14 Apr


By Samantha Nelson – Cody, Wyoming … Members of the Cody Cowboys Pathfinder Club experienced a seven-mile excursion in the wild to help them achieve the hiking honor on April 9.

The wildness journey was a seven-mile round-trip hike through the Elk Fork Canyon outside of Cody along the North Fork.

Reflecting on the day’s events, Micah, Cody Cowboys member, said, “It was long!” He was the first one back to the waiting vehicles.

The group hiked along the river and up the mountainside, enjoying the fresh, cool air and fellowship and watching for bears beginning to emerge from their winter hibernation.

Steve and Samantha Nelson, Cody district pastor, surprised the group by showing up at the starting point to celebrate their achievement and providing much-appreciated refreshments.

Anita Holdren, Cody Cowboys’ assistant director, expressed her appreciation for the Nelsons. “Thank you so much for coming up! It was a nice surprise to see you both, and the fruit was absolutely amazing!”

–Samantha Nelson is wife of Steve Nelson, pastor of Cody, Wyoming district; photos by Hardy Tyson, Loralei Jeffers, and Elaine Holdren

07 Dec


By Samantha Nelson — Cody, Wyoming … The Cody Cowboys Pathfinders have been busy building and creating their first-ever Christmas float for the annual Cody holiday parade.

The young Pathfinders wanted to find a way to help people in the community focus on Christ’s birth this holiday season, so the float, built on a trailer bed, featured the traditional manger scene with Pathfinders dressed as the characters in the story.

While some of the kids were a little nervous at first, they got into their characters as they boarded the float, which was driven by Troy Jeffers, Cody Cowboys Pathfinder leader, through downtown Cody.

“It was a cool experience getting to be a piece of the fun on the float,” Kat, Pathfinder club member, said.

Another Pathfinder, Micah, enjoyed the experience and is looking forward to next year’s event.  “It was fun, and I’d like to do it again.”

Large crowds, gathered on each side of the street, eagerly clapped for the floats and echoed the shouts of “Merry Christmas!” and “God Bless You!” with their own return shouts.

Sherry Taylor, Powell Adventist Church member, was grateful to the community for remembering the real reason for the Christmas season.

“The Cody parade started with Jesus and the manger scene by the Cody Pathfinder group, and ended with Jesus and the manger scene from another group (except for Santa at the end), but both sides of the street clapped for Jesus, not Santa. It was awesome to see and hear; Jesus is still the reason for the season in Wyoming,” she said.

As the parade neared the end of the route, the Cowboys were having fun, and they were thinking ahead to next year in hopes of building an even bigger and better float, possibly with live animals.

“The float was a great way to bring our Pathfinder group together, and it was so much fun,” Cedar Jeffers, Cody Cowboys Pathfinder Teen Leadership trainee, said.

–Samantha Nelson is the Cody Cowboys Pathfinder Club secretary/treasurer; photos by Hardy Tyson, Janet Liptrap, Kris Black, and Loralei Jeffers

Cedar Jeffers and Katarina Black working on the banner.

04 Nov


By Mickey Mallory — In the sports world, players tend to do better when someone cheers them on. Why is this the case? Because when people cheer them on, it encourages them to try harder. To illustrate this point, NBA player Joel Embid remarks, “Every time I’m on the court, every time a fan cheers for me, I just want to go out and make a play for them to cheer even more.”

Just curious, what would happen in the church if we cheered for each other like fans cheer for their favorite player? For example, suppose we made it a point to cheer for our pastor, we chose to respond with a hearty “Amen” when they preached, or we told them in person or via email/text that we appreciate them and believe God is using them. Can you imagine how that would be received? Can you imagine how it would impact their ministry? My guess is it would serve as a huge source of encouragement.

Last month, I was thrilled to hear that several churches in the Rocky Mountain Conference have been cheering their pastor on by showing them appreciation. I asked a few pastors recently to share what it meant to them to experience such appreciation.

