Archive for March, 2012
Florida Conference In Mission is a monthly video series about people reaching people.
This month’s report is on Indigo Christian Junior Academy’s successful implementation of the CREATION Health program in students’ daily routine.
Video produced by Adventist Health System for its 2012 Conference On Mission.
by Geoff Patterson, senior pastor, Forest Lake Seventh-day Adventist Church
I used to live by the saying, “If God had wanted us to see the sunrise, He would have scheduled it later in the day.” Then, I had children. It did not take me long to discover they didn’t care at all what time I went to bed, they were still going to get up early.
I go to bed a lot earlier now than I used to. As a bonus—though I am not certain it is a bonus I longed for—I have seen many more sunrises in the past 16 years than I intended to see in my lifetime.
I mention all this not for the sake of sympathy, for what I have experienced is no different from anyone who has raised a family. Rather, I mention this to make a point: when opportunities, blessings, and responsibilities increase, nothing unplanned and unprovided for will ever happen consistently.
Getting to the real point of these words: there are very few who would argue there is little value in devotions—spending personal time in Bible reading, reflecting, and praying. In fact, most would affirm these things are critical to personal spiritual health. Yet, as I have discovered in my own life, it is one thing to affirm these words, but altogether another to actually live them.
My own history with Bible reading, reflection, and prayer was uneven for many years. I knew I wanted to read my Bible each day, but sometimes struggled to know how much reading was enough. Because it was several years before I included a reflective journaling component in my devotional time, there were days when I must admit the noise in my mind quite effectively blocked out anything I was reading. What I needed was a plan.
Nine years ago, I found the plan I needed. Since then, my devotional time has become the strength of my life.
A quick word about plans: I believe everyone needs to have a plan for daily Bible reading, reflection, and prayer. I do not, however, believe one plan will work for everyone. My plan works perfectly for me, but it does not work for my wife or my eldest son. That is okay, they have their own plans which nurture their spirits.
Do you have a plan?
For my plan to work, I need to be alone in a quiet house. In my house, that means early morning, and so it is that I drag myself to the shower around 5:15 each morning. Do I have to get up this early to make my worldly appointments on time? No. But I have a Heavenly Appointment that I just can’t afford to miss. I have a time, I have a place, I have a plan, and I have a Heavenly Father who meets me each and every morning.
It is the most important thing I do every day, my own personal Son-rise before the sunrise.
Yes, it’s early. Yes, it’s tough. But starting the day with God is what I want and need most.
I have a plan. It’s hard sometimes, but it works for me. Do you have a plan? You need a plan.
We want to hear from our members throughout Florida Conference. We invite you to share ways/experiences in which you find special meaning to your devotional time. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Gladys Neigel
Indigo Christian Junior Academy (ICJA) in Daytona Beach is making news this year as the pilot school for CREATION Health Schools, a three-way partnership between ICJA, Florida Hospital, and Florida Conference.
A CREATION Health School is one in which the CREATION Health principles are applied to the school as an institution, with the goal of holistic health for all within the school’s influence. “We are not only seeking to teach CREATION Health principles to our students; we want to help them live it,” says Jerry Wasmer, Daytona Beach Church pastor. “As a board, as staff, and as a whole school, it became clear we would have to live it also.
“We wanted to see what it would look like if we allowed these God-given principles to affect every area of our school—not just to see how we measure up, but because we believe God wants us to grow. We quickly saw that His vision is much broader and much better than we would have ever thought.”
Board members decided they wanted to see these principles reflected in the DNA of the school, allowing the principles to impact planning and decision-making in every area, from lunch programs to building plans, policy to paint color, from parent training to the day-to-day functions of the school. Nothing would be off limits.
Preparation for the pilot program began during the 2010–2011 school year with the school board, teachers, and students learning health principles covered by the CREATION acronym. The school board systematically measured every area of the school against the ideals, taking note of areas needing improvement and already strong areas that could be built upon. The board set a limited number of major goals for the following year. Students collectively set classroom goals for the 2011–2012 pilot year with teams of students empowered to implement the following goals and ensure they were reached:
A classroom economy model to learn money management and how to make responsible decisions.
Weekly sleep charts with a goal of eight hours.
Eight live plants per classroom.
Pedometers, set walking goals, and plan a fitness trail.
30 minutes in prayer every Wednesday and a Prayer Lock-in event.
Student of the week and a school bonding campout.
Classroom commitment to speak positively, and a funny wall to go to for a laugh when life gets them down.
Weekly “vegetable tray day” for a healthy snack.
The upper grades completed a week of classes at Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center in February. As a combination of their science curriculum and CREATION Health, students learned many aspects involved in healing the whole person. In addition to regular class work, students spent time each day learning from health professionals, experiencing the work done in different departments, and participating in hands-on projects in several areas including nutrition and pastoral care. Their visit to the pathology lab, where students examined an amputated foot with gangrene and a lung complete with a tumor, was covered in the journal, ADVANCE for Medical Laboratory Professionals.
