//October

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” November 1, 2019 Episode 344

All God’s People Episode #344

In this week’s episode: Artists we love; a word on religious freedom from Bradford Newton; and perspective on important issues facing the church from Alan Reinach

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Seventh-day Adventists have been vocal and persistent advocates of religious freedom for every person since the earliest days of our church. Perhaps it is because of the Fundamental Belief on the “Nature of Humanity” that states “Man and woman were made in the image of God with individuality, the power and freedom to think and to do. Though created free beings, each is an indivisible unity of body, mind, and spirit, dependent upon God for life and breath and all else.” Surely, our advocacy of religious freedom is rooted in our understanding of who we are before God.

Learn more about PARL, the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department of the church via the link below:
https://www.adventistliberty.org

Here in the Pacific Union, the Church State Council is dedicated to promoting religious freedom. Through education, legislative advocacy, and litigation, the Council works to fight religious discrimination, bigotry, and intolerance. The Council provides legal representation for persons of all faiths who suffer religious discrimination. This is a ministry concerned with “matters of conscience,” and is an expression of some of our deepest and most fervently held beliefs.

Learn more about Church State Council and how you can get involved via the link below:
https://www.churchstate.org

Learn more about All God’s People on the Pacific Union Conference website:
https://adventistfaith.com/blog/all-gods-people/

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“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV

2019-11-01T16:54:05-08:00October 29th, 2019|All Gods People|

Instant Answer

by Donna E. Starr

We live in a society of instant! Everything is instant. You push a button and your computer is on. You turn your phone on and it’s instantly available. You place something in the microwave and it’s instantly cooking. You turn your car on and you have instant transportation. Turn the radio on and there is instant music. Flip the light switch, instant light. (As long as the electricity bill was paid!)

We are conditioned to expect the instantaneous. We pray to God wanting instant results. As soon as we finish our prayer, we stand up and expect an instant answer to that prayer. When we take Him our deepest needs, wants, and desires, we expect instant results. However, God can use non-instant results to teach us a lesson, to make us realize that God’s timing is not our timing, that He knows the beginning to the end—and back again.

I found out last fall that my rent was going up, not by $50 or even $100 but by $200 a month. I am single and my budget did not allow for an extra $200. I began to pray with earnestness. I had been given until the first of October to indicate whether I planned to move and until the end of November to vacate, so I started looking for a new place even though I loved the area where I was living and didn’t want to move. Finally, I found a place I truly liked, but that complex didn’t have an apartment available. I was told they would keep me posted. Every so often I would check in, but nothing was available. Then, after much prayer, I did something I have never done before. I gave the manager at my apartment complex my answer: I would be moving. No place to go whatsoever.

I told friends I had taken a leap of faith. I think some thought I must be crazy! But the search for a new apartment was on full speed ahead. There was a complex next door to where I was living, but the apartments were even more expensive than the new rent. Meanwhile, I kept checking with the complex that I really liked. It seemed perfect. Good location, rent was workable—but never anything available. I checked with so many other places, but nothing.

I decided to stop in one last time on October 30—one month before moving day. Still nothing. I knew God had answered so many prayers before. He knew I needed a place to live. I didn’t understand why He hadn’t opened a door for me at that complex. I totally lost it on the way home, sobbing. I didn’t sleep well that night. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I never stopped praying, but I was feeling defeated. The prospects looked extremely dim. It didn’t seem like God was hearing or answering my prayers.

The next day, several apartment complexes showed up on Facebook. One of them was the one next door to where I lived. After work, in the pouring rain, I went next door again. To my surprise, they had an apartment available and the rent was less than what I was currently paying. (Apartments always work on supply/demand. A $1, 300 apartment one week might be down to $800 the next week.) I filled out the application, provided paystubs, and left my deposit. That evening I prayed and prayed, thanking God for the door He had opened. A day later, I got the confirmation: I would be moved by my deadline, and the rent was even lower than initially quoted!

