19 Jan

ACS OPENS DISASTER RELIEF WAREHOUSE IN BROOMFIELD

By Jon Roberts – Broomfield, Colorado … Responding to the wildfires that devastated Superior and Louisville, Colorado on December 30, Adventist Community Services (ACS) opened a warehouse in the old Nordstorm store in the Flatiron Crossing Mall in Broomfield, Colorado. Here, families can receive not only material goods but also mental health counseling and apply for assistance in the rebuilding process.

The State of Colorado reached out to Cathy Kissner, RMC ACS director, asking ACS to lead the state relief program and the warehouse. In one short week, Kissner and her crew of ACS volunteers from various churches around the Rocky Mountain Conference were able to oversee the setup and opening of the distribution center to the public.

On Monday, January 17, Deanne Criswell, FEMA administrator, and other federal officials toured the warehouse and met with Kissner and volunteers to thank them for their service.  Kissner stated that Criswell was very impressed with the operation and how quickly it launched.

Since opening, the center has been serving 150 individuals per day on average. Those needing assistance can browse clothing, pet supplies, hygiene products, food, toys, and other household items. Either FEMA or the Red Cross has vetted all families.

Individuals who need someone to talk to or to help them through any mental health issues that arise after loss are also available, explains Kissner. “We have licensed and credentialed mental health volunteers available through our partner Spark the Change. Eventually, we will have a private area where people can schedule visits with counselors. I am working with Mickey Mallory to schedule pastors who can spend time in the warehouse to be available for any spiritual counseling needs.”

Kissner explains that the warehouse is getting a few volunteers from the churches but is daily in need of volunteers. “Pathfinder and youth groups are welcome. Please contact me at [email protected] to schedule volunteer options.”  For volunteers over 18, please sign up and schedule volunteer hours on the Colorado Responds website https://volunteer.coloradoresponds.org/opportunity/a0C2S00003H3Sc1UAF.

She adds that volunteers will sort clothing, toys, and other donations. Some volunteers may be on the floor where families are browsing, but most will be on the second floor of the distribution center, away from the families.

Assisting the community is essential for June Spaulding, member of the Fort Collins Adventist Church.  She has been volunteering and assisting in the warehouse. “People are so emotional and thankful when we help them get and replace items that are destroyed.”

Larry Brandt, member of the Mountain View Adventist Church, views volunteering at the center as a mission. “I have a heart for missions, and this is [one].  When you give of yourself, it is better to give than to receive. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”

The response for donations has been overwhelming; however, some items not in general donation requests are in great need. “We are in need of pallets to store the unsorted and sorted donations,” Kissner commented.

Kissner explains that money is also needed. “Cash donations are ideal because there is equipment that we need to buy. An example would be if we are short on mouthwash, we can purchase ten bottles of mouthwash till we receive some donations of mouthwash.” She adds that the rent and power for the building are being supplied by the state, and donations are never used to pay any salaries. The quickest and most secure way to give is by using the Adventist Giving website, Kissner adds. On the website, choose Rocky Mountain Conference Church and select the line item: ACS DR. Also, you can mail donations to the RMC Treasury Department or place donations in the offering at your local church. Please make sure to mark all donations ACS DR.

The ACS warehouse is open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. seven days a week for the next few months. Find out more ways to help at https://www.rmcsda.org/marshall-fire-relief-and-support/

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photos by Jon Roberts

Cathy Kissner holding a sifter box for individuals to sift through the ashes to find valuables.
13 Jan

AREA CHURCHES UNITE TO ASSIST AVISTA ADVENTIST HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES

By Jon Roberts – Denver, Colorado … Days after the worst wildfire in Colorado history that destroyed close to a thousand homes and damaged many others, area churches were asking how they can best serve and show love to a community that has lost so much.

Avista Adventist Hospital reached out to three churches –Boulder, Campion, and Littleton, and asking if they would be willing to host a donation drive to assist associates with the basic hygiene items needed days after they lost everything in the Marshall fire. The donation drive, though, wasn’t a normal one with planning and several weeks to bring in items; instead, employees needed the items immediately. The turnaround time was two days, which left leaders wondering if this could be pulled off.

