28 Jul

Becky, Farewell!

There were many of us that knew the news will come, but when it finally came, we were shocked. And we wish it hadn’t! A designer-editor of Mountain Views, Becky De Oliveira left us on June 21, 2023, after a valiant battle with cancer.

Her contribution to 25 editions of our magazine began in the summer of 2015. Her talent to illustrate what our authors proposed invited readers to go beyond the written words. She added art, and contemporary at that, that made space meet with time, including an invitation to reflect and wonder. Her talent and creativity enhanced our spiritual journey.

It is never conclusive to describe who she was, Becky, my American sister. Hours of conversations made one discover her thoughtful, perceptive, and real approach to everydayness. Hers was a poetry of life, so needed in our real world. And we enjoyed talking about the weather as well.

If you wanted to laugh, Becky was your strong option.

Her cultural hue included Britishness as her studies took her to England. And you could easily talk with her about faith, motherhood, and weave into it a dose of dry humor. And she loved chocolate.

After our regular editorial meetings in local cafes, she started reminding me about taking a selfie with her, if I forgot to take it. Dozens of them. We miss her, but also know that we will see her again. Lord, please come soon. Meanwhile, our thoughts enshrine the family—Japhet, her husband, Joshua with Gretchen, her daughter in law, and Jonah.

—Rajmund Dabrowski, editor

26 Jul


Religion is at its best when it makes us
ask hard questions of ourselves.
It is at its worst when it deludes us into thinking
we have all the answers for everybody else.
– Archibald Macleish

“Is Adventist Hymnal the only acceptable worship music in our churches?” asked a communication director from one of the West African Adventist Conferences.

“Or, can we sing our own songs, too?” he further asked.

You should have been there and listened to the heated discussion which erupted among the younger and not so young colleagues; a few humorous comments were supplied. One of them offered a background comment: “Pastor, we are serious. And in case you wish to know, tomorrow morning you will be preaching, and it is expected that you wear your full ministerial suit. But it will be very hot!” he said with a full grin.

As I listened and had little to offer as a definitive answer, it became obvious that “newness” and “change” will have a long road to acceptance in their culture. And it wasn’t only a cultural matter. Their heated debate was summed up by one of them: “What the missionaries taught us, we shall continue to do.” On Sabbath, I sweated in one hundred degree weather.

Today, I am asking myself, what is authentic in my religious experience? Is it what I learned when I was a kid or what I practice now, knowing more and living in a contemporary world?

Frankly, neither the hymnal nor what clothes we wear is essential to our religious experience. And more. Is it what I think and believe that matters or is it what one learns from the Holy Word and puts it into practice?

A colleague of mine frequently used an absurdly religious vocabulary even when mundane topics were commented upon. At first, I thought to myself, “He must be a very pious person.” I quickly learned that he failed to convince me about his religiosity. Just because one uses an abundance of religious words and concepts does not mean that you are religious.

A known author and retreat director, Fr. Thomas Dubay, concludes that, in the context of religious life, “authenticity is reality without sham.” He adds, “The human person is authentic to the extent that he lives the truth. He conforms his mind, words, actions to what is. His mind reflects reality, his speech reflects his mind.”

In the words of Jesus: Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matt. 7:21, NIV).

In short, a Christian person keeps Jesus as the absolute example of what it means to abide in God’s truth. In a natural way, my personal authenticity as a follower of Christ contributes to the authenticity represented by the community I belong to. Adventist authenticity is reflected in who I am as its member.

Apart from the obvious Adventist practices, based on what we accept as doctrinal like any religious group, we also have a ballast of add-ons. But, depending on our cultural values and traditions, we aim to differ from others. Those differences are often kept as essential to our faith. We abstain from some stuff, and many an Adventist regard other things as salvific. You cannot be an Adventist if … [You can create your own list of do’s and don’ts that will truly exemplify you as an Adventist!]

We are authentic through our Scripture studies. We are mission minded. And, as Adventists, “you seem to have no time to lose,” as a clergyman from another denomination told me. “You are growing. We do not,” he explained.

Meanwhile, as in the blessing regularly shared at my church worship, “May Jesus bless you with courage, that you will dare to be who you are.”

