//December

Quentina and A Christmas Carol

by Diana Fish

This time of year, when I’m with my students in the Junior Sabbath School class I teach at Holbrook Indian School (HIS), I like to ask the question, “What do you think of when you hear the name Ebenezer Scrooge?” If they know who he is, they often say, “Humbug!” “He hates Christmas.” “He is a stingy old miser!” They never seem to remember the end of the story when Scrooge is a changed man—born again, if you will.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” This is the conclusion that we all seem to forget. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol demonstrates how Ebenezer Scrooge responded to God’s love and mercy in giving him a second chance.

At HIS, we seek to help our students see themselves in the light of God’s love for them—a love that stays the same, regardless of the harmful choices they’ve made or the horrific things that have happened to them. Often, our students are weighed down with past regrets, wounds caused by people who were supposed to be looking out for their best interest, and broken hearts caused by abandonment whether by choice or because of an early death.

But there is hope! When our students open their hearts to the possibilities of a loving God who created them with a purpose, a change begins to happen. When they begin to see themselves through the eyes of our merciful Creator who truly wants what is best for them, they begin to come to life. It is a miraculous thing to witness.

No student has impacted me more than Quentina, who came to Holbrook as a fifth grader. She was a wild child—some might even say feral. Once I tried to take a group picture of the elementary class with our principal, Mr. Ojeda. She was everywhere: under the table, behind the students, jumping back and forth. I couldn’t get a good shot with her in it. Then in the last picture, there she was in all her glory: a big blur leaping right in front of Mr. Ojeda and all of the students.

She once yelled at the teacher who was trying to help her, “Just give me an F!” Trips to the principal’s office were a daily thing. However, over the four years she’s been at HIS, a transformation has taken place. She is now on the honor roll and cares very much about her grades. She loves to read. She dreams of going into law enforcement so she can help people. And recently, she was baptized. When asked why she made the decision to follow Jesus, she said it is because she wants to help her family.

Like Ebenezer Scrooge, Quentina experienced rebirth. She doesn’t fully understand what that means yet, but she is truly a new creation. “Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV). She has responded to our God of second chances.

Quentina is why we keep doing what we do at HIS. When we see her, we are filled with a renewed sense of purpose. Many of our students do not respond the way she has—it can be terribly discouraging when we see our students reject what God has to offer them. But then we remember the end of the story. In the famous last words of A Christmas Carol, “God bless Us, Every One!”

 

Diana Fish is the development director at Holbrook Indian School in Holbrook, Arizona.

2019-12-09T11:59:30-08:00December 9th, 2019|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” December 6, 2019 Episode 349

Have you discovered Pacific Sunrise? This week, we’re sharing a few favorite stories from Pacific Sunrise about local churches and members making a difference in their communities.

1. Backpacks for Christ Ministry Meets Needs in Phoenix
Learn more about this ministry:

Watch a video produced by Church Support Services about this ministry:

Read this story in Pacific Sunrise:
https://adventistfaith.activehosted.com/index.php?action=social&chash=96da2f590cd7246bbde0051047b0d6f7.225&s=8d70b4b2985452d40506e32155e29723

2. Victorville Church Gives the Gift of Shoes
Read this story in Pacific Sunrise Here
https://www.vvdailypress.com/news/20190327/victorville-seventh-day-adventist-church-donates-429-pairs-of-shoes-to-lucerne-valley-elementary-school

3. Sparks Church Hosts Summer Campout

Check out the church Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/SparksSDA/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1036108386593990&ref=page_internal

Read this story in Pacific Sunrise Here.

4. Kaneohe Church Member Dedicates Her Retirement to Service

Read this story in Pacific Sunrise:
https://adventistfaith.activehosted.com/index.php?action=social&chash=43ec517d68b6edd3015b3edc9a11367b.123&s=8d70b4b2985452d40506e32155e29723

5. Community Teams up to Feed Homeless in San Bernardino

Read this story in Pacific Sunrise:
https://adventistfaith.activehosted.com/index.php?action=social&chash=b3e3e393c77e35a4a3f3cbd1e429b5dc.199&s=8d70b4b2985452d40506e32155e29723

See photos from their outreach:

6. Young People Participate in Tongan Congregation Inauguration

Read this story in Pacific Sunrise:
https://adventistfaith.activehosted.com/index.php?action=social&chash=d2ddea18f00665ce8623e36bd4e3c7c5.115&s=8d70b4b2985452d40506e32155e29723

Check out the church group on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/199398556800473/videos/

7. Capitol City Church Partners with Community

Read this story in Pacific Sunrise:
https://adventistfaith.activehosted.com/index.php?action=social&chash=14bfa6bb14875e45bba028a21ed38046.111&s=8d70b4b2985452d40506e32155e29723

Check out the church Facebook page:

I expect!

