23 July 2019 | Zagrab, Croatia [Dragutin Matak]
Seventh-day Adventists live with mission in their heart. Early in our existence we felt compelled to share the Advent message far beyond the New England states of North America. Missionaries headed towards Europe, Africa, Asia and the furthest corners of the globe.
That is still happening, yet in the 21st century such mission takes on a different twist. For many, the ‘Mission field’ has come to us. As people of diverse backgrounds now live as our neighbours, we need to build bridges, develop friendships, and seek ways to share the positive biblical messages that we cherish.
For Croatian Adventists, an invitation to celebrate the end of Ramadam on 4 June 2019, became part of that process. Pastor Dragutin Matak, Secretary General of the Croatian Religious Liberty Association, attended a special Ramadan Bajram festival at the invitation of Dr Aziz ef Hasanović, mufti of the Islamic Religious Community in the Republic of Croatia.
Together with leading Croatian social workers, politicians, government officials, ambassadors, rectors and deans of higher education, and representatives of religious communities, Pastor Matak joined the feast hosted in the sumptuous hall of the West Inn Hotel, Zagreb.
In the spirit of Ramadan, all speakers emphasised the importance of ever better interpersonal relationships. Participants learnt that during Ramadan, from dawn to sunset, believers do not consume food and drink (including water), abstain from sexual relations and smoking tobacco. Particular importance is attached to the purity of thoughts and acts, so as to avoid any lie, blasphemy, and gossip, including lustful looks.
Following introductory greetings by mufti Aziz ef Hasanović, messages flowed thick and fast from the Mayor of Zagreb, the Vice Speaker of the Parliament, Academician Mr Željko Rajner, Prime Minister Mr Andrej Plenković, and the President of the Republic of Croatia, Mrs Kolinda Grabar Kitarović.
For Pastor Matak it was impressive to see that politicians, regardless of party differences, could sit together alongside ambassadors and representatives of various religious communities. “Such occasions merely bring people together, for after all, whether we admit it or not, God is our Creator and Parent, so we are all brothers and sisters,” he stated. “The closer we get to Him the closer we are to each other.”
For more on interfaith and interchurch relations, see a helpful booklet by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Public Affair and Religious Liberty department.
tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
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