Rajmund Dabrowski is editor of Mountain Views. Email him at: [email protected]

24 Apr


Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack
A crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

– Anthem, Leonard Cohen


His demeanor displayed anger as he said, “Our young people are heavily influenced by today’s culture. All those TikToks and stuff. It takes them away from the church.”

As usual, when something goes wrong, it’s the messenger that gets a black eye.

There was a day when I was learning what it meant to be in the world. It was my own church where I was growing up that made sure I heard it loudly and clearly. Years later, I thought of it as an upside-down education. There was an extreme lesson in the way a church elder made sure that girls would not be allowed inside the sanctuary in miniskirts. He stood by the door on Sabbath morning with a ruler.

As I was on my way to study in England in 1966, my own father was worried that I might walk off the Adventist “straight and narrow” road. “You are inclined to imitate those beatniks,” he often said. He asked one of the church leaders living in England, Bert B. Beach, to look after me. Obviously, I needed a chaperone.

My dad told him that I tended “to enjoy too much of that pop music,” which was partially true, and my hair was longer than what Adventist youth ought to have. “You look like one of the Beatles,” he would tell me. A few years later, I was nearly sent home from university unless I got a haircut. It was regarded as a bad influence on other students in an Adventist school, so I was told. Much, much later, Bert jokingly remarked, “You enjoyed that music, didn’t you? Today, I must admit,” he said, “their music is closer to what I imagine we will hear in heaven.”

When talking about culture, through which all of us meander, whether it is art, music, literature, or fashion, my own experience with it was an expression of who I was. My own Bible study made me realize that my religion is not expressed by the volume of religious words I use. Such words and concepts come when they are needed. Christian presence and its media content makes a difference when motivated by the values of one’s faith.

If I were to evaluate the capital of my spiritual country, it would have to be Scripture. The location of my geographical bearing is centered in the Holy Word. And Scripture is at the foundation of the culture by which I am surrounded, that I know and respect.

There was a moment that made the Scripture meaningful for me, and meaningful in ways that charted each of my todays and tomorrows.

Once upon a time, in the 1970s, I was involved with the life and work of Poland’s premier artist, Czesław Niemen. He was a composer, a singer, a painter, a poet, and a friend. I helped him with his professional activities, traveled with him, even organized a tour or two, translating into English some of his lyrics. I will dare to say, what Bob Dylan is to America, Niemen was to Poland …

Niemen’s art was serious. His was a spiritual presence for the nation—a contemporary expression of who the Poles are, coupled with a call to continue to revise our lives. He sang: “Strange is this world, a world where a man hates his fellow man …” He called for a revival where values are reclaimed. Where we move toward each other and respond to our common needs. Niemen’s faith and his religious background made him a bridge builder between the world of needs and the world of God’s compassion.

Enter a day when I decided to share with him my personal worldview, a view described by singularity of purpose as defined by my Bible. Niemen was raised in a home and community where a priest read what he chose from the Scriptures. I introduced Niemen to my Bible. I said: “Czesław, read it for yourself.”

It was a few days after I gave him a brand-new translation of the Bible that I saw him again and he said: “Why did you hide this treasure from me for so long? Are you serious about what you stand for? Listen to this.” He opened the Book of Job, chapter 29. I’ve never forgotten to go back to that passage again and again. From that day in 1979, I was given my marching orders … Niemen impacted my life by pointing to an alignment of the internalization of practicing and sharing what God says in His Word.

“Good faith Christians are rounded in Scripture and practice the art of seeing people,” words that polish my Christian attitude and put me where I am.

Our culture always gets richer when we base it on God’s Word. It takes practice to make a difference. It requires creative relevance. Consider the attitude of Apostle Paul: Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. … I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it! (I Cor 9:20-23 MSG).

Rajmund Dabrowski is editor of Mountain Views. Email him at: [email protected]

31 Jan


Let me share a dream from a long time ago. Memory takes me back. My head was bent over homework—third grade stuff or so. There I was thinking my serious, though childish, thoughts. Daydreaming a bit but it was all very serious. 

