From May 5–7, 2023, a consultative meeting of the directors of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Euro-Asia Division was held. The meeting was attended by the PARL director for the General Conference, Dr. Ganoune Diop.
In his speeches, Diop called the Seventh-day Adventist Church a church of hope. In a world where military conflicts are taking place today, the majority of the population is starving and experiencing economic difficulties, families are falling apart, people are experiencing loneliness, and the number of suicides is on the rise, the Adventist Church brings people hope for the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ, divine judgment, which will establish proper justice, and the kingdom of God, which belongs to all who repent and accept Christ as their Savior. Sermons and evangelistic programs should be filled with this hope, said Diop.
PARL is the oldest department of the Adventist Church. It was created at the end of the 19th century at the dawn of the church organization. Ellen White repeatedly stressed in her writings the importance of protecting religious freedom for the fulfillment of the mission of the church. In her works, much attention is paid to religious freedom at the end of time. Without religious freedom, the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the world today cannot be fulfilled. Not only the leaders of the PARL departments, but each pastor and member of the church has a place as a representative of Christ in this world. A special role is assigned to the heads of the department, who organize meetings with representatives of the administrative organizations.
Diop noted that one can often hear unfair accusations from members of the church against pastors who visit administrative representatives that they compromise the beliefs of the Adventist Church. However, this misunderstanding of the ministries of PARL leaders is easily refuted when one considers the principles of decision-making in the church. No church member or pastor may be the voice of the world church and may not speak or act on behalf of the entire organization. All decisions regarding interactions with representatives of other denominations, as well as other issues in the Adventist Church, are made collectively through the relevant committees and congresses of the General Conference.
Therefore, if one of the pastors meets with representatives of any other denomination, this does not mean the Adventist Church shares the worldview or religious beliefs of these entities, makes any unacceptable, unbiblical compromises, or enters into political or religious alliances with them. Meetings like this are needed to educate our community about the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists in order to assist in matters of religious freedom and the fulfillment of the mission of the church.
Without a dialogue with the leaders of society, including religious leaders, it is impossible to advance the great commission of Christ (see Matthew 28:19, 20) or assist in matters of religious freedom and the fulfillment of the mission of the church.
Diop called for the protection of religious freedom for all people, regardless of their religious or other beliefs. Adventism defends not only the Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists; it defends all people for whom Christ came into this world—for whom He suffered and sacrificed His life.
The Holy Scriptures contain many examples of God's diplomats, such as Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Paul. The most important example in this ministry for believers, of course, is Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus did not avoid contact with the authorities in His time, Roman soldiers, Greeks, or any other representatives of the surrounding nations. He came to their houses, shared bread with them, and often portrayed their faith as an example to God's people, which caused severe criticism from the Pharisees and Scribes.
Today, like Christ, every believer is God's diplomat and representative of Christ's kingdom. As in the time of Christ, today, this ministry is often subject to undeserved criticism and even persecution.
Diop spoke about the amazing experiences of his ministry in various countries of the world. He urged pastors to be active in organizing meetings with representatives of authorities and denominations while maintaining all the principles and beliefs of the Adventist Church.
Diop shared his plans to hold the International Festival of Religious Freedom in August 2023. The event, which takes place every five years, will this time be held at the General Conference headquarters. Representatives of all countries where the Adventist Church preaches today will come to the festival. The main purpose of this event is to inspire all those who work to defend the principles of religious freedom in this world as well as proclaim the principles of religious freedom of the Adventist Church to this world.
During the entire meeting, the PARL leaders, together with Dr. Diop, prayed, asking the Lord for help in resolving difficult issues in the territories included in the Euro-Asia Division.