July | August 2024

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Southwestern Union Dust of the Ground, Breath of the Divine 4 Room to Grieve 10 Building Resilient Families Connecting Our School Communities 12 13 The Gift of Life 6 Our Core Beliefs Assurance in Death and Resurrection July | August 2024

Our Core Beliefs

Editor’s Note

In 2024, the Record magazine is exploring six of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The July/August issue examines the 26th fundamental belief, which discusses death, the state of the dead and the resurrection. This issue also features Richard Dye, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference president, on the cover.

Seventh-day Adventists believe that the wages of sin is death, but God grants eternal life to His redeemed. Death is not commonly viewed with hope and assurance, yet life for the believer does not end with their final breath on earth. We have hope of being reunited with loved ones, hope for a world free of sin, and most importantly, hope of spending eternity with God. How does this change our outlook and give hope where there is usually so much grief and despair?

Kristina P. Busch





KRISTINA P. BUSCH | KBusch@swuc.org


LORI FUTCHER | LFutcher@swuc.org


TAMMY G. PRIETO | TPrieto@swuc.org


Arkansas-Louisiana Conference

FRANCES ALCORN | News@arklac.org

Oklahoma Conference WES VIA | News@okla-adventist.org

Southwest Region Conference

LESLIE SOUPET | News@swrgc.org

Texas Conference KENN DIXON | News@txsda.org

Texico Conference

DEBBY MÁRQUEZ | News@texico.org

Southwestern Adventist University Communication@swau.edu


ELIZABETH CAMPS Elizabeth.Camps@adventhealth.com









TAMMY G. PRIETO Record@swuc.org


To change address, email your local conference editor listed above or Record@swuc.org.


News articles and obituary submissions should be emailed to your local conference editor listed above or Record@swuc.org.


Equipping, inspiring and sharing hope and wholeness in the Southwestern Union territory.


The Record is published bimonthly for a total of six issues per year and is an official publication of the Southwestern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Adventist® and Seventh-day Adventist® are the registered trademarks of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists®

Southwestern Union


P.O. BOX 4000, BURLESON, TX 76097 817.295.0476 | SouthwesternAdventist.org

President Carlos Craig

Executive Secretary Stephen Brooks

Treasurer John Page

Undertreasurer Bo Just

VP Church Ministries Tony Anobile

VP Education Carol Campbell

VP Multicultural Ministries Osvaldo Rigacci

Children’s Ministries Sonia Canó

Church Planting Robin Lopez

Communication Kristina Busch

Community Services Bo Gendke

Evangelism English Stephen Brooks

Evangelism Spanish Osvaldo Rigacci

Family Ministries Letty Craig

Health Ministries Randy Phillips

Human Resources Joel Wallace

Men’s Ministries Tony Anobile

Ministerial Tony Anobile

Ministerial Spouses Letty Craig

Native Ministries Carlos Craig

Personal Ministries Stephen Brooks

Prayer Ministries Helvis Moody

Prison Ministries Tyrone Boyd

PARL Stephen Brooks

Revolving Fund Joel Wallace

Sabbath School Sonia Canó

Secondary Education Mike Furr

Stewardship Tony Anobile

Planned Giving/Trust Services Bo Just

Women’s Ministries Letty Craig Young Adult/Youth Ministries Helvis Moody

Conferences & Institutions

Arkansas-Louisiana Conference Arklac.org | 318.631.6240

Oklahoma Conference OkAdventist.org | 405.721.6110

Southwest Region Conference

SouthwestRegionsda.org | 214.943.4491

Texas Conference

TexasAdventist.org | 817.783.2223

Texico Conference

Texico.org | 505. 244.1611

Southwestern Adventist University SWAU.edu | 817.645.9921

AdventHealth Central Texas

AdventHealth.com/CentralTexas 254.526.7523

AdventHealth Rollins Brook

AdventHealth.com/RollinsBrook 512.556.3682

Texas Health Hospital Mansfield (AdventHealth)

TexasHealthMansfield.org | 682.341.5000

Texas Health Huguley Hospital (AdventHealth) TexasHealthHuguley.org | 817.293.9110

July | August 2024 Vol. 123, No. 04
Features 4 Dust of the Ground, Breath of the Divine 6 The Gift of Life 10 Room to Grieve Columns 11 Equipping: Death and Resurrection 12 Ministries: Building Resilient Families 13 Education: Connecting Our School Communities News 14 Southwestern Happenings 15 Southwestern Union 18 Arkansas-Louisiana Conference 23 Oklahoma Conference 28 Southwest Region Conference 33 Texas Conference 38 Texico Conference 43 AdventHealth 44 Southwestern Adventist University Back Pages 46 Classified Ads 47 Milestone and Obituaries
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Faith and Assurance

There is so much going on in the world today: wars, politics, pandemics, etc. This can fragment families, friends, churches and workplaces. We all need assurances in life. I have worked in accounting throughout my career and I know we all like the assurance of a paycheck in the bank on payday. Also, we do accounting all year and give reports to our committees, but after the year is over the auditors come to review our work to make sure what we have done is correct. The auditors issue a report to our committee and members to give assurance that the finances are done properly.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were given a command by Nebuchadnezzar to bow down and worship him. If they didn’t, they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. These three men had hope and assurance that even if God didn’t get them through the fire, they would spend eternity with God. Most of us will probably not have to make a choice like that in our lifetimes, but like Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego, we know that God will take care of us and we have the assurance of salvation.

In Philip Yancey’s book The Bible Jesus Read, he writes in a chapter talking about Job, “I hesitate to write this because it is a hard truth, one I do not want to acknowledge: Job convinces me that God cares more about our faith than our pleasure.” This is a very interesting concept. God doesn’t prevent all bad things from happening to us but if we have faith in Him through the hard times our faith will be made stronger. Jesus defeated Satan and death on the cross. Because of Jesus, when we choose Him as our Savior, we have the assurance of the resurrection. Why is that important? We know that if something were to happen to us or a loved one, we will be reunited again in Heaven. This hope gives us an assurance that we will live forever with God. This is what we need to remember on the tough days.

This assurance in Jesus is so amazing that sometimes it doesn’t seem possible. The God of the universe paid the price for my sin, and all I have to do is claim Jesus as my Savior. And when I accept Him as my Savior, He will change me on the inside. I have the assurance

of everlasting life with God. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Do you know and feel that assurance today? Do you have questions? Check in with your local pastor and explore how much God loves you and how you can be sure of the Second Coming and a life in eternity with the Savior. a

3 JULY | AUGUST 2024
On The Record

Dust of the Ground, Breath of the Divine

Our Core Beliefs Feature RECORD MAGAZINE 4

In the beginning, God utilized two elements to create man: dust and breath (Genesis 2:7). While dust was the earthly component, breath was the divine one. The union of dust and breath made man a living soul. The term soul is translated from the Hebrew term “nephesh,” which derives from the Hebrew verb “naphash.” The verb “naphash” means to breathe. That indicates that God created man to be a living breather. This means that man does not have a soul. Rather, man is a soul. As long as he stays connected to the source of breath, he will remain a living soul.

Unfortunately, sin drastically altered God’s creation. While the union of dust and breath had bought life, death created separation. This concept is significant because death represents an undoing of God’s creation. Notice how separation takes place.

~ The body returns to the dust.

Genesis 3:19. Ecclesiastes 12:7.

~ The breath returns to God. There is a separation of body and breath. Ecclesiastes 12:7. Matthew 27:50. Mark 15:37. Job 34:14-15.

~ Like man, animals were also created from dust and breath. Hence, death also separates the dust and the breath from the animal. Genesis 2:19. Genesis 7:21-23. Ecclesiastes 3:18-22.

However, as soon as sin entered the world, the plan of redemption was implemented. The plan of salvation involved the promise of receiving life again after having died. God’s greatest blessing for His creation was to make dust live (Genesis 2:7). Sin’s greatest curse was to return the dust to its initial condition, to be dry land (Genesis 1:9-10, 4:10-11). At first, the ground was God’s means to give life (Genesis 1:11-12, 24-26). After sin, the role of the ground was to receive back the human dust. There is no other place where dust

goes. Dust does not have a place of torment. Moreover,

God’s work of creation in the beginning did not include a place of torment.

The promise of resurrection was first implied in Eden in two ways. One, God promised the serpent that the seed of the woman would crush his head (Genesis 3:15).

response to the problem of sin and death was to offer humanity the promise of resurrection or a new creation.”

Satan’s ultimate defeat and man’s final restoration were assured. Two, before expelling the first couple from the garden, God clothed them with tunics of skin (Genesis 3:21). Their leafy coverings were not enough (Genesis 3:7). By faith, they needed to accept and wear God’s gracious provision.

God also alluded to the idea of resurrection while interacting with Jacob. This time, the Lord presented Himself to the patriarch as the God of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 28:13). By this time, one of Jacob’s forefathers, Abraham, had already died and returned to the dust. Isaac was still alive. Nonetheless, the living God considered Himself to be their God. The implication was clear and meaningful.

~ God does not reign over dust or virtual names. He governs over real people.

~ Based on their faith, Jacob’s forefathers will again become real people.

God reiterates the same view to Moses and the children of Israel (Exodus 3:6,13,15,16; 4:5). Nevertheless, he does it in a new and pivotal context.

Israel was in bondage, and God was going to liberate His people. Thus, He

revealed Himself as “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). God’s name is associated with eternal life. It’s derived from the Hebrew verb “to be,” which is then cited in the imperfect tense as YHWH. That means that He has no past or future. He only exists in the continuous present. Whoever serves Him will not die forever. Instead, they will live an ongoing present for eternity. Jesus clearly understood and correctly interpreted this passage in the light of the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 20:37-38, Matthew 22:31-32, Mark 12:2627). God’s early response to the problem of sin and death was to offer humanity the promise of resurrection or a new creation.

The concept of resurrection became very special for New Testament writers. For them, eternal life is based on the divine miracle of reuniting the breath with the body through resurrection. Without resurrection, there is no hope (1 Corinthians 15:13, 16-17,32). The hope of life is not founded on the existence of an immortal (bodiless) soul. It is established on the beautiful truth that our gracious God will breathe one more time on the dust and the dead in Christ will live again. What a glorious promise given to man! a

is a professor and the department chair for the Department of Religion at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas.

5 JULY | AUGUST 2024

The GIFT of Life

Reflections on Death and Resurrection

Note from the Editor: The following is the fourth in our 2024 series featuring a president from within the Southwestern Union territory as they explore one Adventist fundamental belief and how it has affected their life, faith and ministry.

When what should have been a straightforward procedure went drastically wrong, Richard Dye’s life abruptly hung in the balance. Many health concerns culminated in a serious situation. His kidneys were failing, and in the process of putting in a port, an artery in his neck was stabbed, causing severe bleeding. He would need to be revived four times before being stabilized.

Meanwhile, other complications, sepsis and a month-long coma ensued. When he awoke, he faced a long recovery, relearning to walk and grappling with the physical and spiritual implications of his near-death experience. Two decades later, as president of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference, Dye

reflects on this event through the lens of his Adventist beliefs, which underscore his profound gratitude for life, hope in life after death and the promise of the resurrection.

Dye was born into a ministerial family with his father and grandfather working as pastors for the church, and he was surrounded by faith from an early age. Yet, he says he questioned his path during his teenage years. His journey wasn’t straightforward; it involved wrestling with the call to ministry—a calling he ultimately embraced after recognizing it as not merely a job but a divine appointment. “Ministry is a calling,” he says. “Trying to run away from God’s calling doesn’t work well.”

Following his recovery, Dye rededicated himself wholeheartedly to the ministry, channeling his energy and faith into his pastoral duties. Over the years, he served in various capacities in the Mid-America and Southwestern Union, influencing communities with his

Our Core Beliefs Feature

leadership and spiritual guidance. His journey from pastor to conference and union leadership roles culminated in his election to lead the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference in 2018. In this role, Dye has focused on encouraging spiritual growth, community engagement and mission-driven initiatives, reflecting his vision of a church actively engaged in fulfilling its divine mandate. “I believe God has a vision for every church to make a difference in that community, and I believe it’s the pastor’s and leaders’ role to find out what that mission is,” he says.

His experiences, including his brush with death, continue to inform his compassionate approach to leadership, emphasizing the Adventist message of hope and resurrection. He remains convicted of the Adventist belief that

death is a sleep-like state until the resurrection. This is a doctrine he says offers comfort and hope amidst the often-painful realities of life and death. In a conversation he had after his recovery with his wife’s employer, a psychiatrist who was curious about his near-death experience, she inquired if he had seen bright lights or had outof-body experiences. Dye’s response was grounded firmly in his experience, which confirmed his belief in the words of Ecclesiastes; he explained that he experienced nothing. “It’s just as the Bible says—you close your eyes and know nothing until your eyes open again,” he told her.

Dye’s intimate encounter with death shaped his life and ministry, creating a sense of urgency in sharing that our focus isn’t death—it’s the gift of life.

“It isn’t just about what happens after we die; it’s about how we live our lives today, with the assurance of God’s ultimate justice and love.”

While he focuses his efforts on utilizing the gift of his life and encouraging others to do the same, he’s also reassured in the hope of resurrection. He thinks of close family members who have died, of biblical heroes he’d like to meet, but he also thinks of people he’s met in passing, of the “divine appointments” he’s had.