“I was so blessed by the way my church family shared their appreciation for me this month! I could tell by the thoughtfulness and enthusiasm that they showed that they meant it from the bottom of their hearts, and it was so gratifying and encouraging to hear how they said ‘Thank you for being one of our pastors,’” Michael Taylor, associate pastor of the Campion church, said.

Godfrey Miranda, Fort Collins church lead pastor, is thankful for his members. “As our church has expressed appreciation in big and small ways the last couple of weeks, I’ve been deeply humbled. It’s awesome to realize that God truly is fulfilling His good plans and purposes, especially since the varying seasons of ministry make you wonder at times. The gestures of appreciation have also communicated a tangible sense of support, that we’re all in this together, that what the church appreciates isn’t just my ministry for them, but with them.”

Way to go, church members. That’s impressive. What you did made not only your pastor smile, but even God Himself, who called them to ministry and is their biggest cheerleader. In the final seconds of the game of life, I believe He is calling every church to join Him in cheering for their pastor and everyone who serves. The following counsel from the writer of Hebrews makes this point very clear:

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:24-25)

These are powerful words. Just think what would happen if every church followed them. Imagine what it would do to the morale. My guess is that church members would be so encouraged that they would want to accomplish even greater things for God. The church would then become a model to the sports world of the benefits of cheering for others.

–Mickey Mallory is RMC ministerial director

02 Nov


By Samantha Nelson – Cody, Wyoming … For the first time at the Cody, Wyoming church, there is an official Pathfinder club–The Cody Cowboys.

The Pathfinder group held its induction ceremony on October 30.  The club was organized with five Pathfinders and two teen leadership trainees. The Cody Cowboys includes all the children and teens that are age-eligible for Pathfinders involved.

“I’m excited to be a member of the Cody Cowboys Pathfinder club! I get to learn new skills, spend time with fellow believers my age, and strengthen my personal relationship with God,” Cowboy Pathfinder Eric expressed.

The ceremony, organized by club director Hardy Tyson, included a candle-lighting ceremony for each of the Pathfinder levels, explanations on the meaning of the law and pledge by assistant club director Anita Holdren, and a brief message by Steve Nelson, pastor of the Cody district.

Commenting on why being involved in the club is important, teen leadership trainee Cedar said, “Pathfinders is a great way to help me to keep God in the center of my life.”

After all the candles were lit and the pledge and law were recited and explained, each Pathfinder was officially welcomed into the club.

Commenting on the Cody Church Facebook post about the ceremony, Debra Barlow recalled how important a Pathfinder club is. “Being in Pathfinders kept me safe, informed, spiritually connected to Jesus, and it was lots of fun. Good luck to those kids; this world has its challenges. Hopefully, they will be the victors through Jesus!”

Currently, the Cowboys are working on a knot honor and memorizing the Pathfinder song, law, and pledge. They are looking forward to being ready for the 2024 International Camporee in Gillette, Wyoming.

–Samantha Nelson is the Cody Cowboys Pathfinder Club secretary/treasurer; photos by Loralei Jeffers and Samantha Nelson

14 Oct


RMCNews with Samantha Nelson – Cody, Wyoming … The Cody Cowboys, along with their canine mascot, Molly, are thrilled to join the 50 other Pathfinder clubs active in RMC. Gathering for the first time on October 9 under the direction of Hardy Tyson and Anita Holdren, they worked on memorizing the Pathfinder song and the pledge and law.

“It is exciting to witness the creation of the Cody Cowboys Pathfinder Club! The name is so fitting and has a nice ring to it,” Brent Learned, RMC assistant youth director, remarked on the new Pathfinder club in Cody, Wyoming.

For Steve Nelson, pastor of the Cody church, the forming of the club ensures that the foundation is laid for the future of the church. “It is amazing to see God’s leading and blessing on our new church ministry to the youth. By starting the Cody Cowboys Pathfinder Club, new leaders are being trained that will one day be leaders in our church. I am extremely grateful for the church members who have stepped in to support and join this amazing ministry work.”

