The Really Living Centre kick-started its grand opening this past September with hundreds of members and visitors from across North America in attendance. The 25,000 square-foot facility is Ontario Conference’s first center of influence, serving as both a worship space for Really Living Seventh-day Adventist Church and a community center open several days a week.
The newly-established center will allow for the expansion of existing programs, like a plant-based cooking school, free oil changes for single parents, boot camp, summer camps, and drop-in sports nights, as well as new programs, such as sewing classes, a smoothie bar, and indoor rock climbing.
“We tried to think of everything — how we can meet not only our needs but also the needs of the community. That’s why we’re here,” said Brenda De Medeiros, church elder and founding member.
Centers of influence such as Really Living address the reality that, in today’s secular society, traditional outreach methods like evangelistic series or going door-to-door are insufficient. Rather, ministering to people’s needs then sharing the gospel — Christ’s method — will make the biggest impact, particularly in urban centers such as Hamilton.
Pastor Dan Linrud, the midday service speaker, expressed joy at seeing the seeds he had planted for such a center 19 years ago as the founder of Living Word Church (now Really Living), come into full bloom. He described the church’s humble beginnings meeting as a small group of roughly 25 transplanted members from the mother church, Hamilton Mountain, in the basement of church members.
“That small group of believers wanted to make a difference by being salt and light in the world,” he noted. Linrud shared that the group followed the Acts 2 model of studying the Word and praying together in different homes, building relationships, and reaching out to the community.
Linrud also praised the church’s current leadership for making his blueprint, sketched out on napkins at Tim Hortons, a reality. “Pastor Francis and Tina Douville took on the baton of leadership when I left this church, and they are the ones, along with this membership, through whom God has accomplished this amazing vision. I’m just so proud of what God has done through them,” he said.
Francis Douville, in turn, praised Linrud as a “man of vision” while also giving credit to the church members. “I’m surrounded by selfless people who are teaching me how to put God first. The people in this church are absolutely phenomenal,” said Douville.
As he closed, Linrud noted that Really Living Centre was “meant to be a beacon of light [in] a community that is overrun by darkness.” However, he said, “As beautiful and amazing as this building is, as comfortable as the seats are, this is not our final destination. This is not our home.”
Linrud and his wife, Verlaine, made the trek from Oregon, where Linrud currently serves as Oregon Conference president. Also present were former Living Word associate pastor Juan Fresse, also coming from Oregon; Ontario Conference president Mansfield Edwards, who participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony; and Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada president Mark Johnson.
In his opening remarks that Sabbath, Johnson lauded Really Living as a model for other Ontario churches. “We are not saved to be hermits in a cave. We need to be where God’s people are.”
— Christelle Agboka writes from the Ontario Conference; the original article was published on the Canadian Adventist Messenger website.kmaran Thu, 02/13/2020 - 10:19
“Do you have a minute? Can I tell you a story?”
It was Peter* on the phone. I had never met him before. He called a few weeks ago and shared a story that really touched my heart.
Peter is a Christian, though not a Seventh-day Adventist. Every Monday evening he attends a men’s Bible study at his church. Peter’s story, however, is really about his neighbor, Rich.
For years Peter had tried to reach Rich for Christ without success. Rich is actually rich; and he’s never seen the need for a Savior. Rich and his wife are not only wealthy, they have ties to a “rough” crowd. In fact, Peter mentioned to me how he once saw a few Hell’s Angels motorcycle club members at a funeral for one of Rich’s family members.
About four months ago, one of Rich’s grandsons died unexpectedly. And then, more recently, another grandson was involved in a head-on collision — putting him in a coma. The doctors were not giving his grandson much time to live.
As Rich was sitting in the hospital, he saw a small GLOW tract called "What Makes Canada Great." The tract shares about times of crisis in our lives, and our ability to recognize our need for help outside of ourselves. It mentions our need of a Savior.
As Rich read the tract, he thought about his great need. He broke down and wept. All his money, power, and reputation could not save his grandson. Although Rich was not a believer before this, he made a life-changing decision to turn to God that very day. Whether his grandson lived or died, Rich knew that he needed Jesus.