He recalls a flight he was on one evening, pleased to have a sparsely populated plane with space to relax, and remembers feeling disappointed when several people chose to sit near him. Instead of a peaceful rest, he found himself engaging with fellow passengers—a distressed couple, both of

Our Core Beliefs Feature RECORD MAGAZINE 8

whom were Pentecostal pastors, and a curious woman. The woman, intrigued by Dye’s Bible, initiated a conversation about Christianity that led her to commit her life to Christ that very night.

After Dye shared truths from the Bible and prayed with the woman, the nearby couple turned to him and shared that they were feeling very low. In fact, they were reeling from a visit they’d had with an oncologist, who’d given them the unfortunate news of the wife’s terminal cancer diagnosis. She was given three to four weeks to live. Together, the group of four shared scriptures and prayers, comforting each

other and worshiping God for the duration of the flight. Though they parted at the end of the flight, Dye never forgot those individuals.

“I’m looking forward, frankly, to the resurrection, the coming of Jesus, because I believe in my heart of hearts that those three individuals are going to be there. I’d really like to introduce them to my wife and my family.”

“Ministry is a calling. Trying to run away from God’s calling doesn’t work well.”

When Dye thinks of death and resurrection, he says that we should not be fearful; we have reason to hope and should be encouraged to embrace the comfort and certainty of God’s promises and look forward to the joy-

ous reunion that awaits. “When we talk about death and resurrection, it might seem hard to see hope. But that hope is what keeps us going, knowing that the next waking moment for those who have passed in Christ will be to see Jesus at His coming.” a

Jessica L. Lozano. Lozano is a writer and consultant from Northwest Arkansas. Photos by Debbie Upson, Ozark Adventist Academy Digital Media. Richard Dye is the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference President. He lives in Waskom, Tex. with his wife, LaVonne. They are parents to two adult sons, Richard and Steven.

Our Core Beliefs Feature
9 JULY | AUGUST 2024

ROOM TO grieve

Be yourself, be present and be who you are called to be.

the following are three tangible steps you can apply to yourself or a friend going through a difficult time. These steps are taken from the precursor to the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:27 (NKJV), “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Connect the mind and the heart. The church setting has taught many of us to be quite intellectual, which is not bad, but God created us to be holistic beings. Notice that the text tells us to love with our hearts, souls, strengths and minds! We are also called to minister this way. Show up for others with your whole person present.

How can one minister effectively to someone who is experiencing loss?

Working at Texas Health Huguley for the past year and a half has given me a different perspective on this. As a conference pastor and religion professor, my immediate go-to when facing death was pointing people toward the blessed hope. This is not the worst thing, but I did not realize that in doing so, I was often telling others they were not allowed to traverse in sorrow. Through my chaplaincy training, I now know I was missing a much-needed step when facing death. It is simple, yet profound. It is deep, yet discomforting. It is needed, but often overlooked: plain and simple grief.

A friend of mine lost his mother recently, and I had a choice to make.

I could revert to my old way of ministering or embrace my new training. Instead of telling him to remember the good times, celebrate her life, or that he would see her again on resurrection morning, I did something else. I chose to sit with him in discomfort. This was hard to do, but it was needed! I sat with him and gave him room to grieve.

We often think our job is to cheer people up, but I beg to differ; our more profound calling is to be with people in the pits of life. This, in essence, is the beginning of grief. It allows people the space and time to do what they need to cope with loss. Ministering this way is difficult because you may not know what to say or do, but the ministry of presence is powerful beyond measure. In order to bolster this ministry more,

Relax in discomfort, whether for yourself or others, and learn to be okay with not being okay. Rely on God for strength, but know that mourning while leaning into Him and others is key. Be yourself, be present and be who you are called to be. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Be the love the Savior is compelling you to be in your unique way.

How can you effectively minister to yourself and others facing loss? Connect, relax, be yourself and leave room for grief. a

Swoopes is the Regional Director of Clinical Mission Integration for AdventHeath’s Southwest Region.

Our Core Beliefs Feature

What Adventists Believe About Death and Resurrection

Most people have wondered at some point about death, the afterlife and where they will end up. No one on this earth lives forever. It’s not something we really like to think about. It may even feel like an uncomfortable subject. But the question remains.

The good news is that we do have a reliable source that tells us how to navigate this tough subject. Seventh-day Adventists uphold what the Bible says about what happens when we die and after we die. The Bible says those who have died know nothing. That means we aren’t aware of the passage of time after death. We aren’t aware of what’s happening in the world. Death is like a deep sleep. Your body and spirit rest as the breath of life—which makes body and soul one and alive—has returned to God until the resurrection. Those who have died are resting peacefully in the grave. They are not in pain. They are not somewhere else being tormented. They are simply waiting in the grave until Jesus comes back.

When Jesus returns at the end of time, all who have died believing in Christ will have a bodily resurrection and go to Heaven with Him. This is the first resurrection. This is the Good News! Believers have the hope of eternal life because they place their trust in the Lord Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 says: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and

so we will always be with the Lord” (ESV).

The second resurrection happens after a thousand years have passed. This resurrection is for those who were unfaithful to Christ. These are the lost people who decided not to follow Christ during their life on earth. Revelation 20:5 says, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection” (ESV). Unfortunately, these people are not raised to eternal life but will face the second death.

If you want to be a part of the first

resurrection, you need to seek a relationship with God. Accept Jesus as your Savior today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” (ESV).

You can live a life of faith and be a part of God’s faithful people. Through reading God’s Word you will learn more about Him. As you study the Bible and pray, you will build a relationship with Him. You can accept Jesus as your Savior and follow Him. It will be the best decision you ever make! a


BELIEF #26: Death and Resurrection

The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later.

(Job 19:25-27; Psalms 146:3,4; Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10; Daniel 12:2,13; Isaiah 25:8; John 5:28,29; 11:11-14; Romans 6:23; 6:16; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 20:1-10)

11 JULY | AUGUST 2024

Building Resilient Families

A teacher by trade, Letty Craig knows firsthand the influence that a safe and secure home can have on a child. Likewise, the impact of a tumultuous home often leaves scars into adulthood. Craig is the Southwestern Union family ministries director. Letty and her husband, Carlos, who is the Southwestern Union president, are passionate about ministering to families and empowering them to protect the sanctity of their homes.

“The family is like a kingdom,” says Craig. “We need to keep it united by the grace of God.” The Craigs conduct family ministries seminars throughout the Southwestern Union territory, providing helpful tools for families of all shapes, sizes and stages. Together, they have developed these seminars in both English and Spanish: The Family Designed by God and La Familia Diseñada por Dios.

In their seminars, the Craigs help participants understand the four stages of marriage identified by author Gary Chapman: spring, summer, autumn and winter. “Marriages are in a perpetual state of transition,” Chapman says, “continually moving from one season to another—perhaps not annually, as in nature, but certainly and consistently. The cycle repeats itself many times throughout the life of the marriage.”

Craig helps couples identify what stage they’re in and respond appropriately. For example, she reminds those in the winter season that spring is coming and that they still need to have a little spice in their lives.

In addition to the seasons of marriage, the Family Designed by God seminars discuss families in crisis and how to repair them. They explore the challenges and opportunities presented by integrated families, blended families, teen parents and single-parent

households. They discuss the needs of men and women, how to be a forgiving person and how to operate with emotional intelligence.

The Craigs have been married for 40 years, are the proud parents to three grown children and are doting grandparents to six grandchildren. They worked in youth ministries for many years, driving their desire to see children, teenagers and young adults make Jesus their best friend, because these young people grow to become parents, pastors, teachers and leaders in their communities and churches.

“I’m family oriented,” says Craig. If you step into her office you will know that to be true. The joyful smiles from

all the photographs of her family greet you as you walk in. “I believe every family should have that, a focus on being family oriented.”

If you would like to know more about how your church can foster and grow healthy families, we encourage you to contact your local conference family ministries director. If you’d like to host a Family Designed By God | Familia Diseñada Por Dios seminar, contact Letty Craig at lcraig@swuc.org. a


Connecting Our School Communities

The Southwest Region Conference Education Department is making a concerted effort to connect their leadership to their local school communities. In today’s diverse educational arena, visiting various school communities within the Southwest Region Conference is sure to significantly enrich one’s understanding and the communities themselves. These visits offer opportunities for fostering mutual respect, sharing best practices and building a more cohesive and compassionate educational environment. Drawing inspiration from Jesus, who frequently visited different communities to teach, heal and build relationships, our schools will model the profound impact of such engagement.

Building Relationships and Understanding

Jesus’ ministry was marked by His travels from one community to another. These visits were not just about preaching, but about understanding the needs, hopes and struggles of the people. Similarly, visiting Southwest Region Conference schools allows educators and administrators to build meaningful relationships. It opens avenues for understanding different educational approaches, faith values and cultural practices that shape each community.

Promoting Mutual Respect and Tolerance

In an age where misunderstanding and intolerance can easily flourish, visiting different school communities promotes mutual respect. Jesus taught love and respect for all. By engaging with diverse school communities, educators and students learn to appreciate the uniqueness of each faith tradition. This fosters an environment of tolerance and respect, essential for nurturing well-rounded and empathetic individuals.

Sharing Best Practices

Every Adventist Christian school has unique strengths and innovative practices. When educators visit these schools, they can share and learn from each other’s successes and challenges. Jesus often shared parables and teachings that were relevant to the specific audience he addressed, demonstrating the importance of contextual wisdom. Likewise, exchanging ideas and best practices among schools can lead to improved educational outcomes and holistic development for all students.

Encouraging Holistic Development

Faith-based schools often emphasize the deavelopment of the whole person—spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical. Jesus’ interactions with always addressed the whole person, offering spiritual insight, healing and practical advice. By visiting various schools, educators can observe and implement holistic educational strategies that benefit all aspects of a student’s development, ensuring they grow into well-rounded individuals.

Strengthening Community Bonds

Jesus’s ministry was deeply community oriented. He understood the power of collective effort and the strength that comes from unity. When our school communities within our conference connect through visits and shared activities, they build stronger bonds. This unity can lead to collaborative initiatives, joint community service projects and a supportive network that benefits students, educators and families alike.

Inspiring Faith and Commitment

Visits to different schools can be spiritually enriching. Seeing how other communities live out their faith in education can inspire a deeper commit-

ment to one’s own beliefs and practices. Jesus often drew strength and inspiration from His encounters with different people. Similarly, witnessing the dedication and faithfulness of other school communities can inspire educators and students to deepen their own faith and commitments.

Annual Education Day Rally

To further strengthen our bonds, we plan to host annual education day rallies representing all communities within the Southwest Region Conference. Students from different school communities can come together to celebrate their shared values and diverse talents. Such a gathering not only celebrates educational achievements, but also mirrors the heavenly gathering of believers from every nation, tribe, people and language.

These visits are an effective way to build understanding, respect and collaboration. Inspired by Jesus’s example of community engagement, such visits can lead to enriched educational experiences and stronger community bonds. By stepping into the Southwest Region Conference territory, you will experience progressive growth in our schools and reveal that we can work together to create a more inclusive, compassionate and quality educational environment that is safe and inviting for all students to learn. a

Education 13 JULY | AUGUST 2024


Independence Day

Union and Conference offices closed.



10 Days of Prayer | Quarter 3 Virtual Program




AMEN Free Dental, Medical, Vision Clinic, Baton Rouge Seventh-day Adventist Church




Catalyst: Church Planting & Revitalization Summit (English) Mission Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church TexasAdventist.org



Catalyst: Church Planting & Revitalization Summit (Spanish) Mission Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church TexasAdventist.org



Family Ministries Training San Antonio Area TexasAdventist.org




Church Officer Training, Baton Rouge Seventh-day Adventist Church LMelendez@arklac.org



Local Church Treasurers’ Training Valley Area, TexasAdventist.org



Pathfinder International Camporee Gillette, Wyoming



Communication Workshop

Houston Central Seventh-day Adventist Church TexasAdventist.org



Virtual Health Evangelistic Series MBelizaire@arklac.org



Catalyst: Church Planting & Revitalization Summit (English) San Marcos Seventh-day Adventist Church, TexasAdventist.org



Catalyst: Church Planting & Revitalization Summit (Spanish) San Marcos Seventh-day Adventist Church, TexasAdventist.org



Church Officer Training Northwest Arkansas LMelendez@arklac.org



Women’s Ministries EndItNow! Abuse Prevention Day Various church locations AArchibald@swrgc.org



Evangelism Training Central Area, TexasAdventist.org



Family Ministries Training Dallas Area, TexasAdventist.org



Prison Ministries Emphasis & Training Houston Area, TexasAdventist.org



PARL Rally, Shreveport, La. LMelendez@arklac.org



Day of Service by Women’s Ministries Various church locations AArchibald@swrgc.org



Local Church Treasurers’ Training San Antonio Area TexasAdventist.org



Adventist Community Services’ Training, Austin Area TexasAdventist.org

30-Sept. 2


Spanish Family Camp, Camp Yorktown Bay, RAlvir@arklac.org

RECORD MAGAZINE 14 Southwestern Union News Happenings

2024 National Pathfinder Bible Experience

BURLESON, TEX. – The Pathfinder Bible Experience (PBE) North American Division level testing event took place in Greeley, Colo., on April 19-20, 2024. The Southwestern Union is excited to announce that we had 26 teams advance to the national level. We are very proud of all our Pathfinders and the hard work that they put into studying the Word of God. We thank God for all the parents, coaches and staff supporters who spent countless hours with these precious Pathfinders. We want to acknowledge everyone because it’s a

whole lot of work, but we believe it will have a long-lasting impact for Christ. At PBE events, teams of Pathfinders are given 90 questions to answer about the books they have studied. The books they studied for 2024 were Joshua and Judges. We encourage Pathfinders to get involved in studying the Word of God!

