Pastors from across the U.S., Canada, Guam-Micronesia, and Bermuda gathered in Ontario, California, from May 13-16 for the North American Division (NAD) Asian-Pacific Pastors' Convention. About 400 pastors and spouses registered for the convention.
“The convention brought our pastors a renewed passion for study of the Bible and helped them embrace the relevance of planting and growing healthy churches,” said VicLouis Arreola, director of Asian-Pacific Ministries for both the NAD and Pacific Union Conference. “This gathering was an upper room experience that prepared them to meet the challenges of these end times and finishing the work.”
“It was a wonderful experience to bring the [pastoral] team together," said Tony Anobile, NAD vice president for Multilingual Ministries. "The speakers were really focusing on the journey that pastors have and their relationship with Jesus. VicLouis and [his team] brought in people to provide training seminars and education on how to better their personal life, their ministries, and their families. The event showed that, in the NAD, there is diversity, but also unity of purpose and spirit.”
According to Arreola, this is the third NAD-wide Asian-Pacific pastors’ convention to be hosted. As the host of conventions in years past, the Pacific Union extended invitations to other unions. Now, NAD Asian-Pacific conventions bring Asian-Pacific pastors together once every three years, and Pacific Union conventions continue to be hosted yearly.
For Arreola and his team, who work to provide this opportunity for those in ministry, the NAD convention is a time to celebrate the diversity of and ministry to 33 different cultural language groups. The convention is also an opportunity for the Asian-language advisories to meet, plan, and renew their mission and vision for reaching the communities in this division.
“One of the goals of having this convention is to gather the pastors in the North American Division and fellowship together,” said Bernard Castillo, administrative assistant for Asian-Pacific Ministries in the Pacific Union, “as well as continuing education for all the pastors.”
Pastors who attend the convention earn five continuing education units through attendance at various sessions hosted by professors from Andrews University Theological Seminary and the H.M.S. Richards Divinity School at La Sierra University, as well as other guest presenters. Pastors attended courses on New Testament theology, Old Testament theology, archaeology, pastoral care and counseling, systematic theology, and church growth and evangelism. Course curriculum included Seventh-day Adventist foundational studies, interpersonal ministry, outreach in the community, applied pastoral skills, and concepts of church growth.
Sessions were also offered for the spouses of pastors and were coordinated by Imelda Arreola. Topics by guest presenters included “How to Thrive in the Journey of Ministry,” “Serving with my Spiritual Gifts,” and “The Pastor’s Wife and Healthy Self-Worth.”
This year’s convention was themed “Redeeming the Time.” Guest speakers included Dan Jackson, president of the NAD; Ricardo Graham, president of the Pacific Union Conference; and Randy Roberts, senior pastor of the Loma Linda University Church.
The pastors in attendance represented many of the 820 Asian-Pacific churches across the U.S., Canada, Bermuda, and Guam-Micronesia. For these pastors, the fellowship, continuing education, and time for spiritual renewal make these conventions both a professionally and spiritually significant event.
“The reality in North America is that minority groups are going to continue to grow. I'm grateful to Vic for coordinating this event, and for his commitment to continued [ministry] growth," said Anobile. "At the NAD, our commitment is to support the growth of immigrant and refugee ministries in North America in any way we can.”
— Faith Hoyt, Communication and Community Engagement, Pacific Union Conferencekmaran Wed, 06/12/2019 - 11:02
During the first weekend of June 2019, almost 600 people from across the U.S. gathered for the bi-annual North American Division’s Myanmar Multilingual Convention held at Timber Ridge Camp in Spencer, Indiana. Organized by Samuel Ngala, an Indiana pastor and church planter, speakers included John Kitevski, evangelist, elder, and one of the leaders at Gateway Congregations in Melbourne, Australia; Tony Anobile, North American Division (NAD) Multilingual Ministries; Rahel Wells, Andrews University Religion professor; Charlie Thompson, Youth department director; Terri Saelee, coordinator for the NAD's Adventist Refugee and Immigrant Ministries (ARIM); and Bill Wells and Julia Aitken O'Carey of ASAP Ministries.
