Developing tensions in the Middle East are viewed with concern by Seventh-day Adventist leaders, said Larry Colburn, assistant to the president of the world church.
“We are an international Christian organization, established in nearly every country of the world,” Colburn said. “It is only natural for a Christian community to be concerned about the human dimension of any conflict, our own believers and everyone that may be affected. When a conflict develops, innocent people are affected.”
The Adventist Church has international personnel, including many volunteers, involved with the church’s missionary activities, humanitarian work and administration. Some live in areas that are considered high-risk because of internal or regional strife.
Speaking to Adventist News Network, Colburn said that should the current conflict with Iraq escalate, church leadership is evaluating emergency procedures, including evacuation of personnel, and other potentially adverse effects on the church and its activities internationally.
Colburn said that with each emergency posing different options to consider, “an international team, including representatives from our world divisions, is in place to deal with each situation. We consult often, and consider carefully what response to make, and what procedures to follow.”
“We pray, but we also plan ahead in order to be ready for emergency situations that may require special attention,” he said. “While we do well to be prepared, as a Christian community we should continue to pray that the winds of strife would be calmed and the conflict will not develop into tragic consequences, often beyond control. War is always the worst option.
“As Seventh-day Adventists we continue to express a position of solving issues through nonviolent ways. As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers,” he added.
Last year the Adventist Church’s Executive Committee issued a position statement entitled “A Seventh-day Adventist Call for Peace.” The statement condemned all forms of violence and terrorism, and called on Adventists to be “agents of peace,” and to promote a culture of peace and reconciliation in today’s increasingly violent world. “Lasting answers to deep problems of division in society cannot be achieved by using violent means,” the statement said.