I immediately thanked God. This was nothing short of an answered prayer. None of this would have happened if I had not placed my situation in His hands. Prayer works. Sometimes God does answer instantly, but other times, when it seems like prayers are not going higher than the ceiling, God is trying to teach us a lesson. We must always lean on and trust Him. We need to fully depend on Him. There is nothing we can do of ourselves, but when we have faith as small as a mustard seed, great things happen (Matthew 17:20).

My favorite Bible text has always been Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV).

 

Donna E. Starr is a member of the Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church in Arlington, Texas.

 

2019-10-27T16:58:01-08:00October 28th, 2019|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” October 25, 2019 Episode 343

This week in All God’s People:

Happy Sabbath from Around the World; Unity in the Pacific Union; Celebrating Diversity

Did you Know?
There are 222,741 members in the seven conferences of the Pacific Union. We have 814 churches/companies, including:

225 Hispanic or Latino churches/companies
120 Asian churches/companies
76 Black or African-American churches/ companies

Our churches are served by 632 pastors.
They represent more than 30 language groups.

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Learn more about All God’s People at: https://adventistfaith.com/blog/all-gods-people/

“The secret of unity is found in the equality of believers in Christ.”
Ellen G. White, The Review and Herald, Dec. 22, 1891

2019-10-25T19:46:08-08:00October 25th, 2019|All Gods People|

Oak and Acorn Author Lectures at Los Angeles Adventist Forum

by Faith Hoyt

The Los Angeles chapter of the Adventist Forum hosted Oak and Acorn author Gilbert Valentine on the last Sabbath of September at the Glendale City church.

Valentine, a recently retired professor of leadership and administration in the School of Education at La Sierra University, is the author of five books, with more on the way. His book, The Struggle for the Prophetic Heritage: Issues in the conflict for control of the Ellen G. White publications 1930-1939, was re-published by Oak and Acorn Publishing in 2018.

At the forum, Valentine spoke about coming across correspondence between General Conference president Charles H. Watson and William C. White, Ellen White’s son, while researching another topic. The nature of their correspondence prompted him to delve deeply into the relationship between the White Estate and the General Conference—and ultimately led him to write his book.

The book follows the events that played out between the White Estate (then located at Elmshaven, in California) and the General Conference after Ellen White’s death in 1915. According to Valentine, these events reveal how “tensions develop when roles of authority are not clearly defined.” His research follows the decisions that eventually clarify the understanding that Ellen White’s writings and inspiration belong to the church as a whole.

Valentine’s book was originally published by the Institute of Inter-disciplinary Asian and Adventist Studies at what is now Asia-Pacific International University in Thailand. The third edition of The Struggle for the Prophetic Heritage was published by Oak and Acorn Publishing, an initiative of the Ministerial Association and the Communication & Community Engagement Department of the Pacific Union Conference.

“Often we have relied on ‘travel brochure’ versions of our church history,” Valentine said. “Glossy, shiny, no one ever gets hurt. People are real people, and there have been conflicts and difficulties, but we have worked through them. The Lord has guided.”

To learn more about Valentine’s book, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Struggle-Prophetic-Heritage

 

Gilbert Valentine is the author of The Struggle for the Prophetic Heritage: Issues in the conflict for control of the Ellen G. White publications 1930-1939, reprinted by Oak and Acorn Publishing in 2018.

Photo: Faith Hoyt

2019-10-23T09:55:30-08:00October 21st, 2019|News|

Life Lessons

by Vanessa Alarcon

The day had finally arrived. The administrator I had admired since my first day as a therapist had agreed to interview me to become one of her mentees. As soon as I first met her, I knew she was what I strived to be. She had confidence and was a clear, effective communicator—which was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t have very much work experience. This was my first real job since graduating, and I was craving personal and professional growth. I was almost in disbelief that she agreed to meet with me.

