Proclaim the Praises!

ConferencesCentral CaliforniaProclaim the Praises!

“He who loves Christ the most will do the greatest amount of good. There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, by putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God” (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 250-251).

During the last several months, our Central California Conference (CCC) articles have been about graduations, the Soquel Virtual Camp Meeting, and saying farewell to one president and welcoming a new one. Although it may have seemed that not much else was happening, it was just not possible, because of limited space, to share other stories of what God was doing through His people.

The following few stories, out of the many that could be told, cause us to join with the Apostle Peter in declaring, “you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV; emphasis added).

Chole Hicks, fourth grader at Chowchilla Adventist School holds the trophy for her first-place finish in the Grand Finale of the CCC Spelling Bee.

A virtual spelling bee
Although a new school year has already begun, an event occurred on April 7, 2021, that was rather exciting but has not yet been reported. This event showcased the great spellers in our schools.

Jonathan Zepeda, with his third-place Grand Finale trophy, is surrounded by his classmates at San Francisco Adventist School, who also hold certificates and ribbons for participation in the CCC Spelling Bee.

Due to pandemic restrictions, the CCC education department held its first virtual spelling bee, with eight schools participating. Sandra Green, CCC associate superintendent, coordinated the event and elicited the help of education department staff and several others. This included Vicki Murray, a children’s storyteller from New Mexico. In her worship talks, she urged the children to be faithful in Bible study and do their best in all their schoolwork.

The Dinuba Junior Academy celebrated when Madeleine Sundstrom, seventh-grader, placed second in the Grand Finale of
the CCC Spelling Bee.

After individual rounds from grades three to eight were held in each school, one student became eligible in each grade level to participate in the second round. Held on Zoom and entitled the Main Event, in this round the students were categorized into three levels: grades three/four, five/six, and seven/eight. The Main Event produced three winners in each group. Officials for this round included Michael Lee as the word master and Jerry Corson, Donna Baerg-Entze, and Sandra Green as judges.

After the Main Event in the morning, the nine student finalists became eligible to participate in the Grand Finale that afternoon. Jean Buller from the education department at Pacific Union College was the word master for this finale. The judges were Amy Deming, Vicky Lauritzen, and Deloris Trujillo.

Although there were many winners throughout the event, it was the winners in the Grand Finale who really showed their abilities by spelling some very difficult words. Although it was close, Chloe Hicks, a fourth-grader from Chowchilla, became the first-place winner. Two seventh-graders, Madeleine Sundstrom from Dinuba and Jonathan Zepeda from San Francisco, came in second and third respectively.

There is no doubt that Adventist education, even in a small school, does everything it can to live up to its goals for academic excellence. Whether next spring’s spelling bee will be virtual or in-person, CCC has some amazing spellers!

Sonora VBS
Speaking of young people, here is a story of a group of them from the Discover Life church in Sonora who volunteered to hold a Vacation Bible School (VBS) this summer from July 12 to 16. Because the church was not planning to hold a VBS, the young people asked the church to reconsider and volunteered to do it all. Under the direction of Laurel Renner, ministerial intern for the summer, they quickly organized all the details for a special week for the children in the church and community. Church members rallied with snacks and donations for expenses.

The children who attended shared all the awesome songs they had learned with the church on Sabbath, July 17. They also spent the entire week on a mission project of making homeless supply bags. Each day they brought various specified supplies, which were stockpiled and then assembled on the last day. They also included a special message of God’s love that they had personally made. The bags were later passed out to the local homeless community, following pandemic guidelines.

As Nathan Renner, then pastor in Sonora, pointed out, “Our teenagers and young adults have learned to love and care for the next generation in their homes, at school, and through the church’s ministry. How grateful we can be that our church has raised a team of young people who care. Pray for them that they may remain committed to Jesus and His work throughout their lives. They aren’t just the future of the church—they are its present!”

Abigail’s music lessons

Abigail Rodela (top right) finds joy in teaching music lessons to those children who might not be able to afford them otherwise.

Another young person with a heart for ministry is Abigail Rodela, a 17-year-old member of the Taft church. This talented and accomplished pianist—already the music director of her church—has been giving music lessons to the children of families with limited income in the Taft area since she was 13. Rodela saw it as a way to share the joy she receives from music. Although the current pandemic paused the private music lessons, she continued to reach out in other ways to help migrant families in the area. As a result, the California State University, Bakersfield’s Kegley Institute of Ethics recognized Abigail for her work.

During the Wendy Wayne Ethics Awards Ceremony on March 27, 2019, she was acknowledged as an ethical leader who, “at a young age, exemplifies the traits of altruism and care through providing music lessons to low-income families and organizing health services for the homeless.” Abigail gives credit to her parents, Daniel and Sonia Rodela, for her motivation and determination to help others. Her students will tell you that she is a very good teacher.