“Stephanie Lind, director of AdventHealth, contacted me about asking Littleton to gather supplies to assist the fire loss victims associated with Avista hospital,” explained Chris Morris, interim lead pastor at Littleton.  “This was on Sunday, January 2. She stated she needed to pick up the items Tuesday, January 4. I remember my initial thoughts being, ‘Sure, I’ll put the word out, but I don’t know that a lot of items will come in with only three days’ notice. Boy was I wrong!’”

Morris explains that the church gave generously in a very short time. “In those three days, enough items were brought in to fill a mid-size car, plus some. It was awesome seeing the immediate and compassionate response of the Littleton church family.”

A similar situation unfolded at Boulder Adventist Church.  “In the midst of tragedy, it is so heartening to be part of a group that includes Avista hospital and Boulder Adventist Church. Soon after the devastating fires that surrounded, but didn’t consume, the hospital, Suzie Sendros, wife of Isaac Sendros, CEO of Avista Hospital,  sent out a message saying they could use toiletries for the Avista employees affected by the fire—and soon!  In less than 24-hours, our members responded, bringing bag after bag of supplies. These are the kind of people whose hearts long to respond when there is a loss. Thank you, Susie, for giving us an outlet,” said Alicia Patterson, wife of Geoff Patterson, senior pastor at Boulder.

A Zoom meeting was held a week after the destructive wildfires in which pastors gathered to strategize the next steps as they continue to look for ways to assist the community.  In the meeting, Steve Hamilton, former RMC youth director, who three years ago experienced a similar situation when a wildfire destroyed his town in Paradise, California, said that the process of helping would be a long commitment, explaining that in the first two months, the community needs everyday items. Then, for the next four months, the focus needs to shift to mental health wellbeing and temporary housing. Afterward, the church needs to be prepared to help with housing and find ways to bring back what the community lost in terms of area-wide gatherings.

Churches are already planning other community outreach events. One event scheduled for the end of January is an area-wide youth outreach led by Boulder Church associate pastor Jay Murdoch.

Suzie Sendros reflected on social media on the donation drive, saying, “Thank your members. Big virtual hugs from us! You are the hands and feet of Jesus–the items spilling out of the car is unbelievable.”

To learn how to help the communities of Louisville and Superior, please visit https://www.rmcsda.org/marshall-fire-relief-and-support/

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant, photo courtesy of Littleton Adventist Church Facebook page.

13 Dec

SNOW, CLASHING CYMBALS, AND UKULELES HIGHLIGHT MHA CHRISTMAS PROGRAM

By Jon Roberts – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … Laughter, applause, a starry night atmosphere, and a snow-filled Mile High Academy gymnasium was the venue on December 9 as MHA students presented the annual Christmas music performance.  This was a special event for the community as last year’s concert was virtual due to the pandemic, and missing the fellowship that online events cannot provide.

The “Nine Lessons and Carols” program, also known traditionally as the “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols,” featured students from preschool to 12th grade.  The program told the story in nine short Bible readings of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus.  Christmas musical favorites were interspersed between the readings.

The event was assembled under MHA’s temporary music teacher Nic Davies in six weeks.  Davies is assisting MHA while the search for a full-time music teacher is underway.  Along with Elevated Music Center, a music school located in Centennial and Superior, Colorado, he worked with MHA’s different grades to create an act that was unique to each level.

Davies has enjoyed teaching the students and getting to know them over the last six weeks. “I came in blind, not knowing what instruments I’d have, what skill levels, and they all continue to surprise me every day. They’re extremely talented, and we made lemonade out of the mismatch bunch of instrument lists that we had, and it came together beautifully,” Davies said.

Adding to the atmosphere, the gym’s ceiling was lined with Christmas lights, giving the impression of being under the stars. Everyone was cheering when snow finally arrived in Denver Metro by falling from above the stage during several acts.

Various instruments were used, from bells, violins, and boom whackers; however, Davies was especially proud of one group. “My favorite part of this whole thing–I’m particularly proud of my fifth-grade ukulele ensemble. They’re excellent.”

Parents watched in awe as their children masterfully performed the musical numbers, and by the applause and smiles on their faces, it was evident parents were proud of their children’s hard work and effort.

“I’m so glad we could have a Christmas program, and my daughter did great, and I loved seeing her upfront,” remarked Brodie Phillpott, parent.