I spent the 20-minute drive rehearsing the way I would greet her, the small talk I would make as we walked into her office, and how would I present my goals. I wanted to sound smart but also humble and willing to learn. I wanted her to like me so badly that my insecurities were making it hard to just be myself. I was so nervous.

I couldn’t tell you if I greeted her the way I envisioned or what kind of small talk we made. But I do remember her office. Large windows, mountain views, bookshelf full of psychology bestsellers—it was anyone’s dream office.

“Take a seat” she said as she pointed to a chair. “Tell me about yourself.”

So I did. I was nervous, but the more I spoke, the easier it became to share. I chatted about my upbringing and my journey to becoming a licensed therapist. I told her about my growing interest in the addiction field and my goals to increase my self-confidence and improve my communication. And like any good therapist she asked questions. Many good questions. So good that I was soon addressing my deepest insecurities. Then the tears came. I don’t know if this is a common experience for others, but I can start chatting on a superficial level and then, as soon as we hit key topics, I become a tearful mess and begin sharing what I really feel. We went so deep that I began discussing a topic I had no interest in addressing and had very much kept to myself—a current conflict with a co-worker.

She asked me how long it had been since I had spoken to this person. Cringing because I could foresee a negative reaction, I quietly muttered, “Seven months.” I could see her eyebrow raise with disbelief as she repeated my words, “Seven months?”

“Yeah— yes. I figured we’d just keep ignoring each other until it all went away.”

Then she began sharing her own story. I had never had someone so successful share with me so openly about their challenges. The conflicts she has had, some ways she’s managed them. Her advice to me was simple: I needed to address the situation privately, and if that didn’t work then I needed to get a third party involved.

Oh, that sounds familiar. I almost wanted to laugh at the irony that her words echoed those of Matthew 18:15-17. The Message puts it like this:

If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.

I started to feel a little silly. I was seeking out this admired stranger to give me the ultimate answers to my problems, having ignored Jesus’ counsel on how to manage conflict. Of course I needed to address the issue. I knew this. I don’t think there was anything wrong with me seeking this mentorship relationship. I had simply put too much focus and value on this person and not enough on Jesus’ teachings.

She then shared more suggestions on how to resolve the problem—things to make sure I said, things that I should avoid saying. “If you want to continue mentorship with me,” she said with a smile, “that’s your first assignment.” My face lit up. I thanked her profusely and made sure she knew how committed I was to us working together.

That was when I learned my second lesson. My pride was getting in the way of admitting my challenges in the workplace. I had kept them private because I didn’t want to share a struggle that was embarrassing to me. I didn’t want to admit I couldn’t resolve this single conflict, and it was preventing me from growing spiritually and professionally. Let’s all share with one another. Let’s seek out His Word and grow together.

 

Vanessa Alarcon is a licensed clinical social worker who focuses on addiction treatment in Denver, Colorado. She also serves as the Faith Engagement Pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado.

 

2019-10-18T16:19:33-08:00October 21st, 2019|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” October 18, 2019 Episode 342

All God’s People, Episode 342

In this week’s episode:
Maranatha to Build 200 Sheds; New EMS Station for Paradise; Fire Preparedness; October Recorder; Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Maranatha to Build 200 Sheds

Almost one year ago, the Camp Fire swept over the Paradise community, devastating more than 20,000 acres, and leaving very little unscathed. Some families and individuals who lost their homes are currently living in campers and RV’s, with no space to store their belongings. In coordination with the Northern California Conference leadership, Maranatha Volunteers International is being asked to assist the Paradise Adventist Church with a community outreach project. Maranatha volunteers will assist in constructing 200 storage sheds for members of this community, and they invite you to join them, starting November 5.
Learn how you can get involved:
https://maranatha.org/projects/tgid2936/

