The Central California Conference (CCC) pages in the last couple of issues of the Recorder have focused on the “sacrifice of praise” (from Hebrews 13:15) of those in CCC churches, schools, and conference-wide events. Praise God that His ministry of love has been shown throughout Central’s communities! However, in each event, there have been particular individuals who seem especially called to accomplish what God asked them to do.
Frank and Connie Carpenter
When Pastor David Dean interviewed Frank and Connie Carpenter during a Clovis church service in December, it was evident that this couple has an astonishing amount of energy and a zeal for engaging with people. As Dean pointed out, “They are unapologetic and unashamed of their belief in Christ. Because their personalities are so friendly and open, it is easy to see how and why people are drawn to them.”
Throughout their 67-year marriage, serving others started with involvement in both church and civic community service activities. Living in small towns, Frank owned an electrical business and Connie had an art studio. Along with their five children, it seemed that “missionary” was part of the family’s DNA. After losing their middle son, Clayton, to an accident and wanting to honor his legacy of helping the underdog, they became involved with the RV trailer park in Friant, California.
God seemed to urge the Carpenters to get acquainted with the needs of the park’s 41 permanent residents. Not immediately comfortable with the idea, they prayed for assurance. When Robyn, a then-recent Adventist convert, asked to join them in the venture, they felt God had affirmed their decision.
It has been quite the adventure and has turned into what is now referred to as the 777 Seeds of Hope. The territory has even widened to include the homeless and others in the community along the San Joaquin River. Remarkably, God has provided for all their needs without energies spent in fundraising.
This undertaking now includes such things as the “Keep Warm Christmas” project, Thanksgiving dinners, dispensing warm clothes, food pantries, giving out Bibles, showing Christian movies on the wall of the laundry building, the “Genesis Garden” project, Sabbath services, gospel concerts, Bible studies, a monthly newsletter, animal clinics, and helping residents with needed repairs on their trailer homes.
They are continually thinking creatively about what else they can do, and they have inspired others to join with them. As Connie pointed out, “We would probably have to write a book entitled, ‘We Showed Up and God Did the Rest’ to tell all about this particular mission.” Their testimony is certainly an inspiration to all of us.
Pastor Anil Kanda
Ever since the pandemic started, Central’s young adult ministry has exploded in growth. Thousands join in for Bible studies each week, and their testimonies of changed lives are so inspiring. (Check the Calendar section in the Community & Marketplace pages for topics and times.) Their leader’s background helps us understand why he feels so passionate about serving them. Anil Kanda currently works as the CCC young adult director and has experience in pastoring and evangelism. Although he was born and raised in Orange County, Kanda’s parents emigrated from Punjabi, India, a year before his birth. He comes from Hindu and Sikh faith traditions, but he was powerfully changed when he began studying the Bible with an Adventist young adult and his family in 2000. After baptism, Kanda entered Adventist education, and he now holds two master’s degrees.
Because of Kanda’s personal experience, he knows decisions made at this critical age can have eternal consequences. He also knows these young people have the potential to do great things for the Lord. May God continue to bless as he seeks to serve this important age group.
There was a short item in last month’s Recorder about what the Fresno Central church is doing for community service. On January 29, All God’s People included a video report about those same volunteers. However, neither report told you about the leader of those weekly events.
As Pastor Daniel Gouveia will tell you, the church is fortunate to have the services of Furman Jones as the leader of its Adventist Community Service (ACS) center. “Furman Jones is a man of compassion and a man of action. He lives to serve and serves out of love,” Gouveia explained. “When he is not serving at our ACS center, he is serving at the church by preparing food for the members and making sure everyone is blessed by the gifts God has given him. When the pandemic started, his work at the ACS center was multiplied, but Furman did not complain. He knows God is the ultimate provider of all we need to share with others. It is a joy, a privilege, and an inspiration to see him at work!”
Almost 2,400 people were helped and 500,000 pounds of food were given away at the ACS center during 2020. There were 565 families served during December 2020 alone. There are also 112 people now signed up for Bible studies. Great things God has done!
January is always a busy month for Joyce Mulligan, the CCC prayer and women’s ministries director. Mulligan hit the ground running, engaging with the other prayer coordinators in the Pacific Union Conference for their virtual 10 days of prayer on Zoom and Facebook from January 6 to 15. The title, “Seeking Revival: Lord, make us one in 2021,” is a goal for which she daily hopes and prays.
She also helped organize a second event, the CCC’s women’s retreat on January 29. Hosted by the Fresno Sunnyside church, the virtual event, entitled “Word of the Woman (John 4:39),” received numerous views on YouTube. If you listen to the episode,
you will hear about a miracle that took place, allowing it to continue. Mulligan’s 10 years in the CCC have cemented her firm belief that prayers work. Every Wednesday, prayer partners meet by Zoom to support, encourage, and immerse all other ministries in prayer. She can tell you many miracle stories of prayers answered.
From her early years to the present, Mulligan has continually prayed that God would lead and guide her. Twists and turns and answered prayers over and over again led her to give up her job as director of respiratory care at a local hospital and become involved full time in prayer and women’s ministries. Her life is a testimony that God answers prayers.
Although a brief report was made about the Sonora church’s remodel last month, not much was said about the leader of that undertaking. Jim may be upset when he reads this—like so many others who live to serve, he is adamant that he does not want any recognition for what he feels God has done through a team of volunteers. However, a team always has a leader, and his team will tell you that the remodeling project of the Sonora church that is nearing completion would not have happened without his leadership, skills, and dedication.
Jim and his wife, Martha, began their life of service around the time they sent their children to Mother Lode Adventist Junior Academy in Sonora. As the story goes, Jim’s original goal was to build a castle-style home up on Big Hill. When 9/11 happened, all that changed. He was deeply impacted by the tragedy and immediately drove across country and helped with the cleanup. Since then, he has been involved in cleaning up after hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, etc. all over the United States. He has also given countless hours to renovating Monterey Bay Academy and Albion, Pacific Union College’s biological field station. No longer wanting a castle, he puts his time, money, and energy into making the world a better place. Both he and Martha desire to live a life of selfless giving.
When the pandemic hit, it became apparent that this was the time to undertake the needed repairs and updates on the Sonora church. As Pam Palmer, the church’s campus administrator, said, “This remodel on our church would have been dead in the water without Jim. He is the heart and soul of this project. He is the brain that figures out the solution if any problem arises. We are truly blessed to have him at the head of our volunteer team.”
Yes, Jim (and all those who show faith, hope, and love in what they do), all praise and honor can go to God for what He has done in your life of service. And we know it can happen for others as well. As Ellen White pointed out, “It is not the capabilities you now possess or ever will have that will give you success. It is that which the Lord can do for you.… He longs to have you reach after Him by faith. He longs to have you expect great things from Him. He longs to give you understanding in temporal as well as in spiritual matters. He can sharpen the intellect. He can give tact and skill. Put your talents into the work, ask God for wisdom, and it will be given you (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 146).
Although there are many who have put their trust in God and are undertaking some unbelievable things for Him, we only have room in this article to provide a few examples of what God can do when talents and abilities are totally in His hands. All of these people, and so many more who could be mentioned (maybe you know of one), clearly demonstrate that “there are three important things in life: Faith in God, hope for the future and Christ-like love, but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13, CW).
By Deloris Trujillo