“I loved the Twelve Days of Christmas because Caleb (son) kept clashing the cymbals in Ian’s ears (Caleb’s classmate and friend). I just enjoy[ed] the enthusiasm of the night.  It was so great to be back in person and to have a music teacher at MHA.  It was a beautiful night,” Daniel Warner, parent, said.

Students also enjoyed the evening and could see that their hard work paid off.

“I enjoyed singing the most.  I practiced hard for five to six weeks,” commented fifth-grader Lily.

Rosey, a third-grader reflected on the event, “the hardest thing about practicing my song was getting the right beat. I memorized the notes but sometimes it was hard to know when to go faster or slower.”

According to Andrew Carpenter, principal, the program was a success for Mile High Academy.  “I’m super excited that we were able to come together as a Mile High family and celebrate our kids and their talents. God is good, and we’re thankful that we were able to put a program together in a short amount of time. Being able to see everybody here and our Mile High family gathered, to listen to our kids was the most enjoyable part of the evening.”

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photos courtesy of Mile High Academy Facebook page.

11 Nov

CASPER CHURCH CELEBRATES A MIRACLE

By Jon Roberts – Casper, Wyoming … “I’m sorry you will have to listen to me breathe,” commented Shayne Vincent, at the beginning of his November 6 sermon. The church responded with a very loud “Amen!” The reason for the comment was due to Vincent still being on supplemental oxygen.

For the Casper church, listening to Vincent breathe is proof of the miracle God performed. Vincent returned to the church pulpit two months after COVID visited the church. In September, the church experienced an outbreak where 30 individuals contracted the deadly disease.  Most recovered; unfortunately, one passed away, and Vincent was also on the doorstep of death for many days on a CPAP ventilator in ICU.

Vincent returned to church to share his testimony and to tell how the experience has humbled him and given him a renewed mission of ministry. Church members, community friends, and visitors came to hear and physically see the miracle God had provided for the Casper church to celebrate.

Addressing the congregation prior to Vincent telling about his walk over the last few months, Rajmund Dabrowski, RMC communication director, said, “It was important that I came to touch, figuratively speaking, something that I perceived to mean – a life change happened here, in your church.”

He added, “I expected to see a banner across the building with a message: A Miracle Happened Here. I did not encounter it. I guess I thought far too much as miracles, all too often, happen in silence.”

Members were excited to have their pastor back, even for part-time as he rebuilds his strength. Remarking on the day’s events and seeing Vincent at church, Arnie Sybrant, head elder at Casper church, said, “It was great. I knew he was going to be doing the testimony at church today. He was excited about coming, and I think the whole church was excited to see him again. You could tell everyone was happy he was there.  In a card I sent him, I told [Vincent] that I didn’t envy his health situation but envied his new experience with God.

Sharing his experience, Vincent said, “We [he and Gabriela, his wife] are so grateful to God for saving my life. I was truly on the fence between life and death. I am thankful for all the prayer and support friends, family, conference co-workers, and strangers provided.”

During his testimony, Vincent shared that while he was in ICU, God came to him and explained he would be healed, but he wouldn’t heal him overnight. Vincent said about this experience. “’I’m not going pull the punch at all.  You’re going to drink every last drop of this cup.’ I didn’t really understand why, but at that point, I was at peace that God was in charge of my destiny, not me. I said, “Okay, whatever your will is, Lord”.

He added that the experience has made him more intentional about daily conversations with Jesus. He said instead of “praying on the go,” he now takes time to have a conversation with God and thank Him every day for saving his life. “I now have been very intentional about my time with Him. It’s made all the difference in His presence. I even broke with my cliché prayers like ‘Lord, come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior today.’  I now pray, ‘Let’s talk, Lord.  I’m choosing to let you be the Lord of life today. Let’s talk.’ I want to be with Him because He is so beautiful.  He is the Living Water. Every time I open His Word, it is a firehose, not a tap.”

Vincent plans to share his testimony in the next issue of the Mountain Views, including when an angel visited him in the middle of the night when he felt the presence of the angel opening his lungs.

