Gwydyr Rd, Crieff, UK, PH7 4BS

Dear Friends

By the time you read this, it will be old news, but is still important to share.

In the Crieff church on Sabbath 23rd July, I heard the announcement that scores of young people on the island of Utøya in lock Tyrifjorden in Norway had been killed by a Norwegian gunman, dressed as a policeman. In the shock we did our best to pray for all those affected by this enormous tragedy.

The SDA high school in Norway is located a few miles from Utøya island. I have visited it and have friends who live in this beautiful area and feel with their shock as they come to terms with what the gunman, Anders Brevik, has done. Everyone there seems to know someone who has been affected by what seemed like mindless killing.

Naturally reporters have tried to understand what motivated Brevik to kill so many people. Some may suggest that he was badly affected by the consequences of his father leaving home at the age of one; but this is no excuse! My initial interpretation of his so called ‘manifesto’ is that he developed into an ardent racist and nationalist with a hatred for those who encouraged a pluralistic society. He not only hates Muslims, but he has attempted to start a ‘crusade’ against them, and those who promote so called ‘multiculturalism’.

A quick search of the internet shows how this hatred is easy to foster and it leads to death! Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan to attack such fatal attitudes in any society. We must be the champions of those of other races and religions who are attacked or victimised. That is why our church’s religious liberty department will fight legal cases defending the rights of SDA’s as well as those of other faiths whose religious liberty is threatened.

As Seventh-day Adventist Christians in Scotland, we join our Norwegian friends in condemning the atrocity in Oslo and Utøya. We also condemn hateful language of any sort that creates a fear of people who are different from us, whether they are Muslims, English, blacks, homosexuals, atheists, Roman Catholics or SDA’s with a different theological emphasis and we must do more than speak out, we must build bridges of friendship even with those of other faiths and lifestyles.

As I write this piece, I am in Romania with the Scottish Mission youth project to build a house for a desperately poor family with a disabled child. I will report more on this positive experience another time.  In the meantime if you want to see pictures of the progress, go to the Facebook page found by searching: Project Romania ’11 Scottish mission youth.

I will leave you with the words of Jesus that challenge us to a wider ministry of reconciliation! ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of God.’ (Matt 5:9)  I pray that God will empower us to be His peacemakers everywhere we go.

Pastor Bernie