I imagined that my life would be very fast and filled with much fun. I would work, of course, but it would be the management-type stuff.

Plus, I would have a fast car. Red or black or yellow and so low, that even now I wonder how these cars manage the bumpy streets of your town.

And she by my side. I would marry her, and she would be the prettiest woman in town. Dressed in fashionable clothes. 

What else?

The house—yeah, the garden in front and back.

The church—yeah, no steeples, just an A-frame would be enough, with all sorts of good people in it.

The bank—no need to worry about it. 

Oh, yes. Those were the dreams. Full of hazy images with plenty of fashion, mystique, and soothing feelings. Later, I pondered why such a dream. I was just a kid.

Then, the soapy bubble of pretty and exciting future burst. As I later reflected, all went in different directions—some true, the rest going completely astray. Who could have anticipated it would turn out like that? After all, I had thought about probable outcomes.

Now, I am in our Colorado home. While looking through my cluttered drawer in my desk, a thought passes that, in all honesty, my place belongs just where the clutter is. Such clutter seems to be my addiction. And it dawns on me that the whole matter has little to do with nostalgia or sentiment. 

Today, my dreams connect me with reality, a reality dotted with experiences, happy moments, and occasional tears. My relationships, family ties, emotions, and desires show me that though much has changed, much more needs to change. And my understanding of what I believe and how my faith took me through life connected me far beyond my personal preference. Now, I have my thoughts and desires under the controlling power of Jesus. No change needed there.

Looking back, and pondering the present, my thoughts and life itself continue to change. My life was meant to be different from those childhood dreams. And when in church, I wish to be challenged to move always forward, but without ignoring the present concerns. Like a brief exchange I had with Michael one Sabbath years ago. I asked him, “Why have you stopped going to church with us?” His words were simple. “I would love to be treated as who I am. The Hope church has an ashtray at the entrance. There, we welcome everyone.”

As a Christian, I am fully awake and aware that though life has its turns, with Christ, I can navigate! And a healthy relationship with God means that I am focusing on him and others more than on me. For with Him, I realize that the world of childhood dreams gives in to the world of mature results. Often different, yet full of meaning.

No need to look for another leading option. No need to be stuck with only one version of religious/church life or the preferred doctrines. You know the truth. Jesus is at my life’s steering wheel!

Rajmund Dabrowski is the RMC communication director and editor of Mountain Views. Email him at: [email protected]

21 Oct

Living For the Other World

“Live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed his coming.” 2 Peter 3:11-12 NIV

I am yet to meet an Adventist Christian who doesn’t have an agenda for present-day Christianity. Often, we are ready to offer advice, and plenty of it–the church shouldn’t do this; the leadership should do that.

“When will they start listening to someone like me?” we frequently hear. We even utter it, too. And we have so much to say.

My recent journey into my personal views on what’s important for my own church led me to the observation that the celibacy of thoughts doesn’t go very far. One needs a partnership with deeds! It is precisely this that I learned by looking into the life of the early Christian church.

It’s amazing what a bit of “dusting off” of one’s spiritual journey can bring out. I discovered that without a vision for the future, my present life offers, at best, illusions of happiness. To illustrate, here are two wise comments.

C S Lewis wrote that “if you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.”

An ancient history academic from the Cracow’s Jagiellonian University, Aleksander Krawczuk, compliments Lewis and says that “in early Christianity, it was different. They were aloof, meek, humble, persecuted, disinclined, suspicious and suspected. After all, they lived in the constant expectation of the return of Christ. The present world, they thought, will cease to exist at any moment. It is utterly ridiculous to even speculate about their views on government or politics. They weren’t interested. They didn’t care. They believed that the world is about to be dead. Important for them was to prepare oneself for Christ’s coming.”

Whew! Have we Christians ever strayed sideways from the days when hope was printed on our forehead and the reason to be on this earth was to tell someone to be ready. After all, it’s the Lord who is coming back.

Maybe, rather than worrying about how the church is behaving, and how policies are applied, we ought to be living like the early church. Individually. With no apprehension. Right now. Ourselves!