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photos by Rajmund Dabrowski

 

Pictured left to right: Gabriella Vincent, Shayne Vincent, Susan Vincent (Shayne’s mother)
27 Oct

OPINION: MAKING THE TOUGH AND UNPOPULAR DECISION

By Jon Roberts … This Sunday, most Americans will be taking several hours as a family to celebrate Halloween.  Many Christians will also take time to celebrate a “watered down” version of this event, like trick or treating, with no decorations in the yard.  Make no mistake Halloween, no matter how some might want to downplay it as fun, is the Devil’s holiday. From ghosts to goblins to trick or treating, this holiday makes the devil and dentists happy and joyful!

While it is important to be aware of cultural surroundings, the church also has a responsibility and a duty to protect children and youth from gatherings that may seem good-spirited fun on the surface, but deep down has alternative facts and messaging contrary to Jesus.

Before moving to Colorado, I spent the last 25 years in the South, sometimes referred to as the Bible Belt.  What shocked and saddened me was the number of churches, including some Adventist churches, that would hold Hell houses, a Christian version of a haunted house, or trunk or treat events.  Equally disappointing was the number of parents who would encourage their children to go trick or treating.  While their motives weren’t evil, what was being taught was that it is okay to tiptoe to the doorstep of darkness.

I recall one evening not too long ago when my friend Gary gave me a call to discuss Halloween.  He was torn because the church, where he was a leader, had a tradition of holding a trunk or treat event.  He stated he was against continuing the tradition, but many members kept pushing the idea.  I reminded Gary that Jesus calls us to protect our most vulnerable against the forces of evil.  Even though it was unpopular, Gary stood up for good and the church listened and canceled the long-standing tradition. He received several notes from members thanking him for standing up, for they’d had the same feelings for many years, but were afraid to speak up.

This raises the question of what to do on Halloween.  Do we sit in the dark and pretend no one is home when the doorbell rings?  Do we alienate our children who grow up to resent their childhood because they couldn’t have fun?  Absolutely not!

The answer is simple—we turn the day around into a special time that children will remember long past their childhood years.  We take advantage of the time to deepen family bonds and grow relationships.

Here are some simple ideas:

  1. Go to a pumpkin patch as a family in the afternoon and choose pumpkins to take home and make pumpkin pie, bread, or cookies together.
  2. If Halloween falls on a school day, keep the children home and plan a trip to an amusement park or a bounce house.
  3. Go to an apple orchard and pick your own apples to make homemade apple cider.
  4. Bake homemade cookies and deliver them to shut-ins or the elderly of the church.
  5. Go to a non-Halloween corn maze. They do exist.

This is just a sampling of alternative ideas to Halloween and trick or treating.  The most crucial part is making it a family day.  Take time off of work and build memories together.

Gary didn’t take the easy way out. He stood up to protect our children.  Parents, it won’t be easy to take a stand and not associate with Halloween, but your children will be better off.   Elders of the church, including members who have no children or who have grown children, stand up and give support to the parents making this difficult decision.

Our children are the now and the future of the church and they are counting on strong and courageous individuals making the tough and unpopular choices.

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photo by pexels

09 Sep

ADVENTIST FARMERS AND RANCHERS LEAD 24/7 WAY OF LIFE

By Jon Roberts – Casper, Wyoming … For many, a job is a four or five-day workweek consisting of eight to ten hours per day before going home. However, for the farmers and ranchers of Wyoming, it is a 24/7 way of life.

Tilling the soil and caring for the animals God created can often be challenging, but the benefits outweigh the difficult work. Joseph and Cynthia Pedersen, cattle ranchers, and members of the Wheatland company, see their livelihood as a sustainable way of life.

“Americans are fast losing hold of the food supply. Just seeing the Covid lockdown shows how important it is to have American agriculture and its resources readily available to us. We need to be more sustainable on a grassroots level.”

However, sustainability is only one of the reasons for this need. “Our family tries to apply a clean-eating model with simple ingredients that are locally sourced. We like to know how our beef was raised, what conditions they lived their lives in, and that they were given the best possible care along the way. This is what has led us to finish our own beef. We feel blessed to be able to offer that assurance to our buyers.”

For others, like Lee and Kimberly Ludeman, homesteaders, and members of the Wheatland company, the lifestyle is about being financially independent. “We raise chickens, dairy goats, cows, and horses, and also grow a garden and preserve our harvest. We are doing pretty well in this economy. We grow and raise most of our food, and that helps with expenses.”

The challenges are ever-present for the Ludemans and Pedersens.