Next year’s PBE will cover the books of Romans and 1 Corinthians. You can start studying now. If you don’t have a team and are interested in participating, please reach out to the Southwest-

ern Union Young Adult/Youth Department, and we will gladly share more information with you!

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth,” 2 Timothy 2:15.

Congratulations to all our teams! To God be the glory!


Advent Hope Bilingual San Angelo Rams

Arbuckle View Warriors

Central Tulsa Spanish Pioneros

College Station Light Bearers

Conroe English Cougars

Dallas Newlife Simbas

DFW Fil Am Tamaraw

Duncanville Disciples

Edinburgh Castles

Fairview Mosaic Christian Fellowship Flames

Frisco Crosswalk Fellowship

Garland Spanish Polaris

Houston Little York Generals

Houston Spanish Spring Branch Guerreros

Keene Rocketeers

Midwest City Spanish Soldados de Cristo

Odessa Light Bearers

Regional Central Spanish Alfa y Omega

Richardson Thunder

Tyler Trailblazers


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Houston Spanish Bellaire Eagles

15 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Southwestern Union News

Valuegenesis: Understanding Adventist Youth

RIVERSIDE, CALIF. – The Valuegenesis Project has been a cornerstone in understanding the lives and faith of Seventh-day Adventist youth for more than 30 years. This collaboration, involving the North American Division Office of Education, La Sierra University and a team of researchers, embarked on its fourth study, Valuegenesis 4 (VG4), beginning in October 2021. Through decades-long research, including previous studies in 1990, 2000 and 2010, Valuegenesis offers invaluable insights into the spiritual growth, challenges and changing dynamics within our youth community.

VG4 aims to deepen our understanding of Adventist youth today, building on questions of faith development, community engagement and personal challenges that have been part of the project’s fabric since its inception. According to FaithInstitute.org, the Valu-

genesis Project seeks to answer questions about Adventist youth like, “How are they doing in their faith and development, school life, family and personal growth?” and “Are they doing better or worse than they were 10, 20 or 30 years ago?” The study maintains a core set of 209 survey questions, covering crucial areas such as personal spirituality, church involvement, family and educational influences and pressing issues like mental health and lifestyle choices. Additionally, VG4 introduces new areas of inquiry to reflect emerging societal trends and concerns, including online activity, mental well-being and global awareness.

The insights gained from VG4 are precious for church leaders and members. They offer a mirror reflecting our youth’s current state and guide us in shaping more engaging, supportive and relevant educational, spiritual and

family environments. The project underscores the importance of our collective role in fostering a faith community where young people feel understood, valued and inspired.

An official website has been launched, giving church members direct access to the project’s findings. The team is actively publishing the results online and is preparing a detailed report to be released soon. This report will offer an in-depth analysis of the current state of our youth’s faith and lifestyle, highlighting how these have evolved over the last 30 years. Visit the Valuegenesis website at FaithInstitution.org.

RECORD MAGAZINE 16 Southwestern Union News
17 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Southwestern Union News COMMUNITY. CONSCIENCE. FAITH. 2024 Southwestern Union 2024 Southwestern Union Public Affairs & Religious Liberty Summit Public Affairs & Religious Liberty Summit Shreveport, LA SouthwesternAdventist.org NOV NOV 22-24 22-24 Early Bird Registration Available August 1, 2024 September 27-29, 2024 COWBOY & BIKER CAMP Lone Star Camp Athens, Texas Register Today! SouthwesternAdventist.org

Reminiscing 25 Years Later

As I am writing this today, I was reminiscing about things 25 years ago. My hero, my dad, passed away from leukemia after battling it for over 10 years. This was probably one of the saddest days of my life.

Let me tell you a little about my dad. He lived life to the fullest. He was brave, bold, tender and gentle. He loved Jesus with all his heart. He had his flaws, but his character and growth in Jesus transformed him.

He had a passion for men and women to come to know Jesus. That had been his work as a pastor and discipler of Jesus. He believed powerfully in the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit to change and transform the lives of men and women to become sons and daughters of God.

I share this with you because of his unwavering faith in Jesus and his unshakable faith in the soon return of Jesus. He would preach about the Second Coming. He would teach about death as sleep, and then what a great day it would be on resurrection morning!

Dad and I got to talk very seriously

about things just before he passed. He wanted to make sure that I would take care of my mother, the love of his life, and that I would continue to be faithful to the calling which God had called me to: ministry. “Keep on keepin’ on” was his encouragement. He said, “Someday soon, we are going to be together with Jesus for eternity. What a great day that will be!”

When we had finished the interment at the cemetery, someone asked me if it was hard to conduct my dad’s funeral service. I remember replying, “Yes, it is difficult to bury your father, but his was much easier than many.” I remember this person asked me, “Why?” I replied, “When someone, like my dad, walked with Jesus so much, there is always hope and encouragement. It makes a service so much easier.”

Twenty-five years later, I can say with certainty, I look forward to the soon return of Jesus! Death is but sleep! Jesus has already conquered death and the grave. A great “gettin’ up morning” is fast approaching. You and I have hope for today and hope for tomorrow.

Scripture encourages us, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have keys of death and of Hades’…He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” Revelation 1:17-18; 22:20-21 (NASB1995).

Arkansas-Louisiana Conference

Pre-evangelism in New Iberia District


IBERIA, LA. – Pre-evangelism work in the New Iberia district took the shape of a wellness seminar to prepare and equip our bodies and minds. Ninety people attended these seminars and demonstrations with at least 10 non-Adventist visitors. Many remarked what a great blessing they received. As we are drawing closer to the end of

time, we understand that many disasters and sicknesses will arise, some old and many new. We, as a church, need to prepare to help our neighbors when in need.

Weekend seminars included: “How to Resolve Conflict” (enjoying good health by being happy and calm), “Mind Cure” (changing our mindset to

Women’s Ministries in Shreveport


LA. – Shreveport South Seventh-day Adventist Church has a thriving women’s ministries department that meets each month for spiritual renewal, as well as fun and fellowship. Recently, the women met in the church fellowship hall for an afternoon tea with about 25 women, including eight of

the younger women of the church. Following the tea, the women watched a video sermon by Lola Moore Johnston and discussed the study book, Pursued (by God’s Love). This is a book the North American Division has recommended for churches to use with their women’s ministries programs. Each

be in harmony with God and how positive relationships affect our health) and “How to Grow Your Church.” On Saturday evening we saw demonstrations on common illness causes and treatments, followed by a financial health seminar.

Sunday morning found the group doing hands-on activities as they learned about the blessings of a flu balm, footbaths, green smoothies, throat compresses using cayenne and cabbage for swelling and other interesting and important natural remedies. God has given us food and herbs to use for healing.

We want to thank the teams from Wellness Secrets in Decatur, Ark., for coming to teach us and demonstrate many of these remedies. People were given the opportunity to consult with one of the teams from Wellness Secrets regarding their individual needs. You can contact Wellness Secrets at 479.752.8555.

month the women have been reading the book and watching the sermon video that goes along with each chapter. The women have been richly blessed in this ministry.

19 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News

What Do We Do With Conflict?

SHREVEPORT, LA. – Being new to the Arkansas-Louisiana (ARKLA) Conference and to the South, I never imagined the diversity of cultures that I would find here. Arkansas-Louisiana is multicultural indeed; we have churches not only for our Latin American members, but also for those from Eastern Europe, the Pacific Islands and Asia. We also have a Korean and a Marshallese church. I am fascinated at how well these groups have integrated themselves into the American South and the communities that have received them. I think that is a testimony to the Christian spirit that pervades the Bible Belt.

Along with the joy of worshiping with people of different backgrounds comes the pain of language barriers, misunderstandings, cultural traditions, stereotypes, and just plain living—all part of living on this side of eternity.

In the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference office we have a young man working in the Treasury department who is from Papua New Guinea. How many times have you heard exciting missionary stories from this part of the world? Brendon Kilanda, pictured right, left side with Rodolfo Alvir, came to Southwestern Adventist University six years ago, spent some time learning English and graduated with an accounting degree. I have enjoyed getting to know him and hearing some of the fascinat-

ing stories that have been touched on in the Sabbath School Quarterly so many times. He mentioned how the first missionaries came to Mussau Island as a miracle, as they were pushed off course by a stormy wind and wrecked. The islanders were so angry by the intrusion, they did not allow the stranded people to come to shore. Eventually, the missionaries ran out of food, so they started singing. The hymns had a soothing and calming effect on the local warriors until they were no longer angry, but curious. Somebody said, “When we sing, we are praying twice.” God could work His miracles in the lives of people who did not know Him. Kilanda said that his people have always had only one way of resolving conflict and that was through war. Absolutely no dialogue; just gather your warriors and we will fight. The group that wins will get to decide. But Christianity brought a new way of dealing with conflict and today a great percentage of the island is Christian.

Back to the United States and our present churches. How do we deal with conflict? Sadly, it seems that we have not learned the lesson of Jesus, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9. A peacemaker is someone who actively seeks to reconcile people to God and to one another. This compound word is composed of two words,

peace and maker. The word “peace” is “shalom” in Hebrew; it is often used as a greeting and has a connotation of offering health, prosperity, harmony and wholeness to the recipient. It means perfect welfare, serenity, fulfillment, freedom from trouble and liberation from anything which hinders contentment. The word “make” comes from the Greek verb that means “to do” or “to make.” It is a word bursting with energy. It mandates action and initiative. Someone has to drag the combatants to the table and give them a reason to put down their arms. A peacemaker is never passive. They always take the initiative. They are up and doing. As Christians, our first instinct should be to resolve the issue through dialogue. The Lord says, “Come and sit down, let’s talk.” God’s purpose is to resolve, not to fight and destroy. He has come to save, not to condemn. So, members, let’s talk. Let’s learn to fight our battles God’s way, reasoning together and letting the Holy Spirit soften our hearts to love each other more than we love our own ideas. Shalom! Peace to you all! And may God continue to work in our lives and churches.

RECORD MAGAZINE 20 Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News

Ozark Adventist Academy Reformation Tour

GENTRY, ARK. – In March of 2024, students in Ozark Adventist Academy’s (OAA) choir and orchestra traveled to stand in the caves where the Waldenses once stood. They heard their own voices echoing off those same cold, earthy walls where youth their own age were massacred and martyred for what they believed.

Ozark’s music director, Gabriel Blotor, fluent in French, born in Romania and a graduate of the Music Conservatory in Strasbourg, France, led OAA students on a Reformation Tour through six European countries in 11 days. They visited landmarks of the Protestant Reformation like the All-Saints Church in Whittenberg, where the 95 thesis was nailed. Their tour took them through Italy, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Vatican and Switzerland.

Although our music students had the acoustical experience of singing in one

of the cathedrals in Florence, Italy, and in other Adventist academies in Europe, the tour was not about formally scheduled concert events; it was an educational tour. Its intent was to enable students to see the effects of the Reformation in our present-day churches and to understand the defining elements of who we are as a people and how we got here. To grasp the impact that Martin Luther had on our current Protestant music and understand how the effect of his life has rippled down through the ages to us and into our churches is an education in itself. Prior to the Reformation, church music was mainly restricted just to priests and monks. These are some of the interesting aspects of the tour that reverberated through the minds of our students as they traced the steps of God’s servants through the well-trodden streets and valleys of Europe. And it is our prayer

that OAA students will appreciate the religious freedoms we have that many who went before us did not have.

21 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News
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Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News

Searcy Women’s Ministries

SEARCY, ARK. – The Searcy Seventh-day Adventist Church held a women’s ministries program in March called “Ignite Your Prayer Life,” by Debbie Miller. Prayer is a necessity for the Christian. Prayer is an opening of the heart to God as a friend. Jesus Himself was our example, arising early on a daily basis to pray. Prayer ignites your life in four ways: change, hope, unity and forgiveness. We also focussed on five important

women of the Bible: Priscilla, Dorcus, Ruth, Deborah and Hannah. Each was used by God and gave us lessons in faith, charity and perseverance.

Christine Harmon was recognized for her many contributions to various projects. She has been faithful through the years by making colorful crochet hats for Carti and St. Jude Hospitals.



Notice is hereby given that the 36th Regular Session of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists will be held Sunday, Oct. 27, 2024, at Texarkana Convention Center, 2910 S. Cowhorn Creek Loop, Texarkana, Tex. 75503. The meeting will convene at 9 a.m. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. This constituency session is being held for the purpose of receiving reports for the past quadrennium, the election of officers, departmental directors and executive committee; and the transaction of such other business as may properly come before the delegates. Each church/company is entitled to one delegate for the organization. The remaining delegates shall be apportioned based on the percentage of church membership to the total conference membership as of June 30 of the year preceding the session.

Richard C. Dye, Sr., President; Jeff Villegas, Executive Secretary


Notice is hereby given that a meeting of the Arkansas Conference Association of Seventh-day Adventists will be held in connection with the 36th Regular Constituency Quadrennial Session of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2024 at Texarkana Convention Center, 2910 S. Cowhorn Creek Loop, Texarkana, Tex. 75503. The first meeting will convene at 9 a.m. The purpose of the meeting is to elect a board of trustees and to transact such other business as may properly come before the meeting. Delegates to the 36th session of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists are delegates of the Arkansas Conference Association of Seventh-day Adventists.

