Pacific Union “All God’s People,” November 30, 2018 Episode 227

This week, a conversation with the Northern California Conference President Marc Woodson, an invitation to San Gabriel Academy’s Journey to Bethlehem, and a song from Greg Evans for the holidays.

Learn more about All God’s People at:

2018-11-29T16:47:03-08:00November 29th, 2018|All Gods People|

God’s Yet

by Megan Elmendorf

For the past six weeks or so, I have been in a near-constant “go” state—between conducting mission trips to Maui, serving as sponsor on a senior class trip, and participating in another mission trip to Kauai. There have been many ups and blessings from these trips and the preparation time preceding them, but there have also been nearly as many lows, times when my soul felt so thin that I feared it would snap. (And feared even more that it would happen in the middle of a class with students who were acting like, well, high school students.)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the conflicts and truths found in the life of Job. These recent lows drove me back into this story. As I read Job 5:7, “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward,” and Job 8:21, “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy” (NIV), I took note of the connecting word yet. According to the dictionary, yetmeans “though the case be such, nevertheless.” Observing such a contrast between these two yets, I decided to go down the rabbit hole (a common habit) and researched how many times the word yetappears in the Bible. It shows itself approximately 395 times; 28 of those appearances are found within the story of Job alone.

As I read through the lengthy list (I’m still making my way through it, and I encourage you to do the same should your soul also feel thin and fragile from work or life stressors), I felt my spirit lift. Verse after verse poured the salve of truth into my heart. Verses such as Judges 8:4, “Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it,” remind me that Gideon and his three hundred men were just as humanly fallible as I am, yetthey kept moving forward. “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yetpraise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5, NIV) reminds me that there will bevalleys of shadows (guaranteed on this sinful earth) yetthe Lord will make a way where there seems to be no way.

Lamentations 3:19-26 and Habakkuk 3:17-19 reflect each other as the authors begin the verses with their afflictions then turn their focus heavenward with a timely yetand end the verses with praises to the faithful love of our Savior. Jesus also used the perspective-changing application of yetheavily. John 16:32 finds Jesus speaking of the times of persecution coming not only for Himself but also for His followers—but He ends with, “YetI am not alone, for my Father is with me.” Again, in Luke 22:42, as He is praying out drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane on His last night of freedom, He concludes His prayer with the words “yetnot my will, but yours be done.”

Life is hard. We are afflicted in so many ways. Our days are filled with routines that have their ups and downs, and it is easy to grow numb to a timely yet. However, we must readily reflect on the reality of who we are in Christ: “He [Jesus] came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:11-13, NIV).

This world is not our home. We are called to use our talents and our time to be as salt, living truthful and authentic lives in such a way that our neighbors are drawn closer to our Almighty Father. Though it be difficult, clinging to the yetpromised to us by God will lighten our load as we are reminded in Jeremiah 50:33-34: “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah as well. All their captors hold them fast, refusing to let them go. Yet their Redeemer is strong; the Lord Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to their land.’”

Megan Elmendorf works as an educator and mission coordinator at Hawaiian Mission Academy on the island of Oahu. Originally from Tennessee and her home church of McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church, she has resided in Hawaii for two years after serving seven years in East Asia as a missionary.


2018-11-27T14:02:40-08:00November 28th, 2018|Blog|

Beyond Our Understanding

by Connie Vandeman Jeffery and Ray Tetz—

As this most generous of all the holidays comes to us this year, we find ourselves thinking about Job.

Job was a man pushed to his limits. His story is meant to help us think about life in difficult and extreme circumstances. Job’s story is one of great distress.

But relevant to Thanksgiving in particular is a verse in the book of Job that seems to be as full of gratitude and hope as any in the Scriptures. “How great is God—beyond our understanding!” (Job 36:26, NIV).

We love the “How great is God” part of that text! And at Thanksgiving we express our gratitude for God’s greatness and abundance.

But we are also interested in the last part, the phrase “beyond our understanding.” Lately there have been many things that go beyond our understanding. How about you?

At Thanksgiving we count our blessings, express our gratitude, and affirm all the ways in which we have experienced goodness. But there are also things beyond our understanding, things we simply cannot see as blessings.