For the Ludemans, it’s the long Wyoming winters. “The biggest challenge we have as homesteaders in Wyoming is providing grass and hay for our animals and keeping them warm in the winter.”  For the Pedersen’s, it is trying to maintain a ranch while also maintaining other work. “It’s not our only job, so working it all in leads to very long days and nights for the whole family.”

For some, making friends and relating to homesteaders and ranchers can seem like a daunting task, mainly when their knowledge of sustainable living is confined to walking down the aisles of Safeway or King Soopers twice a week.

Shayne Vincent, pastor of the Casper church district, explains that becoming friends and discussing religious topics is often a long-term effort, but it is worth it. “Ranchers and farmers are good people—shirt-off-their-back type of folk. Where life is more about character and how you treat people than what you believe.

For non-members, religion is one of those topics reserved only for the best of friends and sometimes family. This makes evangelism a long-term process of winning respect rather than short-term fact-based change.”

The Pedersens echo Vincent’s sentiments. “The agriculture community is uniquely aware of the blessings and provisions of God. If you take the time to get to know these people, you will find a group with a profound respect for the Lord and His ways. Then the Spirit can open doors to share the messages of the three angels, the hope and joy we have as earth wraps up its final scenes and can make you friends for eternity.”

Vincent adds, “In these parts of the country, it is mostly traditional values. Hard work and treating your neighbor right are what folks aspire to. In addition, taking care of your animals and the 4-H type activities are daily parts of life for those in and out of the city. Their love for the Bible and their practical wisdom makes our members integral and respected members of the community.”

With a demanding lifestyle, it may seem not very easy to get a full day of rest per week, but Sabbaths are more than just another never-ending workday.

“Animals are fed on the Sabbath. We eat, and they eat; the Sabbath doesn’t change that. God has provided blessings on the other six days of the week. We let things rest on Sabbath, us and our animals; thus, the very long days the rest of the week,” Pedersen’s explains.

The Ludemans also have animals to take care of on the Sabbath. “We still have to feed the animals on the Sabbath. We also have to milk the goats, but it only takes a few minutes out of the day. We do not ride our horses on the Sabbath.”

If a rancher or homesteader arrives late or misses church, be gentle with them is the Pedersens plea. “Don’t give your farming and ranching neighbors dirty looks if they come into church late. They probably had calves out. Don’t judge them if they miss a Sabbath. Maybe they had a cow or a goat in labor, or their irrigation water went out of control and was about to flood the highway. Just smile, and [be] glad they made it when they come to church or events.”

For the Petersens, the best way to do outreach is by being part of the community. “There are many agricultural organizations that we can support, get to know, and be involved with in the community — 4-H, FFA, Cattlewomen chapters, Stockgrowers.”

The Ludermans are also involved in the community. “As homesteaders, we are able to provide fresh eggs, goat and cow milk, and produce from our garden to people in our community.  We make goat milk soaps and cheese as well. We enjoy providing fresh, organic foods to our community. We are hoping to provide equine therapy for our community in the near future.”

For both families, their way of life is something they hope to pass along to future generations. “We hope our children learn to appreciate the land and resources God has provided us so that they can understand where their food comes from and how to manage those resources responsibly and to do their work for the Lord and honor Him with their labor and integrity. We hope to pass on a willingness to work hard and serve wherever God calls our children,” the Pedersens explain.

The Ludermans have the same hope, “We think that there will always be homesteaders. We would love for our children and grandchildren to learn how to homestead and provide for themselves.”

“Homesteading is a very rewarding, heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking way to live. We feel closer to God when we are in the garden or with the animals. It is a great feeling to be able to share the things that God has provided from our homestead with our community,” the Ludermans add.

The final piece of advice the Pedersen’s would like to share with their non-agricultural church members is to help them out where you can. “If you have the opportunity to lend a hand, do it. You will gain valuable skills and another perspective. Many religious talks happen in an alleyway, at a butcher table late at night, or after rounding up a loose cow. Remember to pray for them when they are absent. Guaranteed, they are lifting up prayers over whatever has kept them away. Offer to pray for and with them.”

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photos courtesy of Wheatland company Facebook page.

02 Sep

JOIN RAJMUND DABROWSKI ON HIS ADVENTIST PILGRIMAGE

By Jon Roberts – Denver, Colorado …“Everyone has a story, and this is mine,” remarked Rajmund Dabrowski, RMC communication director, on his recent Adventist Journey interview.

