November | December 2023
Fullness 4 The of Time
Called By His Purpose Next-Level
10 Gift Giving Mind, 11 Boosting Body and Spirit Behind 12 Ministering the Scenes
Gratitude for Grace
Cherishing the First and Second Advents
Isaiah 9:6 November | December 2023 Vol. 122, No. 06
Gratitude for Grace Features 4 The Fullness of Time 7 Called By His Purpose
Publisher SOUTHWESTERN UNION OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS SWURECORD.ORG | RECORD@SWUC.ORG
KRISTINA P. BUSCH KBusch@swuc.org
Columns 10 Equipping: Practical Guide to Next-Level Gift Giving 11 Wholeness: Walking: Mind, Body and Spirit Boost 12 Ministries: Ministering Behind the Scenes 13 Education: Southwestern Union Schools
Conferences & Institutions
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KENN DIXON | News@txsda.org
DEBBY MÁRQUEZ | News@texico.org
Southwestern Adventist University
TONY REYES | Communication@swau.edu
ELIZABETH CAMPS Elizabeth.Camps@adventhealth.com
TAMMY G. PRIETO
COVER STORY IMAGES
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BRADLEY ECORD BEcord@swuc.org
As the year begins to wind down and the holiday season picks up, we wonder where the time has gone, yet keep moving forward at a steady, if not quicker, pace. We prepare to gather with friends and family, looking forward to thankful dinners and holy nights. During this time, reflect on God’s gift of salvation. How has your life been impacted by His grace? This issue we focus on our salvation through Jesus’ birth, sacrifice and return. How do we show our gratitude to the Lord for the earthly and heavenly life He has given us? How can we enrich our understanding of our Savior’s humble birth and promised return? May your heart continually long for Jesus’ return and may you cherish the life He has given you.
Kristina P. Busch Kristina P. Busch
P.O. BOX 4000, BURLESON, TX 76097 817.295.0476 | SouthwesternAdventist.org
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Arkansas-Louisiana Conference
LESLIE SOUPET | News@swrgc.org
Back Pages 46 Classified Ads 48 Obituaries 48 Announcements & Milestones
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
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Southwest Region Conference
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
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On The Record
Gratitude for Grace Have you ever thought about Jesus’ birth and thought, “Why me?” Jesus came to this earth to save you and me. I am amazed when I try to comprehend that the God of the universe is concerned about me, and wants to be engaged with my life. As we look at the birth and celebrate Jesus this time of year, I’m inspired to want to share with others about Jesus’ love. Furthermore, God is seeking a relationship with each one of us. Prayer is a primary way for us to seek God in return. Do make an effort to hear God, listening to Him is just as important as engaging with Him in prayer. I heard a sermon recently about Hannah in 1 Samuel. Have you ever had a burden on your heart or a request for God to do something specific in your life? Perhaps you have even been at the point of desperation for God to step in and show up. Hannah was at such a point. She wanted a child for herself and her husband. Sometimes, the wait for God’s answer is as important as the miracle we receive; sometimes it is the waiting that causes us to reach out and be desperate for God. Who do we go to when we are in deep anguish,when our souls are des-
perate? God is waiting. In his book, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference, Philip Yancey writes, “Prayer is the act of seeing reality from God’s point of view.” Hannah was faithful and put her trust in God. She went to God repeatedly requesting He bless her with a child. On one instance, in her deep anguish, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly as she once again prayed for a son. Such was her state of anguish that Eli the priest thought that she was drunk. Hannah replied to him in 1 Samuel 1:15, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” God heard her prayer and answered. When I think about this story, I wonder what would have happened if Hannah had not been persistent with God? Hannah was eventually blessed by the Lord with a son, Samuel. Samuel was used by God to draw people into a relationship to Him. Hannah’s faithfulness and persistence changed her nation. What has Jesus called us to do? How can we be more open in our lives to receive what God wants to give to us?
Jesus came to show us how to live and asked us to share with others what He has done for us. This is my favorite time of year with two holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, that give us opportunities to spend time with friends and family. Let’s take this time to reflect on the blessings that God has given to us. Let’s be thankful to God for providing for us and His church. May we also be desperate for God’s presence in our life, taking the time to reflect on His word and listen to Him. a By John Page Treasurer
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
The Fullness of
Gratitude for Grace Feature
From my earliest memories growing up in a Christian home, I was aware that there were two clearly identified, and very important, spiritual themes. Each of these topics was of such significance that they were continually at the center of our understanding of whatever was happening in the world. These themes both refer to Jesus’ coming to Earth, first as the Messiah born to lowly parents, to pay the penalty for the sinful condition of all humanity and, secondly, as the “Savior of the World” returning in spectacular glory as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. These two events are known as the “first advent” and “second advent” of Jesus Christ and they serve as the basis for the Christian’s hope for being with God.
THE FIRST ADVENT
Followers of Jesus know well the significance of the first advent of Christ as it was promised in passages throughout the Old Testament beginning in Genesis 3:15. After the disobedience of Adam and Eve, God told that “old serpent, the devil” that He would “crush his head,” to put a final end to sin on the earth. It was this birth of the Christ-
child that marked the fulfillment of the plan of God to restore fallen creation and to save us from the penalty of our sinful condition. Throughout the centuries, the prophets kept the promises before the people with strong tones of instruction that resonated down through the generations. There would soon be a Messiah and, according to Isaiah 7:14, we read that “the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” In this passage, we are told that Jesus would come to earth, as a weak, infant child rather than a powerful earthly ruler. Other prophetic statements reveal the location where the Messiah would be born. The prophet Micah writes: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel.” Micah 5:2. The stage was set for this cosmic event to occur in the simple village of Bethlehem, the city of David, to be the birthplace of the Messiah. To give us a better understanding of the purpose of Jesus’ first advent, the prophet Isaiah provides this incredible
description of His earthly in these familiar words from Isaiah 53: “Surely, He took up our pain and bore our suffering … He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” With our finite level of understanding, it is impossible to truly grasp that the ultimate purpose for the Messiah’s birth was the longing in the heart of a loving God who wanted us to live with Him. This love for all of us was so profound that Jesus would agree to come here to earth and take responsibility for our brokenness. What’s more, He would be punished for our sins, and He would defeat the power of evil which threatened to destroy God’s Creation. While it is true that the prophecies declare that a “special baby” would be born, that He would be born in Bethlehem, and that His mission would be difficult and painful, there was little focus on the timing of when all this would happen apart from some prophetic comments that were not well understood. Just before the birth of Jesus, there had been 400 years of difficulty since
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Gratitude for Grace Feature
the voice of a prophet had been heard in Israel, the people of God had fallen under the rule of their Roman conquerors and, it is even likely that they had begun to lose hope that a Messiah would come at all. But just at the right time in God’s plan, Jesus was born. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, uses an interesting phrase to describe when the “first advent” occurred. Galatians 4:4 (NKJV) says, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son,” (emphasis supplied). God orchestrated the earthly events so that the birth of Christ would occur at just the right time according to His plan.
THE SECOND ADVENT There is no doubt that, just as fully as the prophecies of the “first advent” were fulfilled, the promise of the “second advent” when Jesus will return to the earth to take us to live with Him “in our Father’s house,” will certainly come to pass. Scripture confirms that, as was the case prior to the “first advent,” there will be very challenging, even dark times in the world around us. Declining cultural attitudes have led us to interpersonal relationships that are so broken that it seems too difficult
With our finite level of understanding it is impossible to truly grasp that the ultimate purpose for the Messiah’s birth was the longing in the heart of a loving God who wanted us to live with Him. This love for all of us was so profound that Jesus would agree to come here to earth and take the responsibility for our brokenness.
to consider seeking resolution for differences that arise between us. Instead, the level of hatred and vitriol grows ever more serious all around us. The peacemakers, on whom Jesus pronounced His blessing during the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-6), seem nowhere to be found. Surely the signs that announce that the “second advent” is drawing very near, are all around us. It surely can’t be much longer until we once again reach ‘the fullness of the time’ when Jesus will come to claim His bride. As we wait for that day of promise, may we be faithful in our mission to call others to follow Jesus, and may we be inspired by the love that is at the heart of the mission for both the “first” and “second advent” of Jesus. “Even so, Lord Jesus, come soon!” a By Phil Robertson. Robertson is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Texico Conference.
Gratitude for Grace Feature
by His Purpose
“What is my purpose in life?” Clyde Thibodeaux wondered. From an early age, he always felt that something was missing. “You have to have a purpose,” said Thibodeaux, “But nothing ever felt fulfilling in my life.” Little did he know that God had a greater plan that would not only change him, but it would also plant seeds of change in his entire community. Thibodeaux grew up in a home that neighbored multiple nightclubs in New Iberia, Louisiana. His blended family loved each other, but poverty proved
to be a continuous struggle. It didn’t help that he always felt different than the other kids his age. “Growing up, I always had a different feeling,” said Thibodeaux. “Also, my mom was Catholic. She had me do a first communion confirmation but I felt, going to church each Sunday, that something was missing.” Despite feeling out of place, he always felt a sense of belonging with his father. Then, at just 12 years of age, Thibodeaux’s world turned upside down. His father passed away. “After my dad
died, I went off the rails,” said Thibodeaux. The lonely teen turned to other avenues for belonging and comfort. He started drinking and doing drugs. He sold drugs, too, and stayed out late partying. Life continued to spiral out of control. Even in the thick of his dangerous lifestyle, Thibodeaux realized something needed to change. He felt the urge to leave town before he ended up in jail or worse. As a result, he made a plan that would forever change his life NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Gratitude for Grace Feature
There, sitting in church, he felt God impress a message that would finally answer the question,
“What is my purpose in life?”
for the better. “I had no desire to be in jail,” said Thibodeaux. “There was a whole world out there that I wanted to see and experience. My mom tried her best with me, but at this rate, I thought, life was going to be short lived.” Thibodeaux asked his mother for permission to move in with an older sibling: a brother and sister-in-law living in Petersburg, Virginia. She said yes! He moved during the summer before eleventh grade without realizing that his brother was a Seventh-day Adventist. The family never pushed their beliefs upon Thibodeaux. Yet, they prayed
together daily, and each Sabbath they attended the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church. There, Thibodeaux felt a sense of community and belonging like never before, and he felt God’s presence as he studied the Bible. Members of the church treated each other as family. Soon, without a doubt in his mind, he chose to give his life to Jesus through baptism. “God worked on my heart,” said Thibodeaux. “Watching the people and listening to the message … God put it in my heart that baptism was the right thing to do. I have never re-
gretted that decision.” Thibodeaux looks back on that time as some of the best years of his life. He finished high school at Pine Forge Academy in 1980. “At Pine Forge, I was surrounded by so many people that loved God,” said Thibodeaux. “Attending that school was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.” Afterwards, Thibodeaux went on to attend Oakwood University for two quarters. There, sitting in church, he felt God impress a message that would finally answer the question, “What is my purpose in life?”
“I was listening to Pastor E. E. Cleveland preach and felt a call in my heart,” said Thibodeaux. “God told me to do a revival in my hometown of New Iberia.” Strongly convicted, he immediately began to ask about how to host a revival. Yet, before anything could take place, old temptations resurfaced. Alcohol and drugs became difficult for the new convert to resist. Feeling himself slip into old habits, Thibodeaux once again decided to avoid temptations by leaving town. But he left more than just his old habits behind. After leaving Oakwood, Thibodeaux also left the church. The decision was not consciously rebellious. Rather, the young man became complacent. It was easier to attend church sporadically than to start over in a new community. For nearly 40 years, he let God’s calling on his heart for revival in New Iberia slip from his mind. “I regret the fact that I strayed because there was so much more I could have learned,” said Thibodeaux. “I could have been so much more knowledgeable in the Word.” It wasn’t until a few years ago that Thibodeaux felt re-convicted of his long-ago call from God. Not only that, but he felt impressed that God wanted him to fulfill that mission as soon as possible. “All through the years, I would always think about the need to have a revival in my hometown,” said Thibodeaux. “Two years ago, I had started attending church again on my own and felt that it needed to happen. It really hit me that it needed to happen now.” No more waiting, Thibodeaux put a plan into action. At first, he couldn't find a church that wanted to host the event. There were no volunteers, and living in Houston did not make for an easy commute to New Iberia. Yet, with God’s guiding hand, things began to fall into place. Thibodeaux met Southwest Region Conference President Carlton Byrd at camp meeting in the summer of 2022. A month later, over breakfast in Houston,
Byrd and Thibodeaux discussed the idea of hosting a revival in New Iberia. From there, Thibodeaux received the blessing of the Southwest Region Conference, including the support of Bible workers and conference members to promote and prepare for the event. Pastor Timothy Lee came on board as a speaker for the revival. In addition, a local Sunday-keeping church agreed to rent out their sanctuary for Sabbath services. “We had the revival and 51 people got baptized!” said Thibodeaux. From the revival, a new church was formed. It even recently received a permanent pastor, Gregory Hines. People of all ages, from children to elderly, now attend the New Iberia Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is named after the church where Thibodeaux attended in Petersburg. “Finally, I know that this is what I was put on this earth for,” said Thibodeaux. “To make sure that this happens.” “God’s work will be finished by the united efforts of our denominational workers and laity, coupled most importantly, with the moving of the Holy Spirit,” said Byrd. “The dream of brother Clyde Thibodeaux, a layperson, is demonstrative of this. His desire to plant a new church in his hometown has been realized through the collaborative efforts between members and conference alike in pursuit of Christ’s Gospel Commission. Praise the Lord!” Thibodeaux continues to commute between Houston and his hometown. He continues to follow his calling by supporting the church in New Iberia as much as possible. “God worked on my heart,” said Thibodeaux. “He never let me rest with this. I am at peace now. I have done what the Lord asked me to do, and that makes me happy.” a By Makala James. James is a writer based in North Texas. Photos by Jorge Moya. Clyde Thibodeaux is a member of the New Iberia Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Southwest Region Conference. NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Practical Guide to Next-Level Gift Giving By Jason Busch, Record Writer
The Bible has myriad verses on giving to others, which emphasizes how important it must be. Words like, “…It is more blessed to give than to receive” in Acts 20:35 are easy to recite but can be harder to practice. While giving gifts may come more naturally to some than to others, the ideas below can help make a gift giver out of anyone.