New EMS Base Station for Paradise

As a result of a grant from the Butte Strong Fund, Paradise will soon have increased medical transport services. Adventist Health reports that since last December there has been a 30% increase in ambulance runs for Paradise. Right now the closest ambulance service is in Magalia. The North Valley Community Foundation awarded a $49,000 grant to Adventist Health from its Butte Strong Fund. That builds on a $21,000 donation by the Adventist Health Feather River Foundation. This money helps support the funds needed for the new EMS base station.
Learn more:
https://www.actionnewsnow.com/content/news/EMS-base-station-brought-back-to-Paradise-562534891.html

Fire Prevention

Every October, Adventist Community Services takes a week to focus on fire prevention and the resources produced by the National Fire Protection Association. Numerous resources are available on the ACS website, on Ready.gov, and the NFPA website for helping families and older adults be prepared in case of a fire emergency. The links to these resources are below. And, if you’re interested, check out the Introduction to Disaster Preparedness DVD that was produced by our ACS team here in the Pacific Union Conference! It’s available through AdventSource.

https://www.ready.gov/

http://www.communityservices.org/fire-prevention-week

https://www.adventsource.org/store/adult-ministries/disaster-response/introduction-to-disaster-preparedness-37954

https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Staying-safe/Preparedness/Fire-Prevention-Week

October Recorder Highlights

The October Recorder is in your homes and is filled with articles and beautiful nature photographs on the theme of Reverence. James Ponder, a writer, editor, and photographer from Loma Linda, loves how the land and sky reveal the creativity and power of the mind of God. His photographs grace the front cover and illustrate our Portraits of Reverence this month. Be sure to check out one of our newest features—the Newsdesk section (pg 45-51). You can download the Recorder to your mobile device from the QR code located on pg. 3. Or read it online via the link below. The Recorder continues to bless and inspire our members and their families in the nearly 76,000 households it reaches each month.

https://adventistfaith.com/recorder/

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, which, according to the Center for Disease Control, is the most common cancer found in women. One of the easiest ways to promote early detection, and therefore increase the chance of a positive outcome after diagnosis, is the self-exam. Adventist Health has wonderful resources online that will help you learn the five ways for you to screen for breast cancer at home: https://www.adventisthealth.org/blog/2018/october/breast-cancer-awareness-five-ways-to-screen-for-/

There are also stories of courageous women who are surviving and thriving with breast cancer.

https://www.adventisthealth.org/blog/2019/october/surviving-and-thriving-with-breast-cancer/

And there are several practical tips on supporting your loved one with breast cancer.

https://www.adventisthealth.org/blog/2018/october/how-to-support-a-loved-one-with-breast-cancer/

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“Every human being should look to heaven with reverence and gratitude, and exclaim with amazement, ‘Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.’”

-Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, July 4, 1895

2019-10-18T11:32:31-08:00October 16th, 2019|All Gods People|

Maranatha Celebrates 50 Years of Mission Service

by Julie Z. Lee

On Sabbath morning, September 21, Don Noble stood before a crowd of more than 2, 000 people in Sacramento, California, welcoming them to the 50th anniversary celebration of Maranatha Volunteers International. Behind him, a massive globe spun on a screen, showcasing the thousands of locations where Maranatha has completed a project. In total, Maranatha has built 11, 229 structures and more than 1, 000 water wells in 88 countries. The numbers are impressive, but they weren’t the focus of the weekend.

“The story of Maranatha is a fascinating story,” said Noble, president of Maranatha. “Each one of you probably has your own. It’s a fascinating story of people; it’s a story of miracles.”

These stories were at the heart of this year’s annual convention, which focused on Maranatha’s five decades of service. Established by a small group of friends in 1969, Maranatha has grown to be an international organization that has mobilized more than 85, 000 volunteers on short-term mission trips to build churches, schools, and other urgently needed structures around the world. Many of these volunteers have returned with powerful stories of transformation, and several were highlighted during the three-day event, held September 19-21.

