Harvey Alférez, Ph.D
Data Scientist, School of Engineering and Technology, Montemorelos University, Mexico
It is amazing to read about the achievements made by the pioneers of the Protestant Reformation, heroes of faith, who defended their beliefs even in the darkest and most challenging times. They fought spiritual battles in order to bring light to the lives of many who had hunger of Truth.
Today, even when we have easy access to information by the Internet, TV, and other media, there are still so many who do not know about the beauty of the Adventist message while drowning in a sea of misinformation. As “Adventist geeks” , we have been called to be technology reformers who use and develop technologies no matter barriers or limitations in order to show them Jesus and His great plan of salvation in an attractive and practical way.
Specifically, this column presents three aspects found in the lives of Nehemiah, a tremendous leader, and three early reformers, Martin Luther, William Tyndale and John Knox, that are worthy of imitation in our mission as technology reformers.
1. The first aspect we can find when studying the lives of religious leaders is a daily communion with God by a life of prayer and study of the scriptures. Let's recall Nehemiah. When he heard that his brethren had a great affliction, the wall of Jerusalem was broken down, and the gates were burned with fire, he prayed before God for this situation, not just for a day, but during “certain days” (Nehemiah 1:4). He also prayed before talking to the king Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2:4), under conspiracy (Nehemiah 4:9), and in times of distress (Nehemiah 5:19).
Just as Nehemiah, Luther dedicated long hours in prayer . During the Diet of Worms, an important milestone in the history of the Reformation, “the light of Heaven illuminated his countenance” , just like Stephen when was being stoned (Acts 6:15). John Knox, a Scottish clergyman and leader of the Protestant Reformation, was also a man of prayer. Writing about Knox, Ellen G. White mentions: “Thus he kept to his purpose, praying and fighting the battles of the Lord, until Scotland was free” .
The grand principle maintained by early reformers “was the divine authority and sufficiency of the sacred Scriptures” , as testified by Luther's words at the Diet of Worms: “I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God” .
Now, let me ask: Do you have a life of prayer? Have you offered your technology talents to God in prayer so He can use them? Have you asked God to give you the opportunities and resources to help His Church with technology projects? How much time do you spend studying the Bible per day?
2. The second constant in the lives of spiritual leaders is passion to accomplish an important task. Every spiritual leader has something important to accomplish: Nehemiah was called to restore Jerusalem, Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation, Tyndale translated the Bible into English, and Knox led the Protestant Reformation in Scotland.
All of them work with a great passion to accomplish what God had put in their minds, no matter persecution or death. Nehemiah led vigorously the reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem and carried out many reforms in Judea, despite opposition. Luther was an “ardent and zealous, fearless and bold, in reproving sin and advocating the truth. He cared not for wicked men or devils; he knew that he had One with him mightier than they all” . Tyndale replied to an angry Catholic doctor, “I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost!” [5, 6]. John Knox “feared not the face of man. The fires of martyrdom, blazing around him, served only to quicken his zeal to greater intensity. With the tyrant's ax held menacingly over his head, he stood his ground, striking sturdy blows on the right hand and on the left, to demolish idolatry” .
I invite you to define clear goals and projects to support the Adventist mission with technology. For example, think about the problems you can help to solve with the construction of websites or mobile applications. Remember to define goals with settled deadlines. Do not despair or weaken if there are obstacles on the way because God will go with you! (Joshua 1:9).
3. A technological preparation guided by God is the third aspect I want to mention. As technology geeks, we are eager to learn about technologies and find optimal solutions to real problems. We love to read about the latest gadgets and scientific researches. Some have graduated with a major in IT and others have gained technological knowledge by self-learning. No matter the situation, there is a high probability that if you are reading this column is because you love technology and want to use your IT knowledge for the good of the Adventist mission. I am completely sure that you have had a technological preparation because God has guided you in this direction!
During the centuries God has provided special training to spiritual leaders. Let us recall the case of Moses who was educated in the best Egyptian schools and while tending the flocks of Jethro in Midian. Daniel was brought to the king's palace to lean the language and literature of the Babylonians. Nehemiah had the preparation to be in an influential position where he could work in favor of his people. Luther was a Doctor of Theology, Tyndale studied in Oxford University and in the University of Cambridge, and Knox studied at the University of St. Andrews. No matter what level of preparation on IT you may have, use it for the Lord! Learn more, multiply your talents and God will use them for the good of His Church (Matthew 25:21).
God is calling you today to be a technology reformer: Be brave, passionate and hardworking. Let's be His co-workers in this important task in a world which needs you: “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37, 38).
Dr. Harvey Alférez is a professor at the School of Engineering and Technology, Universidad de Montemorelos, Mexico. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science (Summa Cum Laude) from Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain). His research interests include Data Science and Big Data. He has contributed to publications in top journals, book chapters, and international conferences (Scopus h-index: 6). Dr. Alférez enjoys playing the piano and family time with his wife, Doris, and sons, Johan and Daniel. His personal website is: www.harveyalferez.com
1. Alférez, Harvey. (2010). “Looking for Adventist Geeks.” Retrieved July 5, 2010, from http://www.spectrummagazine.org/blog/2010/06/22/looking_adventist_geeks
2. Bainton, Roland. (1995). Here I Stand: a Life of Martin Luther. New York: Penguin.
3. White, Ellen. (1947). The Story of Redemption. Review and Herald Publishing Association.
4. Brecht, Martin. (1996). “Luther, Martin,” in Hillerbrand, Hans J. (ed.) Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation. New York: Oxford University Press.
5. Lecture by Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB MA (Oxon) STL LSS. Retrieved July 2, 2010, from http://users.ox.ac.uk/~sben0056/Tyndale.London.htm
6. Foxe's Book of Martyrs, Chap XII. Retrieved July 2, 2010, from http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Martyrs/Chapter_XII