Later that evening, Rich crossed the yard to see Peter and he shared with him what was happening in his life. He told Peter that he believes everything in the tract and wants to know more about God. Peter was so happy to help and asked if he could pray for him right then and there. Rich agreed and also asked that the men’s Bible study group pray for him and his grandson.
The grandson’s life was hanging by a thread. A group of 25 men started praying faithfully every day. And as the prayers went up, the power came down. The grandson’s condition started to improve.
Peter shared with me how, for the next few weeks, he had lunch with Rich on Mondays, got an update on the boy’s condition, and then told the men that evening about how God was answering their prayers. Within four weeks the boy came out of the coma. Today he is walking and doing well! The doctors cannot understand it, but Peter and Rich know where the healing came from.
Peter called me to get some GLOW tracts. He wants to give them to the men at the Bible study group and to share them with others so all can recognize their great need of Christ.
Before hanging up, Peter told me this: “For years I have been trying to reach Rich for Christ. God used this flyer to finally reach him. This tract did something in a moment that I’ve been seeking to do for years. It did something that I could not do.”
God’s Word still changes lives today. Literature ministry is all about connecting people with the transforming Word of God. Ellen G. White’s words are still true: “The living preacher and the silent messenger are both required for the accomplishment of the great work before us” (The Review and Herald, April 1, 1880).
“Reaching Rich” is just one of the many stories in the making through literature ministries in Canada. In 2019, the Lord blessed our efforts to enlist more than 500 church members and 75 literature evangelists to visit 375,000 homes, pray with and for 13,200 individuals in local communities, and distribute 593,000 books and tracts.
Join us in praising God for what he has done through Lifestyle Canada in 2019, and as you are able, please partner with us to share even more transformative books and tracts in 2020.
— Jonathan Zita is director of Lifestyle Canada, Canada’s literature evangelism ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
*Names were changed to protect privacy.kmaran Wed, 02/12/2020 - 10:18
According to research conducted at Loma Linda University Health, a global transition to a vegetarian diet would have significant impacts in the battle against global warming and other environmental concerns.
Food production has been identified as a major contributor to increased greenhouse gas emissions, consumes 70 percent of fresh water, and is responsible for 80 percent of the world’s deforestation. Improving agricultural technology and reducing food waste have been put forward as potential solutions to these environmental concerns. But Joan Sabaté, M.D., DrPH, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Loma Linda University School of Public Health, found that changes in food choices and diet patterns would have a far greater positive effect on environmental sustainability.
Vegetarian Diets: Planetary Health and Its Alignment with Human Health is a meta-analysis of 49 published research studies that focused on the impact that vegetarian and vegan diets have on greenhouse gas emissions, and water and land use. When the data from the 49 studies was combined, Sabaté found that shifting from current dietary norms to ovolactovegetarian and vegan diets would reduce greenhouse gas levels an average of 35 percent, reduce land usage for food production by an average of 42 percent, and agricultural water usage by an average of 28 percent.
“Many other studies have clearly demonstrated the health advantages of vegetarian and vegan diets. This analysis confirms that switching to these types of diets are also significantly eco-friendly as well,” Sabaté said.
Sabaté directs the environmental nutrition research program at Loma Linda University School of Public Health. The program explores the interrelationships between the environmental and health impacts of food choices, and ultimately seeks to improve the sustainability, health, and equity of food systems. Sabaté is the editor of the 2019 book Environmental Nutrition: Connecting Health and Nutrition with Environmentally Sustainable Diets.
One early sign that people are increasing in their commitment to make dietary changes due to concerns about climate took place in earlier this year. By choosing to serve all vegan meals to hundreds of celebrities and guests, two major entertainment industry award shows — the Golden Globe Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards — increased public awareness and conversation about the link between sustainable agriculture and climate change.