Rajmund Dabrowski is RMC communication director and editor of Mountain Views. Email him at [email protected]

02 Jun


By Rajmund Dabrowski – Denver, Colorado … Following 24 years as an educator in Rocky Mountain Conference, and 18 years as a teacher, and seven as a teaching principal at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado, Sandy Hodgson is moving to a new position as RMC assistant director of education.

“As we look to the future of RMC education, we are blessed to bring Sandy Hodgson’s 24 years of experience to broaden our teacher support. As we increase our professional development opportunities and bring added resources to our small schools, I know that Sandy will be a blessing to our teachers, said Diane Harris, RMC superintendent of education.

Sandy appreciates the invitation to serve in a broader education field. Commenting for NewsNuggets, she explained that as educators, “we are compelled to see our students grow into their God-given ability to become thinking and responsible individuals, and we are challenged to help them to be who they already are.” She pointed out that creativity in education is an element that helps students remember what education brings to their young lives, and it helps them to be creative, too.

Years as a missionary abroad in Italy and Germany with her husband, Greg, have helped her illustrate her teaching, recognizing the diversity and richness of culture and history.

“We are educating kids in so many ways, but the kids are also educating us,” she said.

Among the lessons she acquired from her teaching career is resilience. She recognizes the many differences students represent in their home situations and cultures. Especially during the pandemic, the resilience of the children through difficult times was coming through. It was a learning experience for her to see that “there was an innocence lost, but there’s still a little bit of it and [what you see] is the resilience. There is still that spark of laughter, the sparkle in their eyes. You could see the smiles [even] when we wore masks all the time. You could see the smile in their eyes, and you knew there were things that had brought them joy.”

Hodgson recognizes that the pace of her work will change; she is grateful for the lessons gained in her years in the classrooms that will come with her to the new position within RMC education as she joins the department on July 1.

Harris added that “Sandy has exemplified a commitment to our CHERISH core values and has many years of experience as a teaching principal. Her creativity and experience will be an asset to all of our teachers.”

As she explained her philosophy of education, Sandy could not but refer to the core values which are enshrined in the acronym CHERISH, a foundation for education–– Christ-centered, honor, exploration, responsibility, integrity, service, and heroism all encapsulate her philosophy.

“Obviously, you want the outcomes to be the product of your mission. Don’t we want citizens that are going to take care of each other, that is going to respect and honor each other, that are going to save the planet [through] all those little things? What can they do to make this world a better place?

“Jesus is coming soon, but at the same time, we hold fast, and we keep working until then. We keep building; as RMC president Mic Thurber often emphasizes, “You keep working as though it could last lifetimes and lifetimes. We must be good stewards of the planet.”

“We must also be good stewards of our money. We must be good stewards of our mind and our body. I guess for me, even though I want Jesus to come soon, and I want us to all go to heaven if it lasts another generation and another generation, we need to be prepared to take care of this earth and the people that are on it,” she explained.

Rajmund Dabrowski is RMC communication director and the editor of NewsNuggets. Photo by Rajmund Dabrowski

01 Jun


What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether. They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.

— NT Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

We were having lunch near the Washington National Cathedral. There were three or four of us–two high-level clergy of another Christian denomination, and two Seventh-day Adventist Christians. As we concluded a conversation on ways to cooperate in international aid and development and how we could work jointly in combating poverty, it was time to plan a timeline for our efforts.

Deciding on who would research what, one of the bishops asked, “So, shall we meet and report our findings in three months?”

“Did you actually mean three weeks?” I asked.

Turning to his colleague, the bishop commented, “Look, let’s remember that we are meeting with Seventh-day Adventists. They are a missionary church. We can learn from them. That’s why they continue to grow, and we are standing still. They have no time to lose.”

It is always better to be told by others than to brag about our own success. Their reaction reminded me of a comment by a Vanderbilt University professor, Paul K. Conkin in his book American Originals: Homemade Varieties of Christianity: “It is worth noting that no other American-based denomination have ever attempted to transform itself so fully into a worldwide fellowship.” (p. 144).

Reflecting on my Adventist journey for several decades, I must not overlook the essence of our church witness. It was usually called “evangelism,” but mostly “witnessing” to … other Christians.