The North America Division selects an Adventist to tell their story every month. Sometimes it is a lay member who has had an influence in their community or an employee of the church. Then there are those who have not only dedicated their lives to spreading the good news of Jesus, but also invited others around the world to walk with them on their Adventist journey.  Dabrowski is the latter.

Recalling his journey and the opportunity it offers others to join in his story, Dabrowski is grateful to the NAD communication team, many of whom he trained, worked with, and mentored over the years. “Often, I’m being described as a mentor, a designation I don’t deserve. Anyone who crosses my path is mentoring me as well. I’m indebted to work alongside many amazing young professionals. We feed each other,” Dabrowski commented.

“I was blessed to work with Rajmund Dabrowski at the General Conference. We worked together on the first television news program for the church, Adventist Newsline. It was an exciting time as we entered new territory for the church, and despite having a small team, we were able to produce programs that I am still proud of almost twenty years later,” Dan Weber, until recently NAD communication director, said.

Dabrowski has received several compliments and comments on the cover picture and the interview.  “The photo and video are by Dan Weber, a master photographer. All I can say is – Thank you,” Dabrowski commented.

Retiring several years ago from the Seventh-day Adventist Church world headquarters where he worked as communication director, he and his wife, Grazyna, settled in Colorado. He was prepared to rest and relax from church employment.  God had other plans.

In the video, we hear about his passion for reaching out and being in the community, as well as having open conversations on how the church can continue to meet the needs of the world and the church with new techniques and methods. In RMC, Dabrowski reclaimed his fondness for editorial work by editing and producing one of the most cutting-edge magazines in the church today … Mountain Views. Some of the finest authors in the church are being invited to engage  us in conversation about what we believe and how we act. “I’m enriched by probing deeper into the present truth,” he commented.

“Ray is a genius when it comes to communicating. His worldwide experience has helped him look at things from many different angles, and he likes a fresh perspective on life! It has been an honor to work with Ray and to be able to call him a friend,” Ed Barnett, former RMC president, said.

“Ray taught us to produce programming that was of the highest professional level possible. He inspired us to create and share stories that would help people around the world understand the breadth and scope of what the church was doing. All of this was because of Ray’s impact on our team and his desire that the church he loved and worked for was well represented to the world. His influence provided a major impact on my work for the church these past 20 years,” Weber added.

Dabrowski hopes his story will encourage others to get involved in the community, show love and kindness to others, giving their all to Jesus.

“Why did I accept the invitation to share my story?  Simple. We, as Adventists, are all on a pilgrimage.  Each of us has a story that also becomes the story of others.  What binds us together is Adventism,” Dabrowski commented.

To view the Adventist Journey interview, click here.

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photo by Jon Roberts

26 Aug

TIM JONES ORDAINED AT TWIN PEAKS

By Jon Roberts – Louisville, Colorado … “It feels great. I’m happy. I’m honored and humbled that the Lord has seen fit to have this recognition bestowed upon me. I didn’t do anything to earn it. If God calls, God equips,” Tim Jones, pastor of the Twin Peaks and Longmont churches, expressed during his ordination service held recently at the Twin Peaks church.

Jones, relatively new to Adventism, but no stranger to being a pastor, grew up in the Pentecostal church.  His family life included a devoted Pentecostal mother and an abusive father. After years of abuse, his mother gathered the courage to leave the abuse and move the family from Georgia to California.

Following high school graduation, Jones joined the military and recalled how, after leaving the military, he was able to reconnect with God.  “After the army, I got a job with the telephone company. On one of my service calls, I met a Baptist minister, and as I was leaving the job, he challenged me to read the Gospel of John. God spoke to me through that gospel. I was 24 years old at the time, and I realized that I needed this loving Savior.”

Jones adds, “I went to a Pentecostal church that I knew about and walked down front and said I wanted to be saved. I asked Jesus to come into my life and take away my sins. I felt as if a physical weight was lifted from my shoulders, and the dirty, filthy person I had become was being cleansed. In front of all of those people, I cried like a baby. I felt so good inside. I was a changed man–radically changed.”