“It is so exciting to visit the upper grades at ICJA under Principal Kari Wasmer,” says Sandra Doran, Florida Conference Associate Superintendent of Education. “The students are functioning at their best—making decisions, taking ownership, and fully engaging in important tasks that matter to them.”
Wasmer, principal and Grades 5–8 teacher; Calina Gibbs, Pre-K and Kindergarten teacher; and Karen Thomas, Grades 1–4 teacher, have seen the following results since implementing the CREATION Health Schools pilot program:
- Enrollment more than doubled.
- More community visibility and better reputation.
- Improved test scores.
- Students more engaged and empowered.
- Student attitudes are positive and constructive.
“ICJA students say that CREATION Health is awesome and exciting, because it makes learning fun,” says Lynell LaMountain, Senior Manager of CREATION Health/Mission Development for Florida Hospital. “They love finding new ways to apply the principles of God’s original plan for living an abundant life. It’s transforming their lives and school.”
“Christ’s ministry reaches the whole person,” explains Pastor Wasmer, “and our schools are a prime venue for impacting the current and future health of our children. All we’re really doing is trying to sense God’s direction and join His mission to help His kids live healthy, happy, and productive lives.”
by Sandra Doran
From an all-time high of 23 students three years ago, Osceola Adventist Christian School in Kissimmee has 78 students sitting at their desks today, with many more knocking on the doors.
“We are excited how the Lord is blessing,” says Nury Perez, principal. “Every week, we get calls from parents interested in finding out more about our program.”
Such inquiries spring from the good news that is spreading all over Osceola County. “The best kept secret in Kissimmee” is going public with an expanding physical plant, enhanced curriculum, and excited teachers and students. Beginning with just one room and an accordion divider, the school recently obtained a 5,600-square-foot modular building, donated by a friend of church member Don Gray. He, along with Kissimmee Church Pastor Ronaldo DaCunha and church members Manley Voorhees and John Beatty, arrive daily to refinish walls, seal the roof, install wiring, and paint doorways. When students arrive for the coming school year, they will find five new spacious classrooms.
“The whole thing is a miracle,” says Perez.” The blessings just keep coming.” The school has acquired two donated school buses and is currently involved in a strategic school improvement plan through funds administered by the Osceola School district. Professional development is provided by the Aha! Group which trains teachers in standardized test score analysis, effective teaching strategies, and how to raise student achievement.
In March, Southern Union Conference Education Associate Director Diane Ruff presented a three-week evangelistic series at the school, resulting in baptisms at five surrounding churches. On May 5, the school will host a benefit concert featuring Chosen 4 Christ.
“Keep an eye on Osceola Adventist Christian School,” says Frank Runnels, Florida Conference Education Superintendent. “This school is on the move!”
by Daniela Monzon
What happens when you take energetic Forest Lake Academy students to a neighborhood in need? Simply magic! During the Just Do Something Mission Week, planned by Impact Ministries of Central Florida, students experienced what serving God through their actions is really all about.
Each class was divided into randomly selected groups to make repairs on houses in Apopka that needed a little tender loving care. The anxious participants had no idea what to expect as each group, led by a student leader from the Servant Leadership class, made their way to meet the resident whose house would be transformed.
As introductions were made and jobs were assigned, the crew embarked on the day-long journey to touch somebody’s life with what they thought would only be unspoken words and actions. As the day progressed, students began to slowly warm up to their residents, eventually talking with them and taking time to meet and play with their kids.
The more comfortable the students began to feel in this new environment, the more efficient the work became. Classmates began to bond. People who hardly ever talked started getting to know each other through teamwork, asking each other for help in a job they could not complete alone.
In that one Just Do Something day, classmates saw each other in a new light as they joined for a common purpose: To be the hands and feet of Jesus to people needing it most, so they may see Jesus through the students and everything their actions convey.
Perhaps you have heard by now that the Lord has opened a marvelous door for Florida Conference. For several years, our office operations have been challenged by a shortage of storage. We have storage in two additional locations in the Orlando area. In addition, the food distribution service of the Adventist Book Center (ABC) has grown rapidly. We are now handling distribution of health food for conferences up and down the east coast. This has necessitated the ABC looking for a way to add freezer and refrigeration space at another location.
As you may have already read in our January 30 news release, the Florida Department of Transportation approached the Florida Conference Executive Committee regarding the need to widen Interstate 4—the primary traffic artery through the City of Orlando. To our amazement, instead of claiming eminent domain, the Florida Department of Transportation decided to buy our entire facility, and the purchase was completed in January 2012.
This certainly has caught all of us by surprise. It was never the Conference Administration’s expectation that this providential development would take place, but we are looking for God’s leading as we move into the future.
I hasten to add, we are very mindful that the office is only a place from which to empower ministry and evangelism in the territory where we have been asked to serve. By God’s grace, the office relocation will not be an end in itself. It is merely a tool for assisting congregations and pastoral leaders with the mission of reaching people for Jesus—and what a great mission we have!