While Sabaté says the field of sustainable diet and environmental impacts is still in its infancy, he has participated in a number of research studies that show clear connection between diet and climate factors. In 2017, he was part of a group that published a well-known study on the climate benefits of replacing meat in diets with beans. Sabaté and other researchers working in Loma Linda University Health’s environmental nutrition program have published more than 30 papers that examined the relationship between food choices, environmental sustainability, and population health.
Sabaté says additional research is needed into how changes in agricultural approaches impact the environment in low- and middle-income countries. He also points to needed research comparing large-scale agricultural operations with small-operation family farms practices.
“In societies where daily meat consumption is the social norm, drastically reducing meat consumption is a major challenge," Sabaté said. “In low- and middle-income countries, eliminating meat could adversely affect those populations’ already marginal nutritional status."
The paper was presented at the 7th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition in 2018, the premiere scientific conference on plant-based diets, which occurs every five years. The proceedings from the conference were recently published in a special edition of the journal .
— This article originally appeared on the Loma Linda University Health news website on Feb. 10, 2020.
kmaran Tue, 02/11/2020 - 12:18
It takes approximately five hours of continuous hiking across the Palmer Snowfield to get to the Hogsback from Timberline Lodge on the south side of Oregon’s Mount Hood. At 3 a.m. on the morning of Monday, December 30, Walla Walla University engineering students Grant Hartman and Xander Culver began the hike.
They had slept the previous night in Hartman’s car in the parking lot at Timberline in order to get an early start toward summitting the 11,250-foot mountain. This was Hartman’s first attempt at the summit; Culver was the more experienced climber on this particular mountain, having summited Mount Hood once before. They would soon discover that higher plans than their own were in play that day.
Mountaineers have a habit of naming sections of popular climbs. On Mount Hood, nicknames like the Hogsback, Pearly Gates, and Devil’s Kitchen serve at least two purposes: first, as graphic descriptions of specific geographic characteristics, and second, as verbal shorthand when discussing the climb with other climbers. Devil’s Kitchen would otherwise be known as “the fumarole above Triangle Moraine where dirt, ice, and rock form a bulge on the mountainside.” Devil’s Kitchen is shorter and, in some ways, more apropos.
By 8:19 that morning, Culver had reached a flat spot at the lower end of the Hogsback, and was about 10 minutes ahead of Hartman. The Hogsback is a ridge at just over 10,000 feet that climbers maneuver before the final push to the summit. Culver stopped to wait for Hartman and to prepare for the rest of the climb.
“This is a nice place to sit before going for the final summit push,” said Culver. “If you don’t already have your crampons on and your ice axe out, you get those out, because the last little bit is where it starts to get steep.”
Fall from the Pearly Gates
Most of the roughly 10,000 climbers who attempt to summit Mount Hood each year do so in spring. Winter weather conditions can be more challenging, and for that reason winter climbers will often take the first-ascent route from the 1800s known as the Old Chute. On this particular December day the sky was clear. Culver and Hartman had talked with other climbers descending the mountain that morning who said the Old Chute was in good condition. That was the route they decided to take instead of the steeper route over the Pearly Gates.
“The Pearly Gates at this time of year has an ice step, which is a near vertical cliff of ice,” said Culver. “I never got a good view of it that day, so I don’t know how tall it was, but from talking to other climbers it sounded like it wasn’t that big, maybe 20 to 50 feet high.”
From his rest spot on the Hogsback, Culver drank some water, ate some snacks, and was gearing up for the more difficult and technical part of the climb ahead while he waited for Hartman. He’d been there about five minutes when a swift movement on the mountain caught his attention. Someone was sliding out of the couloir in the distance to the right at roughly 30 to 40 miles per hour. A climber from a group ahead had fallen from the Pearly Gates and was plummeting down the side of the mountain.
“I stood up, and there were a couple of people standing on the Hogsback next to me who were shouting ‘Arrest! Arrest!’” said Culver.
“Self-arrest is basically using your axe and digging it into the ice and snow to slow yourself down,” said Hartman, who explains that fellow climbers yell reminders when someone is falling because sometimes in a moment of panic beginners don’t have the instinct to remember how to stop their fall.