Always Be Listening
Attention spans tend to be short, and it seems like most conversations consist of thinking through what to say next. But, if you take the time to truly listen (even when the other person may not think you are or even if they aren’t talking to you directly), then you’d be surprised how many gift ideas you can pick up. If you think you’ll have trouble remembering, consider writing them down as soon as possible or creating a gift idea list online (Amazon, for instance).
Really Think About the Receiver Giving a gift based on a hobby or interest is perfectly fine. In fact, most receivers would be happy to get something like that. In being a next level gift giver, though, it’s important to really think about who you’re giving to. For instance, if it’s your wedding anniversary and your spouse loves flowers then a bouquet is a good gift; however, a paper flower bouquet inscribed with your wedding vows might be even better. Build Around a Theme To aid in the gift giving process, a theme acts as a kind of focus that will guide your search. Instead of checking items off a wish list or browsing for something generic, building around a theme can breathe life into your gifting efforts and add meaning to what you find. The recipient is sure to love anything you give them with love, but how much more will the gift be appreciated when they see the extra energy put into it?
Be a Grateful Gift Receiver This may seem contradictory, but being a good gift receiver is a vital part of the gifting process. How would your recipient feel if they see how excited you are to give your gift, yet you don’t show the same excitement when getting the gift they have for you? Joy begets joy and people will notice how you act when on the receiving end. Be a grateful receiver and they will be, as well! The only perfect gift ever given was Jesus’s sacrifice for us so that we might have eternal life with Him. There are ways, however, for us to be better gift givers while we wait for His return. By always listening for ideas, thinking about who your gift recipient really is, building around a theme and being an excited, grateful receiver yourself, you can take your gift giving skills to the next level. a
Walking: Mind, Body and Spirit Boost By AdventHealth IMPROVES HEART HEALTH Researchers found people who incorporate regular walking into their lives have fewer heart attacks and strokes while also maintaining healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Lower blood pressure, improved blood circulation, and a reduced risk of heart disease—a walk to start your day can be a great way to keep your heart healthy and prevent high blood pressure. Walking for an average of 30 minutes a day can lower your risk of heart disease by 35 percent. While getting a brisk walk in at other times of the day is always beneficial, a morning walk carries some real advantages. Here are some of the ways starting your morning with a walk can jumpstart your day and enrich your life in body, mind and spirit. Who knows? You might be inspired to start your New Year with a fresh exercise routine that will last a lifetime. Remember, whenever you start any kind of new exercise routine, it’s important to listen to what your body needs and to have a chat with your provider first to make sure you’re exercising safely. KEEPS YOU CONSISTENT Research has shown that more than 90% of those who exercise consistently have a morning exercise routine. Unexpected events often arise throughout the day and push our exercise off the schedule. A morning walk helps us to stay consistent. BOOSTS METABOLISM Walking in the morning jumpstarts your metabolism and keeps it elevated throughout the day. If you save your activity for later in the day, you’ll miss out on many of the benefits of an elevated metabolism, such as more energy and a more refreshed, rejuvenated you.
PROTECTS MUSCLES AND JOINTS Walking in the morning can help protect your joints by lubricating and strengthening the muscles around the joints. This leads to less pain and discomfort, adding to the long list of benefits of a morning walk. ENHANCES MENTAL HEALTH A daily morning walk can lead to improved self-esteem, better mood and a reduction in stress and anxiety. Not only does this sacred time give you an opportunity to think, reflect and clear your mind, your morning walk helps to release endorphins and serotonin, which are your body’s natural mood and self-esteem enhancers. Studies have shown that regular walking can
also be a great natural way to manage and prevent mental health conditions, depression and anxiety. KEEPS BRAIN SHARP Exercise helps you stay mentally alert. Think of the benefits of having a sharp, focused mind all day—if you choose to exercise at the end of the day, you won’t reap the benefits of that boost quite as long. PROMOTES BETTER SLEEP Being active can boost the effects of melatonin, a natural sleep hormone, which can help you fall asleep easier. But exposing yourself to the bright morning sun for your walk to start the day can assist in setting your natural circadian rhythm, improving your sleep cycle and promoting a good night’s sleep. SIMPLIFIES SCHEDULE Exercising in the morning gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you have already gotten your activity in for the day. By getting your morning walk, you don’t have to worry about trying to juggle your workout time around a busy schedule as the day progresses. a
TIPS TO KEEP YOU WALKING • Alter your walking route day to day so you don’t get bored • If you typically use a treadmill, get outside to take advantage of the health benefits of fresh air and sunshine • Invest in good shoes and comfortable clothing • Remember to incorporate stretching before and after you walk • Walk at least three days a week if you’re doing vigorous “power walks,” or at least five days a week if your walks are brisk but comfortable • Walk with a friend—you’re more likely to keep to your routine if someone helps keep you accountable; you’ll also have the benefit of companionship
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Ministering Behind the Scenes By Lori Futcher, Record Writer Not everyone who works for the church is involved in direct ministry, but that doesn’t make their work any less important. In fact, it is because of behind-the-scenes services such as Communication and Information Technology (IT) that Southwestern Union Ministries are able to thrive. In fact, the magazine you’re reading right now exists because of the work of the communication department, and if you happen to be reading it online, you can thank the IT department for operating the server where this website resides. Yet, this is only a small portion of what these departments do. In addition to producing the Record, the communication department oversees the Southwestern Union’s social media accounts and website, acts as a marketing agency for the union departments and handles public relations and crisis management. The communication team also provides support for each of the conferences within the Southwestern Union and contributes to communication efforts at the North American Division and General Conference levels. The IT department provides technical equipment and support for the union and four of its conferences. This includes maintaining a server that houses everything from emails to documents. In addition, the IT department works to ensure that the equipment is safe from would-be predators. “You want leadership to have safe standards on their equipment,” says Robert Dyke, IT director, explaining that there have been entities outside of the union who have been attacked by ransomware and had to pay thousands of dollars as a result. Dyke is thankful this hasn’t happened within the Southwestern Union and works hard to ensure equipment is safe and provide
training to protect against ransomware in order to keep this from happening. “Saving the union money is one of the ways we can help the constituents,” says Dyke. The communication department also affects constituents by producing materials that will prompt church members to reflect on their spiritual walk or inspire them to become involved in ministry. This year, after running a cover feature about someone helping refugees in New Orleans, Kristina P. Busch learned that someone in Houston had been moved to action by that piece. “There isn’t a way outside of the Record, outside of that platform that someone from Houston is going to
read about Oklahoma City and reach out to the North American Division to get involved,” says Busch. Busch sees her work of connecting and sharing stories as being similar to what Jesus did in His ministry. “Jesus did a lot of His ministry, if not most of His ministry, through connection,” says Busch. “I’m passionate about this because I feel like I’ve got a special assignment to share the stories that connect the people to Jesus.” Dyke is also passionate about the work he does, saying, “I’m able to use the talents God has given me directly for His service.” a
Southwestern Union Schools The North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists Nondiscrimination Policy Statement For Adventist Schools The Seventh-day Adventist Church, in all of its church schools, admits students of any race to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at its schools, and makes no discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnic background, country of origin or gender in the administration of education policies, applications for admission, scholarship or loan programs, and extracurricular programs. A complete list of all academies and elementary/junior academies in the Southwestern Union Conference for the 2023-2024 school year is listed below: ARKANSAS-LOUISIANA CONFERENCE
TEXAS CONFERENCE (CONTINUED)
Bentonville SDA School.................................2522 SE 14th St., Bentonville, AR 72712
Cleburne Adventist Christian School.......111 Meadowview Dr., Cleburne, TX 76033
Ewing Adventist Jr. Academy...... 709 Adventist Church Rd., Bonnerdale, AR 71933
Coggin Memorial School....................... 6645 Downing St., Corpus Christi, TX 78414
Greater New Orleans Christian Academy......... 5220 Irving St., Metairie, LA 70006
Conroe Adventist Academy.......................... 3601 S. Loop 336 E., Conroe, TX 77301
Harrison SDA School.................................. 4877 Hwy. 392 West, Harrison, AR 72601
Cypress Bend Adventist Elementary School....... 2997 FM 728, Jefferson, TX 75657
Hot Springs Adventist School.......................401 Weston Rd., Hot Springs, AR 71913
Dallas Christian Academy................. 4025 N. Central Expressway, Dallas, TX 75204
Jones Creek Adventist Academy.....4363 Jones Creek Rd., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Ft. Worth Adventist Jr. Academy....3040 Sycamore School Rd., Ft Worth, TX 76133
Little Rock Adventist Academy............ 8708 Rodney Parham, Little Rock, AR 72205
Garland Christian Adventist School...... 1702 E. Centerville Rd., Garland, TX 75041
Ozark Adventist Academy....................20997 Dawn Hill East Rd., Gentry, AR 72734
Houston Adventist Academy......... 11702 Grant Rd. Ste. B, Cypress, TX 77429-2973
Ozark Adventist School......................... 21150 Dawn Hill East Rd., Gentry, AR 72734
Joshua Adventist Multigrade School.............. 1912 Conveyor Dr., Joshua, TX 76058
Shreveport Adventist Christian School....7023 Greenwood Rd., Shreveport, LA 71119
Katy Adventist Christian School................................ 1913 East Ave., Katy, TX 77493
Keene Adventist Elementary School.........................302 Pecan St., Keene, TX 76059
Ardmore Adventist Academy........... 154 Beaver Academy Rd., Ardmore, OK 73401 Bristow Adventist School........................................P.O. Box 1074, Bristow, OK 74010 Heritage Adventist School..............20555 S. 4170 Rd. Unit B, Claremore, OK 74017 Muskogee SDA Christian Academy.....6106 W. Okmulgee Ave, Muskogee, OK 74401 Parkview Adventist Academy.....4201 Martin Luther King, Oklahoma City, OK 73111 Pioneer Adventist Christian School......................P.O. Box 1245, Guymon, OK 73942
Killeen Adventist Jr. Academy................................. 3412 Lake Rd., Killeen, TX 76543 North Dallas Adventist Academy............2800 Custer Pkwy., Richardson, TX 75080 Scenic Hills Christian Academy............... 11223 Bandera Rd., San Antonio, TX 78250 South Texas Christian Academy..................... 7001 N. Ware Rd., McAllen, TX 78504 Stonehill Christian Academy......................... 4301 Kelly Lane, Pflugerville, TX 78660 Tyler Adventist School.............................. 2931 South S.E. Loop 323, Tyler, TX 75701
Tulsa Adventist Academy.....................................900 S. New Haven, Tulsa, OK 74112
SOUTHWEST REGION CONFERENCE
Abilene Junior Academy..........................................P.O. Box 239, Abilene, TX 79604
Applegate Adventist Christian Academy.........P.O. Box 729, Round Rock, TX 78680 Bethel Adventist Church School.......................... P.O. Box 660, Texarkana, TX 75504 Emmanuel Adventist School........................ 702 N. Cherry St., Hammond, LA 70401 Excel Adventist Academy..............................P.O. Box 2240, Missouri City, TX 77459 MLK Christian Academy......................4295 Prescott Court, Baton Rouge, LA 70805 New Orleans Adventist Academy............ 4500 Gawain Dr., New Orleans, LA 70127 Shiloh Excel Christian School...................... 2420 S. Maple St., Little Rock, AR 72204 S.W. Adventist Jr. Academy......................... 1600 Bonnie View Rd., Dallas, TX 75203
Amarillo SDA Christian Academy....................... P.O. Box 32543, Amarillo, TX 79120 Canyon Christian Academy..................1000 S. Canyon Rd., Alamogordo, NM 88310 Crestview SDA Academy......................... 6000 Ouray NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120 El Paso Adventist Jr. Academy............... 3510 George Dieter Dr., El Paso, TX 79936 Las Cruces SDA Academy.................................3520 Elks Dr., Las Cruces, NM 88005 Lubbock Jr. Academy.........................................5302 Elgin Ave., Lubbock, TX 79413 Sandia View Academy...................................... 65 Academy Dr., Corrales, NM 87048 Sandia View Christian School........................... 24 Academy Dr., Corrales, NM 87048
TEXAS CONFERENCE Advent Ridge Academy......................1523 Old Ranch Rd. 12, San Marcos, TX 78666 Burleson Adventist School...................................1635 Fox Lane, Burleson, TX 76028 Burton Adventist Academy...................... 4611 Kelly-Elliott Rd., Arlington, TX 76017 Chisholm Trail Academy...............................................P.O. Box 717, Keene, TX 76059
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Southwestern Happenings Union News
ARKANSAS-LOUISIANA CONFERENCE Health Ministries Day ARKLA Conference Office MBelizaire@arklac.org
OKLAHOMA CONFERENCE Refresh: Prayer Retreat Wewoka Woods Adventist Center OkAdventist.org
TEXAS CONFERENCE Evangelism Training Houston, Tex. TexasAdventist.org
TEXAS CONFERENCE ACS Training Certification English and Spanish Houston, Tex. TexasAdventist.org
OKLAHOMA CONFERENCE Oklahoma Hispanic Elders Retreat OkAdventist.org
TEXAS CONFERENCE Pastoral Ordinations Keene, Tex. TexasAdventist.org
TEXAS CONFERENCE CONECTADOS Virtual Evangelistic Series. TexasAdventist.org
22 – Dec. 6
ARKANSAS-LOUISIANA CONFERENCE Thailand Mission Trip JVillegas@arklac.org
THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY Conference and Union offices closed.