It was perhaps 60+ years ago when this experience happened that stands out in my memory. My father held a series of evangelistic meetings about a premier Adventist topic: “The Last Day Events.” A woman came to our door (the meetings were held in a church, and we lived on the second floor of the same church building) and as it appeared, she had responded to an invitation to have a Bible study.

My father ushered her into our living-room, and I eavesdropped from a bedroom next door. I will never forget how the conversation went between our guest and my father.

“What brought you to our meetings? Were you invited by someone?” he asked.

“I heard about your church. I was searching for a church that would teach what I also believe. You Adventists resent Catholics. I do, too,” she answered.

That’s what she said. Her comment was rough, but genuine. Obviously, she spoke about a perception many people have developed about our church, a reputation assigned to a Protestant faith community in a Catholic country. Whether she was right or not, my own perception developed along similar lines. For many, an evangelist’s concentration mostly on teachings and practices of Catholicism would contribute to it all.

I grew up in such an evangelistic atmosphere. Over the decades, I also learned what Ellen G. White wrote: “There are many who need our sympathy and advice, but not that advice which implies superiority in the giver and inferiority in the receiver.” (Testimonies, vol 3, p. 534) When you say that you have the truth, they hear that you are better than they are.

She also said, “There are many among the Catholics who live up to the light they have far better than many who claim to believe present truth, and God will just as surely test and prove them as He has tested and proved us.” (Evangelism, p. 144)

And since my youth, I have learned even more. Our Christian call is to share Him who sends us into the world with the Gospel of Good News. Just as the Twelve, whom He sent into the world, we are to preach and teach the world about Jesus. Jesus alone. And the church will grow. Until He returns.

 Rajmund Dabrowski is the editor of Mountain Views and RMC communication director. Email him at [email protected]


19 Apr


By Sandi Adcox with Rajmund Dabrowski – Grand Junction, Colorado … Elevate Kids (EK), a non-profit organization whose motto is “Helping Kids One Step at a Time,” was created by a couple of members of the Grand Junction Seventh-day Adventist Church. Doug McCaw II, board chairman of Intermountain Adventist Academy (IAA), and his wife, Melinda, are dedicated to raising money to benefit children, specifically, IAA (which is expanding to grades 9 and 10 next school year) and Kids Aid. This backpack-for-kids program feeds hungry children.

On Sunday, April 10, the McCaws hosted the first annual Elevate Kids Fun Run for the community, with proceeds going to IAA and Kids Aid. The event, which included 2.5K, 5K, and 10K routes, was a huge success, with 255 registrants, dozens of volunteers from the church and community, and many sponsors. Registrants received Elevate Kids T-shirts, swag bags, professional timing, online photographs, awards for all finishers, and special awards for each category and overall winners. The EK team is already planning a Second Fun Run for April 2023.

Naturally, the event had a special significance for Joel Reyes, principal of IAA, who volunteered at the run. For him, Elevate Kids Fun Run meant that “the community [was brought] together for an event like this, and the name of the school was associated with this.”

“It also meant support. I have a very supportive board chair this time, and this was very much his idea. The purpose of this is to start a junior academy in the Western Slope. That’s what we are fundraising and running and working for,” Joel added.

Representing Kids Aid was Tessa Kaiser, executive director. “The run shows the community support for Kids Aid. Doug and Melinda wanted to do something to challenge themselves and make it about more than just themselves. They put this together to support Kids Aid and their child’s school,” she commented.

“We are really grateful for that. And it really shows how much the community understands the need [to address] childhood hunger,” she added.

The Fun Run was not the first fundraiser the McCaws have organized. In July 2020, the McCaws ran the entire Colorado Trail (490 miles from Durango to Denver) in 18 days.  A documentary movie, “Chasing the Sky,” was created and seen by hundreds of people in local theaters. Proceeds from the film were split between IAA and Kids Aid.

In July 2022, the couple plans to rerun the Colorado Trail, attempting to break the fastest known time.  Another documentary of the run will be created, which will be shown in theaters, with proceeds going to IAA and Kids Aid.