This ordination service wasn’t the first for Jones, he explains. “I graduated from college, and graduate school, was ordained into the ministry, and was actively involved in the Pentecostal/charismatic movement. In 1991, I moved to Sacramento with my family, and in 1997, as a Pentecostal minister, I went through a divorce. After three years in that dark and withdrawn place, I knew I needed help getting my life back together, or I would die in this depression.”

Jones started to reread the Bible and experienced Genesis and Exodus with a renewed focus on understanding Scripture. He read about the Sabbath and wanted to know more. Thus began a months-long journey discovering the peace Sabbath provides.

The service, held in front of Jones’ church family, also included surprise visitors. Jones’ brother asked to be picked up at the airport because he wanted to support his brother.  As Jones arrived to retrieve his brother, he was surprised to see not only his brother but all of his siblings who flew out to support him, including his sister, who is a Pentecostal minister.

Throughout the gathering, individuals who played an essential role in Jones’ ministry thanked him for his service as an Amazing Facts evangelist and recognized God’s calling on his life. One speaker expressed, “Pastor Jones, you have touched many lives, and the fruits of your labor won’t be known till heaven.

Reflecting on the ordination service, Jones stated, “It means to receive recognition from the church and its leaders that God has called me to the gospel ministry. Someone else sees the hand of God on my life and that He’s called me for the proclamation of His Word, which is probably the highest calling that I could aspire to.”

Jones added that he would like to thank “the people who nurtured me–mother, sisters, and brothers–who stood with me when times were hard and encouraged me when I was feeling discouraged. And I also want to thank the Rocky Mountain Conference leadership for recognizing that I could be a candidate for ordination.” He continued, “I appreciate every one of those men and women in leadership in the Rocky Mountain Conference. I also want to thank my churches, elders, deacons, and all the church members, who’ve been so supportive of me. And so, I’m grateful. I’m truly grateful.”

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photos by Jon Roberts

18 Aug

“HERE I AM, USE ME” IS AT THE HEART OF MINISTRY FOR JANI PUNGUS

By Jon Roberts – Arvada, Colorado … “It’s simply amazing,” Gordon Anic, lead pastor of Arvada English church, expressed enthusiastically of the public acknowledgment and ministry of his co-worker and friend Jani Pungus, pastor of the Arvada Indonesian Adventist church, who was being ordained to the Gospel Ministry.

Attendees at the special service for the Indonesian congregation included 150 in-person, with many watching online. The gathering featured recognition from two conferences and two unions.  Addressing the crowd via video from the Minahasa Conference in Indonesia, Ronald Rantung, president, congratulated Pungus and thanked the Rocky Mountain Conference for recognizing his dedication to the ministry.  Rantung’s sentiments were echoed by the East Indonesian Union Conference administration for Pungus’ work in their territory before emigrating to the United States.

Pungus recalled the journey hasn’t been easy. “My main goal when I left my country was to obtain my master’s degree in theology at Andrews University. However, reaching my goal has never been an easy journey; the reality is far beyond my expectations. But God has been good to my family and me, and being a self-supporting student has surely helped me and my wife deepen our trust and faith in God alone.”

He added, “During my time in Michigan, I was actively involved with the Indonesian community in the Berrien Springs area. From Michigan, we moved to Colorado, where since 2015, I have been serving the Indonesian group. As an ethnic group, we have been growing. We have been doing community service and outreach around the Denver metro area and holding some public crusades on different islands in Indonesia.”

Addressing Pungus and the crowd, in his final act as president of RMC, Ed Barnett challenged Pungus to listen and follow the words that Paul gave a young pastor called Timothy in 2 Timothy.  Barnett challenged Pungus to seek and find faithful leaders who will teach about the hope and good news found in Jesus and focus on the core message of Scripture—love.

“Jani is a fantastic young pastor that will go places in the church. He has great people skills, an amazing family that supports him, and a wonderful church that loves him and supports him in his ministry to not only them but the community,” Barnett expressed.

“Over the last 22 years, it has been a pleasure seeing the Indonesian community grow in RMC. I am so proud of the great work they have accomplished, and I look forward to hearing more about them in the future. I also want to give special thanks to Yoram Tumbarante, pastor of the First Denver Indonesian Adventist church; he has dedicated the last two decades of his ministry to growing the church in RMC and being a beacon of hope for the Indonesian people.”