Nine different language groups from Myanmar (previously known as Burma) were present at the convention, along with visitors who represented Africa, Australia, South America, and Asia. Hymns were sung, sermons preached, and prayers offered up throughout the weekend. As a result, there were five baptisms of young people who chose to dedicate their lives to the Lord.
The number of refugees in the Lake Union has grown significantly. Just 10 years ago, there were no Myanmar congregations in the Lake Union. Today there are 10! Organizers shared that there is an urgent need for laborers within the Lake Union. This year, there were two initiatives at the convention designed to bring spiritual revival and equip laborers with tools needed to continue the work within the refugee groups.
A Critical Time
"To bring this initiative full circle, one cannot ignore the grim history of what the people from Myanmar experienced," said organizers. "Underneath the smiling faces are a people group who have experienced rampant ethnic strife and civil wars from their homeland."
“The government is intentionally doing an ethnic cleansing,” said Terri Saelee, Ministry Special project coordinator of Refugee & Immigrant for the North American Division. “They are purposely ridding their country of those who do not hold the three Bs, which are people of Bamar-descent, Burmese-speaking, and Buddhist.”
If asked about their experience, a smile followed by laughter is the common response by the refugees, but a spokesperson for the group revealed to Saelee, “We laugh so that we don’t cry.”
Through the past several decades, many have fled Myanmar to seek asylum in neighboring countries. According to the Center for Immigration Studies/ Refugee Processing Center, a total of 3,555 refugees from Myanmar were settled in the United States between 2017 to 2018.
Relying heavily on church plant consultants, Saelee said that the NAD believes in empowering people from the different refugee groups. “By doing this,” she said, “you bypass language barriers and cultural misunderstandings.”
Saelee works closely with Samuel Ngala, pastor of the Fort Wayne Karen Church and Hope Adventist Company (Indianapolis), who understands Myanmar and its history.
“Culture is beautiful, but culture also can bring division,” Ngala said, as he explained the complexity of working with the different language groups. “Language may be poetic but also can bring animosity,” he continued. “With this convention and the theme ‘United in Christ,’ we are hoping to bridge those gaps with love.”
The results of the NAD Myanmar convention, which began 10 years ago, are undeniably impressive. Alongside spiritual growth, many church members have dedicated themselves to launching church plants for refugee and immigrants in different cities.
“Young people are studying theology in preparation for ministry and refugees are sharing their faith in Jesus with colleagues at work,” Ngala said.
Topics and presenters at this year's Myanmar convention included:
- "Healthy Lifestyle and Exercise" by Nant Than Yee
- "Dating and Relationship" by Eh Paw Thaung
- "Marriage Enrichment" by John Kitevski
- "Healthy Marriage, Happy Family and Relationship" by Julia O'Carey
- "A Healthier You: Diabetes Prevention, Brain Health," (etc.) by John Rachor
- "Financial Management" by Trudi Starlin
- "Overcoming Trauma, Better Mental Healthy" by A.J. O'Carey
- "Social Media, Games and Brain Addictions" by Bill Wells
- "Science and Christian Faith" by Rahel Wells
- "A Healthier Devotional Life" by Rosangpuia Fanai
- "Why Adventist?" by Bill Wells
- "Entrepreneurship: Starting Your Own Business" by Pakap Dwin
World Refugee Sabbath
The General Conference has designated Saturday, June 15, as “World Refugee Sabbath.” This day is set aside to raise awareness of the needs of the more than 65 million people who have been displaced from their homes as a result of civil unrest and persecution.
Churches, groups, families and individuals are invited to participate using the resources made available on the NAD website as well as by exploring the information and stories shared by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency.