Richard C. Dye, Sr., President; Marjorie Downs, Association Secretary


Notice is hereby given that a meeting of the Louisiana Conference Association of Seventh-day Adventists will be held in connection with the 36th Regular Constituency Quadrennial Session of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2024, at Texarkana Convention Center, 2910 S. Cowhorn Creek Loop, Texarkana, Tex. 75503. The first meeting will convene at 9 a.m. The purpose of the meeting is to elect a board of trustees and to transact such other business as may properly come before the meeting. Delegates to the 36th session of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists are delegates of the Louisiana Conference Association of Seventh-day Adventists.

Richard C. Dye, Sr., President; Marjorie Downs, Association Secretary


Assurance in Death and Resurrection

Two experiences with death in my family showed me the difference between having no hope and having hope and assurance in death. The first was when my grandfather died when I was 12 years old. It was my first experience with death in my family, and the shock and uncertainty I felt were immense. No one in my family talked about his passing, and seeing him in the casket was a new and frightening experience for me. I left for school in the morning, said goodbye to him and when I came home, his room was empty.

This left a hole in all our hearts, yet there was no talk about hope or assurance in life after death. I grieved as one who had no hope. Although only God knew his heart, I had no assurance of seeing him again. And because our family was uncomfortable discussing death, I never heard anyone talk about the certainty of reuniting with him in the future. My family had Christian roots, but we were not attending church and had very little knowledge about the Bible. Some mentioned that he was in Heaven, while others said he was resting in the grave. As a young boy, this was very confusing.

Fast forward 40 years, I had been an Adventist pastor for 17 years and had

baptized my mother, brother, sister and two nieces. When my mother died, I conducted her funeral and preached about the blessed hope of the resurrection. However, when we went to the cemetery and they were lowering her body into the grave, a thought suddenly struck me: “Do you really believe what you preached in the chapel? Do you believe she will rise from this grave?” I believe those words came from the enemy. But just as suddenly, another thought entered my mind: the words of Jesus to Martha at the grave of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, shall live. And he who lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 11:25-26. I chose to believe the voice of Jesus, and with it came hope and assurance.

These two personal experiences with death showed me how the belief that Jesus has conquered death through His death and resurrection brings me great hope in my life and my preaching. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 that the dead in Christ will rise, and those who are alive will be caught up to meet them in the air. What a blessed hope! Paul also wrote that the last enemy to be destroyed is death. Death and its fear have been conquered.

I also like to visualize the scene described in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed… So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”

These verses give me comfort, hope and the assurance of life beyond death.

Oklahoma Conference 23 JULY | AUGUST 2024

Smile and Serve: Community Dental Health Outreach

OKLAHOMA CITY – “My brother has needed dental care for years but was afraid to go to a dentist and was also concerned about cost. He hasn’t smiled big in years. Dr. Van Zyl was able to put him at ease, work on his teeth and he can now smile!”

“We haven’t had the funds to get our teeth cleaned, and both my daughter and I were able to get our teeth checked and cleaned. The hygienists were so kind!”

“I’ve had some serious issues with my teeth but no funds to get them fixed. Dr. Proud patiently took care of all the issues and there wasn’t much pain. I am in tears with a grateful heart for this service.”

These were the grateful comments from some of the participants of the dental health outreach on Sunday, March 10, 2024, a busy day at the Central Seventh-day Adventist Church. In partnership with the Oklahoma Conference’s Native Ministries and Life and Health teams, the church members provided volunteer support to register, assess health status, connect with participants, assist the dental team and provide follow-up. Thanks to almost 30 volunteers, everything ran like clockwork and 26 participants (both tribal and others) received the expert care they needed. Many of these participants expressed interest in knowing more about our faith, and all expressed

gratefulness for both the service and kindness they received. We will continue to pray for each participant. Our prayer before the event was that God would send us those who needed our help and that He would shine out of each of us as we ministered to each participant.

Special appreciation goes to each of the leaders who helped organize this event: Native Ministries and event leader, Jim Landelius; Central Seventh-day Adventist Church senior pastor Lonnie Carbaugh, event Chaplaincy director (he also spoke with each participant); Ezra Otieno, from Life and Health (he drove all the equipment and supplies from California and set up/ran equipment and more); dental assistant, Julie Marewha who coordinated all the dental activities (and recruited the dental

assistant and hygienists); dentists, Dr. Nathan Proud and Dr. Ettienne Van Zyl; dental hygienists, Carey and Jenny; dental assistant, Stephanie; registration director, Susan Gay; medical clearance director, Nelly Njaramba; food director, Sue Bishop; plant directors, Bill Sims and Dick Lorenz; and hospitality directors, Micah and Diana Modrell. Also, thanks to Rick and Cindy Mercer for opening up their home for two volunteers who lived far away. Many thanks to all the other volunteers who selflessly gave up a Sunday (during the time change) to share God’s love. This event was truly evangelism in action!

RECORD MAGAZINE 24 Oklahoma Conference News

Hispanic Women’s Ministries Retreat

TULSA, OKLA. – In the intricate tapestry of the Christian faith, stories of rescued, redeemed and renewed women stand as profound reflections of divine grace and resilience. More than 200 ladies joined us March 23-24, for a Hispanic women’s ministries retreat.

Yaqueline Tello from Mexico and Eve Mora from Oklahoma City were the event speakers. Letty Craig, Southwestern Union women’s ministries director and Cindy Mercer, Oklahoma Conference women’s ministries director, shared encouragement and plans for the upcoming year. Cristhal Picos, from Mexico, provided inspirational music for the weekend. This event was organized by the Hispanic pastors’ wives with support from the Oklahoma Conference and Southwestern Union.

The blessings of God were experienced and we will never forget that we are rescued, redeemed and renewed in Jesus Christ.

To continue inspiring women of the healing power of Christ, Oklahoma women’s ministries extends a warm welcome of invitation for a faith-filled and inspirational retreat at Wewoka

Total Solar Eclipse and Outdoor School

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma students had a first-hand experience viewing a total solar eclipse in the southeastern corner of the state on April 8. The Antlers Seventh-day Adventist Church was in the path of totality, and church members opened the campus for schools to come and spend the morning there to wait for the eclipse.

Several schools arrived at the church by 10 a.m. even though the eclipse was not until 1:45 p.m. It was a wonderful time leading up to the eclipse, with students from different schools playing games and socializing with each

other. When the eclipse was fully in view and only Bailey’s beads of the sun were visible, there was a loud cheer of awe and excitement from the group. It was amazing to witness. The eclipse was amazing, as was witnessing God’s perfect power in creation. No other planet-moon combination in our solar system works in this perfect alignment to produce such a scene full of amazement and wonder.

On April 10-12, fifth and sixth-grade students enjoyed Outdoor School at Wewoka Woods Adventist Center. Youth director Israel Mora presented

Woods Adventist Center the weekend of Sept. 6-8, 2024! More information and registration details at OkAdventist. org and the women’s ministries Facebook page.

impactful messages about lessons to learn from the life of Jonah. The students were very engaged with the stories and lessons he presented. They were able to learn how to make catapults from logs, program Lego robots and understand how math is seen and is important in nature. They also had fun in a Bible-themed escape room. Outdoor School presented lessons from nature that taught of God’s order in His creation.

Through these two events, students learned more about God through the wonders of His creation. As Paul says in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

We love that our students get to learn about our God through the things He has made!

25 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Oklahoma Conference News

From Lakeside to a Beautiful Church

OKLAHOMA CITY – It was 2020 and a group of brethren had just decided to start a new church group in Oklahoma City when COVID-19 began to take its toll. Despite this, a group of church members forged ahead and gathered for worship services by the lakeside of Lake Hefner.

Every Sabbath, under a tree on the east side of the lake, the group came together to worship God and pray while seeking for a more permanent location to gather. By the end of the pandemic, another church opened its doors to them by renting out the kitchen of its building. As the months passed, the group grew larger and found their current meeting place increasingly uncomfortable. They celebrated their transi-

tion from a group to a company at the end of their second year.

Under the leadership of Rodolfo Prieto, the members worked by faith to obtain the funds to buy their own church. After much searching, they found a beautiful building that met their needs in terms of size and location. However, the cost was too high for their financial means.

Vigils and fasts were held, asking for God’s help, and the members committed to a project to raise funds. After a few months of negotiation, they agreed on a price, and the conference administration offered to help them secure a loan to purchase the church building.

On April 20, they celebrated a double event: the grand opening of the

The Malachi Challenge

CLAREMORE, OKLA. – Brian and Rachael Goad are members of the Claremore Seventh-day Adventist Church who were introduced to “The Malachi Tithe Challenge” while living in Arizona. The Arizona Conference made a bold promise that if members tithed faithfully for 90 days and didn’t experience God’s blessing, they would receive a full refund.

Rachael was nervous about taking this tithe challenge. With three young kids in Christian schools, finances were always tight. “I was a stay-at-home mom,” she said. “My husband worked 40-plus hours a week.” But the couple felt led to do the 90-day challenge.

The family experienced four main blessings after being faithful with their tithes. The first was that there was always enough food to feed their family. Second, Brian received a pay raise. The third unexpected blessing was that donors helped cover the children’s tuition. God provided for all their needs because of their belief in Him and their willingness to show their trust in a tangible way.

But Rachael says that the best part of this challenge is their fourth blessing: she and Brian could hear God speaking to them—not only on how to provide for their family, but also how to intercede for others!

new church building and their transition from company to church, thanks to their growth in membership, stewardship and leadership.

We rejoice in the Lord and celebrate that in these four years, this group has gone from meeting under a tree to owning one of the most beautiful Hispanic churches in Oklahoma City.

The commitment now is to serve the Hispanic community and reach as many people in the neighborhood as possible with the Gospel of salvation. We hope that the next move will be to gather on the shore of the sea of glass in the New Jerusalem.

Brian and Rachael wanted to help a friend financially who had lost her husband. They felt like God was telling them to help, and when they prayed and talked about it, they realized they had the same amount in mind to donate. So, they helped their friend anonymously, just to show her that God loved her and she wasn’t alone. The Goads believe that God always helps, especially when things are tough. This tithing challenge experience showed them that their belief was true.

RECORD MAGAZINE 26 Oklahoma Conference News

Tulsa Adventist Academy Feeds the Need

TULSA, OKLA. – As students are preparing to start back at school in August, we are looking back at the most impactful fundraiser that Tulsa Adventist Academy did in the 2023/2024 school year! “Feed the Need” was the mantra for Tulsa Adventist Academy (TAA) students from Feb. 5-March 5, 2024. The Rohingya people sheltering in the largest refugee camp in the world in Bangladesh have a need: they rely mostly on nonprofit organizations to provide them with shelter and food. Some teachers showed videos from a Bangladeshi refugee camp and others showed photographs of this people group who are currently without a country to call their own. To “feed” this need, TAA teamed up with The Champion Group to raise $30,000 in five weeks to raise money for funding TAA discipleship and packing meals for these refugees. Gloria, a freshman, stated “I enjoyed working all together to pack everything and knowing that it was all going to people who really need it.”

Students and their families registered to participate and were then assigned a personal webpage for receiving and tracking donations. The goal was to urge businesses to donate and those who made large donations had their logos printed on our “Feed the Need” t-shirts. Alongside businesses, many individuals also donated to this cause. Every week, TAA had incentives for students to reach individual goals of approximately $800 per person by March 5, ranging from ice cream and extra recess; principal, home and school leader and high school science teacher shaving their beards; trampoline park; teachers’ competition (planks, skits, arm wrestling) to the grand finale: Larry Seery, TAA principal and Samson Sembeba, First Tulsa Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor, spending 24 hours on TAA’s rooftop, with a livecam, of course!

TAA’s mission is to prepare students for heaven and earth, and with this proj-

ect, every single student, from PreK-12, was able to participate. Also, families were involved so that everyone could help feed the need. The big day finally came, and donning hair covering and gloves on March 5, all students rotated by classroom through packing stations measuring rice and grains into plastic bags. Coby, a junior, said, “It was fun to help the younger ones and watch them try to put their food item in quickly to beat the other group.” Other students weighed the bags, some sealed the bags, others collected the bags into boxes. By 12:30 p.m., 1.5 pallets were filled with 10,000 sealed meals for Rohingya refugees. Katelyn, a junior, says she loved “knowing that I was helping provide food for those who are in need and having fun while doing it in the process.”

To raise $30,000 in five weeks, we needed to move people to donate in a big way. Thanks to our donors, students

and their families, teachers and school board members (several of whom volunteered on March 5 and served on the campaign as “captains”) we exceeded our goal by $2,000. A portion of the money raised remains at TAA to help with administering the campaign and developing the vision of TAA and Home & School. Cassidy, a sophomore, may have summed it up best: “I loved knowing that the meals we packed were going to reach so far and feed so many kids. It really, truly hit my heart how we take so much for granted and I know many of us finally stopped to think about how we could help so many have a basic necessity that we usually never think about.”

27 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Oklahoma Conference News

Gone But Not Forgotten

After hours of agony on the cross, enduring the taunts of the rebellious throng, Jesus committed himself to His Father, hung His head and breathed His last. Jesus was gone.