TEXAS CONFERENCE East Texas Convocation & Evangelism Training in Tyler, Tex. TexasAdventist.org
SOUTHWEST REGION CONFERENCE Singles Ministry Enrichment Weekend Oklahoma City, Okla. LMassiah@swrgc.org
TEXAS CONFERENCE Laredo Convocation and Evangelism Training in Laredo, Tex. TexasAdventist.org
OKLAHOMA CONFERENCE Women’s Ministry Brunch Edmond Adventist Church Edmond, Okla. OkAdventist.org
SOUTHWEST REGION CONFERENCE Come Adore Him Christmas Special NBC Television Local Stations ComeAdoreHim.com
CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY Conference and Union offices closed.
Southwestern Union News
Friends of the King: The Divine Design to Enjoy Discipleship
BURLESON, TEX. – As Christians, we eagerly anticipate the joy of being with Christ in eternity, even as we continue to walk this earthly path. Along our journey, we may have overlooked the profound significance of both embracing discipleship ourselves and sharing it with others. There have been moments when we could have more fully embraced His teachings and the model He provided to fulfill the Great Commission.
How can we move from the status quo to a genuine discipleship that expands the Kingdom of God? Why is it necessary that we walk our journey of discipleship with love, joy and commitment? Being a disciple and friend of Jesus is to be a priority for each of us, so why isn't the practice of making disciples given more significance in the activities and plans of ministries and congregations?
For this reason, the Southwestern Union’s Evangelism Department has collaborated on a new book that will act as a guide for positive change in applying God’s divine plan. The purpose of the book is to help each believer and each congregation understand and cultivate at least two essential experiences and challenges with and from Christ. First, the relationship experience with Jesus is being His disciple, knowing Him, learning from Him and forming ourselves according to His character and His example. It was never the Lord’s plan for us to be and conduct ourselves as “members,” but rather to be His followers, His disciples and, above all, His friends. Second, the clear challenge of the mission is to “make disciples,” and the best way to do this is with those who are right beside us. Make disciples from within the family, at schools, in our churches and in the community, and then share our experience at the feet of Jesus. The book will include three practical aids. First, each chapter provides a moment in the reading to reflect on what is being considered as well as a prompting prayer, so that we will not move forward so quickly that we do not set aside time for self-examination and the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Second, a brief section of questions at the end of each chapter that favors dialogue and learning. The questions will be a prompt for discussion for small groups. Third, a QR code at the end of each chapter will direct the reader to a short video in which a moderator and some of the authors will discuss the importance and priorities of the section being studied. For more information about this project and for resources, please contact the multicultural ministries department at 817.295.0476. By Osvaldo Rigacci VP for Multicultural Ministries
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Southwestern Union News
2023 NAD National Educators’ Convention PHOENIX, ARIZ. – The National Educators’ Convention was held this past Aug. 7-10 in Phoenix, Ariz. Outside temperatures were well over 100, which kept us inside where it was cool. The theme of the convention was “Something Better.” Of the roughly 6,000 people at the convention, the Southwestern Union had more than 330 present. The Southwestern Union also sponsored four students majoring in education at Southwestern Adventist University to attend. The opening night speaker was Carlton Byrd (pictured bottom right), Southwest Region Conference president, who was very inspiring. He told us that we have a purpose that is creative, comprehensive, customized and
connected. Each morning our hearts were prepared for worship by the trio, CYIZA, and they were followed by our devotional speaker, Donnett Blake. The closing and commitment speaker was Alexander Bryant, North American Division (NAD) president. Bryant told us that “God’s Plan + God’s Favor = Something Better.” The plenary speakers, Mario Acosta, Tina Boogren, Kim Strobel and Robyn Jackson, spoke on different areas of education and trends. On Tuesday night, we had a general session presented by Christian comedian, Phil Calloway. Between plenary sessions were six different breakout time slots. Educators could choose from a list of nearly
300 presentations to attend. There was also an exhibit hall that had approximately 150 exhibitors that featured many educational institutions, professional education services and products, NAD services, etc. Educators were able to make their way through the exhibit hall and enjoy all the giveaways and valuable information. Our educators left the convention feeling inspired and energized, ready to go back and put into practice the things that they had learned. By Mike Furr Director of Secondary Education
Southwestern Union News
Southwestern Union Supports Pohnpei Mission
BURLESON, TEX. – In February of 2023, a team from the Southwestern Union made its way to the Federal State of Micronesia for its third mission trip to the island of Pohnpei as part of the ongoing partnership in which all nine unions in the North American Division (NAD) support the Adventist Christian School of Guam – Micronesian Mission. The team consisted of Stephen Brooks, executive secretary; Mike Furr, director of secondary education; Renee Whiting, associate director of education and Kennetia Brooks, the wife of Brooks and an independent leadership speaker. The team had a full schedule while on the island with the assistance of Franky Edwards, principal of the Kolonia Seventh-day Adventist School, and Walter
John, the district pastor. Brooks, Furr and Whiting were the school’s week of prayer speakers. The school of approximately 400 students was divided into three groups based on their classes for the school week of prayer. Brooks spoke to the middle school and high school classes, Whiting spoke to the upper elementary classes and Furr spoke to the younger elementary classes. By the week’s end, several raised their hands for Bible studies, which were followed up on by the school’s Bible instructor. Brooks also conducted a public evangelism series at the Kolonia Seventh-day Adventist Church, entitled the “Fruit of the Spirit Bible Revival.” The Lord blessed with 15 souls being added through baptism. Praise God!
Two missionary teachers from the school presented VBS with crafts, songs and games surrounding the theme. One of the teachers even played her ukulele as they led the children in song. The children who attended VBS were richly blessed and were able to demonstrate what they had learned. Both Furr and Whiting also trained the missionary schoolteachers and local teachers under the leadership of both Edwards and Vice Principal Latan Edwards. They also received special training from Whiting on identifying and supporting children with ADHD. The missionary teachers came from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, the United States and many other countries, and it was evident during the trip how much they cared for the well-being of their students. Kennetia Brooks joined the team in focusing on education by providing several leadership seminars to students at the College of Micronesia. Then, through the invitation and planning of the school’s administrative team, she provided an afternoon leadership class to the high school student body leadership. On the final Sabbath afternoon, Kennetia joined Maureen Edwards, the women’s ministries leader, to provide a seminar and share items provided by the NAD women’s ministries department, which was specially sent for this trip. The people in Pohnpei blessed the Southwestern Union team with their sincere kindness, support and the sharing of their wonderful musical talents. God blessed the efforts of the entire team. Being a vessel for use by God was a humbling personal reward for the team members, just as those on the island expressed being blessed with spiritual and educational growth by their visit. By Stephen Brooks Executive Secretary
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Keep Remembering I love history! I have had a desire to learn from the past ever since I was an itty-bitty boy. I believe that comes from my grandmother, who had an equally strong interest in the events, lives and culture of humanity. As I listened to my grandfather and other family members, who served our nation during World War II, tell of their experiences and challenges serving on the front lines of the battlefield, I was moved by their service, their commitment and their honesty about the great conflict. Through the years, I have always found it to be a humbling and learning experience to walk battlegrounds, such as Gettysburg or Vicksburg, or to go through battleships such as the U.S.S. Texas or U.S.S. Missouri. Recently, I had the privilege to go through the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Lexington. As I went through that ship, my mind kept coming back to the immense energy, focus and sacrifice of those men who gave all for freedom and lib-
erty. There was only one focus. That focus was on rescue and redemption. Frankly, the only reason that I am able to write, work and speak in this country today, is because of their singleness of purpose many years ago. Their experience always has a way of transporting my mind to history even further back. It takes me back to God who took on humanity and lived a perfect, sinless life to demonstrate what real living is like in a sinful world. It takes me back to Jesus who set His face toward Calvary at His first coming and the awful, gruesome death to pay for my sin and the sin of the whole world. It takes me back to His resurrection three days later as victorious over sin. It takes me back to His ascension and the promise of His soon return as King of kings and Lord of lords. As we have entered the holiday season, I want to encourage each of you to take some time to reflect on your history and your family, and, more importantly, on the great and awesome
history of Jesus. We live and breathe because of Jesus. We love and work because of Jesus. We have purpose and meaning because of Jesus. That great gift of sacrifice at the first coming is the only reason we really live today and have great hope for the future as we await His near return. May God always help you to keep remembering. By Richard C. Dye, Sr. President
Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News
Arkansas-Louisiana Conference App for Apple and Android SHREVEPORT, LA. – Here’s good news for you and your churches. The Arkansas-Louisiana Conference (ARKLA) app for Apple and Android is now available in your respective app store. This free app will help our members stay connected with the ministry, mission and miracles taking place in our two-state area. With the app, you will be able to read stories and see pictures from the churches, watch or listen to sermons and stream upcoming live events. It has
all the convenience of the website at your fingertips. It’s just another way of doing ministry in Arkansas and Louisiana. Search “ARKLA” in your app store and it should come right up. Much gratitude to Ben Orian, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference media director, for dedicating many long hours and putting your talents to work to simplify connections within our conference.
Springdale’s “Be Love” Outreach Ministry SPRINGDALE, ARK. – Springdale Adventist Fellowship is an active church community that is trying to make a positive impact in the world. The “Be Love” Outreach Ministry, led by Larry Holliman, strives to go beyond mere words and become a church of unlimited possibilities. Their mission is to serve as the hands and feet of Christ, reaching out to those in need and making a difference in the lives of others. Every third Sabbath of the month, a group of young adults from Springdale Adventist Fellowship takes action and serves as the hands and feet of Christ. They come together to serve the community and make a positive impact. This can include volunteering at local shelters, organizing food drives, reaching out to the elderly or serving
the homeless. These young adults routinely organize outreach programs to provide food, clothing and essential supplies to the homeless population in the Northwest Arkansas area. These volunteers engage in meaningful conversations, offering support and encouragement to those facing difficult circumstances. In addition, this group collaborates with various organizations and individuals who share this vision. By collaborating with local charities, non-profit organizations and community leaders, they can maximize the impact and reach a wider audience. Together, they strive to create a network of support and love that extends beyond the walls of the church. Holliman states, “The ‘Be Love’
Outreach Ministry at Springdale Adventist Fellowship is committed to making a lasting impact in the lives of others. By going beyond words and actively serving as the hands and feet of Christ, we strive to bring hope, love and compassion to those who need it most. Through our monthly service, collaboration with other organizations and various projects and initiatives, we aim to spread love and create a church without walls. We invite you to join us in making a difference and being a part of something greater than ourselves. Together we can truly make a positive impact in our community.” By Danita Mullins
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News
Ozark Adventist Academy Wins NAD’s “Spark Tank”
PHOENIX, ARIZ. – The journey began over a year ago when the North American Division (NAD) allocated funding to send one religion teacher from each Union to Mark Finley’s Living Hope Evangelism Training Center in Haymarket, Va. Derek Timms, Ozark Adventist Academy’s (OAA) religion teacher, was chosen by the Southwestern Union to participate. The purpose of the training was to have these teachers return to their schools and train students to conduct an evangelistic series within the year,
aligning with Timms’ pre-existing plans. The plan gained momentum. OAA recognizes its mission to engage the conference’s youth. Currently, OAA interacts with less than 10 percent of conference students ages 13 to 18. Two main programs were devised to increase OAA’s reach: an evangelism series and connected discipleship training. The evangelism series involves a fouryear cycle of topics: 2024 Three Cosmic Messages, 2025 NEWSTART Health Evangelism, 2026 Steps to Christ and
2027 Redeeming Love. Students will develop or adapt these topics and deliver the presentations. The intention is to livestream the sessions to youth groups in their respective churches. The connected discipleship training aims to link small youth groups in churches with academy Sabbath School classes. The objective is to unite students from across the conference in fostering a lasting commitment to Jesus Christ. Timms, alongside Marklynn Bazzy and Robert Fetters, presented the program to the Spark Tank Evangelism team at the NAD Convention in Phoenix, securing the top position. Ozark Academy received the first-place prize of $3,000 from the Spark Tank judges. This funding will be utilized in the upcoming fall season to send student evangelists to the Living Hope Evangelism Training Center for specialized training. By Robert Fetters OAA Principal
Wellness Secrets Opens Taste of Eden Restaurant DECATUR, ARK. – Wellness Secrets, a health and wellness organization and ASI member for more than 20 years, is excited to announce the grand opening of their latest venture, Taste of Eden Restaurant. With a strong focus on promoting healthy living through the power of delicious and nourishing food, the restaurant aims to provide an exceptional culinary experience to the community. Taste of Eden Restaurant is designed to teach individuals to prioritize their well-being and seek nutritious meals without compromising on taste or variety. The menu showcases a range of dishes that are both flavorful and plantbased. “We are delighted to bring Taste of Eden to Decatur, Ark.,” said
Dave Upham, Wellness Secrets general manager. “Our aim is to inspire individuals to make conscious choices about their diets and embrace the connection between physical and spiritual well-being.” As part of their commitment to fostering a wellness-focused lifestyle, Taste of Eden Restaurant will host interactive workshops and cooking classes led by plant-based nutrition experts, empowering attendees to easily implement healthy practices into their daily lives. For more information about Taste of Eden Restaurant call 479.752.8556 or visit us at Wellness-Secrets.com.
Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News
DeRidder Offers Free Books at Festival DERIDDER, LA. – Every year during the third weekend in June, Beauregard Parish hosts their annual Watermelon Festival in DeRidder, La. This year, the DeRidder Seventh-day Adventist Church voted to participate in the event as an opportunity to engage with the community. The church purchased a variety of literature from the Adventist Book Center and Amazing Facts. We rented table space, had a banner with our church name printed on it and made signs that said, “Free Books.” Throughout the three days of the fair, Thursday to Saturday, many visitors
stopped by the table, conversed with us about what we believed as a church and took literature. A canvas bag with the church’s name and address printed on it was given to each person who took books. A prayer request jar with paper and pen was made accessible for people to fill out their requests. Over 50 attendees visited our table and talked with our members and pastor. We pray for the many individuals who took literature and continue to ask God to fill their hearts with love as they seek truth. By Rosemaire Jeffries
Texarkana Honors Former GLOW Tract Coordinator TEXARKANA, TEX. – Leslie “Buster” White, GLOW Tract coordinator for the Texarkana Seventh-day Adventist Church, passed away on Dec. 31, 2022. Although he was an agnostic up until the year 2003, White’s profession of faith at an evangelistic series in July 2009 transformed him into a missionary. He was eventually elected to answer the call of the Great Commission of Matthew 28:16-20, making disciples of all the nations from east to west. White never knew a stranger which could explain how he accomplished sending out more than 18,000 GLOW tracts by mail and managed to reach 37 states with his efforts to spread the Gospel. Not only did he send the literature to friends and family, but he even sent them in with his bill payments. Abigail Machado, who met White while serving as a Bible worker in Texarkana, Tex., in the summer of 2009, said, “I will always remember White’s genuine love for the work God had given him, his faithfulness and his way of talking with strangers like they were friends. He had a big heart.” His “big heart” wasn’t his only recognizable feature. White’s had only one arm. Gwen Shorter, who works for
GLOW, said the following at the start of White’s ministry, “If White can allow God to use him in this way, what can God do through you? You’re never too old, too busy or too physically unable for God to use you.” In the words of Ellen G. White, “Unvarnished truth must be spoken, in leaflets and pamphlets, and these must be scattered like the leaves of autumn.” To White, his life’s calling was summarized in the words composing this sentence. Whether he achieved this in jail while incarcerated for refusing to testify falsely against a member of a ministry he was a part of, or while canvassing Ouachita Hills College to reach its students with the Word, White’s vocation was clear. Leading eight individuals to choose Christ was one feat White managed during the eight weekends he spent in jail. Baptists, Methodists and Nazarenes all relied on White to supply their churches with GLOW literature. White even sponsored National Football League (NFL) athlete LaMichael James, who passed out GLOW tracts during his collegiate career at the University of Oregon. When James was young, White would often buy him footballs each time he misplaced them,
fueling his passion for the sport. To honor the man whom so many perceive as an inspirational disciple of the Lord, the Texarkana church is placing a memorial plaque for White at the designated rack for GLOW leaflets. Here, the memory of White will be honored, hopefully inspiring others to become fishers of men, using the example of Jesus and his loyal followers, such as White, to illuminate their path forward. By Madeline Haak
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News
Pathfinders and Master Guides Celebrate in Little Rock LITTLE ROCK, ARK. – June 10, 2023, was a high Sabbath for the “Cheetahs” of South Little Rock Spanish Church. The Pathfinders and Master Guides celebrated their anticipated investiture. Six Pathfinders were invested and ready to go to their next level of preparation; six Master Guides were also prepared to serve as leaders for God, the church, their clubs and the community. The program was filled with joy and excellent performance. During Sabbath School, all attendees were given a unique soap that had been made by the Cheetahs as part of an honor. Ar-
mando Miranda, Jr. from the North American Division (NAD) was the guest speaker. Also participating was Brenda Perez, Master Guide coordinator for the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference and Gloria Gamas, Central Area Pathfinder assistant coordinator. Miranda invited the congregation to study the life of Jesus’ disciples, their qualities and their flaws. In spite of their flaws, these men were chosen to be his leaders. Miranda challenged us to follow Christ no matter what. “The Holy Spirit will guide us to keep going until we reach the perfection in Jesus.”
On Sunday morning, Master Guides from the area and surrounding states joined the Cheetahs in a camping trip on the Buffalo River sponsored by the North American Division Youth Department for the Master Guides. The group spent two days canoeing about 30 miles and camping out, enjoying spending evenings together, sharing food and sleeping under the stars. The Master Guides were thrilled with the beauty of the place and the magnificence of God’s power and love for His children. By Brenda Perez
Embracing the Gift of Salvation During this time of year, we pause to consider the incarnation and birth of Christ and the implications His life holds for us. How can we ever repay the great gift of salvation? How can we demonstrate our faith in the sacrifice that God made for us and the hope the resurrection offers? The love of God was poured out to us in the life of Christ. It is through Him we have been reconciled to God. In Romans 5:6-11, Scripture says, this was done for us when we were ungodly, sinners and enemies of God. What can we possibly do to express our gratitude for this life-altering gift? When Jesus was asked what was required by God He responded, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:29 (NKJV). Imagine how you would feel as a parent if your child, who you knew was talented and loving, came and told you that they thought they were just terrible, had no skill and were worthless, and they said to you, “I don’t know why you even love me. I don’t deserve it.” How would that make you feel? Now, imagine you’re God, and your
words have creative power, and you have given your life to redeem your children. You have then spoken over them with words that were powerful enough to create everything from nothing. By these words you have called them Son and Daughter, you have declared to them that they have been sanctified, (Heb. 10:10), and that they have been perfected forever (Heb. 10:14). And that this is the fulfillment of the new covenant, that they have had their hearts transformed (Jer. 31:31-34, Heb. 8:6-13). “Then he adds, their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Heb. 10:17). In response to God’s declarations, we proclaim to everyone who will listen that “my heart is wicked, I’ll never measure up, and I’ll always be a sinner.” What must those words do to the heart of God? How can we continue to call ourselves something that God has said we are no longer? Romans exhort us to submit our bodies as living sacrifices by renewing our minds or by believing. Dear Christians, while we were sinners, Christ died and reconciled us to God. And now He calls us to go out as His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:14-21) to
reconcile everyone who would come to God in the same way. By believing the words of Jesus over our lives and declaring to all the world that they, too, can be reconciled to God in Christ. It is by faith in the life of the Son of God born thousands of years ago that you and I and this world have become righteous. The same Spirit that has given us a new heart lives in us now, empowering us to tell the world that by faith they too can experience the joys of a life made new in Jesus. By Wes Via Communications Director
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Oklahoma Conference News
Pledges for Fifth Cabin at Wewoka Woods Adventist Center WEWOKA, OKLA. – Hispanic ministries events have always filled the current cabins at Wewoka Woods Adventist Center to the max. Prior to Spanish Camp Meeting this year, Luis Prieto, Oklahoma Conference Spanish coordinator, and the administration met to discuss future plans for Wewoka Woods and Prieto received an invitation to take on the challenge of building Cabin Five. Prieto gladly accepted it! During the yearly Spanish Camp Meeting, Hispanic ministries raised $30,000 in pledges for the new cabin. The Hispanic ministries and Wewoka Woods teams broke ground on July 2, 2023, on the new cabin. It will provide 38 more beds at the camp. The good news doesn’t stop there. Hispanic ministries is gearing up to do all the work to build the cabin! Wewoka Woods staff are thrilled to partner with Hispanic ministries to make this dream a reality in the coming months. If you’d like to help fund this project, mark your offering envelopes “Wewoka Woods Cabin 5.” By Damaris Prieto
Children’s Emotional and Physical Health Seminar
TULSA, OKLA. – On Aug. 12-13, Oklahoma Conference children’s ministries held a double training on emotional and physical health for children in the Tulsa area. The theme for Saturday’s seminar was “Happy and Loved Children.” The presenters were Sonia Canó, Southwest-
ern Union children’s ministries director; Luis Prieto, Oklahoma Conference Spanish coordinator; and Ninett Campos and Damaris Prieto. The closing ceremony culminated with 98 people receiving their certificates of completion.
The second training was an expo on health for kids, in which the children had fun learning how to take care of their bodies with the theme “The Eight Health Laws.” The expo began on Sabbath and finished with a hands-on event on Sunday. It was a phenomenal training and the leaders represented are eager to take this health and emotional expo back to their cities and impact families for His Kingdom. “We are praising the Lord for His care and the opportunity to learn and build a foundation of unconditional love for our children!” said Damaris Prieto, Oklahoma Conference children’s ministries coordinator. By Damaris Prieto Children’s Ministries Assistant
Oklahoma Conference News
Digital Evangelism in Oklahoma OKLAHOMA CITY – In today’s rapidly evolving world where digital platforms dominate our daily lives, the Oklahoma Conference is setting a new standard for reaching out to people with its innovative approach to digital evangelism. Through the power of repurposing sermons into short-form content, we are breaking down barriers and connecting with individuals on a level that transcends traditional boundaries. At the forefront of this digital revolution is Oklahoma Conference Communication Director Wes Via and Hope Adventist Fellowship of Moore. Hope Fellowship has embraced the concept of repurposing its sermons, taking excerpts from live-streamed services and turning them into bite-sized, engaging clips. The result? A staggering increase in engagement and outreach. The turning point came when Hope Fellowship took its first leap into shortform content creation. The full, livestreamed service had 97 views—church members were pretty excited until they realized the average watch time was only three minutes. However, when the messages were repurposed and shared as short-form reels on digital platforms, the clips reached an astonishing 30,000 views, a testament to the potential of digital evangelism. The excitement of reaching so many local Oklahomans with the Gospel is what moved the Oklahoma Conference to put together a strategy that will help churches across Oklahoma do this same thing! In preparation for the 2024 Southwestern Union Evangelism focus in Oklahoma City, three churches are applying this new form of digital evangelism: Edmond Seventh-day Adventist Church, Oklahoma City Central Seventh-day Adventist Church and Hope Fellowship. Here’s what we’ve seen for these short-sermon reels: In a week’s time in these three churches, the reels were played over 19,000 times. In just four months’ time, the reels have been viewed 400,000 times. Maybe you’re
thinking, “It’s nice that people are watching online, but they are missing out on the connection! How are we going to get them in the church doors and into our church community?” Just keep reading! These three churches in the heart of Oklahoma City have teamed up with Justin Khoe and Advent Co.Lab to create their digital content. Advent Co.Lab takes those soul-stirring moments from sermons and gives them a digital makeover. Once posted, our conference communication team analyzes the social metrics and then we increase social media ads. These powerful snippets, like golden nuggets of wisdom, are popping up on social media feeds, asking a simple yet profound question: How can we pray for you? It’s like extending a virtual hand, creating a bridge from the viewer’s screen to a church member’s heart. This is done by leveraging a social platform’s ability to track user engagement. When a person watches 50 percent or more of a reel, we place posts in their feed that offer to pray for them and invite them to church. Now, our pastors, prayer coordinators and other volunteers in these churches have the opportunity to pray over
complete strangers who may not have anyone else praying for them. Prayer is a huge, felt need and we are meeting this need for complete strangers who are asking for prayer through this digital platform. The ultimate goal is to bring virtual connections into the physical realm, welcoming individuals who have been touched by the digital content to experience the warmth and fellowship of in-person church services. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the Oklahoma Conference’s dedication to innovation and reaching people where they are sets a promising precedent for the future of evangelism. It’s about building bridges, not just between people, but between hearts and the divine. It’s about creating a ripple effect that can’t be measured in dollars but can be felt in the lives changed and souls touched. Is your church ready to make an impact for the Kingdom? Is your church ready to get started? Email the communication department at Communication@okadventist.org for a consultation. By Ashley Alipoon Assistant to Comm. Director
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Oklahoma Conference News
Three Angels Teen Assembles Christmas Symphony OWASSO, OKLA. – In December 2022, a young member of the Three Angels Seventh-day Adventist Church in Owasso had a dream of assembling a symphony orchestra and presenting a Christmas concert for the community of Owasso. Seventeen-year-old Daniel Orellana proposed his idea to church leaders. He wanted to present majestic orchestral Christmas music to as many people as possible. The church thought that it was a good outreach idea and approved the project. The church approved funds from the evangelism budget to purchase the music, start the marketing work and rent the Mary Glass Performing Arts Center, located in the Owasso High School, which has a seating capacity of 1,504 people. The plan was ambitious, but the church stepped out in faith to invite as many people from the community as possible. Orellana went all over Tulsa recruiting musicians, including his contacts at
Tulsa Community College where he is studying engineering and music. He, along with the youth from the church and some friends, went to businesses all over town posting ads calling for volunteer musicians for a Christmas concert. The response was faster and bigger than he ever dreamed! Several of those musicians invited others. Harvey Gil provided his contacts from the long-running Claremore Seventh-day Adventist Church Christmas series, “Festival of Lights.” In the end, 72 musicians answered the call. They came from all walks of life, and from across Oklahoma and five other states. Oklahoma Academy’s choir joined as well. Orellana selected the music and led the rehearsals at the church. Other church members began the marketing campaign which included a website, Facebook advertising, posters and postcards. The church also ordered 500 Born To Die books to give out during the event.
At the beginning of the concert, titled “Christmas Symphony,” attendees were drawn to a couple of statements from The Desire of Ages. The concert proceeded with Orellana conducting the orchestra through eight sacred Christmas classic pieces that were majestically arranged. The first piece was “Joy to the World,” arranged by Orellana himself. Around 1,000 people attended the concert and 380 books were distributed. The testimonies from attendees and non-Adventist musicians have been amazing! Orellana was even interviewed twice by one TV station in the lead-up to the concert. The second annual Christmas Symphony will be held at the Mary Glass Performing Arts Center on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. It will feature timeless classics with innovative arrangements. This year’s concert is a free-ticketed event. Tickets at OwassoEvents.org.
Pioneer Christian School Canvassing GUYMON, OKLA. – Pioneer Adventist Christian School (PACS) in Guymon, Okla., offers grades Kindergarten through 8th. PACS students are canvassing to raise funds for their school. The students are sharing the good news of salvation, forgiveness and grace with the neighborhoods around Guymon,and are starting at the young age of five! Even in the heat of the Oklahoma summer, these students had a positive experience! “We canvassed in a nice, quiet neighborhood. There were a lot of big houses. But the days we canvassed were hot and we were sweaty. As my partner, Hoih Hoih, and I were walking from house to house, there was an almost barren park. Hoih Hoih loved the place immediately. We met some great people in the houses around the park,” says Chris Lian, a student at PACS. “We
did not stay long in the neighborhood, but the neighborhood was great! Most of the people who opened their doors were very nice people. But not many people had the interest to buy a book. Even though discouraged, there were connections. We met a lot of amazing seniors and youth.”