— The original version of this article appeared on the Lake Union Herald website on June 6, 2019.kmaran Wed, 06/12/2019 - 06:58
Barry C. Black, 62nd Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, has been named Becket’s 2019 Canterbury Medalist for his honorable defense of religious liberty for people of all faiths. The Canterbury Medal, Becket’s highest honor, recognizes an individual who has demonstrated courage and commitment to defending religious liberty in America and around the world. In carrying out a tradition that goes back to the first Continental Congress in 1774, Chaplain Black honors his position just as the founding fathers asked — with courage and faith in democracy. Becket honored Black with the 2019 Canterbury Medal at its annual Gala in New York on Thursday, May 23. [Watch a video of Black presented at the gala.]
Chaplain Barry C. Black, Ph.D., has served as Senate chaplain since 2003. First-ever Seventh-day Adventist and African-American Senate Chaplain, he is the spiritual advisor for not only 100 of the most powerful lawmakers in the nation, but also their staff and families — a combined constituency of more than 7,000 people. Each morning as he opens the Senate with a prayer, Black sets the discourse for the day in one of the highest chambers in the nation, in turn setting the spiritual tone of the country.
In her tribute to Black, evangelist Alveda King noted, “There are those who would separate the soul of an individual from the actions they take. The chaplaincy, and Chaplain Black can be a bastion against this excessive separation. May Chaplain Black follow in the footsteps of Christ, while seeking human rights and civil rights as leaders like my uncle, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., did. May God bless Chaplain Black as he seeks the fostering of a well-developed conscience in the Senate.”
Prior to serving on Capitol Hill, Rear Admiral Barry C. Black (Ret.) served in the U.S. Navy for more than 27 years, ending his distinguished career as the Chief of Navy Chaplains. Affectionately known for sporting his signature bowtie on the Senate floor, Black is a sought-after spiritual guide and unfailing source of encouraging words on faith and unity. His books on those themes include The Blessing of Adversity, Nothing to Fear, Make Your Voice Heard in Heaven, and his autobiography of overcoming personal adversity, From the Hood to the Hill.
“Few spiritual leaders are as gifted as Chaplain Black in providing caring, courageous ministry in a pluralistic religious environment,” said Mark Rienzi, president of Becket. “For almost two decades, our nation has benefited from his chaplaincy and this year we humbly thank him for his work to safeguard religious liberty.”
The Canterbury Medal draws its name from one of history’s most dramatic religious liberty stand-offs, which occurred between Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Becket, the law firm’s namesake, and King Henry II of England. The annual Canterbury Gala honors the award recipient in a black-tie event at the Pierre Hotel in New York and is attended by the world’s most distinguished religious leaders and religious liberty advocates.
Past medalists include the late Nobel Peace Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel; Cuban poet and former political prisoner Armando Valladares; Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson, New York Times bestselling author and radio host Eric Metaxas; Learned Hand Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard; Orthodox rabbi of the oldest Jewish congregation in the U.S., Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik; and First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Dallin H. Oaks.
For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-349-7219. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.kmaran Tue, 06/11/2019 - 11:14
For the sixth year in a row, junior high school students at Ruth Murdoch Elementary School pitched a tent on the campus of Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and preached sermons directed to their peers as well as the general community.
As in past years, baptism interests were generated, but this year the baptism requests soared — 30 youth and adults. Some made the decision again and again throughout the course of several nights. “This wasn’t just a fleeting decision,” said Ben Martin, Pioneer Memorial Church pastor for Children and Family Discipleship. Plans for preparing these 30 candidates for baptism are now ongoing.
"The Tent," as it’s known, was held the week of May 12 as a collaborative evangelistic effort between Pioneer Memorial Church and Ruth Murdoch Elementary School. Several months of prayerful, advance planning took place before the first night of the meeting, Friday, May 10. For instance, religion teacher, Christopher Davisson, explained that before the sermons were written, the 11 student evangelists met and spent time during the spring semester in prayer as they waited for the Lord to give each student a message to present.
There were several faith lessons the students learned as a result of the experience, including two dramatic cliffhangers.