The climber fell more than 500 feet and came to a stop at Devil’s Kitchen, a few hundred feet below Culver’s location on the Hogsback.
“We shouted down to him, ‘Are you okay?’ We shouted a few times and weren’t really getting an answer,” said Culver. “He kind of groaned a couple of times, and we all got ready to jump into action.”
Hartman was about 100 feet above and to the left of Devil’s Kitchen when he looked over and saw the climber falling. During high school Hartman did four years of search and rescue with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office out of Albany, Oregon, when he was a student at Livingstone Adventist Academy. “That’s where I really gained a passion for helping people in times of need,” he said. Hartman is director of ASWWU Outdoors, the WWU student-led outdoor program, and is a Wilderness First Responder certified by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). This intense 10-day wilderness first-aid training prepares participants to respond to high-risk scenarios like the one he and Culver found themselves in.
Hartman’s training kicked into gear, and he began to assess the situation and the conditions on the mountain. “I immediately saw an old avalanche slide above where he fell from and where people were sort of running across the slope toward him,” said Hartman. “This was a place that typically has slides, so that was one of the things I had to consider for sure. But the snow looked pretty stable, and I didn’t think there was risk for another one, so I cautiously made my way across the slope toward him. I prayed as I was walking across that slope—prayed for the patient’s safety, for everybody else’s safety, and for God’s guidance.”
Crucial emergency response
Falls on Mount Hood aren’t unheard of. In 2017 a climber who fell from just below Pearly Gates and ended up in Devil’s Kitchen died after more than five hours on the mountain before a rescue helicopter could evacuate him.
By the time Hartman reached the patient, Culver and three others who had seen the fall from the Hogsback were at the scene. Culver, who is an ASWWU Outdoors trip leader and a graduate of Sacramento Adventist Academy, had completed a two-day course in Wilderness First Aid training also from NOLS. As a result, he and Hartman had a similar understanding of patient assessment protocol, terminology, and first-aid response.
“He was groaning. We were talking to him. He was definitely in pain,” said Hartman. “Nobody was holding his head at that time, and in my training that’s the first thing you learn to do is hold the person’s head. Even if you don’t know if there’s any risk of spinal cord or brain injury, you hold the head until you can rule that out.
“The most important thing from the training that you learn is how to react under stress and under pressure. That’s super crucial,” said Hartman, who quickly assessed the situation and the need for someone to take charge and start giving people and the patient tasks to do. “That can really help ease the stress in the scenario.”
“We started getting him warm. I did a patient assessment and tried to see what else might be hurt on him. We found out he had a hurt leg, and we knew the leg was the biggest thing,” said Hartman.
The response team went into action. Using what they had learned at NOLS, Hartman and Culver were able to stabilize the patient’s head and spine and roll him to get sleeping pads and clothing between him and the snow. “He was getting really cold and shivering really hard. Everybody pulled their big puffy jackets out of their backpacks and donated them to the cause,” said Culver.
“We made a nice toasty bundle called a hypo-wrap to prevent hypothermia and that also works well for shock,” said Hartman. “While I was doing the patient assessment, it was really nice to have Xander there because we have training from the same organization, so we have very similar ways of thought. While I was doing the assessment, I had Xander write down all the information about vital signs and medical history so we could work together to get it correct.”
The group had cell service, and someone called 911. For the next four hours they regularly provided patient vital signs—pulse rate, skin color, skin temperature—to the search and rescue team and emergency medical technicians who were deciding how best to respond to the call for help.
The sun was cresting the edge of the mountain around the time Hartman and Culver first arrived at the scene. They estimated it was around 29 degrees as they worked, but with the sun shining on the snow, it felt more like 35 or 40. Culver made hot cocoa and did what he could to help keep the rescue team warm and comfortable. As they waited and the snow field warmed in the sunlight, a few falling chunks of snow and ice frequently reminded the group of climbers that they were working on an avalanche slope.