“Helping the kids in our community is why we work so hard to raise funds and awareness for the kids in the Grand Valley. We want to give everyone in the community an opportunity to support the kids through our events,” Doug and Melinda said.

Dana Ñkaña is a member of the Grand Junction Adventist Church. For him, joining the run is supporting children’s education. “You know, we have two children, and I’m always looking for ways to where our children can be better than us,” he explained.

“I grew up in Africa [and] there was nothing like this to help us when I was a kid. And so, with the opportunities that I have being here in this country, I feel that I am basically able to help other people to get to where they want to be,” he shared.

After completing his 10K run, Dana put his award around the neck of David Klemm. A medical condition put David into a wheelchair. “I did this because David is a very good friend and I know his heart and his heart is with children. I know he currently volunteers to help children read. If he were able to be on two feet like I am, he would have been running,” Dana explained.

“And so, I run, and I gave him my award.”

If you are interested in supporting Elevate Kids and learning more about the organization or receiving updates on future events, sign up at elevatekids.org.

–Sandi Adcox is Grand Junction Adventist Church team member with Elevate Kids Run; Rajmund Dabrowski is editor of NewsNuggets. Photos by Rajmund Dabrowski and supplied





NewsNuggets: What does this event mean to you?

Doug McCaw: It means many different things and it is fun also.  First, [it gives us the opportunity] to help the school [Intermountain Adventist Academy] and Kids Aid. But also, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to help the community, and also help grow Adventist education.

NN: What motivated you to do this event?

DMC: My wife and I have done the Colorado trail several different times. Um, actually three times, four times now. She was in a networking meeting and the guy was talking about not letting your butt get in the way of achieving your goals. After he said it several times, she made a decision. She came and told me, “Hey, I’d like to try to run the entire trail. Do you want to run this? And I said, “Sure, let’s do it.” We went out and started training and getting ready. And one of the things in our hearts was helping Intermountain Adventist Academy expand and grow. We’d like to see it have a 9th and 10th-grade program. And so, we said, “Hey, let’s, raise some money around that.”

NN:  Did you expect this event to have such an impact and participation?

Melinda McCaw: I expected that for this event. Doug and I thought we wanted to go big and so we set the goal of 200 to 300 people [to participate]. It was hard, at the beginning, to trust God that that was going to happen, but He definitely came through. At first, when we started, it was just the goal that we set.

We wanted to run the Colorado Trail because we biked it and ran it. Then I had the idea that I’d like to support the school and help them. We’re already running it. Why not make it about something bigger than us?

NN: What does the success of this event give you?

MCC: It makes me excited for the future. This project has grown way bigger than I ever expected it to. When we started out doing the run, we’re like, “We’ll just send out a letter campaign to friends and family and we’ll raise some money, and then we’ll be done.”

It turned out way bigger than that. If you could raise $20,000 or $25,000 in donations, just from that run. And then we made the movie and made money off of the showings. Our accountant said this is getting big enough. You need to make it a non-profit. We filed for that and we just got non-profit status two weeks ago. That was amazing and it was a God thing, too, because it [was granted] in three months.

NN: And you linked it with Kid’s Aid?

MMC: Originally, we were going to just support the school and then, when we hired our videographer, he asked if we could find something bigger, and [perhaps] national that would draw more attention to the cause. We started looking around and we didn’t find anything that really touched our hearts nationally. And then we asked our coach that we were trying to find something else to support. He used to be a teacher in public schools, so he told us about the backpack program.

He told us a story about one child. It was a Wednesday or Thursday and the kids would get the bags on Friday. If you’re not at school, you don’t get a bag. And this kid got sick and was super distraught and upset because he knew if he wasn’t back at school on Friday, he wasn’t eating that weekend. That’s how we found Kids Aid program and the story really touched our hearts. That’s how we decided we wanted to raise money for them.

NN: How do you find the church supporting these causes?

Doug McCaw: The church does a wonderful job with the community service center. And there are a lot of different [service] organizations by churches. But I don’t know of a church organization that does exactly what Kids Aid does.