Part of the initial meeting allowed the new Pathfinders to start acquiring honors beginning with the Knot honor. The newly-formed club has two teen leadership trainees–Dean and Cedar Jeffers–assisting with the logistics of the meeting.

“I look forward to the impact these Pathfinders will have as they grow in Christ and share His love with their local Cody community,” Learned expressed enthusiastically.

–RMCNews with Samantha Nelson, wife of Steve Nelson, pastor of the Cody, Wyoming district; photos supplied

15 Sep


RMCNews with Samantha Nelson – Cody, Wyoming … Creation, the Flood, and dinosaurs were at the center of two community event seminars held in Cody and Worland, Wyoming, in early September.

The event, presented by Creation Truth Foundation, an independent ministry based in Oklahoma, hosted 150 community members combined at two separate five-evening presentations. The uniqueness of the programs came from the life-size dinosaur fossils and casts set up for the presentations.

Reflecting on the planning and organizing done for the program, Samantha Nelson, spouse of Pastor Steve Nelson of the Cody district, said four words were the catalyst of the process. “’ In the beginning, God’ are the words that kept coming to my mind as Steve and I thought about possible ways to reach our community. Many Christians today believe the evolutionary lie or some amalgamated version of it, such as God started Creation, but then evolution took over.”

She added, “How can Bible-believing individuals believe these lies of the enemy of our souls? In my mind, the only way to be able to share Bible truth with others effectively was to get back to the basics and build a common foundation upon the truth of God’s Word, which tells us that, ‘in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.’”

In Worland, the middle school auditorium was transformed as dinosaurs were set up on stage.   Youth occupied the front rows, getting a better view of the dinosaurs and actively participating in the discussions. Some of them were able to assist with dismantling the dinosaurs and packing up fossils.

The event was live-streamed, giving those unable to attend in person the opportunity to experience the informative series. “I started watching the Creation Truth Foundation seminars done in Worland a couple of weeks ago. After the first one, I couldn’t stop. I watched all five seminars today! I highly recommend them,” Traci Pike, teacher at Mountain Road Christian Academy in Casper, enthusiastically expressed.

During the meetings, the guest presenters of the seminars visited SonShine Academy and met with students allowing them to look at some of the smaller fossils they brought and get answers to their questions.

Nelson recalls an interaction with a community member in Cody that made all the planning, organizing, and hard work worth it.

“One of the biggest blessings to take place was meeting a family who was searching for truth and a safe church family. God arranged this interaction. One of our Facebook ads stated the programs would start at 1:30 p.m. Saturday instead of Sunday. None of us caught the error. A little before 1:30 p.m. Saturday, a family walks in. I apologized for the error and the fact that none of us were aware of it. Then, we just started talking.”

Questions were asked, recalled Nelson, “Did we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior? Were we Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses? Were the presentations biblical? Did we believe God created everything?” the family quizzed.

“In the moments together, God knit our hearts together as only He can do. This family attended every program and promised they would see us in church, too. God led this family to see the erroneous ad and to come to meet with us privately.”

–RMCNews with Samantha Nelson, wife of Steve Nelson, pastor of the Cody district; photos by Steve and Samantha Nelson

President of Creation Truth Foundation, Matt Miles, shares the Bible history of Creation.


Attentive crowds as President of Creation Truth Foundation, Matt Miles, shares the Bible history of Creation.


The stage fully set in Worland and people beginning to arrive for the presentations.
06 Jul


By Samantha Nelson – Cody, Wyoming … During the last week of June, a group of Cody Adventist church youth walked with the dinosaurs at the Red Fleet Dinosaur Trackway and Dinosaur National Monument Park in Utah.

The trip, led by Steve Nelson, pastor of the Cody district, and his wife Samantha, was part of ongoing Bible studies and preparation for the upcoming Dinosaur/Creation seminars to be held in September. The Nelsons guided the group through discussions of Creation, the Flood and dinosaurs, a fun topic to study with youth, captivating their attention.

