Throughout the Northern California Conference (NCC), people continue to engage their calling to ministry in a wide variety of ways.
Jeanice Warden-Washington jokingly tells her friends: “Call me Daniela.” Like Daniel in the Bible, she witnesses for God while working in the seat of government.
After beginning as a paid government intern right out of college, Warden-Washington has risen to become chief consultant for the California State Legislature, California State Assembly Committee on Higher Education. “God really orchestrated all of the steps,” she said. “I know without a shadow of a doubt I am where He called me to be.”
Through the years, she has discovered that people closely observe her actions. “There have been several situations when people came to me for prayer when we had never even had conversations about faith,” she said. “But they knew I was a Christian.”
One day, she was approached by a security screener. “I’ve been meaning to ask you this,” he said. “Are you a Christian?” After hearing her response, he replied: “I knew it! There was something about your spirit!”
As she has formed relationships, people have asked about her healthy lifestyle and her faith. One curious staff member spent lunch breaks studying the Bible with her, and he was baptized.
She encourages others not to be afraid of working in the government. “God will prepare you for what He’s calling you to do,” she said. “Even if it’s outside of our comfort zone, we need to trust Him.”
God has called Elia Thomas to challenge negative ways of thinking.
Thomas, who holds a Master of Social Work, currently serves as a clinician providing mental health services to children and families. “I could not do my work without the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” she said. “As clients are processing trauma, I’m praying. I’ve seen amazing miracles.”
Outside of work, she helps others recognize harmful thought patterns and exchange them for helpful ones. She remembers a friend who was struggling with fear. “God helped her to replace negative beliefs with His Word. I felt the power of the Holy Spirit as she was replacing the beliefs the enemy had placed in her life,” said Thomas, whose husband pastors the Concord International/San Ramon Valley district.
Thomas’s own life was by impacted after God led her to reconsider her preconceived ideas. Years after she had given up on the idea of higher education, a friend encouraged her to enroll at Pacific Union College. Thomas thought it was impossible, but then she experienced a revelation.
“When I thought I was too old, God reminded me of Moses,” she said. “When I struggled with the idea of studying in a language that was not my first, God reminded me of Daniel and his friends. When I felt like I couldn’t make it, He reminded me of Paul, who wrote: ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’”
Dan Oliver turned his love of painting into a ministry.
As Oliver was growing up, his artist father taught him to paint. “I took to watercolor, but once I got into medical school, I quit,” said Oliver, a retired physician.
He always promised himself that he would return to his art. A few years ago, he approached fellow St. Helena church member and artist David Miller, and they discussed getting people together to paint. “I thought this might be an interesting small group ministry,” said Oliver.
This was the beginning of Watercolor & Worship—a group that met weekly for worship, prayer, and painting. They were joined by church member and artist Sherrie Wimberley as well as others from the church and wider community.
The group stopped meeting for a time, but it took a new form last November. Concerned about people isolated by the pandemic, Wimberley suggested that art could help. The members began Card Connexion, a ministry of creativity and encouragement. They now meet one evening a week via Zoom to paint greeting cards and write messages inside. “I usually do tutorials for art on the cards that anybody can do,” said Oliver.
Since then, Card Connexion has mailed more than 400 hand-painted cards of encouragement. “The Holy Spirit gives gifts, as Paul says, for the edification of the body of Christ,” said Oliver. “What more beautiful way to use these skills than to facilitate communication and connection!”
Years ago, when Steve Holm first joined the Adventist church, his father-in-law gave him some advice: “Stay in service.” Holm has followed that counsel ever since.
A decade ago, he worked with others to establish the Auburn Renewal Center (ARC), a free medical clinic that is an independent ministry of the Auburn church. He now serves as its director.
Currently in its ninth year, the clinic has provided services to more than 20,000 patients, helping them with their medical, dental, vision, chiropractic, and mental health needs. “Our client base consists of those who are non-insured, under-insured, unsheltered, undocumented, or who simply find there is more month than paycheck,” said Holm.
From basic beginnings—six old donated modular buildings—the clinic has expanded to its current space of 3,500 square feet. Through the years, Holm has established relationships with the city, the county, and other area ministries. “God is in charge of this, and He has been since the very first day,” he said.
Holm is grateful for the many donations that have outfitted the clinic. “Every single piece of equipment has a story attached to it that is inspiring,” he said.
Currently, about 40 volunteers from the church and the wider faith community work at the clinic, which is open two days a week. “The ARC is not an Auburn church ministry alone,” said Holm. “It has become a community ministry supported by a vast variety of like-minded lovers of Christ.” (Find out more at www.auburnclinic.org.)
By Julie Lorenz