31 Mar


By Rajmund Dabrowski – Boulder, Colorado … It was the first week of March and the war was well underway on the Eastern and Northern fronts of Ukraine. A car, which started its 365-kilometer (226 miles) drive from the outskirts of Zhytomyr to the border with Poland, carried seven refugees.

Two families with five children squeezed into a vehicle with three of the children in the trunk of Peugeot 508. The memory of flying missiles and the sound of explosions at the Zhytomyr military airport near their home were soon just a painfully etched memory. Hope drove them to safety.

Olga Charucka and her husband Waldemar Kutrzeba were awaiting them on the Polish side of the border, ready to welcome them to safety—the five kids, the mother, and a grandmother.

The night before, all seven of them slept in the basement of their house a short distance from the airport destroyed by cruise missiles and bombs dropped from Russian planes. A wall was cracked in their home from an explosion, and a portion of the ceiling had fallen.

After arriving in Poland, four-year-old Zlata, hearing the siren of an ambulance or police car, would run to Olga. Clinging to her, she cried, “We must hide.”


Olga and Waldemar live in the home of my parents near Warsaw. They were caregivers to my father and mother before they passed away. Their spacious home welcomed all seven of them. Kutrzebas are members of the nearby Adventist Theological College Church in Podkowa Leśna, which these days is serving as a shelter housing two-dozen refugees. Their church is one of many throughout Poland serving as shelters, among them Warsaw, Łódź, and Lublin. A congregation in Warsaw alone has accommodated and fed 400 refugees.

I welcomed the idea of having refugees in my parents’ home. Though far away, a plan of action was formulated during recent weeks to find support for several of our brothers and sisters in Poland engaged in helping thousands of refugees. Requests for help soon turned into questions from different parts of the Rocky Mountain Conference: How can we help? Members of Casper and Wheatland churches in Wyoming were engaged in fundraising for refugees in Romania (see https://www.rmcsda.org/a-simple-gift-inspires-others-to-give/).

From Bernie Hartnell of the Grand Junction church comes the comment, “God has blessed us in so many ways here in Colorado and the wider United States. However, Marti and I have been impressed by the Holy Spirit, to do something about the refugees flooding out of Ukraine into neighboring countries.”

He continues, “We felt time was critical to help support our Adventist brothers and sisters, who have opened their homes, churches, and schools in this crisis! So we, along with others in our Grand Junction church, have made it happen by giving either directly to our churches in Poland or through ADRA’s Ukrainian refugee fund.

“I would like to emphasize the inspiration to not sit on our hands in cozy America but listen to the Spirit’s bidding. From the ‘widow’s mite’ to the amounts that the Lord impresses, this effort, you can be assured, will go to its intended worthy purpose!” he added.

“How can one watch the news on the Ukraine crisis and not be moved to do something,” wondered Gordy Gates from Boulder. “And then to learn how the Polish people are opening their homes to the refugees led me to talk with you [Rajmund Dabrowski] to see how we might be able to get involved.”

Learning that my family’s home was part of this refugee relief, Gordy commented that he “knew he had found the way to get involved where every dollar given made it to the Ukrainian people, and [he is thankful] for being given the opportunity to help.”

Shawn Nowlan, a member of the Contemporary Issues Sabbath School Class at the Boulder church where I attend, asked how to get involved.

“Our Sabbath School wondered [how we could help] Ukraine [since] the problem is so big and beyond our control. What can we do (as suggested in the Epistle of James) to help those Ukrainians in need to go in peace, keep warm and eat their fill?  Organizations like ADRA have wonderful, specialized skills. What do we have?”

He continued, “This is when we heard about Adventist congregations in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Romania who were turning their buildings into refugee centers to house the refugees streaming out of Ukraine. Maybe we could support those congregations directly so that ADRA’s resources would be free to use in the war zone itself?” Nowlan wondered.

“We could help those Eastern European congregations directly by feeding them, clothing them, and keeping them safe. We have the contacts. We can use them. And that is what we are intending to do,” he added.


Last week, I asked the kids if they would draw their experiences. Wiktoria is 15 years old and the oldest child of the Zhytomyr family. She sent her drawing full of war images and symbols of her country. When asked about the memories of the day she left her home, she said, “I remember fear. The biggest difficulty was choosing if my mother should join us or stay with dad as his support as he had to stay in Ukraine. The children decided that she would stay and be of help to my father.” The fathers are a part of the Territorial Defense Army in their region.