‘In the right place at the right time’
The professional rescue crew ultimately decided to hike to the site rather than helicopter in. The first member of the search and rescue team showed up about four hours after the fall, and the entire EMT crew arrived about an hour after that. From then it took three hours to evacuate the patient down the mountain. After the rescue crew took over care of the patient, Hartman and Culver descended the mountain together without having made the summit. By the time they reached the parking lot at Timberline, the rescue team was there as well after transporting the patient down with a snowcat.
Culver and Hartman are both grateful they had the training they needed in order to help. “It’s a good feeling when you’re there and you know God put you there in the right place at the right time,” said Hartman. “The other people who responded didn’t even have basic wellness first aid training, so even my simple training ended up being quite valuable. If the two of us hadn’t been there, the situation could have been much different.”
Through their work with ASWWU Outdoors, Hartman and Culver are staunch advocates for getting outdoors and enjoying nature. “It’s how I connect with God in one of the most powerful ways. A lot can be learned in the outdoors. It’s something I think everyone should have the opportunity to experience. Even normal, everyday stresses can become easier to handle because of tools you learn in the outdoors,” said Culver. Hartman calls his work with ASWWU Outdoors “the most fulfilling job I’ve had so far.”
Hartman stayed in the parking lot for an hour while the EMT crew got the patient situated in the ambulance. That evening Hartman and Culver joined a somewhat surreal Christmas party at Culver’s family’s house in Portland. They hadn’t made it to the summit that day, but “the safety of those around us always takes precedence over getting to the summit,” said Hartman. “The mountain is always going to be there. It’s not going anywhere,” said Culver. “We’ll just have to go back and do it again.”
georgiadamsteegt Mon, 02/10/2020 - 09:27
In January 2020, Puerto Rico experienced more than 500 earthquakes just within a couple of days. The earthquakes and after shocks caused widespread destruction to homes as well as power outages. The most devastating one in this series of earthquakes to hit the island on Tuesday, Jan. 14, was reported to be a magnitude 6.4, which killed one person and shut down power to the island. It was Puerto Rico’s most destructive quake in a century.
Just this morning, Feb. 4, a magnitude 5.0 earthquake struck near the south coast of Puerto Rico Tuesday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey reported in a USA Today article. Puerto Rico has a history of earthquakes, although large events such as these are rare. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, more than 1,200 earthquakes rattled the island’s southern region since December 28.
ADRA* International Emergency Management director, Mario de Oliveria, and his team were on the ground leading recovery efforts in the days immediately following the first round of damaging quakes.
According to an ADRA report, volunteers and local church leaders sprung into action, providing meals around the clock to feed hundreds of people, and installing tents for those who lost their homes. Reportedly, houses that were rebuilt after the devastation of Hurricane Irma and Maria in 2017, were decimated once more by the recent quakes.
“We haven’t felt so many earthquakes rock our home towns like this before,” says David Sebastian, communications director for ADRA in Puerto Rico. “People won’t go inside their homes for fear of more tremors and are sleeping in their cars because the ground won’t stop trembling.”
The major need has been shelter as many are afraid to return to their homes due to aftershocks. ADRA distributed 200 tents to house families who are displaced.
"Another essential need is blankets," said W. Derrick Lea, Adventist Community Services Disaster Response director. "ADRA requested ACS help with acquiring and sending the needed blankets." Lea explained that several of the NAD's union and conference ACS teams gave support by providing hundreds of blankets. "We have also acquired a significant donation of more than 1,000 blankets filling four pallets, from our Southwestern Union ACS. ... They will be transported to San Juan for distribution."
Said Lea, "Please keep the survivors of these earthquakes, as well as those who have been affected by other disasters recently, in your prayers. Let us also remember the responders as they bring aid to these communities."
* Adventist Development and Relief Agency
Tue, 02/04/2020 - 11:11
In today’s hustle and bustle, it is easy to take for granted the things that are most common to us: our cars, our houses, our jobs. But, imagine being laid off unexpectedly, and the rainy day fund rapidly drying up. For those who are not fortunate to get assistance, the result could inevitably mean a radical life change — homelessness.