This is likely the most enigmatic moment in all of earth’s history. For in this moment, the entire world is upside down. How does one explain the death of the Almighty God? This is why the sun refused to shine. This is why there was a great earthquake. All of creation suddenly became unsettled. After all, it is Jesus who holds all things together (see Colossians 1:16-17). And when Jesus died, the entire planet seemed like it was breaking apart. You know who else was breaking apart? God, the Father.

Yet, in His omniscience, God knew that by losing His Son He would gain the world. And this is why the resurrection is so important. God demonstrates in the resurrection of Jesus that He holds the keys to life, and that He may grant it to whomever He chooses. So while we may be trapped in the clutches of the enemy, just as Jesus was trapped in the prison of the grave, God can set any soul free who chooses to seek and follow Him. Jesus’ resurrection is proof that death is not the end of the story.

The disciples had found a secret

place to hide away and bolted themselves behind a door for fear of their safety, when suddenly, Jesus appeared. He comforted the disciples, and for 40 days, reviewed with them those things that He had taught them before.

The disciples were comforted by Jesus’s presence. Then one day, He took them up to the Mount of Olives and gave them one final charge: “...you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8 (NKJV). As He ascended up to Heaven, their hearts must have sunk. Jesus was gone... again. What were they supposed to do now?

Then the words of heavenly angels pierced through the disciples’ dark clouds of despair. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into Heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into Heaven.” Acts 1:11 (NKJV).

The disciples knew they must finish the work that Jesus had prepared them for. Jesus was gone, but He was not forgotten. His work must not be forgotten. Our challenge is like that of the disciples, to finish the work so we can go home to be with Him.

And when Jesus does return, what a

glorious day that will be! We will be united with Jesus and reunited with those loved ones who have fallen asleep in Jesus. “For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NKJV).

He’s gone, but not forgotten! Let’s finish His work. He’s coming back!

Southwest Region Conference

First in Show

ATHENS, TEX. – In a world where technology and innovation reign supreme, the realm of robotics becomes not just a playground for the technically inclined, but a canvas for creativity and collaboration. This was vividly displayed at the recent “First in Show” themed robotics tournament hosted by the Southwest Region Conference. More than a hundred students from diverse faith communities came together March 15-17 to showcase their skills, not just in robotics but in embodying faith-based virtues through their creations and collaborations.

The event was held at the Lone Star Camp in Athens, Tex. and served as a testament to the power of faith to inspire creativity and foster unity. What set this tournament apart was its unique approach to integrating faithbased principles into badge-earning activities, with the aim of developing well-rounded individuals—both technically and spiritually.

The Digital Citizen badge was earned by participants who crafted crosses that were symbols of faith and digi-

tal responsibility. Students decorated these crosses with intricate designs, reflecting their commitment to using technology in ways that honor their faith and values. Through this activity, they learned not only the technical skills needed to navigate the digital world but also the importance of upholding ethical standards in all interactions.

The Enabled Learner activity was another badge participants could earn through the creation of candles, a timeless symbol of spiritual wisdom and learning. This activity served as a reminder of the importance of lifelong learning and the pursuit of knowledge. Each candle represented a beacon of light to illuminate their path toward spiritual enlightenment and empowerment.

The Purposeful Communicator badge activity encouraged participants to engage in an intergalactic art project, where they communicated their visions of the cosmos through the divine beauty of God’s creation. Participants expressed complex ideas and emotions through their creations.

At the heart of the event was the robotics tournament, where teams competed in a series of challenges that tested their technical skills and teamwork. The spirit of faith and collaboration prevailed as students supported each other and recognized their journey was not just about winning, but about glorifying God through their talents and efforts.

Congratulations to the following winners in all categories: 1st Place: Ozark Adventist School Skyhawks STEAM Team; 2nd Place: Keene Adventist Elementary School Team Go Kart; 3rd Place: Scenic Hills Christian Academy Team Robot Guardians.

Events like the “First in Show” robotics tournament serve as a reminder that faith and innovation are not mutually exclusive; rather, they are complementary forces that have the power to transform lives and communities for the better.

Next year’s robotics tournament will take place March 7-9, 2025.

29 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Southwest Region Conference News

Seasons of Grace Evangelism Effort in Texas City

TEXAS CITY, TEX. – In a spiritual endeavor that brought hearts closer to the divine, the Southwest Region Conference women’s ministries department recently sponsored an evangelistic crusade at the Mainland Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The atmosphere was charged with anticipation as congregants gathered in fervent prayer, seeking a deeper connection with their faith. Led by the women’s ministries director, Anysia Archibald; Bible workers; local pastor Ro -

lando Baysa; elders and dedicated volunteers, the event offered a platform for spiritual introspection and renewal. Through uplifting sermons by Donnett M. Blake, testimonies from Bible workers and worship sessions, attendees were encouraged to explore the transformative power of faith.

As the event unfolded, the message of redemption and salvation resonated profoundly with those in attendance. Many felt a stirring in their hearts, prompting them to reevaluate their re -

lationship with God and embrace the call to discipleship. For some, it was a moment of awakening, a realization of the profound love and grace extended to them.

The highlight of the event came during the baptismal ceremony, where 19 individuals publicly professed their faith and embraced baptism. In addition, there was also a baby dedication. Surrounded by their newfound spiritual family, each baptism symbolizes a journey of surrender and rebirth, a testament to the transformative power of God’s love.

In a world fraught with uncertainty, this evangelistic event stood as a beacon of hope, and a reminder of God’s grace illuminating the path to spiritual fulfillment and eternal salvation. Through the grace of God and the tireless efforts of dedicated believers, lives were transformed, and souls were saved.

God Heals A Marriage Through Seasons of Grace

TEXAS CITY, TEX. – In February of 2024, things in our marriage had become extremely difficult. Convinced that the marriage had run its course and was over, my husband and I separated after 24 years of marriage. I left and moved to another city without telling him where I would be. I changed my phone number and blocked him from all social media.

After two weeks, I realized my husband had been trying to reach me. He wanted to apologize and speak about what we could do to salvage the marriage as we both still were very much in love. We had allowed hurt feelings, anger, sadness, loss and simple feelings of being rejected and ignored take over both of us.

As we spoke that day, he explained that he had been going to the Mainland

Seventh-day Adventist Church every night to attend a revival, the “Seasons of Grace Evangelistic Series.” He also went on to explain that while he was at a Walmart parking lot, he was approached by a man and a woman who spoke to him about what God had just revealed to them about him and what he was going through. I was excited to get home and go to the end of the revival with him. I drove home the next morning and we went to the meeting that evening together.

It was then, in that meeting, that God began speaking to both of us directly. God is a good God, and He loves us more than we can ever imagine! He saved our marriage and helped us get through some difficult issues. Without the Lord, our marriage would not have

survived—or become better than before. All praises to the Only One who makes all things possible!

Editor’s note: Gregory and Beverly Richards surrendered their lives and marriage to Jesus and were baptized at the end of the series.

Region Conference News

The Dallas Project

DALLAS – After months of prayer and planning, feeling certain of God’s vision for the city of Dallas, the Southwest Region Conference launched one of the conference’s most anticipated initiatives—The Dallas Project.

With a population of 1.3 million, Dallas ranks as the ninth-largest city in the United States and the third largest in Texas. To take the Adventist message to this urban population, it was imperative to establish a new and vibrant church capable of reaching the heart of this city. Eager to fulfill this mission, members of Dallas City Temple, Faith Temple and Agape Fellowship Seventh-day Adventist churches came together to organize and found The Dallas Project.

On the morning of April 13, more than 1,000 individuals gathered as one body to officially launch The Dallas Project. Members of the three founding churches, surrounding churches and community celebrated through

dynamic music by The Dallas Project Mass Choir and renowned guest artist Kim Burrell and the powerful preaching of Southwest Region Conference President Carlton P. Byrd, D.Min.

In anticipation of the big day, members of all ages prepared the facilities and placed attractive signage, including banners and yard signs, from the public thoroughfares to the building.

On launch day, the youth greeted individuals with hand-held signs that read, “Welcome to The Dallas Project,” “We’re glad you’re here” and “Jesus Loves You.” Other members served by providing golf cart transportation from the parking lot to the building entrance. Inside, uniformed ushers in orange polo shirts with The Dallas Project logo led adults and children to their respective programs and served as guides to The Dallas Project’s various offerings and ministries. After the divine worship experience, a “grab and go” lunch was served to visitors and congregants.

The celebration was not limited to the morning worship experience. The programming continued in the evening with the opening of the “Good News Revival,” in which the Word was interpreted by singer Kierra Sheard Kelly and preached by Byrd.

The revival continued every night until April 27, and culminated with 90 baptisms.

The founding members, along with the new believers, will continue to proclaim the Adventist message through relevant ministry, dynamic worship, genuine fellowship and care for the multigenerational needs of the city of Dallas as exemplified on April 13.

We thank you for your prayers for this initiative and invite you to worship with us when you are in the city. To be a part of this new initiative, please visit TheDallasProject.org.

31 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Southwest Region Conference News

Voice of Hope Bible Revival

OKMULGEE, OKLA. – The Voice of Hope Bible Revival began on March 30 at the Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist Church with Southwestern Union Executive Secretary Stephen Brooks as speaker. As a precursor to the event, the church held a number of community events to spark the interest of the people in the area.

Among those activities was a Community Fair Day, which was held on the grounds of the church on March 24. Though a severe storm was forecast for the day, the pastor and members (who were determined not to postpone the event) prayed that God would hold back the weather so that the fair could proceed as planned. God heard and answered the prayers of the church members, whose faith was rewarded with a delay in the storm until the event was concluded. Present for the fair was the Okmulgee Fire Department, who

brought two fire trucks/engines and put on a drill about fire safety. Kids were allowed to get an up-close look at the fire trucks and their equipment. Also included in the fair were horseback riding for all attendees, a bouncing castle for the children and a classic car display. The community services department of the church provided free food and clothing for the community. This included grilling, barbeque and lots of tasty treats for all. Free haircuts were made available by a young man who was later married and baptized during the Bible Revival.

This event was later followed by a friends and family day on Sabbath morning, March 30, which was also a huge success. Then, Saturday night, the Bible Revival began. The attendance was great, and excitement filled the air. Each night hearts were moved by Brooks’ powerful preaching. Certif-

icates of Achievement were given to those individuals who completed Bible studies that Bible workers had conducted. On April 13, the revival ended with 14 people who accepted the messages and joined the church either by baptism, profession of faith or rededication. In addition, one baby was dedicated and a wedding was held.

We say, “To God be the glory!”

RECORD MAGAZINE 32 Southwest Region Conference News

He Offers What No One Else Can

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation,” James 1:12 (NLT). “Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

Few endured more than a guy named Polycarp. John Foxe shares his story in the Book of Martyrs. “Polycarp was so full of the grace of God that those that were present were astonished, and many felt sorry that so Godly a man should be put to death. Nevertheless, Polycarp was carried before the proconsul and condemned to be burned at the stake. ‘Denounce Christ, and you will be released,’ and with a calm and an unexplainable peace, he said, ‘80 and six years I served Him, and He never once wronged me. How can I now turn my back on the King who has saved me? I will not denounce Jesus Christ, so why do you delay? Light the fire.’ And they didn’t even nail him to the stake as they normally did, because they knew he was not going to move.’”

I can’t imagine the horror and the pain of being burned alive. Nothing could have prepared him for that. But, friends, can you imagine when death gives way to life when Jesus returns, and he locks eyes with the one he’s served for 86 years, the First and the

Last, his Savior standing there with a victor’s crown in His hand.

“In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God,” begins 2 Corinthians 6:4-10 (NLT). “We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.”

We are challenged to take a longterm view with an eye on the eternal prize. And that is so hard to do in our

society, in our culture. All we think about is today and what we’re experiencing right now. Paul assured the Romans that suffering does not compare to the glory that will be revealed. (Romans 8:18).

A relationship with Jesus Christ can relieve our stress. It can save our marriages. It can free us from the confinement of our emotional baggage. It can heal us from our addictions. Yet, the greatest benefit of a relationship with Jesus Christ is that He offers what nobody else can offer: eternal life. Can anything in this world compare to that?

33 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Texas Conference

Open Air Pavilion to Seat 5,000 Coming to LWR

CLIFTON, TEX. – It was an exciting day, Thursday, April 25, 2024, at Lake Whitney Ranch when the Texas Conference administration gathered for the official groundbreaking of the Open Air Pavilion. “When finished, this beautiful facility will seat 5,000 people,” Texas Conference President Elton DeMoraes shared. “I look forward to having a conference-wide camp meeting in the pavilion.” Club ministries will also uti-

lize the pavilion during their camporee weekends, as renting the extra-large tent is no longer cost effective. Lodging options continue to increase at the ranch. Schedule a visit or follow the progress at LakeWhitneyRanch.org.

Mission Caught the Vision to Bring Hope to Its Community

MISSION, TEX. – Mission Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church embarked on a remarkable journey into uncharted territory.

In 2011, the city of Mission did not have an English Seventh-day Adventist Church in the area. Seeing the need, 32 Edinburg Seventh-day Adventist Church members stepped out in faith with a vision.

A five-week evangelistic series with Jim Reinking was organized at the Border Theater in Mission from Oct. 8 to Dec. 12, 2011. This laid the foundation as two individuals gave their hearts to Christ.