Among the stories was the testimony of Laurelie Hillebert, a mother from Redding, California. Hillbert lost her daughter to illness but found new meaning in the tragedy while on a family mission trip to Zambia. Dominique Garcia, a college student from Houston, Texas, shared her challenge with an eating disorder and talked about how mission trips have helped to bring healing. Jack and Neoma Wisdom, from Paradise, California, told of their narrow escape from last year’s Camp Fire, where they lost everything but found grace and gratitude in God’s mercy.

The program also featured Adventist church leaders from countries around the world, including Cuba, Kenya, Peru, and India. They shared how Maranatha’s involvement changed the landscape of the Adventist church in their countries, including an increase in membership.

“Sin and the fall have brought a lot of inequalities in the economic life, social life, political life, and even the spiritual life [of Kenyans], and Maranatha came in to fill the gaps, and we are very grateful for that,” said Samuel Makori, president of the Adventist church in eastern Kenya. “God has seen the work in Kenya change tremendously ever since Maranatha came in 2016.… We want to say, may the name of God be praised.”

Other events during the weekend included free seminars related to missions, a special anniversary dinner, and a Maranatha History Museum, which highlighted memorabilia and key moments in the organization’s history. Leading up to the convention, Maranatha also organized major renovation projects in August and September at three institutions in the Pacific Union: Pacific Union College, Rio Lindo Academy, and Leoni Meadows Christian Camp and Retreat Center. There are 24, 000 Maranatha volunteers and supporters in the Pacific Union alone—more than half of Maranatha’s current membership.

During the weekend program, Marc Woodson, Northern California Conference president, acknowledged the work Maranatha has done in the Pacific Union and around the world to further the gospel commission.

“Thank you. We are very proud of the fact that you are not only celebrating 50 years of ministry but 30 years with your home base in the Northern California Conference,” said Woodson, who has been on multiple Maranatha projects. “May God continue to bless this ministry. We recognize that’s it not really about building buildings. You all have been building lives.”

 

Main photo: More than 2, 000 people attended Maranatha Volunteers International’s annual convention, in Sacramento, California. This year, the program celebrated Maranatha’s 50th anniversary and focused on God’s leading in the mission organization.

 

Ricardo Graham, president of the Pacific Union Conference, welcomed the congregation on Sabbath morning. Graham, who has been on a couple of Maranatha mission trips, said, “I congratulate Maranatha Volunteers International, and we ask God’s richest blessings as you continue to reach the world until Jesus comes.”

 

Sixteen-year-old Shanti Slater, from Forbestown, California, spoke of her experience in Kenya on the Ultimate Workout, Maranatha’s project for teenagers. Shanti says she found God on the mission trip and was baptized. “One of the main things I learned about God is that He wants to come into everyone’s life.”

All photos by Thomas Lloyd

 

2019-10-16T16:11:20-08:00October 16th, 2019|News|

A Case of Good Intentions

by Faith Hoyt

A while back, I did something that created both a fair amount of embarrassment for me and a great many laughs for my colleagues.

Our department had planned an informal dinner at a nearby restaurant right after work. I offered two of my coworkers a ride to the restaurant, but after waiting in the parking lot for a while, I left with only one of them. I later learned that had I waited two more minutes to hear from him, my other coworker wouldn’t have missed out on the gathering.

Well, we’re a close-knit bunch, and our missing coworker was…missed. (He ended up deciding not to come.) I felt bad about my impatience, so later I asked our boss if he knew of something this coworker particularly liked—something that could help make amends for a failed rendezvous. The suggestion, which came with a grin now that I think back on it, was Malta, a soft drink made mostly in coastal Caribbean areas such as Haiti, Panama, or Puerto Rico.

I had tasted Malta several summers before, and although I remembered disliking the molasses flavor, I was eager to find this favorite beverage that would restore good will. (My coworkers are a great bunch, so actually losing their good will is hard to do.) Since we were in Los Angeles County, I figured the odds were good that I could find Malta at the local grocery store.

