Sign-up for free e-newsletter

Viewpoint from Pastor Victor Hulbert 2/7/10


Victor Hulbert Communication Director
Member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church


I'm sitting on a plane somewhere just to the south of Greenland, flying through the air at 515 mph heading across the Atlantic to a World Convention of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. For the next ten days, some 60,000 Christians from over 200 countries arouVictor Portraitnd the world will fellowship, worship, elect church leaders for the next five years, exchange resources and ideas, and enact church business. It is a fascinating event to attend. The best music from choirs, orchestras and musicians in diverse styles. Scintillating preaching – and the ability to meet up with friends who, over the years have moved to distant lands. It is my third time at such an event and I plan to enjoy myself among the delegates and visitors as well as taking some time to see the sights and sounds of Atlanta; home of CNN, Coco-Cola – and perhaps most interestingly for me, Martin Luther King jr. 
Yet in the midst of all that activity, buzz and people, it is still possible to be lonely. Sixty thousand people – and yet in a hotel room on a Friday night I will be online – or on the phone - with my wife wishing I could be with her. That one soul-mate of almost 30 years is worth more than the 60,000 that will soon be surrounding me in Atlanta.
The Mental Health Foundation recently published the results of an online survey of 2,256 people and noted that modern society can indeed be very lonely. In a world of mobility and change we no longer live in extended families, or in communities with friends we have known since childhood. Thus deep friendships are harder to develop and maintain. I've got to the age now where I'm interested in alumni. I've been looking at, and uploading photos onto facebook of school and university friends trying to remember names and working out where people are now. Facebook is great for that. I've recently become reacquainted with a school friend from Tehran, another who moved tDove righto Australia and married down there, and another that I hope to see this next week in Atlanta – as she now lives in 'Orlando, Florida and plans to come up for the  weekend.
 Things like facebook are part of the antidote to loneliness – although there are dangers there as well, with the younger generation spending more time on-line, and less in actual face-to-face contact.
Even church can be a lonely place. That is something my wife decided to do something about. We worship in a congregation nearing 1,000 members. She has now made a point of talking to someone she doesn’t know each week. A small act like that can make a difference. What else can we do? Use the technology we have to phone, email and contact lost acquaintances. Slow down on the path to the front door and take time to chat to the neighbours. Join a club, society, walking group – or even a church. Somehow, surprisingly, even making one friend can take away the feelings of loneliness – and one friend often leads to another.
There are times and places to be alone. I value that.  But there are times when I crave company – and maybe need to put myself in the position where others that crave it can make a new friend too.