So, on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving, the pressures of reality begin to reassert themselves. The troubles that are around us on every side push in on our consciousness.

And by Monday, when we are still eating leftovers as well as heading back to work, it can be easy enough to forget the gratitude of Thanksgiving Thursday.

That’s why the second part of the text is so important. Our faith is not just about looking back over past blessings, or even about being thankful for where we are right now—although both of those attitudes are so important. But what about the things that are impossible to be thankful for? The losses, the setbacks, the devastating circumstances?

In those dark moments, as Job so eloquently describes it, there is One who loves us and who goes “beyond our understanding.”

It is from the darkness that Job makes this stunning declaration: God’s love and care go beyond the present moment. God’s care even embraces a future that is unknown to us. God’s loves goes over and beyond!

On Thanksgiving, bravely pushing the difficulties aside, we speak with gratitude about the God who is present with us. Even now, our eyes are on the future—a future beyond our understanding but surely known to God.

Thanksgiving provides us a milestone of gratitude each autumn. We count our blessings and express our thankfulness. But we are not unaware of our losses and disappointments. Thanksgiving can also be an anchor for hope in the midst of tragedy and fear.

In spite of tough times, in spite of uncertainty, in spite of difficulties—at Thanksgiving we look to the future with hopefulness. We look at what we’ve survived, we gather our greatest blessings near to us, and we greet the impending darker days of the winter ahead with hope and confidence. That’s Thanksgiving.

Connie Vandeman Jeffery has had a long career in media and is the host of All God’s People, a weekly short video series highlighting the people and ministries of the Pacific Union Conference.

Ray Tetz is the director of communication and community engagement for the Pacific Union Conference.

2018-11-27T14:27:08-08:00November 24th, 2018|Blog|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” November 15, 2018 Episode 225


Pacific Union “All God’s People”
November 15, 2018
Episode 225

This week, an update on Paradise, California and the damage caused by the Camp Fire, as well as the damage caused by the Woolsey and Hill fires in Southern California. Learn about how local conferences and Adventist Health are responding to the needs, and how you can help.

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Nurse Shares Harrowing Escape from Paradise Fire

When evacuation orders were issued for Adventist Health Feather River Hospital in Paradise, California, physicians and staff worked quickly to get all their patients out. After making sure patients were taken care of, one nurse experienced a harrowing escape from the hospital. Nichole Jolly’s narrow escape was made possible by firemen who appeared in the nick of time.

Watch the interview and read more of her story here:

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Paradise Adventist Church Destroyed in Wildfire

The Paradise church sits in ruin. Not only did the Camp Fire destroy the church, but the fire also consumed the homes of many of the pastors in the area.

The Paradise church congregation plans to meet with the Chico church congregation for the near future. It is unknown at this time how many church members lost their homes in the fire. At the time this program was recorded, we have not heard of any confirmed deaths of church members.

The Pacific Union released a statement inviting people to help those impacted by the fires through donations to the Northern California Conference disaster response fund, and Adventist Health’s ongoing response for the fire victims.

Read the Pacific Union statement at:

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Paradise Adventist Academy Campus Damaged by Fire

The Camp Fire in Paradise destroyed the Kindergarten through 4th-grade area of Paradise Adventist Academy. It was reported that the rest of the school is still standing, but the extent of the damage remains unknown.

In an indication of how a community comes together, Paradise Adventist Academy plans to host classes for their 169 students in the Chico church and Chico Oaks Adventist School after Thanksgiving vacation.

Follow PAA on Facebook for updates:

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Christian School Raises Over $16,000, Supplies and Clothing for Victims of the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.

Many helping hands recently reached out to encourage the Paradise Adventist family.

At a scheduled Volleyball game with Forest Lake Christian, the Paradise Adventist Academy team was surprised by an outpouring of love and support. In less than 24 hours, the Forest Lake Christian community raised $16,000 in cash and gift cards, as well as providing the team with brand new custom jerseys, shorts, knee pads and socks, and an abundance of donated clothes.

Following the game, Coach Jason Eyer from Paradise Adventist Academy addressed attendees of the volleyball game. Hear his heartfelt response in a video posted on Youtube.