Next, a location was secured for weekly services. After several unsuccessful attempts, we learned of a church building that had been vacat-

ed by its members three weeks prior. We received access to the building on Thursday, had our first Friday vespers and then our first Sabbath service two days after being handed the keys! God prepared this fully-operational building with classrooms, bathrooms, showers and a spacious kitchen and dining area.

To connect with the community, Mission Hope church members held cooking classes, visited homes, distributed literature, shared surveys and began hosting student colporteurs from Ouachita Hills College in Amity, Ark.

With half the members being youth, the church became a ripe training ground for them to participate in all aspects of church life. They were placed in various leadership positions; they ran the audiovisual department and orga -

nized an orchestra that played every Sabbath. On Nov. 8, 2014, we obtained church status.

The church board voted to purchase our current property on May 16, 2015. The building was renovated and officially dedicated on Dec. 5, 2015.

Since its inception, church members have actively shared their faith by inviting people to church services/events and hosting biannual series, resulting in 76 baptisms over 12 years.

Mission Hope church members established a biweekly food pantry on April 27, 2017, recognizing the community’s physical needs. Thanks to our faithful volunteers, over 300 families are served each session.

The church is planning a Center of Influence, following Christ’s method. A 24-hour digital radio station, ShareHopeRadio.com, was launched on March 2, 2024, and dedicated on Sabbath, March 16, 2024.

The journey of Mission Hope has been one of resilience, faith and growth. As the church advances into new frontiers, it remains steadfast in its mission to make a difference in the lives of its members and the wider community and to be the answer to the prayers of many who seek direction.

RECORD MAGAZINE 34 Texas Conference News

Original Musical Premieres in Joshua

JOSHUA, TEX. – Joshua Adventist Multigrade School (JAMS) students premiered the musical “Abigail” at the Joshua Seventh-day Adventist Church on Feb. 3, 2024. The musical was composed by Joshua church member Carol E. Slider, who also co-directed it alongside JAMS Principal Carol Schneider. The musical was developed from 1 Samuel 25. Abigail is mentioned three other times in First and Second Samuel. She is remembered for having used

kindness and grace to thwart the rash decision of David to kill innocent people, even as she faced the wrath of her hostile husband, Nabal.

The key performers included Ellie Mullinix as Abigail and Judah Dyche as David. Austin Norris played Nabal. Ivan Ilyenko played David’s military man, Abishai. Leilani Stowell was an accompanist, and Debby Smith was a flutist. Isaac Heath, Joshua church pastor, played the part of Samuel.

The 60 costumes were sorted, designed and altered by Cynthia Harbour and Irene Dennison Herr. The students sang nine musical selections interspersed within the dialogue. The story’s theme reminded us that God has a plan for each of us. If we wait upon Him, He will bring His will into our lives and work out His purpose for us. He is our refuge in all situations. By Irene Dennison Herr

Lake Whitney Ranch Holds Eclipse Experience at the Ranch

CLIFTON, TEX. – Around 300 people, including a 50-person family reunion, gathered at Lake Whitney Ranch (LWR) on Monday, April 8, 2024, to view the total solar eclipse. LWR directors organized wagon rides around the property for attendees to enjoy the beautiful

views of Lake Whitney, take a tour of the LWR Nature Center, ride a horse or complete a craft while they waited for the eclipse. There was also a commemorative t-shirt available. “It was a wonderful group of people,” LWR Director Hector Perez said. “Some were

first-time visitors, so it was nice to host them for this event.” Schedule a visit for your family, church or club ministries at LakeWhitneyRanch.org.

35 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Texas Conference News

ALVARADO, TEX. – In the spring of 2023, my wife, Blanca, and I were scheduled to make an update to our Last Will and Testament with the Texas Conference. After completing the update, we were surprised when I was asked if I would be willing to serve as a trust officer for

the Texas Conference Stewardship, Planned Giving and Trust Services Departments.

I had served as an associate pastor at the McAllen Spanish Valley Central Seventh-day Adventist Church for three years and we truly enjoyed serving that church.

I told Lynette Ecord, Texas Conference stewardship/planned giving and trust services director, that I would only accept it if I had a clear answer from God. So, we started praying.

Time passed. It felt as if God was silent about the matter, but we kept praying. After more time passed, I wasn’t sure of God’s answer, so I rejected the call. Ecord encouraged us to keep praying, so we did.

One day, I went to pray for someone at the hospital. After the prayer, she asked me if I knew someone who could assist her with her Last Will and Testament. I felt impressed at that moment

Heeding God’s Call to Serve Leaving a Legacy, An Answer to Prayer

PHARR, TEX. – In January of 2024, I was invited to preach at the Pharr Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sabbath, April 20. Close to the end of January, I received word that Ned Lynn had passed away. He used to live in southern Texas, where I serve. I reached out to his family so I could attend his memorial service. It wasn’t scheduled until April, a week before I was to go to the Pharr church.

Lynn was one of the many generous brothers and sisters in the Texas Conference who prepared an estate plan with Texas Conference Planned Giving & Trust Services. He and his wife, Arlene, who passed away earlier, left a percentage to bless the Pharr church. Lynn helped build that church, including planting beautiful trees that are now big and strong.

What joy I felt when I learned about

this gift and the privilege I had to present it to the church members. I was in awe, having been scheduled to preach there many months prior. Pharr church members did not know anything about the surprise I had for them.

During the offering call, a church elder encouraged the people to be generous with their offerings because the building desperately needed its lights fixed and had other church expenses.

When the sermon time came, you could imagine my excitement as I looked at the church members and told them about Lynn’s gift to the church. I clearly remember the eyes of surprise and so much joy from the church members when I showed them the check for almost $20,000. Some of them even shouted, “Glory to the Lord!” “Thank You, Jesus!”

“I will answer them before they even

that it was probably what God was calling me to do, but I was still unsure.

On July 4, 2023, early in the morning, I received a call from my family in Brazil letting me know my dad had passed away suddenly. I started the journey home immediately but ended up arriving in Brazil three hours after his burial. The next morning, we learned he had no Last Will and Testament.

When I arrived back in the United States, I was sure God called me to serve Him in this area. He wanted me to teach and help our brothers and sisters in Christ understand the importance of preparing for death, knowing our time on this earth is unknown. Completing an estate plan through the Texas Conference allows people to advance the Lord’s work through their after-death giving.

call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” Isaiah 65:24 (NLT).

RECORD MAGAZINE 36 Texas Conference News

ARLINGTON, TEX. – As personal ministries leader, I coordinated a Personal Ministries Day on Sabbath, Jan. 6, 2024, at the Arlington Southern Worship Center Seventh-day Adventist Church. Guest speaker, Southwestern Union Executive Secretary Stephen E. Brooks shared the message, “The Unlikely Soul Winner.”

Before he spoke, he and Spencer Anderson, Arlington Southern Worship Center pastor, presented certificates to those who completed the “Message” Bible Course.

Following Brooks’ sermon, his appeal led to two beautiful souls coming forward for baptism.

The day continued with a meal and afternoon session focused on our church’s mission: Each One, Win One, for Christ, making disciples for Christ’s kingdom.

With the help and mercies of God, we will accomplish our mission!

A High Time in the Lord Annual Bobcat Classic: A Tradition of Basketball Excellence

KEENE, TEX. – Every year, Burleson Adventist School (BAS) hosts the Annual Bobcat Classic Basketball Tournament. Now in its 16th year, this beloved event has become a hallmark of athletic camaraderie and competitive spirit for sixth through eighth-grade students. From humble beginnings, the tournament has flourished into a premier sporting extravaganza, drawing hundreds of players, coaches and fans to the quaint town of Keene, Tex.

The tournament, held Feb. 1618, 2024, saw the participation of 11 schools representing 19 teams. With each passing year, the Bobcat Classic continues to attract more schools and teams, showcasing the growing popularity and prestige of the event within

the basketball community.

As players dribbled and shot their way to victory, the gymnasiums buzzed with excitement and energy. The tournament served as more than just a platform for athletic competition; it was a celebration of community and sportsmanship. Fans cheered enthusiastically from the stands, coaches offered words of encouragement to their teams and players forged lasting bonds both on and off the court.

BAS extends its heartfelt gratitude to Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Tex., for their invaluable partnership in hosting the tournament. With their support, BAS was able to secure top-notch facilities and enlist the assistance of dedicated college

students to ensure the smooth operation of the event. This collaboration between educational institutions highlights the power of teamwork and cooperation in fostering excellence.

BAS eagerly anticipates the next installment of the Bobcat Classic Tournament, scheduled for Feb. 14-16, 2025. With plans already underway to accommodate even more schools and teams, the stage is set for another unforgettable display of basketball prowess and camaraderie. As BAS looks forward to the future, the legacy of the tournament shines brightly, inspiring generations of athletes to strive for greatness both on and off the court.

37 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Texas Conference News

There is Hope for Us!

One of the most incredible realities of our day is the explosion of internet-based communication making it possible to share information in mere seconds with someone who may be a world away. Social media applications make it possible to provide updates, news and promotional material to an audience of “friends” and have dramatically enlarged our ability to stay connected with others.

I am reminded of an online message from a pastor friend of mine who recently shared his grief regarding the death of his mom. As his mother breathed her last, my friend was communicating, via text, with his sister who was in their mom’s room. He was actually texting his sister while cruising at 35,000 feet elevation on a cross-country flight. My pastor friend expressed his deep sorrow over the profound loss of this special person who had been the anchor for her family for some four generations of descendants.

We have all experienced the pain of separation that comes at such a time, and we tend to resist death and all with which it is associated. I believe that this is definitely our default position as humans since we were created for life, and not death. We are reminded by the wise man that “the living know that they shall die, but the dead know not

anything.” Ecclesiastes 9:5. Taking this passage by itself, without a broader context of scripture would lead us to a hopeless perspective indeed.

We see that people throughout our current culture are living with the fear of death as spirituality seems to be diminishing at a shocking pace. It is not uncommon to hear people espouse the belief that this life is all there is, that they might as well “go for the gusto.” People devalue the incredible creative gifts of a loving God who made us for more, both in the quality of life here, and also for the eternal life that He has promised.

Jesus made it very clear during His earthly ministry that, when a person dies, they have simply fallen asleep. What a comforting thought it is to view death in this manner, as the natural process of sleeping includes waking up. We remember that Jesus actually raised several people to life by calling for them to wake up.

And here is the good news! Because Jesus has conquered death and rose victorious over the grave, He has the power, and the right, to promise all who accept His death on their behalf that, if we fall asleep in Him, He will someday call us back to life. Death doesn’t have the last word! In fact, death for the follower of Jesus is not a period, it is only a

comma as there is more to come when life will be forever, “and forever is a long, long time.”

Reflecting on the message that my pastor friend shared on Facebook, I am very grateful for the hope that is at the heart of his expression of sorrow. While he made it clear that he misses his mom, he misses her laughter and he misses the profound love he found in her hugs, his heart was drawn to the promise that he will see her again. And when he does, there will be no more dementia, no more pain, no more heartache and…no more death! Now that is good news!

RECORD MAGAZINE 38 Texico Conference

Legacy of Faith: Celebrating Phil and Kathie Robertson

CORRALES, N.M. – With hearts overflowing with gratitude, the Texico Conference says farewell to Phil and Kathie Robertson as they embark on a well-deserved retirement on Aug. 1, 2024. Their departure marks the end of an era characterized by exemplary service and unwavering dedication to the ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Phil Robertson’s journey in ministry has been truly exceptional, marked by a profound sense of God’s call and a steadfast commitment to advancing the Church’s mission. His unique blend of theological expertise and accounting background has played a vital role in fostering spiritual growth and financial stewardship within the Texico Conference. From his early roles as treasurer, religion teacher and assistant principal in a conference boarding academy to his tenure as a key figure in church leadership, Robertson’s visionary guidance has driven the conference to achieve significant milestones in both financial health and member engagement.

Throughout his tenure, Robertson’s commitment to ministry planning,

prayer and pastoral care has inspired countless individuals within the conference. His leadership during challenging times, including the recent global pandemic, has been a beacon of hope and resilience for the Texico community.

Equally deserving of recognition is Kathie Robertson, whose partnership with Phil has been a cornerstone of their ministry. With a background in accounting, Kathie’s contributions have been instrumental in ensuring the financial integrity of the conference. Her dedication to serving as both the Church and School Auditor of the Texico Conference reflects her dedication to service.

As we say farewell to Phil and Kathie, we do so with hearts full of gratitude for their immeasurable contributions to the Texico Conference. Their ministry has touched countless lives, leaving a lasting legacy of faith, integrity and service. While they may be retiring from official roles, their impact will continue to resonate within our conference for years to come.

Reflecting on Robertson’s final

Texico-wide event participation during the 2024 Texico Conference Convocation series at the Lubbock Seventh-day Adventist Church underscores the profound significance of his tenure. This event held particular significance as he had served as the interim pastor at this church for two pivotal years, leaving an enduring impact on the congregation. His leadership and pastoral dedication transformed this gathering into a heartfelt homecoming for him and his former congregation.

As Phil and Kathie embark on this new chapter of their lives, we pray that God will bless them abundantly, and pray that they find joy and fulfillment knowing they have touched countless lives through their ministry. May they carry with them the profound gratitude and admiration of the Texico Conference, knowing that their legacy will continue to inspire and uplift us for years to come.

