities, activities for adults to share and connect with children, and a sermon that can be acted out to inspire children toward service.
In years prior, countless congregations throughout the world have organized meaningful service activities for children to participate in. Chureson explains that children worldwide have visited orphanages and children with special needs for Global Children’s Day, distributing gifts and essential items to the children they met. While others visited the elderly in their local communities, befriending them and offering to help with household chores.
Chureson adds that other Adventist children clean their local church and pick up trash in their local communities and many local churches have reported collecting and distributing clothing through a clothing drive.
“Several children have sacrificed their savings to buy necessities and food for others in need,” states Chureson.
From the Sabbath School program to divine service, Chureson notes that local churches should centre Global Children’s Day around “selfless service” to those in their local communities.
As the Adventist Church increases efforts towards reaching every corner of our ever-changing world with the Gospel, Christ invites the Church’s youngest members to become involved in His mission. Let us encourage and empower our children to proclaim, “I Will Go,” and be a disciple of Jesus on Global Children’s Day and throughout the rest of the year.
Learn more about Global Children’s Day and find a promotional video and materials here.
*According to the 2021 Children’s Ministries Statistical Report yet to be published by the Office of Adventist Statistics and Research.