By Dale Ratzlaff
The Gospel is growing in Ethiopia
Several years ago I mailed a box packed full of our books to Salfiso Kitabo in Ethiopia. After some time I received a letter stating that over 30 churches there had left the Adventist denomination. Then, about a year ago, I received a second letter stating that the number of churches which had left the denomination was about 80. I sent another box packed with books and DVDs. Today as I write this I received an email from Salfiso with updated information.
I will summarize the main points of Salfiso’s communication with me to give you an idea of what is happening within Adventism in Ethiopia.
According to Salfiso’s correspondence, Adventism is about 70 years old in Ethiopia. Salfiso’s father was among the first Ethiopian converts, and Salfiso and his nine siblings were all born into the religion. His dad resisted Salfio’s claims that Ellen White is not a prophet of God, but he finally was convinced of the truth, and he joined his son in leaving Adventism.
Salfiso went to grades one through 12 in Adventist schools and participated in Pathfinders, in Missionary Volunteers, and in church and school singing groups. He always questioned Ellen White’s teachings, but he thought his questions were sins, so he suppressed them. It was on December 15, 2008, while he was sitting in his office searching the internet to find information about Ellen White, that he stumbled upon the Truth or Fables website. There he found Walter Rae’s article “The Making of a Prophet: How Ellen white Turned Fiction into ‘Truth’”, republished from the March, 1987 issue of Adventist Currents produced by Mars Hill Publications.
Over 12,000 members leave Adventism
Adventism in Ethiopia is a stronghold and had not been seriously questioned prior to the discovery of the websites exposing Ellen White, but the organization had been meeting growing resistance because of its management practices. Websites exposing Adventism fueled the unrest among those who felt they could not question the organization because of its strong claims to be the remnant church and because of its indictment of any who chose to worship on Sunday.
Currently the number of churches that have defected from the Adventist organization are more than 86 with over 12,000 members. The challenge, as small congregations leave Adventism, is that the church buildings are owned by the Adventist organization [as they are everywhere]. The members raise the money and build the churches, but the local conference owns the titles to the real estate and the buildings. The Adventist organization is not allowing defecting congregations to remain in their buildings but is securing court orders to evict the people from the church-owned buildings.
In some cases, people—including Salfiso’s father—who have property are giving land to defected congregations so they can build church buildings for themselves. During the past three years, the number of churches leaving the organization has increased. Salfiso says the challenge he and others like him face is “making sure these defecting members really understand why they are leaving. Some leave because of the oppression they face; some follow the crowd, and others are informed of the truth. It is our mandate to make sure Adventist members in Ethiopia are clear about the wrong teachings of Adventism.”
Salfiso says one of their greatest needs is printed material (translated into Amheric if that is possible) such as my books exposing the truth about Adventism. In fact, I have sent Salfiso a large box of White Washed by Sydney Cleveland and my latest book Gospel Transformation. For those who have internet access, all of our eBooks are available to them free of charge.
Please join me in prayer for the Ethiopian people that they would fully understand the gospel of God’s saving grace in Christ and see the errors of Adventism and discern how Adventist teachings undermine the gospel. Pray that God will supply the necessary means for these brave people who are losing their church buildings to be able to build new ones.
The Gospel is growing in Jamaica
Recently, several pastors, an evangelist, and a professor from the Adventist Northern Caribbean University have left the Adventist church. These include Elce Lauriston, who has recently been on Jamaica TV and has authored the book All Foods are Clean and Every Day is the Sabbath, an in-depth study of the “days” in Romans 14 and Colossians 2. It is available on our website: www.ratzlaf.com (click on “Books”). Clinton Baldwin, PhD. who taught at the Adventist University recently published his book The Sabbath: More Than a Day—a Person. You can find it on Amazon. These men are skilled in discovering truth and are sharing it with others.
The gospel continues to grow in Australia
Tim and Trina Ward have been reading our materials for a number of years as well as doing their own investigation. Tim has done some research on Ellen White and her sources and has written a book entitled The Authors Versus the Testimonies—A Search for Truth. He had this book printed in Australia, and he tells me that it has helped a number of people in their search for truth. Tim just sent me a pdf file of this book and has consented to make it available on our website free of charge. Find it at: lifeassuranceministries.com (click on “Articles”). It is 62 pages in length.
The gospel continues to grow in the United States
Nearly every day I have someone who is not already in our data base contact me regarding our books, YouTube presentations, Proclamation!, questions on Adventism, or how to make a donation. We have been receiving inquiries from evangelicals and former members of the Worldwide Church of God. Some of these Christians are giving monthly donations to our ministry in support of Proclamation!.
Most of you know that we have had to limit the number of Proclamations! that we print and mail to only those who have financially supported this ministry or have personally requested to be on our mailing list. Some may think that our ministry is shrinking. It is not. True, there are some who have supported this ministry who no longer feel a need for it. We fully understand this phenomenon. Most have found a healthy Bible teaching church and now focus on their involvement with their local church. We would ask, however, that as others supported this ministry which helped you transition, that you consider continuing your support of this ministry as many new people are just starting their transition. You can help them as others helped you. While we may be cutting back the number of printed Proclamations!, the internet websites, blogs, emails, Facebook, YouTube, eBooks and the weekly email Proclamation! are expanding our ministry, reaching out to the whole world, something the printed version could never do.
Make the gospel available free of charge
Over and over again Paul made it clear that he wanted to make the gospel available free of charge and that has been our desire since the founding of Life Assurance Ministries. We praise God that Proclamation! is still free to anyone who wants to receive it. LAM Publications has sent hundreds of free books to those who cannot afford them. We continue to make our eBooks available free to those living in third world countries. I wish we could send free books to everyone everywhere! I agree with Paul when he wrote:
That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel (1 Cor. 9:18).
Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge? I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you; (2 Cor. 11:7-8).
The laborer is worthy of his wages
When Jesus sent out the 70 to proclaim the gospel He gave these instructions.
Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city (Lk. 10:1-12).
When Paul was writing to Timothy he included this instruction.
The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (1 Tim. 5:17-18).
Carolyn and I believe that God has called us “To proclaim the good news of the new covenant gospel of grace in Christ and to combat the errors of legalism and false religion.” We are thankful to share this work with Richard and Colleen Tinker, and we are grateful to the editorial staff that writes and edits faithfully for Proclamation! as well as for the weekly emails. We also praise God for the support and shared ministry we enjoy with the Life Assurance Ministries board of directors. We invite you to pray for us that we might make the gospel clear. Pray that God will supply the funds so that we might devote ourselves completely to this work. †