Seventh-day Adventist East-Central Africa Division presents Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center with centennial sculpture
Geoffrey G. Mbwana (left), president of the East-Central Africa Division of Seventh-day Adventists, presents Kevin J. Lang, MBA, executive vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer, Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center, and B. Lyn Behrens, MBBS, president and chief executive officer, Loma Linda University Health Sciences Center, with a stone sculpture titled “Blessings Bestowed.”
East-Central Africa Division of Seventh-day Adventists president Geoffrey G. Mbwana presented Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center president and chief executive officer B. Lyn Behrens, MBBS, and Kevin J. Lang, MBA, LLUAHSC executive vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer, with a stone sculpture by African artist Elkana O. Ong’esa.
“The East-Central Africa Division joins you in praising God for 100 years of successful service to people around the world,” says Pastor Mbwana. “Our division has received many blessings of varied services from Loma Linda. We are very grateful and wish to congratulate you.”
Pastor Mbwana presented the sculpture, titled “Blessings Bestowed,” to Dr. Behrens and Mr. Lang on Wednesday, April 12. Pastor Mbwana was in Loma Linda attending the annual spring council meetings of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
“We have thought of capturing our appreciations in this small stone sculpture, ‘Blessings Bestowed,’” Pastor Mbwana states. “This is how we feel and think of Loma Linda. Your touch through imparting knowledge and healing is reciprocated by our appreciation and commitment to service.”
“Blessings Bestowed” depicts a meditative elder simply dressed and in deep reflection on a world far beyond the present and oblivious of the youth before him.
Symbols used in the sculpture are the staff in his right hand as a sign of defense (might), the tripartite stool he is sitting on signifying authority, plus material and world possessions represented by adornments on the left hand. None of these objects are very elaborate and none are within reach of the youth upon whom the elder bestows special blessings.
The only points of contact are the elder’s left hand on the head of the youth and the right hand of the youth carefully touching the garment of the elder on the knee of the left leg as though a powerful current charges it. Neither the youth nor the elder is looking at the other in the eyes during this immensely tense moment.
The garments of both figures are deliberately rough in texture to contrast with the shiny bodily surfaces signifying radiance emanating from those who love what is not transient, even in a world so rough and difficult. The two appear unconscious of their possessions—power, authority, wisdom, and wealth of the elder, or the energy and enthusiasm of youth.
In the sculpture, the elder bestows on the youth not the tools of military power (the staff on the right hand), the economic power or wealth symbolized by jewelry on the neck and the left arm of the elder, or the tripartite stool of authority he uses on occasions like this one, and not a word of command from his mouth.
Instead he gently touches him on the head to transfer all valuable, non-perishable attributes of knowledge, the hand of love, healing and care, and a capacity to communicate without uttering a word. The head as the seat of knowledge, wisdom, heritage, posterity, and spiritual powers becomes the target point for the elder to reach the youth.
The elder also, as a role model to the youth, submits to far greater authority on which his mind appears focused and from whence he, in return, receives gifts of meekness, love, benevolence, honesty, harmony, and an inner tune of gratefulness.
There are no witnesses to this special event presented in stone, Pastor Mbwana says. “Only the elder giving, and the youth receiving in total confidence and mutual trust; no signed agreements, no certificates or security deeds.
“May God grant Loma Linda University and Loma Linda University Medical Center a great and brighter future as they continue to serve the world for Jesus,” Pastor Mbwana concludes.
By Richard Weismeyer