News Odds 'n Ends . . . mostly odds

Oakwood University Church Gives Humanitarian Award to Magic Johnson

Adventist News Network reports that on May 14, the Oakwood University Church honored Earvin "Magic" Johnson and his wife, Earlitha "Cookie" Johnson, with its "Humanitarian of the Year" award for 2016.  Carlton Byrd, the senior pastor of the church, lauded the Johnsons’ commitment to philanthropy.  “Brother ‘Magic’ and Sister ‘Cookie’ have done so much,” said Byrd. “It is important for our young people to be . . . exposed to people who are making a positive difference.”

Carlton Byrd and Magic Johnson

Johnson donated $500,000 to the Oakwood University Church Family Life Center and created a $50,000 scholarship in his mother’s name for students attending Oakwood University.

Johnson was born in Lansing, Michigan, to hard-working and morally solid parents.  His mother, Christine, is a committed Seventh-day Adventist, while his father, Earvin Sr., is a Baptist. 

Johnson attended Michigan State University, where he led the Spartans to an NCAA national championship, defeating Larry Bird's theretofore unbeaten Indiana State Sycamores, in an epic confrontation.  The rivalry begun in that game continued into the NBA--as Johnson went to the Los Angeles Lakers and Bird to the Boston Celtics, the league's two leading franchises. The rivalry spurred both men to basketball greatness and cemented the popularity of professional basketball.  Johnson led the Lakers to five NBA championships, and led the first men's USA Olympic basketball team in which professionals were allowed, the 1992 "Dream Team," to a Gold Medal.

In his autobiography, Johnson writes that longtime Laker center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a convert to Islam, was a fan of his mother's (Christine Johnson's) cooking, especially her sweet-potato pies. "Because Mom was a Seventh-Day Adventist, Kareem could be confident that nothing she cooked or baked contained pork. That meant a lot to him, and at one point, when he needed to hire a cook, he called Mom for advice. It wasn't long before Kareem, too, began looking forward to our annual trip to Michigan."

Johnson's NBA career ended abruptly in 1991, when he announced his retirement, and announced that he had contracted the AIDS virus.  Johnson began a course of treatment, experimental at that time, consisting of a cocktail of anti-retroviral drugs.  He continues to need daily medication, but has successfully kept the virus under control.  The Johnson's family foundation, The Magic Johnson Foundation, promotes AIDS education and awareness, subsidizes AIDS testing, and grants scholarships, among other charitable outreach.

Much like fellow basketball great Michael Jordan (but unlike many professional athletes, a surprising percentage of whom go bankrupt), Magic Johnson has successfully parlayed his sports celebrity into a lucrative post-sports career as a businessman and entrepreneur.  His net worth is about $500 million dollars, making him, by one estimate, the tenth richest black man in the world.

In accepting the Oakwood award, Johnson noted that his sisters had attended the university:  "My family has gone to this beautiful university. My mother made sure my sisters had no choice but to go to Oakwood,” he said, “and as a result, many of my family members were blessed to attend and graduate from Oakwood.”

“I used to be a point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, had those little shorts on, and I was doing my thing. I was happy, but I wasn’t fulfilled," said Johnson. "So now I am a point guard for the Lord.”

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Effort to Kill Religious Exemption Narrowly Defeated in House of Representatives

In 2014, President Obama, who seems to believe that he is His Royal Highness, King Barack I, issued an executive order prohibiting federal contractors--any private company that contracts with the federal government--from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  The executive order did NOT include any religious exception or exemption, even though the federal government awards more than 2,000 contracts to religious organizations every year.  In other words, even religious organizations that contract with the federal government would be forced, by Obama's personal decree, to hire gays and cross-dressers. 

Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a defense appropriations bill that included an amendment providing a religious exemption to Obama's personal decree for any "religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution, or religious society."  In other words, the bill puts in a religious exemption for those religious organizations that want to uphold their moral standards in their employment practices. 

Wednesday Night, Rep. Sean Maloney, an openly gay Democrat from New York, offered an amendment that would have stripped out the exemption from Obama's executive order.  It looked like Maloney's amendment was going to pass Thursday morning, and was ahead by 217 to 206 (218 is a majority of the 435-member House) when the time for voting expired.  But Republicans held the voting open and at least 5 Republicans switched their vote; Maloney's measure failed 212 to 213.  The Democrats were scandalized, and cried, "shame, shame, shame."  Democrats believe that only Democrats are allowed to pull sneaky stunts like keeping voting open, or passing substantive legislation on budgetary reconciliation

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Groundbreaking on New Adventist Medical School in Rwanda

Yesterday, May 19, Elder Ted N.C. Wilson helped to lay the cornerstone for a new medical school at Adventist University of Central Africa, in Kigali, Rwanda.  Church leaders say that this will become a crown jewel of Adventist medical education.

Wearing a white hard hat and a reflective-yellow construction vest, Elder Wilson wielded a ceremonial shovel-full of wet cement at the cornerstone-laying ceremony for the $6.1 million dollar complex.

The first phase of construction will include women’s and men’s residence halls, a cafeteria, and a guesthouse, and is scheduled to open in September 2017. Classes will be held in a state-of-the-art Science and Technology Center that has already been completed.

“Students who walk from this place. . .  will receive a diploma to follow in the steps of Jesus. Jesus is the Good Samaritan. Jesus is the Master Teacher. Jesus is the Master Physician. And Jesus is our Savior,” said Elder Wilson.

The Science and Technology Center, with 24 state-of-the-art classrooms

Lisa Beardsley-Hardy read congratulatory letters from Richard Hart, president of Loma Linda University Health and Adventist Health International, and Peter Landless, director of the health ministries department of the Adventist world church. 

“Loma Linda University Health and Adventist Health International are committed to working with AUCA on this important project,” Hart said in his letter. “A quality medical school, with the right orientation and affiliations, can be a major boost to Adventist hospitals and clinics throughout Africa.”