Fast forward to a scene on aisle 26 of said local grocery store, where a sales associate helped end a 10-minute search and tracked down one of the last cases of Malta in stock. I was thrilled. “Popular drink!” I mused as I headed to the checkout. Later, I triumphantly sought out the coworker whom I’d abandoned and held out the case of Malta as a peace offering. This was when my enthusiasm shifted to another state—we will call it “self-conscious distress.”

Here’s how the handoff of the Malta went down: I held out the container with a big grin and said nothing as I waited for the significance of the drink to register on my friend’s face. That look never came. Instead, he remarked, “OK, Malta!” and looked back at me with a confused expression. I felt myself mirror his look.

“But you like Malta!” I insisted.

“I do?” was his reply.

We stood there for a brief second. Then my coworker laughed, accepted my offering, and said a gracious thank you before returning to what he was doing—all with that expression of someone who is laughing inwardly.

Later, I learned that the name of this coworker’s favorite drink is Materva (something I haven’t tried—apparently a carbonated drink made from a popular tea in South America). For our office, however, the word Malta is engrained in our memories as the keyword for a running joke about good intentions.

I’m grateful each time this story comes up. Instead of resurrecting feelings of embarrassment, it makes me feel a strong sense of camaraderie with my coworkers. My community.

I’ve found that whether it’s the wrong drink, the wrong name in a bulletin, or even fabric swatches you’ve chosen for reupholstering pews that everyone else finds ugly, moments like these are an opportunity to stop taking life so seriously, laugh at ourselves, and—perhaps most importantly—laugh together.

 

Faith Hoyt is a communication specialist for the Pacific Union Conference. She lives in Riverside, California, and is earning an advanced degree from La Sierra University.

 

2019-10-09T14:36:17-08:00October 14th, 2019|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” October 11, 2019 Episode 341

All God’s People Episode #341

In this episode –
Church Hosts Kids Cooking Class; Spanish Churches Launch Radio Program; Adventist Health’s TakeTEN™ Lifestyle Program; Clergy Appreciation Sabbath

Chino Valley Chinese Church Hosts Kids Cooking Class
Recently, the Chino Valley Chinese Church hosted Christine Fujitani, a cooking instructor who taught morning cooking classes for children interested in making delicious food. Christine, a professor turned entrepreneur, is the owner of La Tulipe Cooking Studio. She’s passionate about helping children learn to cook a variety of quality vegetarian meals that’ll encourage them to find healthy foods they’ll love to eat. You can learn more about Christine’s unique program via the link below:
https://www.healthyinstructor.com/christine-fujitani

Spanish Churches Launch Weekly Radio Broadcast
The Hayward Spanish church and the Central California Conference’s San Jose Spanish church have combined efforts to create a weekly radio broadcast in Spanish. The one-hour program can be heard around the Bay Area—and even as far away as Visalia. In mid-September, the churches held a concert at the Hayward Spanish church to raise money for the program, and 600 people from around California attended! Listen to the radio program on KXZM, 93.7 FM: Sunday from 8-9 a.m., Monday to Friday from 4-5 a.m., and Sabbath from 5-6 a.m.
Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/mediahoraconjesuslivestream/

Adventist Health TakeTEN™ Lifestyle Program Helps Participants Live Healthier Lives
TakeTEN is a physician-led, evidence-based program that uniquely combines expert medical care with nutrition, fitness, and spirituality into your personal lifestyle prescription. The program can help with smoking cessation, weight loss, diabetes care, cardiovasular care, and more. Learn more about this 10-day program via the link below.
https://www.adventisthealthtaketen.org

Clergy Appreciation & Spirit of Prophecy Sabbath
Tomorrow, Sabbath, October 12, is Clergy Appreciation Sabbath. Why not let your pastor know how much he or she is appreciated? October 12 is also Spirit of Prophecy Sabbath—a time to focus on our special heritage and the writings of Ellen G. White. Her books include The Desire of Ages, Steps to Christ, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, and The Ministry of Healing. Read her writings online via the link below.
https://whiteestate.org