It’s always a blessing to hear how Adventist education is impacting our local Oklahoma communities and spreading the love of Christ throughout Oklahoma. By Amy Ward and Chris Lian
Oklahoma Conference News
82 Kids at VBS, 10 Return and Join Club Ministries
TULSA, OKLA. – “He’s fiercely faithful, more than able, ‘cause He keeps every little promise!” This time of year we think of one main prophecy that Jesus fulfilled: His birth! The First Seventh-day Adventist Church of Tulsa shared the wonderful message of God’s faithfulness this summer during their week-long Vacation Bible School (VBS) program. With 15 VBS-aged kids in their church, the church decided to host a VBS Program. The plans started months in advance with purchasing the VBS kit and beginning to collect the decor for the “Fiercely Faithful” program. Members started to gather supplies to help decorate the church. As the weeks got closer to VBS day, the church ran ads on social media to invite the local community to attend this event. Abby Duffy, the VBS coordinator, contacted the communication team at
the Oklahoma Conference and asked for help with the digital ads and follow-up texts for the VBS program. Once the ads started, more than 100 parents requested more information about this VBS, a turnout that can only be credited to our fiercely faithful God! Duffy says, “My overall takeaway from the VBS effort was to stay focused on preparing for the masses, trusting they’d come. We got the whole church involved by praying and inviting people to donate items for the snacks, crafts and décor. That alone got a lot of people involved in kids’ ministry, some for the very first time. We had 50 volunteers at the end of it, with an average of 36 present each night of the actual event week. That was the biggest involvement we’ve had as a church working together since before the COVID-19 pandemic!” During VBS, 82 kids attended over-
all and only 15 of those were from the First Tulsa church or were closely related to church members. The amazing news doesn’t stop there. At the end of the VBS program, the children’s team asked the question, “What now? How do we get these kids back?” The answer: club ministries! The team sent out a text inviting the families to the registration day for Adventurers and Pathfinders and had six families from VBS return with their kids to join club ministries! They make up 10 kids in the clubs now. It is so exciting to see what God is doing for this church as they come together to love and support the kids in their church and community. “We learned to trust God when He places a call on our hearts. He will be faithful. We need to be too!” says Duffy. By Ashley Alipoon Assistant to Comm. Director
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Southwest Region Conference
His Gift of Grace! Isaiah 9:6 is one of the best-loved verses in the Bible because it reveals five dynamics of the name and character of Jesus! More than 800 years before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah prophesied that His name should be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace! And when we look at the names of Jesus, we look at the character of Jesus. Understanding His Name helps us to better understand Him. Our earthly foreparents, Adam and Eve, fell in Genesis 3 when they disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Romans 5:12 is clear that as sin passed on one man, Adam, sin passed on all men (us). Yet, before the foundation of the world, God knew He would have to restore His fallen creation. His solution? Send Jesus! “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV). For our sins, we deserved death, but because of God’s grace, we were given life. At His first advent, Jesus came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). At His second advent, He’s coming to redeem us from this earth (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Praise God for His grace! Thank God for His grace! And just as
He has extended us grace, giving us what we don’t deserve, may we extend His grace to others. May we be the collective church that seeks to “outgrace” others as opposed to showing “ungrace.” Grace empowers righteous living. But “ungrace” disables it. Grace motivates obedience because Jesus died on Calvary for our sins. But “ungrace” demands obedience under the threat of condemnation if we come up short. Grace leads to freedom, victory and release. But “ungrace” leads to bondage, oppression and defeat. Grace looks to happiness, joy and delight in Jesus! But “ungrace” looks to salvation by works, legalistic legislation and bureaucratic bottlenecks! Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more, but grace also means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. He loved us when we’re “un-loveable.” He loved us when we didn’t love Him! He loved us when we didn’t love ourselves! He didn’t wait until we got right to love us, but He loved us when we didn’t do right. I’m a miracle of grace! You’re a miracle of grace! And because of His grace, He’s Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace! I praise God that He came the first
time, but I’m praising God in anticipation for His coming the second time! He promised He’s coming back! I claim two promises where He said He would. First, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3 (KJV). Second, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12 (KJV). And that’s His gift of grace! He’s coming back! By Carlton P. Byrd, D.Min. President
Southwest Region Conference News
Southwest Region Conference Quadrennial Session DALLAS – On the evening of Saturday, Sept. 23, and Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, the Fifth Quadrennial and 26th Regular Conference Session of the Southwest Region Conference of Seventh-day Adventists convened in Keene, Tex., to elect its executive officers, vice president, departmental leaders and executive committee, and to discuss and vote on items that embody the Conference watchword, “Moving Southwest ‘4’ Ward.” Four hundred and eighty delegates from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, convened on Saturday evening to worship and pray together before conducting business. The worship session included a mini concert by the Southwestern Adventist University Singers under the direction of Jonathan Walls, and the preaching ministry of James Black, retired North American Division (NAD) prayer ministries coordinator. The business session followed with opening prayer by Elias Rumaldo, representing the Spanish-speaking delegation. After the meeting was called to order and quorum was declared, the business session continued with the adoption of the session agenda, the introduction of two new churches (Grace Fellowship Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lucas, Tex. and the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church in New Iberia, La.) into the sisterhood of churches, and the dissolution of one church. The evening session included the
President’s Report highlighting the progress of the four Conference emphases—Evangelism, Adventist Education, Digital and Media Ministry and Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Evangelism reported 1,811 baptisms and professions of faith for the past quadrennial; Adventist Education congratulated the Applegate Adventist Jr. Academy in Round Rock, Tex. and Shiloh Excel Christian School in Little Rock, Ar. for their new school buildings; Digital and Media Ministry celebrated the productions of “Experience the Word,” an online worship experience via the Conference’s YouTube channel, and the “Come Adore Him” Christmas program that was televised nationally and viewed by over eight million people; and the Youth and Young Adult Ministries congratulated the Central Regional Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church “Alpha and Omega” Pathfinder Club for winning first place at the NAD’s Pathfinder Bible Experience in Tampa, Fla. The evening session concluded with the Nominating Committee’s partial report leading to the re-election of Carlton P. Byrd as president, Jason C. North as executive secretary, Philip Palmer as treasurer/CFO and Vanston Archbold, Jr., as vice president for multicultural ministries. The session reconvened on Sunday, Sept. 24, with a worship session that opened with prayer by Rolando Baysa, representing the Asian delegation. A musical interpretation of “The Mid-
night Cry” was presented by lay member Jonathan McNorton, followed by a powerful message by Brenda Billingy, retired associate ministerial director for the North American Division. The worship session ended with prayer by Dana Edmond, executive director of the Office of Regional Conference Ministries. The business session continued with reports by Jason C. North, executive secretary, and Philip G. Palmer, treasurer/CFO, and a partial report of the Nominating Committee. Delegates then voted for members to the Executive Committee, along with Frazier Woods, Jr., as lay advisory leader, and the following departmental directors: Tyrone Boyd, as church ministries director and Leslie Soupet, as communications director. Other departmental positions were referred to the Executive Committee. After the consecration of the newly elected leaders, the session adjourned at 2:15 p.m. Many delegates expressed their appreciation for the renewed and spiritual atmosphere that governed the session and committed to support the conference leadership and actively engage in “Moving Southwest ‘4’ Ward!” The session’s digital report and materials are online at SwrcSession.org and the replay of the livestreamed session can be viewed on our YouTube channel @MySouthwestRegion. By Leslie Soupet Communication Director
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Southwest Region Conference News
TEXARKANA, TEX. – On Sunday, July 30, the Bethel Seventh-day Adventist Church gave away free backpacks filled with school supplies. The event was sponsored by the following church ministries: deaconess, women’s ministry and community services. The Bethel Adventist Church School board members also came to help stuff and distribute backpacks.
The goal was to give away 50 backpacks, and by God’s grace, all 50 backpacks had been picked up within the first hour and a half. The students and parents were so excited to receive the backpacks. The church furnished the supplies and Domtar Ashdown Mill donated the backpacks. The backpacks also contained literature to inspire the receiving
families to draw nearer to Christ and to make them aware of the presence of the Bethel Adventist Church School located next door. The sponsoring groups are already making plans to give away more next year and incorporate other activities to make this an annual affair. The goal is to help as many families as we can and increase awareness of our church and school in the community. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all who contributed to making this event a success, as well as the backpack committee members Annie Turner, Emma Hudson and Sheila Jefferson. To God be all the glory! By Sandra Clemons Principal/Teacher
Fondren Church Celebrates Pastor’s First Anniversary HOUSTON – Since April 24, 2021, when the former pastoral team answered the call to serve elsewhere in the vineyard, the Fondren Seventh-day Adventist Church had not had a permanent pastor. In September of 2021, Carlton Byrd, the newly elected president of the Southwest Region Conference (SWRC) and former Breath of Life television director and speaker, became the interim pastor at the Fondren church. Through an evangelistic Houston-area crusade, the church’s membership continued to grow and even witnessed the complete renovation of its multipurpose hall. Then, it happened. On May 24, 2022, the SWRC Executive Committee voted to assign Mackenzie Kambizi to pastoral leadership at the Fondren church. Byrd further extended grace by officially installing Kambizi, on Saturday, July 9. This celebration was attended by many including Edson Joseph and his wife, pastor of New Life Seventh-day Adventist Church; Willie S. Lee and his wife, of SWRC Family Life Ministries
and pastor, Frank Williams. Also, in attendance was Missouri City Mayor Robin Elackatt who is very much aware of the role that the Fondren church plays in the community. On Sabbath, July 8, 2023, the Fondren church commemorated the first anniversary of Kambizi and his wife, Carol Kambizi, into its fellowship. Over the past year, Kambizi has revived spiritual energy and vision in the membership through many high-spirited ministry events which have included High-Impact weekends, Tuesday evening Recharge services and two tenday revivals. His efforts have also included faith-based initiative programs as well as encouraging spiritual and leadership growth among the youth, adults and seniors through the Youth Week of Prayer, a 21-Day Prayer and Fast, as well as most recently, a 40 Days of Prayer session. To add to the Sabbath celebration, a video message from Byrd was broadcast, thanking Kambizi and his wife, Carol, and the
Fondren church for their leadership, service and faithfulness to the mission. Byrd also expressed God’s grace that has blessed Kambizi with amazing gifts through which he ministers in anticipation of great things to come. As the Fondren membership and community continue to work in harmony with God’s vision and plans through this anointed family, they are in anticipation of growing to higher levels of ministry and community service all to the glory of God. By Cheryl Harris
Southwest Region Conference News
I Will Wait On You, Lord ATHENS, TEX. – It was in 1979 under Billy E. Wright, the youth director at the time, that the Southwest Region’s singles’ ministries had its origin. Even though the ministry has had other coordinators, Vera Ragland has been at the helm for the last 15 years. One of the features of the ministry is the recently held annual Labor Day Weekend Retreat at Lone Star Camp. The executive body chose as its theme with its corresponding song “I Will Wait on You, Lord.” It tapped Daniel Charles, pastor of the Sharon Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tyler, Tex. and the Emmanuel Seventh-day Adventist Church in Marshall, Tex., along with Wesley McNorton of the Monroe Macedonia and Winnsboro-Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Louisiana. Each is realizing his first congregational assignment. Over the course of the retreat which began on Friday night and ended on Labor Day, a total of 45 singles registered for the event. Charles brought with him 17-year-old musician, Jay Lin-
thicum, who, along with drummer Tim Porter of Little Rock, Ark., provided our instrumental accompaniment. The daily gatherings held their share of seminars with topics having been submitted by singles from the various conference churches, instrumental and vocal music, prayer, praise and testimonies and even some moments of levity. Activities began with Friday’s predicted, but anticipated haystack dinner, prepared by Lulleither Massiah and her culinary crew. From there it was off to the James Black Youth Facility where the various services would be held. Charles’ “Singles Living and Sharing the Gospel” began the series of seminars. Sabbath followed with McNorton’s “Courting vs. Dating: When Is One Ready?” Because no singles’ conference-wide event is complete without a community outreach, following lunch, our processional gathered at Family Peace Project Women’s Shelter where, because of a death in the director’s family, in her absence, we could not meet with the residents but unload-
ed our generous supply of “wish list” items, including gift cards for the children and adults housed there. “Speed Dating: The Risk of Moving Too Fast,” presented by our own Icye Walker, closed the evening. Charles’ seminar, “Living God’s Organized Life,” was our Sunday seminar. Following testimonies and reflections, we were free for the water activities. Table games and some basketball brought the day to a close. On Monday morning, we headed to the gym for the last seminar, McNorton’s “Who Am I in My Singleness?” and the realization that another Singles’ Labor Day Retreat had come to a close. Then, we bid each other and Lone Star Camp farewell until we meet in Oklahoma City in December for our Singles’ Enrichment Weekend. We praise God for Wright’s vision and for Ragland’s leadership. By Evelyn Edwards
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Southwest Region Conference News
God Shows Up Isaiah 9:6 is often associated with Christmastime. If anyone brings it up throughout the rest of the year, we think, wait, that’s a Christmas verse. The verse reads, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (NKJV). Looking at verses like this one reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is God’s annual reminder that the world is not as it should be, yet He is still redeeming and restoring it. The restoration began when Jesus was sent to be the Messiah. Can you imagine a Christmas without Christ? It seems trivial, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this is often the cultural narrative of our time. Something so prolific, historical and important is traded for something shallow and insignificant. We do a disservice to the world when we promote talking snowmen and flying reindeer instead of celebrating the Savior, the Incarnation. The messages