Watch the video:

Read the full story:

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Conferences and Adventist Health Support Victims of the Fires

All three impacted organizations, including the Northern California Conference, Adventist Health, and the Southern California Conference, have released reports on the impact of the fires in their areas and the efforts being taken to support those who have lost everything. Click below to download these bulletins or directly support the fire victims through an online donation.

Adventist Health helps fire victims:

Help Victims of the Woolsey Fire:

Help Victims of the Camp Fire:

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Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

2018-11-15T19:50:08-08:00November 15th, 2018|All Gods People|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” November 9, 2018 Episode 224

Southern California Conference Hosts Communication Workshop

Recently more than 45 Southern California communication leaders gathered to learn how to be digital disciples – both personally and corporately. The 2018 SCC Communication Workshop was fun, informative, and useful in providing communication tools and resources to share the stories of our members, churches and schools, and how God is leading our church. Congratulations to Communication Director Lauren Armstrong for a terrific workshop.

Resources from the Event:

Watch a Video from SCC:

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La Sierra University Center for Near Eastern Archaeology to Celebrate the 10th Annual Archaeology Discovery Weekend

This weekend at La Sierra University – the Center for Near Eastern Archaeology is celebrating the 10th Annual Archaeology Discovery Weekend where they will share the results of 50 years of excavating in Central Jordan. If you’re in the area, you will want to check it out: Nov. 10 and 11. Find out more at

Learn More:

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NAD Hosts Year-end Meetings

The North American Division Year-end Meeting took place in Columbia, Maryland. Leaders from around our division came together to hear reports and take up the business of the church. This year was an especially important Year-end Meeting, as our North American leaders discussed how we respond to the events of the recent GC Annual Council. Our special report is available online for a more in-depth look. Links to the report and the live stream of the meetings below.

Special Pacific Union Report:

Watch the Live-Streamed Video:

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100th Anniversary of Veteran’s Day

Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, is the 100th Anniversary of Veteran’s Day. It was on Nov. 11, 1918, that fighting in World War I came to an end following the signing of an armistice between the Allies and Germany. Many local churches across our Union will be commemorating this milestone anniversary on Sabbath, Nov. 10.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

2018-11-08T15:20:07-08:00November 8th, 2018|All Gods People|


by Becky De Oliveira

Just before Christmas a few years back, as I was struggling to keep about a thousand balls in the air, my brother phoned in a panic. His company required all employees to complete eight hours of volunteer work each year. It was nearly the end of the year and he had nothing. “I need you to find some volunteer work for us,” he said.

Us?” I asked. “Funny, I didn’t realize I worked for your company.”

“You have to do it with me. Obviously!”

Obviously. My brother is an extrovert and a youngest child. He doesn’t do anything alone. But I didn’t mind the idea of volunteering with him—in fact it sounded like fun. I found a delightfully perverse opportunity for us: Gift-wrapping for orphans.

Dan is legendary in our family for his horrible gift-wrapping skills. Many of us specifically request that our gifts be wrapped by him instead of his wife because we enjoy marveling at the particular “skill” it takes to wrap a package so poorly. After much analysis, I have determined that it’s a combination of too much wrapping paper, too much tape, and, well, clumsiness of the hands. When I informed him—gleefully—that we would be spending two mornings (December 23 and December 24) wrapping gifts for frantic last-minute shoppers at a popular local mall, he took a deep breath. “I can do this,” he said.

Now I’m pretty good at wrapping things and I enjoy it, so this seemed like an optimal
volunteer experience for me. But as it turns out, the situation was rigged in a multitude of ways that did not play to my strengths. The charity had a huge assortment of boxes—most of them in sizes that proved irrelevant for the majority of wrapping situations. They had only four kinds of gift wrap and no ribbons—only cheap and ugly bows. The onslaught of customers was relentless and most of them brought gifts that were oddly shaped, like a baseball bat and glove or a box with a handle on the outside, messing up the perfect square or rectangular shape I prefer.

Gift-wrapping for orphans proved to be a challenge for both me and my brother—and his problems quickly became myproblems. He received a brief tutorial on wrapping, and managed to do a respectable job in bursts, but then he’d suddenly call for me in a panic, confessing that a package had “got away from him,” and I’d have to leave whatever I was doing to fix his package while a nervous shopper looked on. On the second day, the organizers of the charity moved him to the cash register where he could best use his corporate skills as a financial analyst. One of the directors was an older man who had lost his hand years before in an accident. “When a guy with a hook questions your manual dexterity, you know you have problems,” my brother admitted.