A few days before the meetings opened, Martin received a distressing call from an Andrews University Plant Services worker who was helping with the tent pitch. The incessant rainfall had made the ground too damp to raise the tent. In fact, workers were wading in ankle-deep water.
Martin had a meeting later that day with the elementary school students and asked them to pray for three things: 1) that the rain would stop; 2) dry ground would appear; and 3) The Tent meeting visitors would experience the latter rain. Later that afternoon, the sun came out and the ground was dry enough for the tent to go up; followed later with an outpouring of requests for baptism. “It was really powerful for the kids to see all their prayers come true,” said Martin.
Two days before the conclusion of the meetings, one of the speakers scheduled to preach developed a high fever and other symptoms. There were doubts he would be well enough in time to arrive for his scheduled sermon, but that didn’t stop students from earnestly praying for his healing. The young preacher arrived a day later than scheduled with no fever, although he was nursing a sore throat. By the time he opened his mouth to preach, the soreness had disappeared, only to reappear after he concluded.
Miracles aside, student engagement was high throughout the week, as the junior high students were not only responsible for preaching but leading out in singing, greeting, gathering contact cards and operating audio-visual equipment. “One of the things I love about The Tent,” said Martin, “is the body of Christ in action, where every student finds his or her place to serve and make The Tent possible.”
— Debbie Michel is associate communication director for the Lake Union Conference and managing editor of the Lake Union Herald; the original article was published online on May 23, 2019.kmaran Tue, 06/04/2019 - 20:32
The new Walla Walla University Center for Humanitarian Engagement (CHE) has opened under the leadership of executive director David Lopez. The CHE will play a primary role in university initiatives related to service that include local and global opportunities for evangelistic and humanitarian work.
The CHE is a contact point for dreaming about new ways to serve and for making progress on existing initiatives such as the Student Missions program, the WWU chapter of Engineers Without Borders, and the annual WWU Service Day. Lopez is initiating cyclical projects as well, such as Saturdays of Service in the local community, and one-time projects, such as summer mission trips.
Recently the CHE partnered with the WWU chaplain’s office to determine how best to use funds received to help with relief efforts in Paradise, California, after the fire this past fall. During spring break, a group from WWU traveled to Paradise to help with pressing needs, which included installing fencing, repairing the wireless internet connection that hosts service for Paradise Adventist Academy, and distributing clean water from the Paradise Adventist Church — one of the only locations in the area with a functioning well of clean water.
The WWU group also helped with impromptu needs including providing translation services, removing debris, serving warm meals, handing out firewood, and sorting donated clothing. Lopez estimates that the group connected directly with more than 1,700 people in the area and that their work saved about $11,000 in labor costs.
Lopez graduated from WWU in 2004 and returned to campus to lead the CHE after 12 years with Maranatha Volunteers International where he was director of volunteer projects. His background in mission work, travel, organization, languages, and conflict resolution brings a unique skillset to this new position on campus.
Through his work with the CHE, Lopez is developing a program that will allow students to obtain a Global Humanitarian Engagement Certificate for meeting specific academic requirements and for boots-on-the-ground engagement in university-organized service opportunities. These opportunities include activities that will train students in logistics and management of worldwide work in outreach and missions.
A CHE advisory panel and mentor groups for students are also being developed to focus on mission-specific grant writing, legal issues, internships, marketing communication, and more.
One of Lopez’s goals through the work of the CHE is to provide opportunities for students to see how determination and faith in God can make the impossible happen.
A community open house for the CHE will be held Thursday, June 6, at 6 p.m. in Kretschmar Hall, room 217.
David Lopez is the executive director for the new WWU Center for Humanitarian Engagement.
kmaran Mon, 06/03/2019 - 11:44
The La Sierra University Board of Trustees announced on May 30, 2019, the selection of a new leader to take the university’s helm as president Randal Wisbey enters retirement at the end of June.
