Archive for February, 2011
by Amy Hunter
This past fall, in partnership with Jennings Lake Church, the Three Rivers Regional Library System organized a Hispanic Festival and Health Fair in Mayo, Fla. Advertising was done by flyers, Hispanic newspaper, and word of mouth that resulted in approximately 1,000 people attending the event.
Organizations and professionals providing services for the day included: medical students from University of Florida, Florida Division of Forestry, Lafayette County Health, Migrant Education from the Lafayette Schools, Quit Smoking, Elders Option, First Federal, WUFT-TV, children’s ID program by the Lafayette County Sheriff, and Immigration Law by Attorney Henry Lim. Also, grants were provided by Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Florida Literary Coalition.
Jennings Lake Church member Amy Hunter, who serves as Literacy Coordinator for the Three Rivers Regional Library System, suggests that fellow church health fair planners form a partnership with area health institutions and local businesses.
by Robert Janssen
Residents of Florida Living Retirement Community in Apopka displayed the results of their God-given talents at an Arts and Crafts Display held in the Retirement Center’s meeting room for three days in mid-January.
Forty-six different art mediums were represented by 21 senior citizens, including: intricate needlework, calligraphy, wood crafts, Christmas decorations, stained glass, and ceramics. The show also included pictures from seven resident artists. An item that drew considerable attention was a hymnal translated into the Chichawa language that is used in Malawi, Africa.
The purpose of the show was to encourage residents to get involved in making useful items that can be shared with others.
by Lauren Baillie, a seventh grade student at Miami Springs Adventist School
During the summer of 2010, a voice kept ringing out in the head of Miami Springs Church deaconess Mary Merrifield, “Bears for Africa! Bears for Africa!” Mary knew it was the Holy Spirit urging her to do something for kids in the hospitals in Chad, Africa. She had recently received e-mail from fellow church member Michelle Figueroa, who was doing missionary work in Chad, telling how much the kids in hospitals were scared and in need of comfort.
It is a scary experience for children going through a stay in the hospital. Needles, sickness, unfamiliar faces, doctors, operations, etc. are not things that tend to make kids comfortable. Even worse is to be a child in a hospital without that parental comfort—just like the kids in the hospitals and clinics of Chad. Fathers are at their jobs, working hard to earn only about two dollars a day so they can support their families. Mothers are caring for their other children or family members, working, etc.
Mary then had an idea: “Give the children teddy bears.” It was simple idea that would bring joy and comfort to any child. She remembers when the firefighters in New Hampshire would give teddy bears to the children who saw their house burn down before their eyes, and she thought it would be a great thing to give the kids. So, Mary reached out to her church and, in total, 23 bears were shipped to Africa. In a month’s time, they would bring smiles to children in hospitals who had no one to stay and comfort them, as well as bring the love of Jesus Christ.
“We’re all family,” said Mary. “So, we should help others, because we have so much here in the United States. It would be nice to know that people are helping others in need. This is pretty much a call to action from the Lord, telling us that even though we are going through a period of struggle, there are still people who need to hear the Good News of Jesus.”
There are still many kids in the hospitals of Chad who need to see, hear, and experience the love and comfort that God gives all of us. Mary urges everyone to pray for peace and comfort for these children. These kids have so little, but a prayer to God can change anything and everything.
by Mauva McKenzie
Pathfinder Cultural Diversity Day, a premiere event of its kind, was held December 5, 2010, at First Church of West Palm Beach where 175 Pathfinders and staff from eight clubs met to earn honors, sample food from various cultures, and get to know each other.
The day began with a performance by the West Palm Beach Drum Corp and a colorful parade of flags. Following opening ceremonies, Pathfinders and staff were given a description of the three honors being offered: Cultural Heritage, Cultural Diversity, and Cultural Food Preparation.
After the requirements for each honor were outlined, Pathfinders learned about the language, food, and history of the 15 countries represented—Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States.
Plans for the Sunday event were made by a committee comprised of Stu Davis, Astrid Jean, Ronnie Diaz, Chrystine Diniz, Michael Teter, and Area Administrator Mauva McKenzie. Lending support to the event were Florida Conference Pathfinder Director Pedro Perez, Assistant Director Freddy Rodriguez, and State Representative Calvin Brooks.
Not only was Cultural Diversity Day filled with fun, it was spiritually uplifting. As participants learned about various cultures, food, and traditions, they reflected on how diverse heaven will be with people from around the world drawn together in Jesus Christ. Those in attendance agreed they look forward to the day when all people will live under the government of God and spend eternity with Him.
by Ashley Gomez
Forest Lake Academy’s campus was extremely quiet one Sabbath morning this past September. In fact, most dormitory and village students were still in their beds with no intention of waking up.
Anyone who saw the previous week’s schedule might have suspected the students were simply exhausted after attending beach vespers the night before. In the serenity surrounding the normal Sabbath School start time, it seemed unimaginable that a few hours earlier—at 2 a.m. to be exact—the campus was bustling with students trying to find the hidden location of Underground Church.
Pleased to see young people darting to and fro while trying to avoid getting shot by squirt guns, Stephanie Johnson, Campus Chaplain, explained, “I wanted the kids to experience, in a fun way, what it might be like to wake up one morning and not be able to attend church. While we only had the threat of squirt guns, some people around the world have the real threat.”
To start the event, students who dragged themselves out of bed and those who never slept at all met in the Campus Chapel for instructions, group placement, colored wristbands, and directions that would ultimately lead them to the final destination.
Once they found Underground Church (in the bus barn), the service began. Praise music was sung a capella, guest speaker Zach McDonald presented his closing week of prayer sermon, and select students gave their testimonies through the eyes of Christian martyrs. A riveting skit triggered the students to contemplate what it might be like to, one day, face persecution
“I wanted to draw the students’ attention to what it means to stand for their faith,” says Johnson. “I wanted them to ask themselves, ‘What would I stand for?’ We all need to know where the line is which we would never cross.”