Impressed by visual support of the biblical narrative, Dean Jeffers, one of the participants, said, “I like the geologic formation of Split Mountain because everyone who doesn’t know or believe in God, or the Bible is confused by how the river “split” the mountain. As a believer, it shows what the Flood did instead of millions of years of a river splitting a mountain,” Dean Jeffers expressed.

Aside from hiking to the Red Fleet Dinosaur Trackway and touring the Dinosaur National Monument Quarry, where hundreds of dinosaur fossils are embedded in the rock at the top of the mountain, the group climbed the mountainside to see the ancient petroglyphs and pictographs. There, they also saw an historical cabin owned by Josie Bassett, a rancher who associated with Butch Cassidy’s “Wild Bunch.”

When asked what they enjoyed most about the adventure, another participant, Cedar Jeffers commented, “My favorite part was the bone wall at Dinosaur National Monument because it showed how the Flood affected them and how everything was just right to turn them into fossils and leave them in a jumbled mess.” She added, “Another favorite part of mine is the museum where they put into perspective how big the dinosaurs really were.”

According to many on the trip, it helped them to trust God more and establish their faith in His Word, and they enjoyed the hands-on, close-up view of the aftermath and destruction of the Flood.

–Samantha Nelson is a pastor’s wife who serves alongside her husband, Steve, in Cody Wyoming; photos supplied

15 Apr


By Samantha Nelson … Recently, I have been experiencing a decline in health due to various diseases, some autoimmune, some neurological, and some genetic. I’ve also received new diagnoses for symptoms I’ve had since childhood, which brings a sense of relief, even though the disease itself is incurable. At least there are answers.

In doing research on each of the issues I’m struggling with daily I found three commonalities among them: stroke, heart attack and sudden death. It sounds like a death sentence! Especially since I’ve already had “mini-strokes” and am experiencing heart issues.

I’m sure many readers can relate, as chronic pain, autoimmune disease, cancer, or any of a host of diseases that plague our modern society may be affecting you even as you read this. Some of these diseases can be cured; some can be treated or managed with improved diet/lifestyle or medication; and others simply progress with no known treatment or cure available. For those who are living in these realities, it may also feel like a death sentence and that can be discouraging.

But did you know that all of us are under a death sentence? That’s right! But the difference between our earthly sicknesses and this particular death sentence is twofold, because this death sentence is eternal. Oh, but there is also a cure! Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Thankfully, this text not only reminds us that we are under a death sentence because of our sins, it gives us hope! There is a treatment and a cure for this death sentence—and that cure is Jesus, our Lord and Savior!

No matter what you’re going through, the death sentence you face in this life is temporary. This world will pass away someday soon and our earthly troubles and illnesses will end also. The challenges many face daily with health, finances, marriages, etc., will all come to an end when Jesus returns. However, between now and then, we have a choice to make: will we choose Jesus and allow Him to cleanse us from sin and remove the eternal death sentence from us so we can spend eternity with Him?

That is my choice, and I pray it is yours, too.

–Samantha Nelson is a pastor’s wife who serves alongside her husband, Steve, in NW Wyoming. She is co-founder and CEO of The Hope of Survivors, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting victims of clergy sexual abuse and providing educational seminars to clergy of all faiths. She and Steve love traveling, hiking in the mountains, and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. Photo by pixabay.

08 Apr


By Samantha Nelson … Bullying—we have all heard the ugly word and, at some time, many of us have either observed it happening, been the victim of it, or perhaps even been the perpetrator of it. Bullying is an aggressive means of control and intimidation. As ugly as the word sounds though, the effects of bullying can be deadly, as studies have shown that youth who are bullied are twice as likely to commit suicide.

Remember the supposedly encouraging antidote we learned as kids? “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me”? Well, my friends, words can—and do—hurt. Sometimes they cause more harm and lasting damage than a broken bone that eventually heals. Kids can be mean. Words can affect a person for a lifetime. Sometimes bullying is because a child is just a mean child but, often, that child is a bully because they are being bullied or abused or may be experiencing some other type of emotional or physical trauma (i.e., parental divorce, homelessness, etc.). This does not excuse their behavior; however, it does provide a glimpse into some of the reasons children behave in inappropriate or even harmful or dangerous ways.