Zlata’s drawing was poignant, illustrating the distressing emotions of her experience in and what was being shown on TV. For her, memories were symbols of falling rain. She remembers the falling bullets and missiles.

Reports from the frontiers of the neighboring countries with Ukraine–Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland–describe the Adventist Church being present by setting up welcoming centers with ADRA* representatives and volunteers offering food, clothing, and medical assistance. Local church volunteers provide transportation, accommodation, and meals. More than three million refugees have left Ukraine, the majority of them finding refuge in Poland.

In Poland, and elsewhere, human solidarity is at work.

–Rajmund Dabrowski is editor of NewsNuggets; photos supplied *For donations contact www.adra.pl


28 Mar


By Rajmund Dabrowski … As I watched David Bowie in a commercial advertising Audi in the Spring of 2004, what struck me as important was its simple tagline. The ad issued a call to Never Follow.

Honestly, what it communicated to me was the opposite of what I learned from Jesus’ call to His followers: Follow me.

The marketing campaign tried to position the European car-maker as a product that many were to follow. Some did, more so in Europe than in America. Three years later, the company ditched the slogan. “You have to be bold to be noticed in America—certainly bolder and more aggressive than we’ve been,” they said. Well …

On the surface, this slogan does not connect with Matthew, Zacchaeus, and many others from Jesus’ entourage, if I may be so irreverent, except that all of them had to fail first, forsake their ego, and fly into the hands of … wonder.

David Bowie’s involvement in the Audi ad made sense to me. Never follow the crowd! His words, spoken in a video he shot: “There is no progress without failure. And each failure is a lesson learned. Unnecessary failures are the ones where an artist tries to second guess an audience’s taste, and little comes out of that situation except a kind of inward humiliation.”

That’s a lesson from our contemporary culture. For me, there was another lesson, one all of us had to learn and many continue to learn throughout their lives.

In the mid-1980s, a straw vote was requested by the General Conference on allowing the ordination of women. An upcoming world church session was potentially including it on its agenda. I recall voting at the Polish Union Executive Committee. I know how I voted.

We know the history of the ordination of women drama experienced by the church. Years later, I visited my dad, then a church leader in Poland, and I asked him if he remembered the outcome of this straw vote. He remembered the vote and that there was one Yes vote. After a short silence on my part, he looked at me and said, “You have always been a maverick.”

What an affirmation. I responded with a smile!

Nonconformity and free expression were and continue to be a part of my daily breakfast, so to speak. Apart from my own thought processes, as an Adventist Christian, I learned from the best: the pioneers of the Advent movement.

One of them stands out for me—Michael Belina Czechowski, a compatriot and pioneer missionary leader in Adventism. Before embracing Adventism in 1857, this Franciscan reformer-father was heavily engaged in social and political activities which swept Europe in the 1840s. He wanted his then church to change but became disenchanted with Catholicism.

After arriving in America in 1851, he engaged in sharing what he learned about the Second Coming of Jesus among the immigrants mainly in New England. At first, he was supported by other Adventist pioneers, as well as by the sales of his fascinating autobiography, Thrilling and Instructive Developments: An Experience of fifteen years as Roman Catholic Clergyman and Priest but there was an itch to return to Europe and preach there.

His church was not ready to support a foreign mission, but funding was offered to him by the first-day Evangelical Adventists from Boston. He was an example of climbing through the window if a door was closed. In several countries of Europe, Czechowski preached the message of the Sabbath and the Second Coming of Jesus and established numerous congregations in Switzerland, Italy, France, Hungary, and Romania.

In 1871 the church confirmed the missionary accomplishments of Maverick Czechowski. “We deem it duty to acknowledge the hand of God in planting the truth in Switzerland,” the record states.

It often takes a maverick to foster change and ignite progress. Mavericks of Adventism. What a privilege to join them. We have a job to do!

–Rajmund Dabrowski is editor of Mountain Views and RMC communication director. Email him at: [email protected]

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