that make Christmas smaller are just making it secular. As followers of Jesus, we cannot fall victim to the dilution or reduction of what we celebrate at Christmastime. Can you imagine Joseph and Mary having a baby in a barn? We would look around and wonder how we ended up like this. Animals, instead of family, would surround us. A barn is far from clean and sterile. We would wonder, is the baby going to be okay? Yet, in the middle of this situation, in the middle of circumstances that were anything but ideal, definitely not what they imagined, what they had hoped, God showed up. He showed up in the middle of calamity and chaos, in the middle of the complexity. Christmas is such a sacred time. Maybe as you’re heading into Christmas, you think your life circumstances are anything but ideal. You’re surrounded by chaos, by loss. This is not how you imagined life to be. This is not how you wanted it to go. At Christmastime, we must remember that God showed up and is still
showing up. When our circumstances are not ideal, when things are not going as we wanted them, when they’re not working out as we hoped, when this is not what we imagined … God shows up! God’s redemption and restoration began in Bethlehem and continues today as God shows up for us when life is not as we hoped or imagined. What a wonderful gift! By Elton DeMoraes, D.Min. President
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Texas Conference News
Reflecting on 145 Years of Growth ALVARADO, TEX. – Three brothers, John E., E. G. and A. B. Rust brought the Seventh-day Adventist message to Texas in 1875. The following year, D. M. Canright’s meetings resulted in the state’s first Seventh-day Adventist baptism. Canright estimated that “about sixty Sabbathkeepers” were scattered throughout the state. Seeing the interest in Texas, James and Ellen White spent several months in the Plano and Denison areas in 1878 and 1879. James White, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists president at the time, reported, “During the camp meeting [held Nov. 12-19, 1878, in Plano, Tex.] thirteen people were baptized, the Texas Conference [of Seventh-day Adventists] was formed and aggressive plans were laid for tent evangelism…” By 1890, conference membership was 425, with two ordained ministers and four licensed ministers. Three years later, Texas Conference officials purchased 800 acres of land in Johnson County for a Texas training school (now Southwestern Adventist University). On Jan. 6, 1894, a church of 60 charter members was organized. A year later, the United States Postal Service named the settlement Keene. By 1900, the Texas Conference had 1,294 members. Eight years later, 100 western counties of Texas, with 261 members, separated from the Texas Conference and became the West Texas Mission. The mission was organized in 1909 as the West Texas Conference. It became part of the Texico Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, organized in 1916. Between 1909 and 1913, W. F. Mayer conducted colporteur work among the Lower Rio Grande Valley Hispanic population. The Texas Conference divided again in 1910. The northeastern state had 21 churches, 1,336 members and 10 church buildings. In 1911, it was renamed the Northeast Texas Conference (then
changed to North Texas Conference), with headquarters in Keene. The state’s southern portion, with 257 members, separated as the South Texas Mission Field, organized as the South Texas Conference at San Antonio in 1911. In 1912, the North Texas Conference operated seven evangelistic tents, organized seven new churches, and conducted four camp meetings, including one for African Americans. By 1916, two Hispanic churches were organized with a membership of 43. During the 1920s, large-scale citywide evangelistic campaigns were conducted in the North and South Texas Conferences. In 1923, 56 new Hispanic converts gave the South Texas Conference the largest number of Hispanic members of any conference in the United States. In 1925, nearly half the total members attending the South Texas camp meeting were of Mexican heritage, and by 1930 the Hispanic membership reached 200. In 1932, the South Texas and North Texas conferences recombined to form the Texas Conference, with 2,950 members. Between 1943 and 1951, Seventh-day Adventist evangelists conducted campaigns in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Fort Worth. Seventeen new churches and eight new church schools were organized. In July 1959, Texas Conference President B. E. Leach launched an intensive program, Operation Lone Star, to ad-
vance every phase of the work. By 1963, 450 evangelistic meetings were held, and 2,066 persons joined the church, bringing the conference membership to 8,000. In six years, 27 new churches were organized (through 1965), and active evangelism was carried on in 37 unentered regions. B. L. Roberts, director of the Texas Conference Spanish Department (later renamed Hispanic Ministries) reported that 923 people joined the Spanish-speaking churches in 1990, more than half (55 percent) of the conference total for the year. In 2019, the Texas Conference Hispanic membership surpassed 28,000, the largest of any conference in the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. The Texas Conference’s expanding work is driven by its mission “to empower members, pastors, churches and schools in our territory to share the gospel message with their friends and communities.” As of August 2023, the Texas Conference has 67,035 members and 358 congregations. As author Ellen G. White says in Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, “In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what God has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.” We, too, can say, praise God for what He has done in the Texas Conference. Together As One, we look to the future with hope as we acknowledge how He has led us in the past. United, we stand, focused on sharing the Gospel with everyone around us. You can find more information about the history of the Texas Conference at TexasAdventist.org/history. By Brody Woodard Pastor
Texas Conference News
Educators’ Convention Provides Something Better PHOENIX – Texas Conference teachers and education staff attended the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists Educators’ Convention on Aug. 7-10, 2023, in Phoenix, Ariz. This event, only the fifth one held, provided inspiration and continuing education for all Seventh-day Adventist educators. With almost 6,000 in attendance, it was a wonderful opportunity for educators to network with other Adventist professionals. “As a new employee at the Texas Conference, I have only public education professional conferences for comparison. After being in Phoenix, I can say without a doubt that was the best educational professional development I’ve ever experienced. The keynote speakers had me crying just about every session, and the connections I made with other teachers during the breakouts were just on another level. The presenters were a timely reminder of my primary objective to ‘love these kids into eternity’ and have faith that with God’s help and some hard work, we will get to where He wants us to be,” said Brandy Barber, Chisholm Trail Academy science teacher. “We had 197 educators attending from the Texas Conference,” Kisha Norris, Texas Conference vice president for education, shared. “Our teachers were able to use this time as a spiritual renewal, a brainstorming session with fellow educators and a bonding experience with their fellow Texas teachers.”
“The Texas Conference has always made the Educators’ Convention a priority for our educational staff,” Texas Conference President Elton DeMoraes, added. “Between the Southwestern Union and Texas Conference, their registration, hotels, meals and travel costs are covered. We understand the importance of them attending an event like this.” This year, the Educators’ Convention had more than 300 presentations divided into five breakout sessions. In addition, there was devotion time, keynote speakers, music and more than 150 exhibitors. New features this year included EdTalks, a series of 18-minute TED Talk-style leadership and education presentations; Spark Tank, a Shark Tank-style event to showcase innovative evangelism projects and a special track for Early Childhood. “Innovative, inspiring and motivating! The EdTalks were an experience that I would pay to repeat,” said Robyn-Anna Grimsley, Texas Conference associate superintendent. “The ambiance was exciting and dynamic. The speakers were engaging and provided a clear message about excellent leadership and encouragement for listeners.” “This was the first time that Early Childhood had a track,” Ellen Thomas, principal for Burton Adventist Academy and a skilled Early Childhood educator, stated. “One of the activities included an ongoing scavenger hunt where
100 early childhood cards were hidden around the convention center. Breakout classes included Accreditation, Creation Kids, How to Play, Movement in Early Childhood and many more. About 300 early childhood educators attended.” In 2021, a vote was taken by the directors of education at the union level to change the name from Teachers’ Convention to Educators’ Convention to be more inclusive. They also voted to host the convention every five years. The theme for this year’s Educators’ Convention, “Something Better,” was inspired by author Ellen G. White in the book Education. “‘Something better’” is the watchword of education … To honor Christ, to become like Him, to work for Him, is the life’s highest ambition and its greatest joy.” It is also a great reminder that our schools need to offer something better than the world has to offer. “It was a pleasure joining our greatest evangelists as they spent this time enhancing their skill sets,” DeMoraes concluded. “I am proud of the wonderful educators in the Texas Conference who make an eternal difference daily in their classrooms. Please keep them in prayer as they strive to provide something better in their communities.” Visit TexasAdventist.org to find a school near you. By Tamara Michalenko Terry Associate Director for Communication & Public Relations
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Texas Conference News
Speeding Ticket to Baptism
KEENE, TEX. – Texas Adventist Community Services’ (ACS) warehouse in Keene, Tex., relies on volunteers and donors to help prepare and finance clothing kits and cleaning buckets that are distributed to those in need. Many people behind the scenes have volunteered for decades, washing and folding clothes and adding cleaning supplies to five-gallon buckets or creating hygiene kits. From elementary-age to retirees, there are things all ages can do. Other volunteers come for a short time to complete community service requirements. That was the case for Debra Manning, who called in February 2022 about community service time for a speeding ticket. Quiet and a hard worker, Manning continues volunteering even though she fulfilled her community service hours more than a year ago. She enjoys the volunteer work and the new friends
she made. When she started asking questions about spiritual things, volunteer Janice Mauk invited her to join a Wednesday Bible study. Apprehensive at first, she soon accepted the offer. Manning had volunteered at the Texas ACS depot for a year and a half when she received a flyer promoting a Revelation of Hope seminar presented by Southwestern Adventist University theology student Abigail Minett in the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church chapel. Interested in going, she asked Mauk if she would go with her. Mauk and other volunteers jumped at the chance to go with Manning to the meetings. During those meetings, Manning decided she wanted to be baptized and publicly show her love and commitment to the Lord. It was such a beautiful day that Sabbath morning when we attended the Keene church to see
Manning give her heart to the Lord. She is an amazing woman, always willing to help when and where she sees a need. Manning has been a blessing for us, especially when churches or youth groups volunteer on the weekends. And to think, it all started from a traffic ticket! We never know the plans the Lord has in store for us. Thank you for remembering Texas ACS in your year-end giving. There are multiple ways to give: marking a tithe envelope through AdventistGiving.org or Texas-ACS.org or mailing a check to Texas ACS, P.O. Box 35, Keene, Tex. 76059. Your prayers, volunteer time and financial gifts help us be the hands and feet of Jesus as we work with communities to become better and stronger. By Bo and Deborah Gendke Texas ACS Directors
Texas Conference News
A Journey Worth Taking HOUSTON – The Houston United African Seventh-day Adventist Church celebrated a milestone on Sabbath, July 1, 2023, with a mortgage burning. Not figuratively or metaphorically, but a paper document is literally set on fire as a symbolic act signifying the mortgage is free and clear. Witnessed by a packed congregation, United African church pastor Emmanuel Abar, head elder Samuel Nwankwoala, church treasurer Christie Sujata and Randy Terry, Texas Conference treasurer, participated in this ceremonious event. “It is always an honor and privilege to participate in a mortgage burning,” Terry remarked. “It shows the dedication and commitment of its members to continue growing as a congregation and a light of hope for the community.” As the document was set ablaze, there was joyous singing and a jubilant atmosphere. If you have ever owned a home in the United States, you would agree that it is perhaps the most expensive purchasing event one could undertake. Little wonder there is usual-
ly a feeling of reprieve and excitement following the completion of a mortgage payment over decades. When this happens, you can set the document on fire to signify the annihilation of a debt that had held you “captive” for years. The church was organized on Jan. 27, 1996, as the First African Seventh-day Adventist Church in Houston. At that time, under the leadership of the late Gibson Nkosi, they rented a space at the Braeburn Presbyterian church building on 9595 Braes Bayou Drive. As membership continued to grow under the leadership of retired pastor Gilbert Jacob, a building was purchased from the Presbyterian congregation on Jan. 24, 2007. The amortization for the mortgage was scheduled for 20 years. Over the years, several stewardship drives were organized to encourage members to give towards this project. The 30/60 initiative was introduced to encourage members to commit to giving at least $30 a week or $60 every 2 weeks to keep up with our annual budget. Notably, in April of 2021, a pas-
sionate appeal from the stewardship department saw members commit to pay a minimum of $1,000 in weekly installments of $25 until the end of that year. This exercise bore much fruit and brought the church closer to its goal. Indeed, God loves a cheerful giver! By God’s special mercies and providence, this mortgage was completed over a period of 16 years with former pastor Juneroy Nugent and current pastor Abar. The church mortgage was officially completed on April 17, 2023, with evidence that it is not by power nor might but by God’s grace. Southwestern Union Executive Secretary Stephen Brooks shared the message, “Where Do We Go From Here?” He reminded the church of Jesus paying off our debt on the cross and declaring us debt-free. The church was charged to move beyond just being members and on-lookers to being disciples of Christ. By Asonye Onwudebe, Jr.
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
From Humble Birth to Glorious Second Coming When Jesus was born to humble earthly parents, He entered the world in a place reserved for animals. The events fulfilled prophecies of the Messiah’s arrival. His birth was marked by simplicity, vulnerability and focus on God’s love for humanity. In stark contrast, Christ’s glorious second coming is eagerly anticipated as the fulfillment of His promise to return. This momentous event will be marked by majestic displays of power and authority, culminating in the establishment of God’s divine kingdom on earth. Gratitude for both Jesus’s first and second comings is essential because they represent distinct facets of God’s redemptive plan. Christ’s first coming, characterized by His humble birth and sacrificial death, serves as the foundation of our salvation. Expressing gratitude for His first coming acknowledges the immeasurable love and grace in providing humanity with a path to reconciliation. Gratitude for Christ’s second coming, on the other hand, centers on the anticipation of the ultimate redemption and the restoration of all things. While the first coming brought salvation from the penalty and power of sin, the second coming promises salvation from the very presence of sin and the persistent brokenness that plagues our world. Both advents are integral to
the Christian narrative, evoking deep gratitude for God’s endless love and unwavering faithfulness. Isaiah 9:6 declares, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” As we meditate on these words, we recognize Christ as our Wonderful Counselor, whose teachings provide guidance and wisdom for our lives. Jesus was, and is, the Mighty God. His birth brought His divine presence to humanity. Contemplating Him as the Everlasting Father invites us to consider the eternal impact of His sacrifice and our newfound familial relationship with God. Lastly, as the Prince of Peace, we find comfort in the peace that Jesus's birth and salvation bring to our lives and to the world. Revelation 22:12-13 serves as a heartrending reminder, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, I will give each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Our Lord is coming soon! As Seventh-day Adventists, we anticipate Jesus’ promised return with hope and readiness. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega. There is no beginning or end to Jesus’ existence.