That’s the reality of 552,830 people who experienced homelessness on a single night in 2018, according to the latest figures from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Many of those individuals are veterans, people with disabilities, and youth under the age of 25.
According to HUD, the states making up the Southern Union collectively had an estimated 70,087 people experiencing homelessness on any given day in 2018: Alabama, 3,434; Florida, 31,030; Georgia, 9,499; Kentucky, 3,688; Mississippi, 1,352; North Carolina, 9,268; South Carolina, 3,933; and Tennessee, 7,883.
Between 2017 and 2018, homelessness nationwide increased slightly by 0.3 percent, according to HUD. While the increase is not drastic, it is not decreasing. That raises a frequently asked question: What is being done to help the homeless? Better yet, what are Seventh-day Adventists doing?
The issue of homelessness, of helping the needy, actually has long been a concern of Seventh-day Adventists, as noted by Ellen White.
“In the great cities, there are multitudes living in poverty and wretchedness, well-nigh destitute of food, shelter, and clothing,” says White in Welfare Ministry, p. 173.
Many Adventist churches and institutions across the Southern Union work with the homeless in their communities in a variety of ways. Here are some ways members are reaching this part of their communities.
Making an Impact
At Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee, students frequently assist Project Rescue, an organization that helps the homeless by providing meals to more than 300 families per week, as well as other services. Student clubs such as Empowering Minds have volunteered there as a group project, handing out meals and canned goods to individuals experiencing homelessness. Additionally, once a year the ministry organizes a block party offering free haircuts, manicures, clothing, and connection, and Southern participates in this annual tradition.
In North Carolina, members of the Charlotte Central Spanish Church take food and other necessities, such as socks and underwear, to wherever the homeless may be — at a shelter, on a park bench, under a bridge. The members are inspired by the words found in Matthew 25: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me” (NIV).
In Memphis, Tennessee, every second Sabbath of the month the Longview Heights Youth Department packages 40 to 50 “Blessing Bags” of small necessities and passes them out in the community. They also recently had a clothing drive, and also provided toys and books.
“We realize that we need to get out in the community to help others,” says Ayana Boyd, who coordinated the event. “I think too many times we are sitting in church, listening to what the pastor is saying, and not applying those lessons in our lives. The youth felt that we can use one Sabbath in a month to go out and be difference-makers.”
A few hours south in Soso, Mississippi, 88-year-old Florence Knight Blaylock (a.k.a. The Pie Lady) voluntarily bakes between 70 and 80 sweet potato pies for the Good Samaritan Soup Kitchen at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The kitchen serves the homeless people in the Soso area, providing close to 1,000 meals.
Blaylock moved from California back to her hometown in Soso to be with family, and is a member of the Soso Seventh-day Adventist Church. She and her late husband were retired, but she felt compelled to help those in need.
“I just like doing things for people. I find it rewarding,” says Blaylock. “I can’t sing, play the piano, or preach, but I can feed you.”
In Huntsville, Alabama, the First Seventh-day Adventist Church is preparing to mobilize their First Church Homeless Community Mobile Feed Ministry by meeting people where they are.
“I’m passionate about serving, period, but I know this is a community that a lot of people are either afraid to serve, to talk to, or intimidated by these people,” says Minnie Anderson, who oversees the ministry. “I am not, because I know when I talk to someone, the Lord will give me the words to say to reach them at their level.”
In addition to serving food, small trinkets are passed out as a reminder of God’s love, and most importantly, hope for a better tomorrow.
“I’m giving away trinkets that remind them of the Kingdom,” adds Anderson.
In Nashville, Tennessee, members of Madison Campus Church have a pancake breakfast for the homeless each Sabbath morning at a local Adventist Community Services center. Other area Adventists also use the center as a place to provide counseling for the homeless, as well as other services to help improve their situation.
“People mingle with those who come to eat, do Bible studies with them, and sometimes they’ll bring individuals from the pancake breakfast to church,” says Chelsea Inglish, youth pastor at Madison Campus. “I think reaching out to absolutely anybody is exactly what Jesus did. He came alongside people and helped them no matter where they were.”