39 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Texico Conference News

One Family, One Hope: Texico Conference Convocation

LUBBOCK, TEX. – The Texico Conference Convocation, hosted in Lubbock, Tex., was a joyous event that marked the return of the Texico “Camp Meeting” in a fresh and reimagined format. After a period of pandemic-related closures and the search for a suitable conference-wide camp meeting venue, the Texico Conference was delighted to unveil plans for the 2024 Texico Conference Convocation series earlier in the year. The series kicked off on April 5-6 with over 500 attendees from west Texas gathered at the Lubbock Seventh-day Adventist Church for a weekend filled with fellowship, inspiration and blessings.

The event featured a lineup of dynamic speakers, featuring esteemed church leaders such as Ivan Williams, North American Division vice president, who delivered compelling messages, alongside the engaging insights shared by Robert Costa, speaker/ director of the Spanish telecast “It Is Written.” Complementing the sessions were a lively youth rally led by Michael Campos, Illinois Conference executive secretary and a fun and interactive children’s program hosted by Team Cisne -

ros, ensuring the event was inclusive for attendees of all ages.

The two-day event was also filled with prayer, worship and soul-stirring messages, and the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit was surely felt. The focus of the convocation series is “One Family, One Hope,” presenting a great opportunity to reconnect, nurture fellowship and join in the shared blessings integral to the Texico Conference family of God.

Adding to the significance of the convocation was the special farewell presentation to Phil and Kathie Robertson, marking their final Texico-wide event before their well-deserved retirement on Aug. 1. Their departure marks the end of many years of exemplary service and unwavering dedication to the ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

As the convocation came to a close, leaders of the Texico Conference shared their thoughts on the event and the future of the conference. “This convocation has truly been a testament to the blessing of living and serving united in mission,” said Phil Robertson, executive secretary/treasurer.

Messages from the speakers echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of unity, transformation and unwavering faith in navigating the challenges ahead. “I thank God for our theme, one family, one hope,” said Ivan Williams during his final address. “The world is not waiting to see people who can witness based on what they say, the world is looking to see John 13:35: ‘They’ll know that you are mine by the way you love one another.’ My prayer for Texico is Jesus’ prayer in John 17, that we be one as the Father and Jesus are one.”

As attendees departed with hearts full of inspiration and renewed faith, the Texico Conference prepares for the next convocation, set to take place on Aug. 23-24, on the campus of Sandia View Academy in Corrales, N.M. With anticipation building for the upcoming convocation, the Texico Conference looks forward to another gathering filled with blessings, carrying forward the spirit that was sparked in Lubbock! By

RECORD MAGAZINE 40 Texico Conference News

Shining Light: 2024 Texico Children’s Ministries Retreat

ALBUQUERQUE – People from various parts of the Texico Conference came together this spring for the first Texico Conference Children’s Ministries Retreat. The one-day event was held in Albuquerque, N.M., and featured workshops on “Teaching Kids to Pray” and “Teaching with Nature” along with insightful discussions on children’s mental health, an engaging Vacation Bible School training in the afternoon and the introduction of the new Sabbath School curriculum, “Alive in Jesus.”

Kathy Clifford, Texico Conference children’s ministries director, expressed her belief that it was time for the conference to organize a retreat to support

the hard-working leaders in children’s ministries. “I felt it was important to provide them with training, networking opportunities and a chance for renewal,” said Clifford. “I was touched by the sight of these individuals dedicated to teaching children about God’s boundless love, especially in a world filled with challenges.”

The event saw over 60 registrations from attendees representing more than 20 churches. Many expressed their anticipation for a similar retreat next year, eager to bring along their entire team. The retreat’s morning session started with training sessions on children’s mental health and special-needs ministry, as well as workshops on teaching through nature. These sessions were presented in both English and Spanish by Kathy Clifford and Sonia Cano, Southwestern Union children’s ministries director.

During the morning devotional, attendees committed to letting their children’s ministries represent a city on a hill that is visible and holy. “We reminded them of their purpose to shine forth the light within them,” said Clifford.

Texico Conference President Lee-Roy Chacon led a prayer session, and the attendees were thanked for their dedication to embracing the complexities of children’s ministries and for their unconditional love towards every child, including those often overlooked by others.

The presentation of the new children’s Sabbath School curriculum, “Alive in Jesus,” and the introduction of the new Baby Steps and Beginners programs were significant highlights of the retreat. In the afternoon, attendees enjoyed participating in the Thunder Island-themed VBS, rotating through various stations and engaging in different activities. “This retreat would not have been possible without the dedication and support of many volunteers,” said Clifford. Overall, attendees reported feeling greatly blessed and encouraged by the experience. Given the interest, the Texico children’s ministries department is looking to organize a larger and more comprehensive retreat next year.

Prayer and Transformation at Albuquerque Heights

ALBUQUERQUE – The Albuquerque Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church was filled with praise early in the morning of Thursday, March 21, as members shared testimonies of blessings received during their 21 Days of Prayer and Spiritual Revival.

For three weeks prior, congregants studied the book Steps to Personal Revival by Helmut Haubeil and gathered early each morning to draw closer to God, to transition from “carnal” to “spiritual” Christians and unite under the banner of Christ.

Many of the church members expressed passionate sentiments, saying “may we become a house of prayer and

may we become a unified front for the Lord to use to evangelize our town.”

Although the official end of the 21 Days of Prayer was marked that morning by a praise service and fellowship breakfast, it signaled the beginning of something more meaningful. The blessings experienced during those weeks sparked a spiritual revival and lasting change in the church. More prayer time was incorporated, and a weekly Thursday evening prayer group was established. Now, members gather regularly to pray for the church’s needs, specific requests and for the evangelism of Albuquerque.

If you find yourself struggling in

your faith, feeling disconnected or still entangled in worldly pleasures, take heart! Do not despair or be dismayed! Jesus is calling you.

41 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Texico Conference News

Unleashing Passion: Holy Week at North Valley Church

ALBUQUERQUE – At North Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church, a spiritual journey unfolded during the week leading up to Easter Sunday. Angel Heredia, known for his long-standing leadership at Mountain View Seventh-day Adventist Church in Las Vegas, Nev., responded to a call from his friend and colleague, Saul Flores, pastor of the North Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church, to lead a series of evangelistic meetings aimed at the youth.

The theme for the week, “Unleashed Passion: The Holy Week of Jesus,” resonated deeply with attendees. Each day was filled with prayer, worship and inspirational messages. The focus was following the journey of Jesus from crucifixion to resurrection, and the transformative power of His sacrifice.

The culmination of this spiritually-charged week was a sunrise service and the baptism of seven individuals, ranging from children to adults, who were moved to make a commitment to their faith. Among them were

brothers Santiago Hernandez Marquez, aged nine, and Mateo Hernandez Marquez, aged seven, baptized together by their father, Alex Marquez, an ordained elder of North Valley church who is studying to be a pastor. The touching moment was a testament to familial unity and spiritual dedication.

Another moving baptism was that of Aliosky Fernández Mitjan, a newcomer to the area, who found solace and purpose in his newfound faith. Joslen Lache, North Valley church associate pastor, recounted Mitjan’s journey from Cuba with admiration, stating, “Aliosky came a long way inspired and ready to work for the Lord.”

The week also witnessed the enthusiasm of individuals like Kristian Calderon, an active youth of North Valley, and the recommitment of Oscar Villanueva, which showed Villanueva’s renewal of faith and a return to the church community. Perhaps most emotive was the union of Noel Mercado and his now-wife, Martha, who not only cele -

brated their marriage that week but also sealed their commitment to God through baptism.

As Heredia aptly summarized, “We have a destiny that was carved on the cross of Calvary and it is to be with Jesus for eternity.” This sentiment captured the essence of the week—a reminder of the enduring presence of divine love and guidance amidst life’s trials, leading us towards an eternal union with Jesus.

As the week drew to a close, the North Valley church was filled with a renewed sense of joy and purpose as the spirit of God moved. Inspired by this transformative Holy Week, the congregation was eager to continue bringing more souls to Christ. Truly, the passion for Jesus was unleashed, igniting hearts and souls in a celebration of the timeless message of redemption and renewal serving as encouragement for the days to come.

RECORD MAGAZINE 42 Texico Conference News

Jimmie Johnson and Erik Jones Visit Texas

KEENE, TEX. – Near the end of the Spring 2024 semester, the No. 84 AdventHealth Toyota race car stopped at Southwestern Adventist University along with drivers Jimmie Johnson and Erik Jones of the Legacy Motor Club racing team. Penny Johnson, AdventHealth Southwest Region president and CEO, and David Weis, AdventHealth East Volusia Market president and CEO, also joined the drivers for a panel discussion at the university open to students, faculty, alumni and community members. The appearance of both drivers was made possible through AdventHealth’s partnership with Legacy Motor Club.

The panel discussion focused on inspiring students, highlighting career opportunities at AdventHealth and getting students excited for the weekend race at Texas Motor Speedway. It also provided an opportunity to share words of advice with the students as they looked ahead to their future careers.

Penny Johnson spoke on the importance of finding balance in work and intentionally spending time on hobbies and joyful activities. “Ask yourself, ‘What’s something that stimulates your mind and keeps you growing intellectually?’” she asked the students.

During the panel, Weis highlighted the impact AdventHealth has through this partnership in locations such as the Daytona International Speedway. “[This partnership] is something that is incredibly unique,” Weis shared at the panel. “At the Daytona 500, we have the chance to have one of our AdventHealth chaplains pray on national television. There is no other professional sport that televises the prayer on national television.”

Weis also shared the impact of the care team that runs a care center inside the speedway, providing care for over 5,000 people a year. Beyond the incredible fan base, amazing drivers and teams like Legacy Motor Club, Weis

shared “it is an amazing way to connect and give back to the community.”

Following the panel discussion, 50 students and community members received autographed photos with drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jones in front of the AdventHealth Toyota. After the autograph and photo session, local schools were invited to see the racecar and learn about career opportunities.

The car also made a stop at AdventHealth Central Texas in Killeen, Tex. Both the hospital team members and the local community to see this magnificent race car up close and snap a few memorable photos.

43 JULY | AUGUST 2024 AdventHealth News
Photo by Jose Castro From left: Eric Jones, driver; Anna Patterson, Southwestern Adventist University President; Penny Johnson, AdventHealth Southwest Region; Jimmie Johnson, driver; David Weis, AdventHealth East Volusia Market President and CEO.

Southwestern Adventist University

SWAU Recognizes Alums with Honorary Doctorates

KEENE, TEX. – In addition to the 111 graduates who completed their studies and received diplomas in May, an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters was conferred on two very deserving Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) alumni.

Bilung Gloria Gibbon Salii (pictured left), the beloved Queen of Palau, attended SWAU in the early 1970s but had to leave before she could finish her degree in secondary education. She ascended to the top of the traditional matriarchy of Koror and Palau in 1975 after the passing of her grandmother.

As an advocate of progress, Bilung founded the Mechesil Belau, an organization led by women who meet annually to present resolutions to the national government that enact change in the community; 44 of the proposed resolutions have become laws in the government of Palau. Bilung is passionate about promoting good health. She partners with organizations for the good of Palau, including health providers, educators and church ministries.

“Returning to Keene after 51 years brings me so much joy,” said Bilung. “It’s a place where I made great friends and was embraced by my professors and their families. SWAU also provided me with foundational tools to better serve my country for many years to come. I feel so blessed and happy to be recognized by my school.”

In addition to her traditional duties, Bilung is a successful businesswoman, serving as the president of U-Corp, Toirois, Malakal, a family-owned business. She is also the founder and operator of the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center, a hub for preserving and celebrating Palauan culture.

From chairing delegations to speaking at conferences, Bilung has been a powerful advocate for women’s rights and social change in the Pacific region and beyond; she has received many prestigious awards for her advocacy.

Barbara Damron (pictured right),

Ph.D., M.S.N., R.N., F.A.A.N., is an alum who attended SWAU from 1971-1973. She is currently a member of Southwestern’s Board of Trustees. Damron has had an impactful career spanning 49 years of experience as an education executive, an advanced practice nurse, a healthcare executive, a college professor, an international consultant and a cancer scientist. She is currently a tenured professor of nursing and of medicine at the University of New Mexico, where she holds the endowed Ridenour/Mason New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium Fellowship.

“With praise and thankfulness to God, I am touched beyond words to be receiving this degree from my beloved Southwestern,” shares Damron.

“For nearly 50 years I have longed for a degree from SWAU! My years at SWAU were extremely influential in my life. God was present on this campus, as He is now, and I made lifelong friends. My walk with Christ was strengthened during those wonderful years at SWAU

and my academic training there prepared me for the additional graduate work I completed through my M.S.N. and then Ph.D.”

Damron was formerly the Chief Government Relations Officer at the University of New Mexico and formerly the Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Higher Education Department. She had oversight of the state’s 28 public institutions of higher education, four tribal colleges and over 190 private and proprietary post-secondary schools. Damron has received over 30 international, national and state awards. Damron was not only the first in her family to go to college, but she was also the first in her family to go to high school, lending even more impact to her legacy.

Southwestern Adventist University is proud to bestow honorary doctorates on these deserving alumni.


Symphony of Purpose: A Life of Music and Inspiration

KEENE, TEX. – During high school, I had no intention of attending college and little interest in music. My plan was to follow in the footsteps of my family by assuming responsibilities on our family farm. Yet, we all know what happens when we make our own plans—God steps in and reminds us of His plans.

Now, it’s surreal to believe that during the 2024 Meyerson Music Festival, I stood on the stage as an alumnus of Southwestern Adventist University.