His role in creation and redemption is the ultimate fulfillment of God's divine plan. Comparing these two significant events highlights the striking contrast between Christ’s humility and exaltation. His birth displayed His willingness to take part in the human experience, while His second coming will emphasize His ultimate authority and triumph as the risen Lord. Both events stand as pillars of the Christian faith, demonstrating the full scope of God’s plan for salvation, and for the salvation and complete restoration of humanity and the world. By Lee-Roy Chacon President
Texico Conference News
Texico Conference’s Pastoral Family Expands
CORRALES, N.M. – The Texico Conference is thrilled to extend a warm welcome to four individuals who have dedicated their lives to serving God and His people. Our conference is fortunate to have Christian Tarbox, Victor Adonis, Andres Canizales and Eliel Rosabal joining our pastoral family. Adonis (pictured left) is a seasoned missionary with a passion for spreading the Gospel. Together with his wife, Tanzi, they have ventured into various mission fields, including Belize, Kenya, the Philippines, Peru and Africa. Adonis’ commitment to missions and his theological studies at Montemorelos Adventist University in Mexico have prepared him for his new role within the Texico Conference. Alongside his family, including his daughter Kezia, he is now actively serving the districts of Roswell Spanish, Artesia, Carlsbad, Hobbs Spanish and Saragosa, bringing God’s message to the southeastern regions of New Mexico and West Texas. When he’s not in ministry, Adonis enjoys outdoor activities, soccer, tennis, exploring languages and cherishing quality time with loved ones. Andres Canizalez (pictured right, first person), originally from San Salvador, El Salvador, but raised in Houston, Tex., has completed his bachelor’s degree in theology degree from Southwestern Adventist University. During his time at Southwestern, he took on significant roles as the chaplain for spiritual life
and development, small group coordinator and senior class pastor. Now, he’s excited to answer God’s call to serve within the Texico Conference, ministering to the communities of Clovis, Hereford, Plainview and Portales Seventh-day Adventist Churches. Canizalez’s passion lies in sharing God’s love and inviting others to accept Jesus into their lives. He’s particularly dedicated to working with youth and is involved in Adventurers and Pathfinder ministries. Eliel Rosabal Pena (pictured right, third person), born in Cuba, brings a rich Adventist heritage and a diverse educational background to his ministry. He earned an accounting associate degree in Cuba before pursuing two bachelor’s degrees in psychology and theology at Southwestern Adventist University. After graduation, he served as a chaplain at Texas Health Huguley Hospital and Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, providing comfort and support to patients and their families during times of need. In his personal life, he shares his journey with his cherished partner, Leydis M. Alvarez. Currently, Rosabal is shepherding souls at the Abilene Seventh-day Adventist Church and Advent Hope Bilingual in San Angelo, Tex. He is dedicated to nurturing the spiritual growth of his congregants, creating a sanctuary where souls can find solace, hope and a deeper connection with their Creator. Rosabal attributes his accomplishments to God’s grace and
remains committed to sharing the light of faith and love with all he encounters. Christian Tarbox (pictured right, second person), originally from Washington State and later relocating to Albuquerque, N.M. in 2003, has recently taken on the role of associate pastor with a dedicated focus on youth and young adults within the El Paso English district. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in theology from Southwestern Adventist University in 2023, he felt compelled to answer God’s calling in his home conference. Tarbox has enthusiastically embraced his role at the Central and Northeast El Paso Seventh-day Adventist churches, where he is dedicated to nurturing a community rooted in faith, compassion and servant leadership. He will also provide support to Raymond House, senior pastor. Outside of his church duties, Tarbox enjoys hiking, reading, traveling and spending quality time with his family. With a servant leader’s heart, Tarbox is committed to uniting fellow Adventist believers, creating a community that thrives on love, fellowship and a shared identity in Christ. We are blessed to have these pastors join the Texico Conference family, and we look forward to the spiritual leadership, compassion and dedication they will bring to our communities. Together, we will continue to spread God’s message of love, hope and salvation.
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Texico Conference News
Empowering Young Hearts ALBUQUERQUE – Last July, the North Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church hosted a traditional evangelism series with a heartwarming and unique spin. For eight nights, the church presented its first-ever evangelism meetings led by children. Throughout the week, children ages six to 14 took the stage and delivered sermons, sang and captivated the hearts of both the younger and older members of the congregation. The messages centered on the theme “Este Es El Día,” or “This is the Day,” which stressed the importance of sharing the Gospel and being prepared for Jesus’s soon return. The nightly programs not only showcased the impressive capabil-
ities of the youth but also underscored the profound truth that children possess an incredible potential to impact lives and lead others to Christ. On the last evening, the church held a special closing service that featured the baptism of two young souls. North Valley church pastor Saul Flores also extended an altar call, leading several other young individuals to express interest in Bible studies and baptism. “This week was exactly what we had hoped and prayed for,” said Flor Lopez, North Valley children’s ministries director. “We witnessed a revival within the children of our church, and we are thrilled that some made the choice to follow Jesus so early in their life.”
Many adult visitors were also in attendance and expressed that they were greatly blessed by the messages. Moving forward, North Valley church eagerly anticipates nurturing the talents of the young boys and girls who showed promise in preaching. Plans are now in motion to continue organizing children-led programs in the future. “As a church we understand the importance of embracing our children and giving them a place in our church plans and services,” said Lopez. “In doing this, we have seen our church thrive and we can’t wait to see how God will reveal His amazing power in their lives.”
Texico Conference News
Revitalizing Church Ministries and Events EL PASO, TEX. – In the ever-evolving landscape of church ministries and coordinated events, the El Paso Central and El Paso Northeast Seventh-day Adventist churches recently introduced a new concept in the hopes of revitalizing the way they plan their activities. In July, the churches held a calendar party and offered a dynamic solution that fostered collaboration, accountability and a renewed sense of purpose. Over the years, countless efforts have been invested in nominating committees, carefully selecting individuals to lead ministries in the hopes that they will contribute meaningfully to the church and its outreach. However, midway through the year, church leaders find themselves with little more than a name on a list and minimal activity that affects the church or community. The calendar party aimed to change this by providing an engaging platform for ministry leaders to strategize and coordinate their efforts. During the gathering all ministry leaders and their teams converged, prepared with their annual calendars.
The event encouraged leaders to outline their upcoming ministry events and strategies while collaborating with leaders from other ministries. The very act of preparing an annual calendar encouraged ministry leaders to think ahead and plan strategically. Although the calendar might have been subject to changes, having a roadmap in place fostered a proactive approach to ministry planning. The use of a large communal calendar provided a comprehensive overview of the entire year. This inclusive view incorporated church-wide events such as communion, potlucks, evangelism initiatives, school events and conferences. The results were remarkable. The relatively simple process of bringing ministry leaders together resulted in a comprehensive calendar that avoided scheduling conflicts and overlaps. The cross-referencing of events became seamless, and the leaders’ renewed energy propelled them to embark on a successful year of impactful ministry. The calendar party represented a
shift in the way the El Paso Central and El Paso Northeast churches are approaching ministry planning and coordination. By fostering strategic thinking, promoting a positive atmosphere, providing a comprehensive overview and nurturing collaborative synergy, this approach has the potential to invigorate activities and enhance community outreach. It also moves the churches one step closer to becoming centers of impactful and compassionate ministry, thereby embodying the love and teachings of Jesus Christ. By Ray House Pastor
Connecting Hearts and Faith through Social Media Outreach El PASO, TEX. – The Northeast Seventh-day Adventist Church has embraced the power of digital and social media to connect with people in hopes of planting seeds for Christ. Facebook, YouTube and Instagram have become the church's primary platforms for helping connect with and grow followers. With more than 800 followers on Facebook, more than 140 members on YouTube and nearly 100 on Instagram, the church’s presence is steadily expanding, drawing individuals closer to its church community. Beyond these platforms, its outreach extends to Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Podcasts, among others, enhancing accessibility to Northeast’s content.
Northeast’s reach doesn’t stop at digital platforms; traditional media outlets like radio and TV also play a crucial role in its communication strategy. Recently, the Northeast Navigators Pathfinders were featured on the local KVIA, Channel 7 News, discussing their annual flag-planting event at Fort Bliss National Cemetery on Memorial Day weekend. While some viewers learned about this event on television that evening, many others tuned into Northeast’s social media channels to get a glimpse of the Pathfinders being interviewed. The church’s online Bible study, “Reflect and Revive,” hosted on Facebook, has resonated with numerous in-
dividuals in El Paso and beyond, even reaching participants from overseas. Following each online study, the video is promptly shared on Instagram, YouTube and Spotify, ensuring immediate access to the study material. Social media enables the Northeast church to disseminate sermons, conduct live Bible studies, share videos and photos and feature interviews that showcase the many activities within the church community. Its website, EPNortheast.org, complements this effort by providing up-to-date information about Vacation Bible School, Messiah’s Mansion, sermons and upcoming events at the Northeast church. By Adrian Mena NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Texico Conference News
A Heartwarming Return of VBS to Midland Church
MIDLAND, TEX. – Last June marked a wonderful occasion as the Midland Seventh-day Adventist Church hosted its first Vacation Bible School (VBS) in eight years. It was an event of great significance as it was also a first for many of the volunteers who enthusiastically participated. Prayers for this program to impact not only the children from the Midland church but also extend its reach to the wider community were answered by the grace of God. The groundwork for planning and organizing the VBS began in March. Volunteers diligently distributed invites at Walmart, placed posters at various locations such as the local laundromat, gym and daycare and even shared invitations at the park. The com-
mitment of the volunteers was remarkable, as they reached out to their own loved ones, while the children enthusiastically invited their friends. Witnessing the collective effort to engage children who might never have ventured into our church was truly heartwarming. Each evening, the air was filled with excitement, and the church was profoundly blessed by the presence of 40 children from the community, in addition to 21 of its own kids, who participated in the program. The Midland church is grateful to the volunteers who invested their time and energy to bring this program to life. It is also appreciative of the Texico Conference for its valuable training and support. Romans 12:1 tells us, “Therefore, I
urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” This verse serves as a reminder that it is our duty not only to nurture our own children but also to share the incredible plan of salvation with those around us. Pleasing God through our reasonable service brings us immeasurable happiness, a sentiment that resonated throughout the VBS week. It was a wonderful reminder to always be willing to reach out to our little ones for theirs is the Kingdom of God. By Juscileide Gomes
An Unbroken Thread: 50 Years United in Mission
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, FLA. – “My calling and the calling of AdventHealth is to sow seeds of hope, healing and wholeness. To embody the privilege of Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ. What about you? Will you join me?” This was the question posed by President/ CEO Terry Shaw on the opening night of AdventHealth’s 33rd annual Conference on Mission. The conference was attended by AdventHealth board members and executive leaders, key representatives from the Seventh-day Adventist Church and local community leaders. It was an invitation to reflect on the efforts of the past and acknowledge the work that lies ahead. With 2023 being an anniversary year for AdventHealth, the conference was a time of both celebration and reflection of the company’s 50-year history, since its founding in 1973 when representatives from standalone hospitals across the southern states joined together to form the health system. “We want to get a handle on what mission means to each of us on a personal level, as well as professionally and certainly culturally,” said Jillyan McKinney, president and CEO of the AdventHealth Medical Group in Central Florida and co-presenter during the conference’s business session. “Are we being effective in how we deliver on our mission promise? Are we consistently staying true to our roots? How
has our history shaped our mission, and what does the future have in store?” Attendees explored five decades of AdventHealth history through a unique multimedia experience titled “50 Years: United in Mission.” The experience revealed the unbroken thread of mission woven into the essence of Adventist health care, starting with the legacy of Christ’s ministry on earth and continuing with pioneers who founded the church’s earliest sanitariums. “God’s been so faithful and has bestowed abundant blessings on His healing ministry. The evidence of His presence and providence over these past 50 years, since 1973, is incredible,” said Tim Cook, chief mission integration officer at AdventHealth. The group explored the foundation of the healthcare ministry, the culture of AdventHealth that refuses to allow mission drift and the role that innovation plays in sustaining that mission and carrying it into the future. In this exploration, intentionality was evident in the training and mentoring of AdventHealth leaders, as well as succession planning to keep the unbroken thread of mission integrity going. “This is our mission: extending the healing ministry of Christ,” said Cook. “There isn’t a wasted word. It isn’t a preamble. It isn’t the beginning line of a complicated dissertation. It’s simple. It’s profound. It’s intentional. It’s active.