While there are a number of ways to deal with homelessness, the most effective solution is to prevent it, according to the AdventSource website.
“Timely focused assistance to families can often prevent a crisis from becoming a catastrophe, and keep people out of homelessness. Prevention assistance can take several forms. The most common are … rent, mortgage, or utility assistance and budget counseling.”
The problem of homelessness should also be viewed in the context of the larger community environment, according to AdventSource.
“Those who advocate for this population must enlist the support of all segments of the community who are affected by the problem. The key word to helping the homeless is networking. By networking with other agencies, your Adventist Community Services program can develop a large range of service alternatives, which can be packaged individually for each client. These unique services are tied together by agencies with a common purpose, to help the homeless.”
Indeed, we all can do something to help the homeless, or any of our brothers and sisters who may be in need. In doing so, with humble hearts, we will be able to receive the reply in Matthew 25: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (NIV).
— Zachary Boyd is a freelance reporter and a radio personality in Memphis, Tennessee; this article is the main feature in the February 2020 Southern Tidings magazine; read the original version here.kmaran Tue, 02/04/2020 - 06:18
Pueblo First Seventh-day Adventist’s Angels of Kindness program is serving a need for the less fortunate in Pueblo, Colorado. On the second Sabbath of every month, a group of volunteers prepare a warm, fresh meal for those in need in the Pueblo area. They set up tables and chairs at the local Mineral Palace Park near the center of downtown and those that have fallen on hard times come to fellowship and enjoy a warm meal with our volunteers.
“Some 14 years ago, a church member had a dream to help the homeless population in Pueblo in some tangible way. He recognized that meals were not being served to the homeless on weekends, which left many of these individuals hungry,” said Christy Kraus, Pueblo church communication director. “This was also a population that was not easy to access as they tended to stay in the shadows of the community,” she commented.
In the last couple years, Calvin and Suzanne Bennett have taken leadership of this program. The ministry is run only by personal donations either in funds or food.
In addition to providing the hot meal, they hand out sack lunches, giving them another meal for later. The ministry provides clothing, sleeping bags, tents, backpacks, hygiene items and first-aid supplies. Once the “felt” need is met, volunteers share prayer and a listening ear, as well as Bibles and reading material.
“We average 60 people at each meal, sometimes reaching more than 100. A few years ago; we realized there were so many in the community that might not be homeless, but still needed warm meals and assistance, so the name changed from feeding the homeless to “Angels of Kindness: where all are welcome”. We have families with little children, young adults trying to find their way and elderly individuals looking for food and fellowship,” Christy explains.
Pastor Anton Kapusi joined Pueblo First Church in the spring of 2019 and was overwhelmed by how many church members meet in the park and by their responsiveness to this ministry.
“We need to do all we can to meet the needs of those hungry for warm meals, even if it means multiplying the ministry in other parts of the city and on other weekends,” Kapusi said.
We have seen so many miracles in this ministry, Calvin Bennett comments. “Just like when Jesus fed the 5000, we have had times that we knew we didn’t have enough food and yet there is always enough. Being in Colorado, we never know what the weather will be like. We have experienced snow, rain and wind that miraculously ceased during the time we were serving the meal and then started up again when we were done,” he explained.
The church receives a permit from the Pueblo Parks and Recreation Department to provide this service and the Pueblo County Health Department continues to give us a permit, even though many other church groups have had theirs rescinded. Besides the blessing of helping others in our community, seeing God’s miracles, and spreading the love of Jesus; this ministry has strengthened church fellowship and some church members have become more active in the church. The ministry has also brought new individuals into our community of faith.
“We know that God is the power behind this mission and sharing his love is the motivation. Serving people in our community is a continual reminder that Heaven is our home and we are not there yet,” adds Christy Kraus.
— From Christy Kraus, for the Rocky Mountain Conference; click here to read the original article.kmaran Tue, 02/04/2020 - 05:13