There is nothing more fulfilling than to be in the business of leading people to Jesus; seeing God transform lives. The real work of leadership happens among our people each day.
Please pray for God’s leading as we discern our next steps. God doesn’t often lead more than a step or two at a time, but that is okay. In this way, He keeps us in an attitude of surrender and dependence. We may not foresee the direction He will take us, but He always has a plan and a path for us if we are open to His guidance.
Please also pray that we will be discerning of how to uphold the real work of ministry which happens through the loving service of our members and pastoral leaders.
by Lisa Ziegele
Students at East Pasco Adventist Academy, Zephyrhills, Fla., pledged to keep hands off drugs by placing their handprint on a large placard displayed in front of the school. They joined others across the nation in raising drug awareness and encouraging healthy choices during the celebration of National Red Ribbon Week.
The highlight of the event was an energetic assembly featuring “The Body Evangelist” Casio Jones, Wellness Director at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills. A sought-after health and wellness fitness educator and trainer, Jones has his own fitness TV program entitled Action 4 Life. He engaged students with colorful object lessons, a relay team obstacle course, and a rousing exercise session overridden with an inspirational message of living healthy and drug free.
Daily Red Ribbon Week themes included: Put a Cap On Drugs, Sock It To Drugs, Shake Out Drugs, and Wear Red Day/Pledge Day. Activities throughout the week included a poster contest and a variety of educational activities in the classrooms.
by Sandra Doran
When Gordon Retzer, Southern Union Conference President, challenged his staff in 2009 to “find some way to be involved in evangelism,” Diane Ruff, Office of Education Associate Director for Elementary Education, listened intently.
Knowing exactly where her energies needed to be focused, Ruff could not resist the calling any longer. “I kept asking myself, ‘What can I do to lead children closer to Jesus?’”
That question prompted a commitment from Ruff to conduct one evangelistic meeting each year in Seventh-day Adventist schools. This year, Osceola Adventist Christian School in Kissimmee, Fla., benefitted as the third school to host Ruff’s energizing presentations, Truth 4 Youth.
Designed to reach children between the ages of 5-13, which researcher George Barna has discovered is the “most effective window” to lead people to make a lifelong commitment to Christ, the series of meetings included memory verses, arts and crafts, prizes, and preaching.
Prior to starting the evangelism series in Kissimmee, Ruff worked in cooperation with five area Adventist churches to form a framework of support for the effort that included a three-week series at the school and a second campaign held on three Sabbaths at Kissimmee Spanish Church. “This gave the church school students an opportunity to share their faith by inviting friends to church,” says Ruff.
At the conclusion of both series, the churches rejoiced together with a joint baptism.
by Lisa Gary
“Is this the year Florida Adventurers will be coming for their Super Fun Day?” Giles Malone, Space Coast State Fair Manager, asked Lisa and Brad Gary, Florida Pathfinder Lay Adventurer Directors.
For the past 10 years, Florida Adventurers have held a bi-annual Super Fun Day during the Space Coast State Fair in Viera, Fla. Malone graciously provides space within the fairgrounds for the event, food booths, and a parade at no charge.
With Heart of a Hero as the theme, more than 1,400 Adventurers, their families, and 50+ volunteers gathered to learn about heroes of yesterday, today, and in the Bible. To begin the day, Pedro Perez, Florida Conference Youth Director, presented a devotional on how to be a hero to others and, most importantly, to God.
With the mission on helping others on their minds, Adventurers turned in more than 500 pairs of donated glasses to benefit the nonprofit organization, OneSight. They also came with 12 Bible verses memorized about heroes who relied on the Lord.
Crafts and games were offered throughout the day which highlighted the hero theme. In addition, historical and biblical heroes, dressed in attire of their day, visited with Adventurers in exhibit areas.
Members of the Sheriff’s Department were grand marshals for the parade that included 19 wagon floats illustrating the theme and pulled by Adventurers through the fairgrounds. The children and adults distributed Adventurer brochures during the parade, resulting in many inquiries about the ministry from fair goers.
Following closing thoughts and prayer by Robert Hines, Florida Conference Associate Youth Director, Adventurer families helped clean up the area which, later in the day, prompted Fair Manager Malone to say, “I would always welcome the Adventurer Ministries back, as they are the easiest and most pleasant group I ever work with.”
by Olga Simmons
A three-week Countdown to the End Series, conducted by Shian O’Connor, Cayman Islands Family Life Director, resulted in 75 baptisms and 13 recommitments to Christ at Lauderhill, Fla., Church. Viewers from more than 10 countries, as far away as Uganda on the continent of Africa, tuned in via the internet to view, chat, and submit prayer requests.
Highlights of the services included the baptism of Eddy John whose wife, Angella, had prayed for him to accept the Sabbath for 25 years; and the baptism of Elecia Williams who drove from Nantucket, Mass., to be baptized after viewing the series on the internet.
In addition, the Family Life Sabbath sermon, I’m Getting Married In the Morning, saw husbands and wives in the congregation recommitting to each other.