While bullying is widespread among all age groups, and looks a little different within each, none seems to be more prevalent than in our schools. Not just in public schools, but even in our Christian schools. And, yes, I’m sad to say, even in our Adventist schools.

I was not raised in a Christian home and I attended public schools from Kindergarten through 12th grade. One of my earliest recollections of bullying was when I was in 2nd grade. I had broken my leg walking my dog and had to wear a full leg cast and use crutches. One of the boys in my class thought it was funny to take my crutches away at recess so I could not get around. I was left sitting on the sidewalk, unable to return to class when the bell rang and fearful of being in trouble for being late. This ended when my friend and neighbor, a few grades higher than me, walked across the playground and reprimanded the boy and brought my crutches back to me. That was a nice thing to do and represents one way we can help stop bullying—by taking action when we see someone in need of help. It may mean informing the teacher or a parent about what is happening. It may mean being a friend to a vulnerable student.

Another instance of bullying also occurred during 2nd grade. There was another boy who constantly picked on me. He’d pull my hair, knock things out of my hands, and call me names. My teacher did nothing. I told my parents what was happening. My stepfather, bless his heart, had grown up boxing and defending himself in physical ways. He decided the answer was to teach me to punch the boy back when he hit me or bothered me. Fighting was not an appealing solution to me and, to my recollection, I never resorted to hitting the boy back. The school year ended and I don’t think I saw him again. The important lesson here is that, while defending yourself may be necessary at times, violence is generally not the answer.  

Time passed and my junior year of high school became a time of bullying in a different way. I was 16 years old, 5’7” tall and only weighed 75 pounds. The abuse I endured at home led me to become a perfectionist and anorexic in an attempt to control the only things I could in my life—my straight-A report cards and my food intake. I was starving myself to death. Because I left for school early in the morning and worked after school, I was able to avoid nearly all regular mealtimes and, therefore, actual meals.

When the popular song, “We Are the World,” was released in 1985 by USA for Africa as a charity single to combat famine in Africa, I didn’t think anything in particular about it, but some of the other students did. I woke up one morning to my alarm clock radio playing the song with a special announcement that it had been dedicated to me. I was shocked. When I walked into the school building that day, I found hand drawn posters of me as a stick figure—calling me the Ethiopian poster child—with nickels taped to them attached to the lockers and hall walls. It was embarrassing, to say the least, and made me feel ashamed of myself as a human being. Between the abuse at home and the bullying at school, I began to self-harm and plan my suicide (that story is too long for this brief article).

While these instances occurred in public schools, since becoming a school board chair of our local Adventist school, I have become acutely aware of bullying within our own supposedly “safe” schools. There are students who pick on each other, call each other names, pull hair, hit, kick, etc. It’s something that is not tolerated, thankfully, and parents are often the recipients of a discussion about their child’s inappropriate behavior toward others. We, as Christians, as Seventh-day Adventists, as adults, and as representatives of our heavenly Father on Earth, must do all we can to prevent and stop bullying when it’s taking place. A child’s life—or even an adult’s—may be at stake.

Additional Resources:




–Samantha Nelson is a pastor’s wife who serves alongside her husband, Steve, in NW Wyoming. She is co-founder and CEO of The Hope of Survivors, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting victims of clergy sexual abuse and providing educational seminars.  to clergy of all faiths. She and Steve love traveling, hiking in the mountains, and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. Photo supplied.

1.Hinduja, Sameer & Patchin, Justin. (2018). Connecting Adolescent Suicide to the Severity of Bullying and Cyberbullying. Journal of School Violence. 18. 1-14. 10.1080/15388220.2018.1492417.

22 Dec

You Shall Live and Not Die

By Samantha Nelson – Cody, Wyoming … November 1, 2020, found me sick and in pain everywhere. The pain I credited to having a little too much fun with our youth at church on Sabbath and the congestion to allergies due to our walk Sabbath afternoon. A few days later, Steve fell ill, too. This was no ordinary illness for us. I ordered a COVID-19 test and a few days later I received the results: positive.