It all started when Southwestern’s vocal ensemble, the University Singers, stumbled into my world. During my senior year at Campion Academy, they performed for us while on tour in Colorado. Tears filled my eyes when I heard them sing. This was not only the first time that I had felt music, but it was also one of the first times that I truly felt the presence of God. Immediately, I knew that I needed to be a part of that choir. Yet, I hadn’t saved any money or applied for scholarships. I had no financial ability to attend Southwestern.

Following the performance, I spoke with Jonathan Wall, director of the University Singers. I told him about the impact their music had on my soul and I expressed my desire to be a part of the program. Despite my lack of financial

preparedness, Wall highlighted a pathway during our discussion.

Each year, the music department presents scholarship opportunities through the annual Music Festival. High school applicants must audition and perform in a showcase recital on Southwestern’s campus to be awarded. Embracing the opportunity with excitement, I auditioned and was chosen to receive a scholarship.

As a result, I jumped on a plane that spring to attend my very first Southwestern Music Festival. That visit solidified my calling to pursue music and attend the university. Not only did the incredible vocal experience draw me in, but the warmth of Texas hospitality and the allure of Southwestern made me feel right at home.

I began my academic journey as a vocal performance major, but quickly realized, with the help of mentors and inspirational teachers, that it wasn’t singing that I desperately wanted to be a part of, although it was an absolute thrill. I wanted to be a part of creating the experience that I had felt when I first heard the University Singers perform. I desired to direct ensembles with a passion for Jesus and share that passion with the world.

Thus, I transitioned my focus to music education and never looked back. Walking across the graduation stage in May of 2023 not only marked the culmination of my academic success but also the stepping stone to my next chapter.

Today, I proudly serve as the K-8th grade music teacher at Burleson Adventist School, alongside my role as music department assistant at Southwestern. Each day, I enter the classroom with a sense of purpose: to impart my God given gift of music to others. I hope to ignite within others the same inspiration that sparked my journey.

None of this would have been possible without the help of generous people, just like you, who make the Southwestern scholarship program possible. Without these scholarships, my dreams would not have been achievable. I aspire to reciprocate this generosity in the future, mirroring the profound impact it has had on me. Likewise, I urge others to consider what lives might be transformed by their willingness to give.

45 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Southwestern Adventist University News

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It Is Written announces a new VBS program, Flight 3:16. During Flight 3:16, children will visit five countries as they prepare for the ultimate destination—Heaven! Flight 3:16 is a complete VBS kit that includes supplies for 14 children. Learn more at IIW.us/flight316u or call 888.664.5573


Congratulations to long-time Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church member Ruth Swinyar, who celebrated her 102nd birthday on Monday, April 29, 2024, surrounded by her family. From left to right: DJ Swinyar, Dan Swinyar, Bret Barton, Becki Neff, Ruth Swinyar, Dave Swinyar, Bev Barton, Amy Reynolds, Lindy Hamilton and Rosa Swinyar.

James Roger Huff, 67, went to sleep to wait for Jesus’ return on March 17, 2024, surrounded by his family, after succumbing to a courageous 20-year battle against Myasthenia Gravis. Born on May 23, 1956, in Poplar Bluff, Mo., he was the only child of James “Jim” Huff and Zada Morrow Huff. He was baptized in 1968, at the age of 12, as a member of the Gentry Seventh-day Adventist Church and attended Ozark Adventist Academy. He graduated from John Brown University and completed a nursing degree at Northwest Technical Institute. In October 1982, Roger married Janet Lynn Westcott.

Roger’s passion for the health care field led him to establish various health care-related businesses. He was appointed by the governor to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, where he played a vital role in shaping health care policies and practices. He was a clinical nursing instructor for Northwest Arkansas Technical Institute and later worked as registrar for UAMA Schmieding Center for Senior Health.

At the age of 21, Roger became the Pathfinder Director at the Gentry church, and later he and his wife, Jan, went on to serve as co-directors of the Pathfinder Clubs at Springdale Seventh-day Adventist Church and Bentonville Seventh-day Adventist Church. They became the NWA Area Coordinators and served on the Pathfinder Adventure Council (PAC) for many years. They received the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference Pathfinder Hall of Fame award for their dedication and commitment to Pathfinders. Eventually, Roger took the role of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference Pathfinder Director until his health did not allow him to continue. He would still say, “Once a Pathfinder, Always a Pathfinder,” as he shared stories of 49 years’ worth of campouts, hikes, honors, outings and camporees.

Roger will be greatly missed, and we look forward to the reunion in heaven where we will “sing and shout the victory.”

He is survived by his wife, Janet Lynn Huff, of Tontitown, Ark.; two daughters, Audra Lynn Kohtlfarber (Shawn) and Beth Ann Jones (Brandon) of Rogers, Ark.; mother-in-law, Marlene Westcott of Monett, Mo.; 10 foreign exchange grandchildren and many dear friends.

47 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Back Pages


Brown, Timothy Wayne, born Sept. 1, 1954, Little Rock, Ark.; died Jan. 28, 2024. Preceded in death by his daughter, Kelly LeeAnn Brown; parents, Leroy Brown and Mary Elizabeth Hewgley Brown and brother, Daniel L. Brown. Survivors: children, Bailey Brown, Janice (Charlie) Brown, Miles (Cyanne) Kelly, Travis Kelley; ex-wife, Lou Ann Kelly Elliott; brother, Joel (Sheila) Brown; sister, Lori Brown Gasaway and many grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Lynn, Ned Garner, born Aug. 21, 1932, Pearsall, Tex.; died Jan. 19, 2024, Edinburg, Tex. Church membership: Pharr Seventh-day Adventist Church. Preceded in death by his wife Arlene; parents, C. C. Lynn and Marguerite Garner Lynn; and sister, Lorna Robinson. Survivors: daughters, Juanita Holder and Debby Fisher; step-sons, Terry and Gary Dickinson; 11 grandchildren and 15 greatgrandchildren.

Mandaville, John Arnold, born June 13, 1948, Ventura, Calif.; died April 18, 2024. Church membership: Amarillo Seventh-day Adventist Church. Preceded in death by his wife, Ouida Mandaville. Survivors: sister, Pamela Mandaville Rojas (Heraldo) and their daughter Gabriela Rojas of San Bruno, Calif.; brotherin-law, James Stayton (Lynda) of Amarillo, Tex.; stepson, Thomas Wray (Sara); numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces,

Enid Irvine was born on July 25, 1931, in Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia. She passed away peacefully on the morning of Jan. 19, 2024 at the age of 92. Enid was a member of the Summit Ridge Seventh-day Adventist Church in Harrah, Okla., and was preceded in death by her husband, John Irvine.

John and Enid were college sweethearts who were married in Avondale, New South Wales, Australia, before boarding a ship for the United States. Following graduate work at Walla Walla College in Washington, Enid and John moved to Alberta, Canada, where they both taught at Canadian Union College. Enid taught Home Economics, and John taught Biology. Their work for the Seventh-day Adventist Church took them from Canadian Union College to Southwestern Adventist College in Keene, Tex., then to Gentry, Ark., then to Victoria B.C. and then as missionaries to Hong Kong. Their work for independent schools took them to Harrison, Ark., then to Weimar in California, Hartland in Virginia and Eden Valley in Colorado. Enid and John spent their final years at Summit Ridge Retirement Village in Oklahoma, living in Wolfe Living Center.

They are survived by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who will lovingly carry them forward in grateful hearts.

nephews, great-nieces and nephews.

Martinez, Lucia, born May 19, 1928, Dixon, N.M.; died Jan. 26, 2024, Dixon, N.M. Church membership: Dixon Seventhday Adventist Church. Preceded in death by husband, Juan C. Martinez; parents, Margarito and Eliza Maes; brothers, Olivas, Elique and Margarito (Nuno) Maes Jr.; sisters, Nancy Maes, Almeida Martinez and Carmen Valdez. Survivors: children, Joan Castellano (Robert) of Santa Fe; Marian Martinez “Pongie” of Espanola; Donald and Terence “Honey” Martinez of Dixon; three grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; sister-in-law, Isabel Maes of Dixon and numerous nephews, nieces and other relatives and friends.

Miller, Floyd R., born April 12, 1935, Baltimore, Md.; died March 9, 2024, Cleburne, Tex. He was a U.S. Army veteran. Survivors: wife, Phyllis (Shade) Miller of Godley, Tex.; daughter, Michele Shane (Troy) of Hampstead, Md.; two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Thaxton, Mickey Lynn, born Feb. 22, 1949, Borger, Tex.; died April 13, 2024, Amarillo, Tex. Church membership: Amarillo Seventh-day Adventist Church. Preceded in death by grandparents, William and Gertrude Froust; and parents, Willard and Marcile Suit. Survivors: husband, Larry Thaxton of Amarillo.


News and Articles: Send local church or school news, along with high-resolution photos, to your local conference communication department listed on page 2. If you are interested in writing for the Record, email Record@swuc.org.

Back Pages: Submit announcements, milestones, obituaries and address changes to Record@SWUC.org or visit SWURecord.org.

Advertising: For cost information and deadlines contact: Bradley Ecord at BEcord@swuc.org.


Donna Marie Turk Sherrill Lewis was born on May 5, 1943, in Takoma Park, Md., and passed away on Feb. 12, 2024, in Caldwell, Idaho. Donna spent most of her life living in Texas, including almost 40 years in Jefferson, where she was a member of the Jefferson Academy Seventh-day Adventist Church. She spent the last 11 years living in Idaho with her husband, Frank Lewis, and her love for him was probably the only thing that could have gotten her out of Texas! They were both members of the Caldwell Seventh-day Adventist Church. She enjoyed pink flowers, hummingbirds, writing poems and songs, singing, laughing, taking pictures, making personalized birthday cards for family and friends and helping people. She was preceded in death by her parents, Thomas Ferrell Turk and Evelyn Lucile Dickerson Turk; husband, Glenn Curtis Sherrill; brother, Thomas Lloyd Turk; sister, Alma Eileen Turk Furr; and son, Dale Clint Sherrill. She is survived by her husband, Frank Lewis of Caldwell, Idaho; son, Duane Sherrill (Shawna) of Battle Ground, Wash.; brother, Dean Turk (Sharon) of Cleburne, Tex.; five grandchildren, Dale Sherrill, Jr. (Kayla), Terri Sherrill, Joshua Sherrill, Hayden Sherrill and Brenna Sherrill; and seven great-grandchildren, Avery Rodriguez, Jayla Sherrill, Paisley Rodriguez, Juniper Rodriguez, Kimber Sherrill, Cayson Sherrill and Luna Sherrill. A memorial service was held for Donna on March 23 in the Jefferson Academy Seventh-day Adventist Church.

John Ozols was born in Neumunster, Germany, on May 17, 1946, to displaced Latvian parents during WWII and moved to the United States in the 1950s. John graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in math in 1968 and then served in the U.S. Army at McDill Air Force Base as a personnel finance specialist until 1970. He met his wife, Cheryl Crawford, during his service, and they were married in November 1970. They moved to Gainesville, Fla., where they completed degrees at the University of Florida, then relocated to Illinois, where John was the veteran representative at the College of Lake County for 10 years. In Illinois, he was blessed with the birth of his two daughters. He then made a career move to Baxter Travenol Labs as a computer programmer in the International Division for a couple of years before transferring to a Baxter Lab manufacturing plant as a system analyst in Mountain Home, Ark. He retired as senior systems analyst and enjoyed his remaining years with his family, spending time with his grandsons and bass fishing on area lakes when he could. John passed away on Dec. 22, 2023, in Mountain Home, Ark. He will be missed by his family and grandsons and his longtime bass fishing buddies and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Andrejs and Vera Ozols. He is survived by his wife, Cheryl Ozols; two daughters, Jessica Creekmore (Matt) and Catherine Ozols; brother, Valdis Ozols (Marlene); sister-in-law, Sheila Crawford Safarzadeh (Hassan); grandsons, Andrew and Joseph Creekmore; two nieces; one nephew in Texas and a cousin in Belgium.

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

49 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Back Pages


Christ-Centered Experience Financial Aid Available Registration is August 11, 2024

Kylee stepped onto our campus as a freshman and, four years later, has experienced Christ in a new way, deepened her walk with God, and learned to serve others. After graduating in 2024, she has taken what she experienced at OAA to serve as Adventurer Director in her local church. "It was so good to watch how God grew Kylee through her four years at Ozark," says her mom.

Growing spiritual champions; that's what we do here at OAA.

2024-2025 School Year Today!
THE 2024-2025
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REGISTER ONLINE! Apply online at www.ozarkacademy.org information@ozarkacademy.org information@ozarkacademy.org Contact us at 479.736.2221 Contact us at 479.736.2221
51 JULY | AUGUST 2024 Back Pages

Southwestern Union of Seventh-day Adventists PO Box 4000, Burleson, TX 76097


Answer Your Calling

• Paid Parental Leave

• Student Loan Support

• Career Development

• Retirement Planning

• Pet Benefits

Where do you experience the power of the human spirit? In a helping hand? In the heart of a team? Or in the calling that inspires you to care for others? At AdventHealth, we see the drive and tenacity of the human spirit every day in our 95,000+ dedicated team members. That’s why we’re ready to care for you with top-tier benefits including:

• Paid Time O from Day One

Join our team at AnswerYourCalling.com. Non-Profit Org US POSTAGE PAID Permit No. 1255 Liberty, MO

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