In a vote on May 29, and following a search process in compliance with board policy, the university trustees elected Joy Fehr, La Sierra’s provost, to serve as the university’s next president. She will take office effective July 1. Dr. Fehr has held the provost’s position since 2016 following one year as associate provost. She arrived at La Sierra University from Burman University in Alberta, Canada, where she served as vice president for academic administration from 2010 to 2015.
“As La Sierra University moves into the future, I look forward to discovering with the campus community how we can continue to ensure our students are best served, best educated and best prepared to be positive change agents — the conduits of God’s grace in their worlds," said Fehr when she received the news of her appointment.
"I’m excited about the opportunities that we will have to discover how we can best support our staff and faculty as they continue to nurture our diverse communities both on and off campus and build their skills as service providers, educators, and knowledge makers."
The presidential search committee formed in February following Wisbey’s announcement of his retirement the preceding month. The committee, chaired by university trustee and Pacific Union Conference Director of Education Berit von Pohle, consisted of faculty, staff, student, and alumni representatives, members of the board of trustees, and two non-voting members. The search process began with stakeholder focus group meetings through which candidate selection criteria were developed. A job posting distributed through various mediums around the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (NAD) garnered 32 candidates, including several from other countries.
After a four-month vetting process and 30 hours of meetings, the search committee presented their top selection to the board of trustees for their vote.
“The board of trustees believes Dr. Fehr is the best person available to La Sierra University at this time based on her qualifications, demonstrated experience, and the support of organizational and academic stakeholders,” said Ricardo Graham, La Sierra University Board of Trustees chair. “The search committee prayerfully went about its work under the expert leadership of Dr. von Pohle. The process was systematic with all candidates evaluated equally under the same criteria. These principles were compiled based on the valuable input the search committee received from stakeholder meetings held prior to the start of the search process. The board stands in full support of Dr. Fehr.”
Graham, who has been involved in executive selection processes for numerous other Adventist institutions commended von Pohle for leading a “well thought out, well executed” search. “The people were willing and God was present to bring us to a decision,” he said.
Von Pohle was impressed, she said, by Fehr’s interest in transitioning from the university’s chief operating and academic officer to its “chief storyteller. Dr. Fehr expressed great excitement for and passion about La Sierra, and that it has been a privilege to be a part of the university.”
Leslie Martin, La Sierra University Faculty Senate chair who served on the search committee, stated, “I am excited by Joy's vision for the future of La Sierra University and look forward to working with her through the shared-governance process to make the coming years some of the best yet,” she said. “Dr. Fehr's leadership style — addressing issues head-on, with data and policy to guide her, is exactly what La Sierra University needs at this time. Add to that her broad base of experience and warmth of character, and we have a president-elect ideally suited to both shape and share the La Sierra story."
David Geriguis, La Sierra University’s vice president of financial administration and a non-voting member of the search committee added, “Dr. Fehr is a very capable academic leader who understands the ever-changing higher education landscape. Her leadership abilities, vision, and love for Seventh-day Adventist Christian education are attributes that will serve her and the university well.”
Wisbey, who is exiting the university presidency after a 12-year tenure, stated, “Dr. Joy Fehr is an outstanding leader. Our university has been blessed by her clear-eyed vision, her passionate support of our students, faculty and staff, and her commitment evidenced by embracing our La Sierra story. I believe she will be instrumental in guiding the university into an ever-expanding role of influence and success.”
In her current role as provost, Fehr created the Senior Leadership Team of academic leaders and university executives. The group has created a roadmap for growing the university’s enrollment and increasing net tuition revenue over the next three to five years. In support of the team’s work, she has led in the creation of the Strategic Enrollment Planning Council through which programs will be added and current programs evaluated based on a data-informed process.
Fehr’s roles at Burman University, previously known as Canadian University College, included serving as dean of its arts division and as an award-winning English professor. Prior to her academic career, she served as co-owner and vice president of Fehr West Industries Ltd., a mechanical mobile repair business, where she was responsible for key business decisions.