The thematic skit placed perspective on the service and paved the way for a Jesus Freak ceremony. After praying in groups, students signed Jesus Freak contracts (see sidebar, below), and each departed carrying a prayer candle.
“The skit was fun; yet, an eye-opener,” reflects senior Ryan Becker, one of the cast members. “It really brought home the reality of what we very well may face in the future.”
Underground Church—Jesus Freak Contract
From this day forward…
I will make a difference.
Jesus, I thank You that You suffered and died for me on the cross to pay for my sins. Father, I thank You that You raised Jesus from the dead to be my living Lord and Savior. Holy Spirit, I thank You that You will lead me to do the right thing and change the world.
Today, Lord, I want to make You a promise. I will not be ashamed of Your name or Your Gospel.
I will do what I can for those who are persecuted and pray for them.
I will look enemies in the eye and love them with Your love. I will pray for them and love them—no matter what the consequences.
I will follow Your voice wherever You lead me, unafraid, for I know You will be with me.
If I should stumble, if I fall, if I should deny Your name, if I should feel guilty that I did not pray or forgot to do something You’ve asked me to do, I will not quit. I will not wallow in guilt. I will turn back to You, confess my sin, and do what You called me to do, because that is why You died for me.
I will stand with You and my brothers and sisters around the world, because no matter what happens, no matter what I face or how it looks, in the end, we will be victorious—we will inherit eternity and heaven with You. I can do nothing else, because,
…I am a Jesus Freak.
by Monica Preddie
The much-anticipated dedication of the Frostproof, Fla., Company church building was held with Avon Park Pastor Paul Boling and George Brown, Avon Park church elder and retired Inter-American Division president, officiating. Located on four acres, the church property includes a large, remodeled three-bedroom house that has been renovated into a place of worship with a capacity of 80. The facility also accommodates children’s Sabbath School classrooms and space to hold Sabbath luncheons.
An outbuilding on the property is a two-year-old 50′ x 80′ building, 16′ high, being renovated for future church services. The inside is completely framed with areas for children’s Sabbath School rooms, a mother’s room, bathroom facilities, storage, and a balcony area that will be used for office space, as well as sound and projection.
The plan is to complete construction of the church building in three stages as funds become available. The members continue to build on a voluntary cash intake basis with an objective of completing the church building project debt free under the direction of Lay Pastor Rupert Preddie.
Frostproof Company was started approximately three years ago with 14 Avon Park Church members who wanted to plant a church ten miles north of their community. Today, there is a congregation of 50+ members actively involved in outreach such as:
- Soup and sandwiches served to homes every second Sunday with Bible studies being given to three adults.
- Bible studies through correspondence courses with one person baptized and another currently taking the course.
- Food to needy families in cooperation with Frostproof Care Center, a local community service organization.
- Sponsorship of a student missionary to Denmark for a year.
- Bible study group that meets in the sanctuary every Sabbath afternoon and also on Thursdays in the community.
Frostproof Company members solicit consistent and fervent prayers to make their new church a lighthouse for the Lord.
by Paul Campoli
John and Elsie Baker celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary August 17. They first met in 1947, and married less than a year later. John says, “When you know something is right and God is in it, you just need to go on and do it.”
Since moving to North Port, Fla., in 1978, John and Elsie have been vital members of Venice Church where church friends and family helped Elsie celebrate her 96th birthday on October 24. Loved by their church family, the Bakers have faithfully supported and joyfully served in various capacities and are likely to be found giving praise to God for the many wonderful blessings He has given them in their life together. John currently serves as a church elder.
Elsie retired from her career as director of a Head Start Program in New York. John is a World War II veteran and a retired U.S. Postal Service employee.
The Bakers’ have five grandchildren and a son who lives in New York. Their daughter passed away in 1991.
by Sammy Reyes
“Listen, O heavens, and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” —Deuteronomy 32:1-2
It’s raining nonstop at Greater Miami Adventist Academy (GMAA) where God is pouring out His blessing and wonders on the school through a new vesper program.
With a staff of more than 20 members, the New Rain Experience is held every other month with more than 600 attendees becoming one body, one mind, and one soul for one night as they worship together.
The school gym becomes a sanctuary where the Holy Spirit moves in breathless ways. There are moments where the worshipers know and feel that the mighty and powerful God is with them. GMAA students, Pro-Musica choir, teachers, and parents who give their time and gifts are an essential part of this program that has refreshed the spiritual life of students and their families.
New Rain Experience is a place where students and their parents come and experience God together. Parents who have not accepted Jesus as their personal Savior come to the program, and they have been blessed by listening to the Word of God. After attending one of the New Rain programs, several visiting parents from surrounding Adventist churches felt the presence of God leading them to place their children at Greater Miami Adventist Academy so they can be blessed as well.
by Gladys Neigel
Arne Nielsen was voted Vice President for Integrated Youth Ministries December 7 by the Florida Conference Executive Committee. He came to the Conference as Superintendent of the Office of Education in 2006.
His career began at Mt. Pisgah Academy, Candler, N.C., as a teacher/coach and continued there as boys’ dean, vice-principal, and principal/business manager. For seven years, he served as principal/business manager at Maxwell Adventist Academy, Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to joining Florida Conference, he was Superintendent of Education for the Idaho Conference in Boise.
He replaces Jim Epperson, Ed.D., who retired December 31 after 45 years of service as an academy teacher and principal, college administrator, and local conference and union conference director/vice president of education.
Nielsen and his wife, Teen, have three sons: Josh, 23; Jake, 21; and Jesse, 17.