The first day was bad, but Christmas Eve felt like pure punishment. The shoppers were
insane. One man brought something like 30 giftscylindrical or in other weird shapes—and I had to wrap all of them myself. He’d also had some kind of mishap in the parking lot—dropped his bags in a mud puddle—so most of his gifts were wet and I didn’t have paper towels with which to dry them. I resorted to wiping each one with the bottom of my shirt. Nearly all my customers were like this. Only one shopper—who presented a perfectly boxed iPad—was a pleasure to deal with and I found myself congratulating him on the genius of the gift. It could have been anythingso long as it came in a neat box. At the end of that day, my brother and I bought eggnog lattes and collapsed on the end of the dock on the edge of Lake Washington and stared at the water, utterly spent.

“I feel good about that,” my brother said finally. “I mean it was totally screwed up.”

“Totally,” I echoed tonelessly.

“But we did it. We did good in the world. Let’s do it again next year, if you’re in town.”

“You’re nuts,” I said.

But he was right. Sometimes it’s fun and rewarding to dosomething—whether or not you can even do it particularly well. Perhaps the quest for excellence comes down to a simple matter of what you want to be excellent at.The gifts were not wrapped perfectly—particularly not the gifts wrapped by my brother—but we did raise money to provide an overseas orphanage with goats. And while many people chose to spend Christmas Eve doing all kinds of other things, we gave up our free time for this act of service. That was a form of excellence.

What do I want to be excellent at? The Bible tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people” (Colossians 3:23, ISV). How do you work when you’re working for God? Wholeheartedly.What does that mean? Perfectly? Flawlessly? In relentless accordance with your principles? I don’t think so. I think it means what it sounds like it means: With your whole heart. With love. With pride. With the knowledge that you are a cog in a great machine,and that by doing your part faithfully and gentlyyou help to create a bit of heaven on earth.


Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, and graphic designer working on special projects for the Pacific Union Conference from her home in Colorado.


2018-11-06T09:23:08-08:00November 7th, 2018|Blog|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” November 2, 2018 Episode 223

Glendale Adventist Academy Welcomes Dr. Israel Olaore as New Principal

Just 5 years ago, Nigerian native Dr. Olaore was associate vice president and associate professor of education at Babcock University, a 20,000-plus student school, in Nigeria. When his 3 adult children asked him to come to the United States to be closer to them, their request brought him to Glendale Adventist Academy as the 22nd principal.

The new leader of the elementary and high school that has served this southern Californian community since 1907 hopes to raise enrollment, expand engagement with alumni, explore ways to make the school more affordable and connect more fully with the surrounding community.

You can read more about Dr. Olaore and what he seeks to do in a wonderful article published in the L.A. Times:

Follow Glendale Adventist Academy on Facebook:

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Beverly Benson Retires from the Pacific Union Office of Education

After 45 years of service, Beverly Benson is retiring from her role as Certification Registrar for the Office of Education of the Pacific Union. Because she manages teacher certification, Bev is well known to literally all of our teachers throughout the Union—and with more than four decades of experience, she knows and can discuss the history of our educational system and the schools. Many of Bev’s friends from across the Union celebrated her life and unprecedented career at a retirement dinner last week. Bev has been an extraordinary part of the Pacific Union, and she will be very much missed.

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November Recorder Declares “God is So Good”

The November Recorder should be arriving in your homes this week. It’s Thanksgiving, and this issue proclaims “God is So Good” on the cover. Goodness is one of the Fruits of the Spirit, and there are articles that explore what it means. The Recorder also has the Pacific Union Officers response to the recent vote at the Annual Council of the General Conference.

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The Struggle for the Prophetic Heritage — New from Oak & Acorn Publishing

Dr. Valentine knows his church history—and he makes it come alive in his classroom, his writing, and in the conversation we had a few weeks back about his book, “The Struggle for theProphetic Heritage.”

This new book from Oak & Acorn Publishing is available on Amazon and AdventSource:

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Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27 NKJV)

2018-11-02T04:56:38-07:00November 2nd, 2018|All Gods People|
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