Her contributions to Adventist higher education include continued service on the NAD Higher Education Collaboration Taskforce, continued membership with the Association of Adventist Academic Administrators, and upcoming service in January with an Adventist Accrediting Association visiting team. She has held many roles in Seventh-day Adventist Church service from church board membership to Vacation Bible School leadership, to women’s retreat speaker and La Sierra University chapel and worship presenter, to church elder.
Fehr holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Calgary, including a Ph.D. in English Literature. She lives in Riverside with her husband, Cornelius.
In response to the news of her appointment Fehr added, "Together we will grow La Sierra University well into its second century. I am grateful to be a part of the campus journey in this place, our home.”
— Darla Martin Tucker is director of public relations for La Sierra University.kmaran Fri, 05/31/2019 - 16:14
Ledell Kendall was not prepared for the news she received when a small group from Acts of Kindness, the outreach ministry of the Church in the Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church, appeared at her door on a Sunday morning in mid-March.
Michael Dauncey, the media and outreach pastor for this thriving congregation in Langley, British Columbia, Canada, shared the exciting news that the single mother had been chosen as the Acts of Kindness recipient for Extreme Home Repair 2019.
The Extreme Home Repair program began in 2004, inspired by an American television show of a similar name. And while the reality TV show is no longer running, this initiative continues, building community and cultivating better lives for residents of the greater Langley area. This is the church’s eighteenth project.
It works like this: community members nominate deserving families who are facing difficult circumstances related to housing or resources for major home renovations or repairs. Acts of Kindness chooses a nominee and, with the support of volunteers and local businesses, gives their home a complete makeover.
Kendall is a single mother to 16-year-old Francis, who is autistic. She was nominated by her sister, who shared that Kendall works very hard, but caring for her son full-time and trying to provide food, household expenses, and car repairs leaves little time or extra money to put toward home maintenance. Several significant repairs were urgently needed to make their house a safe and healthy place to live.
When Kendall learned that she had won the Extreme Home Repair, she couldn’t believe it. “No, way!” she exclaimed. “I am so overwhelmed. I’ll be crying later.” Francis clapped from his seat on the couch.
The work began on May 3, 2019, with over 150 volunteers and 85+ businesses donating time and construction materials. In just two weeks, the home makeover was complete, a renovation that would’ve cost nearly CAN$100,000 if it weren’t for community support.
A large crowd gathered under misty conditions for the big reveal — neither Kendall or her son had seen any of the progress — on May 20. A large school bus shielded the house from view, and as everyone yelled, “Move that bus!” Kendall and Francis saw their home for the first time. They were completely shocked by what they saw.
Dauncey shared that, in Ledell’s words, “she didn’t think it was her house. But then she knew it was, because we listened to what she liked regarding décor and she noticed. She loved the decorating and was blown away by all the new appliances. She felt extremely blessed to have this done for her.”
Dauncey continued, “Being a part of this ministry allows you to witness first hand God working through people. This is bigger than just our church. It's exciting for me to see community people, Christians from other churches, atheists, you name it ... helping us with our one common goal — to make life better for a family in need. I have learned that there's nothing more powerful than a volunteer's heart. It never ceases to amaze me — the giving that takes place. This project has changed me.”
The Extreme Home Repair program changes participants lives other ways, too. Many of the past recipients pitch in to help with each new project; some participate in an annual golf fundraising event to support Acts of Kindness projects; some have been baptized or started Bible studies with church members as a result.
“I believe this does have a large impact, and perhaps that's why we keep doing it,” Dauncey concluded. “Jesus inspired us to help those who are in need and this is one way we can do that. He's the God of second chances and that's what we're doing here. Giving people another start. I can't put into words the amazing blessing this ministry is to the recipient and to those volunteering on the project. Everyone wins!”
For more information on Extreme Home Repair or other projects that Acts of Kindness is coordinating, visit actsofkindness.ca. You can also view photos of the Kendall’s finished home on the AOK Acts of Kindness Facebook page.kmaran Thu, 05/30/2019 - 07:58