We began our mandatory 14 days of quarantine. We ordered supplies online to be delivered. Church members, neighbors and friends dropped off groceries and soups for us. Our families are out of state so we couldn’t see them. We also missed our church families during this time, and we had no idea that time would turn into one-and-a-half months.

On Saturday night, November 14, the day before quarantine was to expire, I took Steve to the emergency department. He was very ill and his fever was 103.6 F and his oxygen levels were in the 80s.  It was a frightening time for both of us. Prior to entering the ER, we had arranged for a couple of elders from two of our churches to meet us at the hospital to anoint Steve. The doctor determined Steve had pneumonia as a complication of COVID-19 and sent us home with a prescription for antibiotics.

The next day, Steve told me he felt as though he’d “turned a corner in this illness due to the anointing service.” Although we fully believe the anointing helped and gave us peace, Steve was still quite ill and bedridden and, by Monday, his fever was 103.6 F again with low oxygen. I called the hospital to see if I could bring him in but they refused to admit him because they didn’t have enough beds. As I sat by Steve’s side, he cried, “I feel like I’m dying. There’s a dark shadow over me. I’m dying.” I told him that he was not going to die, and that was Satan’s lie to discourage us, and to believe that God will heal him.

I did not share with him that Satan had also been attacking me with the thought that I might lose my husband. Although I continually rebuked the devil and cried out to God for healing for my husband, there was a tinge of fear that death could become a reality.

Unbeknownst to both of us, however, Satan’s lies were spreading like wildfire. Months ago, I had changed my cell number and had sent the new number to all my contacts. Some either didn’t get the message or forgot to update their contacts with my new number. This is key to the rest of the story as it now unfolds, all behind the scenes and without our knowledge.

Our friends Ardis and Dick Stenbakken heard Steve was sick and sent a message to my phone. The reply they received was, “Steve died.” Ardis told me they went through such anguish and tears when they heard that news. Ardis notified RMC officers who after contacting several people, found out that Steve was still alive. This wasn’t the end though. Ardis, upon finding out the truth, sent a message back to my old number saying, “If you had a Steve who died, I’m very sorry, but if you’re messing with me, God will deal with you!”

I heard from other friends who had experienced the same thing and were very distraught over the fake news of Steve’s death—something Satan was trying to make everyone believe and even, if God would permit, to make it a reality.

God strengthened us and He provided comfort and peace. Thousands of prayers were ascending on our behalf and that gave us courage. Steve was not improving after the first round of antibiotics and we contacted an online doctor who prescribed hydroxychloroquine and a second round of antibiotics with zinc. This helped very little at this stage in Steve’s illness and the hydroxychloroquine actually made him very sick to his stomach. Then God impressed him to call a doctor friend we know. This doctor provided instructions for making antiviral teas and other things that would help.

It’s hard to admit, but it was challenging caring for Steve and taking care of the animals and everything by myself while I was still sick, too. Now, we are both feeling much better, although Steve’s recovery is taking a little longer due to the pneumonia and now very low white blood cell and granulocyte counts.

We praise God for healing and wisdom to know what to do. We thank Him for the many people praying for us.

We’d highly encourage everyone to continue to take precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19. We believe we contracted it while wearing a mask and running errands out of town. At the first sign of illness, see your doctor, start boosting your immune system (even now, before you get sick) and use natural remedies as appropriate.

God’s promise in Isaiah 59:19(b) is true, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” We are so grateful to be beyond the worst of the COVID-19 and, even though there are still some health issues to address, we have confidence that “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) You, too, may face the unknown with peace in your heart, as you trust in your Heavenly Father.

—Samantha Nelson is a pastor’s wife who loves serving alongside her husband Steve. She is also the CEO of The Hope of Survivors, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting victims of clergy sexual abuse and providing educational seminars to clergy of all faiths.