Posted by Capitol City Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sunday, September 8, 2019

We hope you enjoyed these seven inspiring stories! If you’d like to receive Pacific Sunrise and read short stories like these each Tuesday and Thursday morning from our churches and schools, visit the link below:

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Paul writes in I Corinthians 3:8-9, “Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.” (NKJV)

2019-12-06T16:09:46-08:00December 4th, 2019|All Gods People|

For the Laughs

by Becky De Oliveira

I was baptized at the age of nine by a pastor named Ham, and people found this hilarious. “An Adventist pastor named Ham!” they’d cry, wiping the tears from their eyes. “Your baptism probably isn’t even legitimate!” “A better name would be Pastor Stripple!” Even now, in an age with a great many more sources of humor—thanks especially to the Internet—the name kills. Nowhere else in Christendom can you get quite as much mileage out of Levitical law or meat substitutes. Or, for that matter, persecution. Make a crack about the cave you will one day inhabit, or your eventual but certain death in the electric chair anywhere outside of Adventism, and you’ll get a nervous stare.

Our jokes never get threadbare either. When I lived in England and my children were small, our church offered a selection of hot drinks after the service and these included both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. Every single week offered a variation on the same riff:

“Coffee, please.”

“Righty-o. Decaf?”

“No, I need the stimulating effects of the caffeine, thanks. If you could throw in a pinch of black pepper, that would be awesome.”

Here the server would pull an exaggerated face, wag a finger, and say, “Ooo-ooh”—and

then go ahead and pour the coffee. No one actually stood in judgment—they were offering the coffee after all—but everyone felt compelled 1) to note that we were breaking ranks and 2) to make a joke of it. What does this say about Adventists? Perhaps merely that we’re the kind of people who care very much about doing the right things, that we realize we lack consensus in some cases as to what those things are and exactly how important to make them, and that in spite of our differences we do agree to coexist as a somewhat messy and often incoherent community of sorts. That in spite of our hardline rhetoric, we really do understand that people are where they are—and that some of them are young mothers who never get quite enough sleep. And I love that about being a Seventh-day Adventist.

In spite of a great mass of apparent evidence to the contrary—including the occasional church member who has gravely cautioned my husband against undue “levity” in his sermons and everyday conversation (and he’s British, so what do they expect?)—I find Adventists to be a largely humorous and self-deprecating lot. I love those t-shirts that show the classic sanctuary diagram with a caption reading “Any questions?” or the ones that say “I ❤ Haystacks.” How many jokes have I heard about bicycles or black pepper or watches or measuring the length of skirts? Our unique history and subculture are—let’s face it—pretty funny. Humor always contains an element of biting truth, and the biting truth behind our humor is the recognition that we are people earnestly trying to live a life of devotion in an imperfect and messed up world. Within the context of our deeply flawed and inconsistent selves. If we didn’t laugh, we’d cry. And we’d be of no use to anyone. By joking, we bring ourselves down to earth.

Some people find making fun of faith to be sacrilegious and assume that those who engage in it are less than committed believers, but as a long-standing practitioner of levity often accused of cynicism, I can assure you that this is anything but the case. Humor demonstrates love and acceptance. You mock that which is important to you, that which you love enough and trust enough that you know your jabs can do it no lasting damage.

Among my fondest childhood memories is caroling during the Christmas season with a multigenerational group from church—spreading good cheer on porches all over the city and soliciting donations for our community services projects. What a goofy mess we were! Few of us could sing and, as my parents often noted, those who sang the worst also sang the loudest. But we all muddled through as best we could, sang our hearts out, giggled and tripped each other, leapt over fire hydrants, and snickered off the rude rebuffs of people who called us cult members. We had a clear view of the constellation Orion, all six stanzas of Silent Night committed to memory, a good and noble purpose, a collection tin heavy with quarters, a fistful of leaflets about the Sabbath, and each other. Back at the church community hall, we sipped steaming cups of full-strength Postum, and the laughter continued well into the night.

 

Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, and graphic designer working on special projects for the Pacific Union Conference from her home in Colorado. This piece was originally published in Compass Magazine in 2015.

2019-12-01T13:43:28-08:00December 2nd, 2019|Living God's Love|