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“Nothing tends more to promote health of body and of soul than does a spirit of gratitude and praise.” -Ellen White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 251

New from the Living God’s Love Blog: Entertaining Unawares, by Edward Motschiedler
Read the blog at: https://adventistfaith.com/category/blog/living-gods-love/

2019-10-10T17:11:05-08:00October 10th, 2019|All Gods People|

Entertaining Unawares

by Edward Motschiedler

The first Sabbath in one of my new churches turned out to be memorable for two reasons. The first reason was that the head elder, a retired physician, said while introducing me, “Well, our new young pastor just came from the seminary, and I’m sure he has some new ideas he wants to try out. But we know how to run things here and don’t need to do anything different. He can spend more time at his other churches.” I thought that this man was going to give me a lot of trouble and immediately wished someone else was the elder of the church. 
 
The second memorable thing I noticed was that two elderly men were sitting in the very last row of the church while everyone else was sitting on the opposite side in the very front. When I met them after the service, I noticed that their clothes and shoes were dirty, and I was almost overwhelmed by their strong body odor. When I visited their home later, I saw empty food cans scattered around the floors and piles of dirty clothes laying on the furniture. I couldn’t understand how people could live like that. 
 
At the time I had no idea how those two observations would affect my understanding of Christian hospitality and the role of church leadership. 
 
After I had been at the church for several weeks, the elder and his wife invited my wife and me to their home for Sabbath dinner. When we arrived, I was quite surprised to see the two elderly brothers there. While the wife got dinner ready, I tried to coax the brothers into talking, with little success.
 
After the meal, the head elder left the dining room with one of the brothers. His wife then told me about the brothers and their ministry to them over the years. She said that the men were now in their eighties. The oldest brother had come back from World War I suffering from what was then called shell shock and is now called post traumatic stress disorder. Because the older brother was not able to take care of himself, his younger brother never married and devoted his life to being his caregiver. Sadly, the younger brother was now suffering from dementia, and they were barely able to take care of themselves. She said that she and her husband had been trying to help them for years.
 
“Every Sabbath morning, we pick them up at their house, and after church we bring them to our home. After the meal is finished, my husband takes one of them into the bathroom, helps him undress and get into the bathtub, washes him from head to foot, and shampoos his hair. Afterward he has a robe for him to slip into. He then sits the brother in a chair in the bathroom, kneels in front of him, and trims and cleans his fingernails and toenails. Then it’s the other brother’s turn. While the men are getting their baths, I gather up their dirty clothes and place them in a laundry basket for future washing. I then replace them with the clothes I washed from their last visit.”
 
Every Sabbath the brothers had their only hot meal of the week, their only bath of the week, and their only set of clean clothes to wear during the week, thanks to the hospitality of this wonderful couple. They did this week after week for years without anyone knowing.
 
While she was telling me the story, I was thinking that this is exactly what Jesus would have done if He had met the brothers. I could picture Jesus helping them into the bathtub, gently washing them, and then kneeling before them to clean and clip their nails. 
 
Afterwards I regretted that I had so wrongly judged the elder, and I wished I had an elder like him in every church. Afterwards I prayed that my wife and I would be able to offer that kind of loving hospitality and encourage others to do the same.
 
Oh, and by the way, the elder was right. They did know how to run the church well, and I was able to give more time to the other churches. I also learned the valuable lesson of trusting church members to use their gifts in leading the church.
 
 
Edward Motschiedler spent 19 years as a pastor, 12 as Ohio Conference President, and 8 years as Executive Secretary of the Columbia Union Conference. He and his wife, Valeetah, a retired nursing professor, live in Riverside, California, and are leaders in the senior member ministry of the Azure Hills Church.
 
2019-10-06T16:17:48-08:00October 7th, 2019|Living God's Love|