Many volunteers helped with the distribution of the Back-to-School Health Resource Fair for the Bakersfield community on July 31, 2021.

Bakersfield community service fair
On July 31, 1,000 cars, which probably translate to about 3,000 to 4,000 people, were served at a Back-to-School Health Resource Fair for the community, arranged by Pacific Healthcare Services in the Bakersfield area. Made up of mostly retired Adventist pastors, the event is part of their monthly “Pull-up-Pick-up” Resource Fairs. Adventist Health, the Bakersfield Police Department, and other organizations helped to sponsor the event.

Bakersfield City Mayor, Karen Goh, (circled), thanked some of the student volunteers at the Bakersfield community service fair.

However, many church member volunteers and pastors in CCC Area Five, along with students from Bakersfield Adventist Academy, also made it a success. Bakersfield City Mayor Karen Goh came to thank all those who were such a blessing to the community. Expect to hear more about this ministry in the future.

The new members of the San Francisco Nuevo Pacto company at their organizational ceremony
on June 19, 2021.

New church in San Francisco
With a growth rate of 300% from 2013 to 2016, the San Francisco Latin American church decided that perhaps a new congregation needed to be started. Seeking God’s guidance, the church board, under the direction of Pastor Pablo Maldonado, created a five-year plan to do just that. Nine families were eager to start this project, which began on March 5, 2016. Facing challenges, along with some miraculous events, the new group was officially recognized as a church company on June 19, 2021, with the new name of Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo-Dia San Francisco Nuevo Pacto (San Francisco New Covenant Seventh-day Adventist Church).

Ricardo Viloria, CCC Hispanic ministries coordinator, who officiated at the company’s organization, stated, “This is an enormous victory for the glory of God. San Francisco is one of the most secular cities in all of North America. God’s mighty hand has truly led this congregation in establishing this new church company.”

Pastor Jong Keun Han (right) of the Santa Maria Korean church introduces Kyong and Jeung Kim (left to right) as new members.

A journey of faith
The journey began in the early 1980s when Jeung and Kyong Kim still lived in Korea. While Jeung was in the army, Kyong started attending a Baptist church because of her desire to become a Christian. That was put on hold when Jeung returned from the army. The Kims immigrated and started a small business in Santa Maria. With a hunger to know more about the Bible, Kyong took some Bible studies and discovered the Sabbath, but she did not have the courage to attend an Adventist church.

Thirty years later, and experiencing a number of adversities and difficulties, Kyong once again was led to think about her life. Right about that time, God guided her to the Santa Maria Korean Adventist church. A year went by and Jeung finally attended with her—just two months before the pandemic of 2020 began. This now meant online small study groups, prayer meetings, and worship services. During the 200 days of prayer meetings by the pastor, Jong Keun Han, the Kims finally dedicated their lives to Jesus. On May 1, 2021, the long journey ended when they joined the church. It was a joyful day for them and all the members. Jeung now uses his musical talents to bless the church, and he is very grateful for what God has done for him.

Tim Trujillo celebrates his finish at the Ironman 70.3, which is made up of a swim, bike ride, and run, in Santa Cruz on Sept. 12, 2021. He finished 296th out of 1,723 participants.

Run the race!
Now this is something to celebrate! Tim Trujillo, first elder at the Discover Life church in Sonora and a member of the Adventist Health and Monterey Bay Academy boards, completed the Ironman 70.3 (otherwise known as the “Half Ironman”) in 5 hours and 25 minutes on Sept. 12 in Santa Cruz. Now, that is an amazing way to spend a Sunday! That is probably why Ricardo Graham, former president of the Pacific Union, posted his response on Facebook as “Inspirational.” We all can look forward to the biblical promise: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31, NIV). (And if you have run any of these races, please let us know so we can celebrate with you.)

CCC Conference activities
In addition to the Soquel Virtual Camp Meeting in both English and Spanish, ministries in the conference have held additional events over the past few months. The several weekend prayer events in various localities, including the National Day of Prayer in Ceres, meant that God’s people have been praying for our conference. There was also a virtual African American Convocation, from Sept. 17 to 19, 2021, that richly blessed those who attended.

As this article is being submitted, the “40 Days of Listening” in each of the CCC areas are just finishing up. These are just a few of the activities by the various departments that will require a more detailed report later.

God has blessed and we can certainly “proclaim His praises” in these and so many other stories throughout the Central California Conference. Let’s continue to go onward, forward, and upward.
By Deloris Trujillo

Recent Articles

Send this to a friend
Hi, thought you might be interested in this.

Proclaim the Praises!

Copy the link below into your browser