Reflecting on the service and what it means for the Indonesian community, one attendee remarked that “It was great. The ceremony and music program were nice. This is special to the community to see Jani recognized and appreciated by the Rocky Mountain Conference.”

Accepting the ordination, Pungus stated that His mission was to listen to God and follow His leading in outreach to the community.  He ended by saying Here I am, Lord, use me! Drawing from the words of Isaiah in Isaiah 6:8, he said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Working closely with Pungus over the past few years, Miloš Tomic, assistant pastor of the Arvada English church, commented on the event. “It’s beautiful. It was wonderful seeing the aspirations of somebody who is called by God to be acknowledged by the body of Christ.”

Pungus plans to continue to advance God’s Kingdom in RMC, working closely with his wife Kendy, a partner in ministry for the last 16 years, and his three children: Sky Adrian, 15, Kyla Candy, 10, and KyLynn Cinta, 3.

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photos by Jon Roberts

Jani Pungus and his wife, Kendy
Jani Pungus speaking.
10 Aug

HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS REAL AND IT IS HAPPENING IN THE CHURCH

By Jon Roberts – Worland, Wyoming … Human trafficking is a serious issue also within Christian churches, according to Karen Fettig, founder of Beneath Our Wings ministry based in Worland, Wyoming. Fettig explains that 47% of pastors support or contribute to human trafficking by viewing pornography.

Beneath Our Wings was designed to inform, prevent and educate the public on the signs and dangers of trafficking. Fettig has a unique approach that involves using mules in her ministry.

“I felt impressed to use mules because it was something different. I had a newspaper reporter ask me if it was because they [drug and human traffickers] use mules for smuggling drugs and children. [But it’s because] mules represent the children who are innocent and get forced into partaking in a crime.”

Clergy of all genders engage in pornography according to Fettig. “Women [pastors] are looking at it too. So, it isn’t just the men, but it’s a bit more of the men who are looking at it.”

How is pornography tied to human trafficking? Fettig explains you can’t have one without the other “because most of the people who are posing for pornography are being forced. Pornography can go from pictures to videos to snuff films. Snuff films are the worst of the worst, but it’s also a billion-dollar industry.”

It affects not only girls but boys too, explains Fettig. “It is happening to boys. It’s happening to girls. There are many who are forced into posing for pictures and videos and snuff films. They are put to death in snuff films. They are also doing this to babies. Some babies are being born specifically for human trafficking.”

Fettig began discussing this issue 20 years ago but recently was called by God in 2018 to begin full-time ministry. She travels to schools, churches, meetings, and seminars to help educate the people on the dangers that social media poses for our children and how children can protect themselves from becoming a victim.

The church has not always been open to discuss or breach this topic. “We did a seminar in Worland and no one showed up. People are very resistant to this. I have done seminars in various churches on protecting children from child molesters. I’ve had church members who were very against it. God has never let up on my heart and I’ve wanted to quit so many times,” Fettig commented.

The results and effectiveness of the ministry can often be discovered in one-on-one interactions and conversations. “I had a parent call me and ask if I would send her daughter something on human trafficking. I said, ‘Why don’t I just come and talk to her?’” Fettig went on to explain that it was good she talked with the daughter because she was being groomed by a trafficker.”

To the doubters who claim that the Adventist church doesn’t have to deal with this issue because it is only a world issue, Fettig had strong words. “If there’s molestation happening, I can bet there’s trafficking happening because trafficking is about money. There are silent victims who are crying for help. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you will never help them.”

Some of the statistics tied to human trafficking are very alarming. Every 30 seconds, another person becomes a victim of human trafficking and the average age of a trafficking victim is 12 years old. One of the most sobering statistics is 300,000 underage girls are sold for sex in America per year and 15 times per day, a trafficked minor is sold for sex.

Fettig’s children support her ministry but they also fear for her safety because exposing traffickers can be very dangerous. “They worry about me being hurt doing this. One girl can make a trafficker $250,000 a year. If he’s running five to six girls, he can make a million dollars a year.” Fettig explained that this ministry helps inform and educate individuals on preventing this illicit trade which can cost the traffickers their wealthy lifestyle– the reason for her children’s concern for her safety.

Fettig is available to speak at schools, churches, or community centers.  To discover more about the ministry or to schedule her for a visit, please contact her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BOWMWY or email [email protected].

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski

1 2 3 6