And it’s complete.” In response to this in-depth reflection, a panel convened on stage to discuss key themes that surface from the organization’s history and how they might be used to continue the mission into the future. “It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations,” said Sean Lemon, vice president and chief operating officer at Texas Health Huguley. “The conference was a great experience to pause and make sure our work is grounded and focused on our mission.” Continuing a tradition from previous years, music was integral to the threeday event and featured the AdventHealth Orchestra and the AdventHealth Choir for the first time. Both groups, made up of AdventHealth team members, led more than 740 attendees in reverent worship on Sabbath morning, the highest attendance of Conference on Mission to date. “Conference on Mission is always such an awesome time to connect as a team around the most important part of who AdventHealth is,” said Kenneth Rose, president and CEO of Texas Health Mansfield. By Elizabeth Camps Sr. Comm. Specialist Photos by Timothy Brown
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Southwestern Adventist University News
SWAU Music Department Tours Italy KEENE, TEX. – “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” Mark 16:15. The goal of the Department of Music at Southwestern Adventist University is to share Christ’s message through our music with all we encounter worldwide. During the first two weeks of May, 36 students and faculty traveled to central Italy to share music and interact with Italian history and culture. This incredible opportunity offered students unforgettable experiences to learn, grow and perform in inspiring places and for appreciative people. One of the most memorable concerts of the tour took place at Villa Aurora Adventist University in Florence. The stunning campus is surrounded by a park filled with trees and flowers at the top of a hill overlooking Florence. Our performance was held in a beautiful ballroom in one of the campus’s historic buildings. However, the opportunity to share a vespers concert with people from around the world was even more impressive than the setting. At the end of each concert, our tradition is to interact with the audience members as a way to connect on a personal level. Many people expressed how inspired they were by the music we shared, and it was incredibly moving for the student musicians to meet and connect with peers who appreciated their ministry. Beautiful music is not something that happens by accident. Southwestern’s student musicians rehearse in their ensembles daily throughout the school year. Additionally, many of them attend sectional and individual rehearsals. Each student dedicates themselves fully to attending rehearsals, participating in all performances and, most importantly, personally understanding the music. Professors always encourage the importance of expressing the depth and meaning of each piece by relating to it personally. Music becomes something much deeper as each person pours their individual heart and faith into the
act of corporate music-making. That is ministry, and it is what makes Southwestern more than just a music school. When not rehearsing or performing, students immersed themselves in Italian culture. From trying new foods to visiting beautiful, historic places and attempting to learn a few words of Italian, new cultural experiences create a better understanding of people from all over the world. Students visited castles, hiked to ancient thermal pools, toured the Vatican City and swam in the Mediterranean Ocean. Junior music major Rebeca Lima reflected on the trip, “In traveling to Italy, I was gifted a fantastic opportunity to experience its culture, history, food and music. Learning about the history of places such as Rome and Assisi, experiencing the beauty of the Tuscan valleys and cities
and performing in amazing spaces with dear friends and musicians are memories I will always hold in my heart!” Southwestern Adventist University is a school that offers significant opportunities. Through the Department of Music, students work hard and learn together. However, they also get another level of experience and inspiration through travel locally and abroad. At the heart of everything is the belief that the pursuit of knowledge, faith and service creates individuals who not only experience the world but are prepared to change it through service. To learn more visit SWAU.edu. By Devon Howard, D.M.A. Chair of the Department of Music
Southwestern Adventist University News
SWAU Mission to Lares, Puerto Rico
KEENE, TEX. – The Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) Kinesiology Department’s students, deans, faculty and staff answered a call to be missionaries in the heart of Lares, Puerto Rico. For a week, May 16-24, members of the department worked in the community to help relieve the impact of past hurricanes. SWAU volunteers cleaned affected areas, rebuilt damaged homes, worked at the local church, Tres Angeles Seventh-day Adventist Church and hosted a mini health clinic. We split up into groups to repair three houses and the church. The houses’ ceilings were crumbling and the yards and gardens had been left unattended. The groups went to work repairing, painting and tidying the homes. The church needed some interior paint and to clean the sanctuary. The work wasn’t easy, with challenges like working under the sun’s scorching heat, attempting jobs never done before, dealing with giant lizards and ac-
quiring many bug bites. Despite these conditions, the group always ended the day with smiles on their faces. One of the group’s favorite moments shared was an unexpected rainy day. After working in the heat, as heavy rainfall poured from the sky, everyone jumped out of the bus, played in the rain and even slid down a nearby hill. It may seem like something simple to experience, but to us it was a true “shower of blessing.” As the week came to an end, students led vespers on Friday evening and Sabbath morning services at the church. Members were thrilled to have their church filled with youth. A majority of the members are elderly and had not experienced worship with energetic young people in a while. On Sabbath afternoon we held a mini health clinic, where SWAU students gained experience and shared health advice. We closed the Sabbath with a hike up a steep hill that offered
a breathtaking view at the top, making the climb worthwhile. Church members, community members and the university group gathered to worship God through testimony and song for all He had done. The last three days of the trip were spent admiring and exploring Antillean Adventist University, a natural cave, a beautiful beach and touring the neighborhood of Old San Juan. By the end of the trip, the group experienced many emotions. New connections had formed between them and the church members, connections built through Christ. Each member of the group was thankful for the opportunity to go on the trip. It was a blessing to bless others, and to be vessels for Christ despite being broken vessels ourselves. Learn more at SWAU.edu. By Paulino Santos, Ed.D. Chair of the Department of Kinesiology
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Classified Ads EMPLOYMENT Pacific Union College is seeking faculty positions for the 2023-2024 Academic year in the areas of History and Music. Major duties include the responsibilities of assessment, planning, development and implementation of classroom experiences and course objectives. We desire those who will be committed to a collaborative working environment, as well as, those who possess dedication in furthering the goals of excellence in student success and critical thinking skills. Most importantly, we desire those interested in bringing students closer to Christ by nurturing the whole person and embracing concepts for life-long learning. If you are interested, please contact Human Resources at HR@puc.edu or call 707.965.6231.
Union College, Lincoln, Neb., is searching for a Program Director for the Public Health Graduate Program. A doctoral degree in public health is required. This individual will be responsible for the implementation of and teaching within the graduate program. Please view the job description and instructions for application at UCollege.edu/employment or contact Debbie Eno at Debbie.email@example.com for more information.
goals of the college and for strategically managing financial aid monies to achieve the college’s enrollment goals and overall financial goals. Oversee the functions of recruitment, admissions, student finance and the visit experience. Excellent benefits package and tuition assistance for dependents provided. See full job description and instructions for application at UCollege.edu/employment.
Union College, Lincoln, Neb., seeks applicants for Director of Student Financial Services. The director is responsible for maintaining compliance with institutional, federal and state regulations and administering and managing a highly personalized financial aid process. Excellent benefits package and tuition assistance for dependents provided. See full job description and instructions at UCollege.edu/employment.
Family Physician Opportunity in Killeen, Tex. Join our growing primary care and urgent care practice sixty miles from Austin and less than one mile from AdventHealth Central Texas! We offer a competitive salary with benefits, including relocation expenses. Make a difference in Central Texas as a part of our team! Contact Dr. Charles Mitchell, ElmsCreekWellness@gmail.com or call 254.383.2364.
Union College, Lincoln, Neb., seeks applicants for Vice President for Enrollment Management. The
Southern Adventist University seeks a full-time Associate Vice President for Academic Administration and Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies. Candidate should
individual is responsible for meeting the enrollment
have a Ph.D. with a minimum of five years of successful
full-time graduate teaching experience at the higher education level. Applicant will assume a leadership role in all aspects of graduate education and provide academic, administrative and strategic direction to Graduate Studies, Online Campus and the Adult Degree Completion (ADC) Program. For more details, visit Southern.edu/jobs.
Southern Adventist University seeks a full-time Engineer teaching faculty member for the School of Engineering and Physics in the areas of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering. The ideal candidate will be proficient in developing and teaching undergraduate engineering courses, including both lecture and laboratory components. Master’s degree in mechanical, electrical or computer engineering or related area required. Doctorate preferred. Prior higher education teaching experience and/or relevant industry experience preferred. For a full job description and desired qualifications please visit Southern.edu/jobs.
Southern Adventist University seeks a full-time faculty in the area of Counseling for School of Education/Psychology. A doctoral degree in counselor education from a CACREPaccredited program is required. Doctoral degrees in clinical or counseling psychology from APAaccredited program could be considered if applicant has been employed as full-time faculty member in a counselor education
program for a minimum of one full academic year before July 1, 2013. For a full job description and desired qualifications please visit Southern.edu/jobs.
Southern Adventist University seeks a full-time program director to launch a new Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program. The ideal candidate will be proficient in managing the CAPTE accreditation process, new program development and teaching graduate physical therapy courses, as well as, clinical practice. In addition, the successful candidate will be committed to mentoring advisees, nurturing student learning both in and out of the classroom and disciplining students in Jesus Christ. For a full job description and desired qualifications please visit Southern.edu/jobs.
Southern Adventist University seeks a full-time teaching faculty member for the Department of Biology/ Allied Health, beginning fall 2024. Ph.D. in Biology who will teach upper and lower division courses and labs. Candidate should be committed to involvement with undergraduate students in the classroom, as well as, guiding independent student research projects. Additionally, candidate should be a practicing Seventh-day Adventist believing the Biblical record of the creation of life on earth in six literal days. For details, visit Southern.edu/jobs.
Southern Adventist University seeks a full-time Payroll Manager in the Human Resources department. This position
Back Pages Wesley Adolph Whitten was born in DeSoto Parish, La., on Nov. 17, 1932, to Hallie Spraggins Whitten and W.C. Whitten. He passed away on Aug.14, 2023, at 90 years old. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Evelyn Culpepper Whitten; his sister, Helen Jenkins of Burleson, Tex.; and his brother, Lloyd of Arlington, Tex. He is survived by his wife, Alyce Whitten of McDonald, Tenn.; daughter, Crystal Whitten of Cleveland, Tenn.; son, Keith Whitten of Nevada City, Calif.; three brothers: L.J. (Elaine) Whitten of Logansport, La., Paul Whitten of Waskom, Tex., and Kenneth Whitten of Granbury, Tex.; sister, Betty Matheny of Shreveport, La.; sister-in-law, Carol Whitten of Arlington, Tex.; three step sons: Paul (Bonnie) Muhs of Chattanooga, Tenn., Jeff Muhs (Lori) of Ft. Collins, Colo., and Dan(Charity) Muhs of Collegedale Tenn.; several nieces and nephews, and step-grandchildren. Wesley worked and paid his way through Jefferson Academy, Ozark Academy, Union College and Southwestern Adventist University. Wesley got a mechanical engineering degree from Louisiana Tech University and specialized in aeronautical engineering at SMU.
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Wesley and Evelyn, helped many people in distress over their 48 years together while continuing to serve their church in many varying capacities. Wesley’s faith was the core of his love for his family, friends and career. He was a man interested to know the details of God’s creation and the limits of human ingenuity. Wesley made incredible contributions to advance the space industry and some of the most prosperous times this country has ever known. Wesley is known for his humble and servant spirit along every step of his life journey. Nothing on this earth was more meaningful or fulfilling to Wesley than serving family, friends, neighbors, his church or anyone in need. Later in his life, Wesley met Alyce Muhs. They were married and volunteered on several short-term Maranatha work projects here in the states. Wesley looked forward to the day when we can rejoice together on the sea of glass as we piece together all of our stories and see how they have been interwoven in God’s great plan of salvation. Wesley was a veteran of the United States Army and a member of the Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church. A military graveside service was held Aug. 30 at the DallasFort Worth National Cemetery.
is directly responsible for processing accurate and timely payroll for various employment types and across all payroll cycles, ensuring compliance with tax regulations, denominational policies and best practices while collaborating with our dedicated HR and Accounting teams. Open immediately; this is an exempt position with comprehensive denominational benefits and a supportive and dynamic work environment. For job description and application instructions visit Southern.edu/hr.
Southern Adventist University seeks qualified candidates for the following staff salaried positions— Academic Administration DHSI (Developing HispanicServing Institutions) Project
Manager, Academic Administration DHSI Community Outreach Coordinator, Academic Administration DHSI Retention and Resilience Coordinator, Associate Vice President for Academic Administration and Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies. For information go to Southern.edu/jobs.
Southern Adventist University seeks qualified candidates for the following staff hourly positions— S.A.L.T. Outreach Coordinator for School of Religion, Landscape Supervisor, Head Cashier/Interdepartmental Invoicing, Salad Supervisor (part-time), Cafeteria Supper Cook, Alarm Technician. For more information go to Southern.edu/jobs.
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023
Back Pages Linda Louise Young-Lambeth was born Jan. 24, 1941 and passed away peacefully on Sept. 12, 2023. She was the first born of Roscoe and Louise Young and was full of life and dreams. We heard stories of her as a child jumping off the loft in the barn down onto hay that she had stacked up, driving her dad’s tractor up and down the road with her siblings hanging on by tooth and nail while their parents were away in town. At 16 years old, she attended some Christian meetings with her family and learned of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was
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baptized (which became our family glue). She left public school and attended Madison Academy in Tennessee. She married after high school and had four children. As a mother, she taught us to believe in and love Jesus. She taught us to pray about everything. When asked, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given, she said “Pray about it.” She is survived by her four children, Talina, Tim, Debbie and David, as well as numerous other loving family members including seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. We are looking forward to the last day when Jesus returns and we will all be together again. We believe it is soon y’all.
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and home with a Christian spirit of Christmas. LifeTalk Radio plays Christmas music all through December with special concerts nightly at 8 p.m. E.S.T., from Dec. 21-25. Enjoy Christmas music 24/7 at LifeTalk.net.
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Dashner, Yalonda, born Aug. 12, 1944, Pauls Valley, Okla.; died Aug. 16, 2023, Irving, Tex. Survivors: husband, George; son, Geoffrey Dashner (Shannon); four grandchildren and one greatgrandchild.
Hines, Bobby Coe, born Dec. 8, 1938, Clayton, N.M.; died June 7, 2023, Duncanville, Tex. Church membership: Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church. He served in the US Army. Survivors: wife, Donna; son, Donald (Melody); son, Tim (Meredith) and one grandson.
ADVENTIST TOURS 2024. Israel, March 10-19 with Dr. Andy Nash (optional Jordan & Egypt); British Reformation, June 9-18 with Dr. Greg King; Germany-Austria: Martin Luther to WWII June 18-28; Thailand, June 17-26. From $1,950/person plus airfare. Customized group tours available. Visit TabghaTours.com for full info or email Tabghatours@gmail.com.
Gary and Betty Heinrich celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Aug. 11, 2023. They are members of the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church. Betty was employed by the Southwestern Union for 34 years. Gary worked in accounting and computer programming in Fort Worth, Tex., and served the City of Keene intermittently for a total of 16 years.
Submissions Back Pages: Submit announcements, milestones, obituaries and address changes to Record@SWUC.org or visit SWURecord.org. Advertising: Cost information and deadlines: Bradley Ecord at BEcord@swuc.org.
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EDUCATION BACHELOR’S DEGREE
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Empowering Tomorrow's Leaders! Unlock the doors to a world of limitless possibilities with a career in Education at SWAU! Are you passionate about shaping the future, inspiring young minds, and making a lasting impact? Our dynamic program is designed to empower you to become a catalyst for positive change in the field of education. With experienced faculty, hands-on training, and a nurturing learning environment, we're here to help you develop the skills and knowledge needed to excel as an educator. Join us at Southwestern Adventist University and embark on a journey where you acquire knowledge and become a guiding light for generations to come.
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Southwestern Union of Seventh-day Adventists PO Box 4000, Burleson, TX 76097 CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED
Expert care in your neighborhood For annual physicals, answering your questions and helping you through your health care journey, Texas Health Huguley Hospital Fort Worth South and Texas Health Hospital Mansfield, operated by AdventHealth, are here for all your primary care needs. You’ll find skilled experts with the compassion to care for you like family — all close to home. Find an AdventHealth facility today and experience high-quality, primary care.
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