11 Mar

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS EMBARK ON A SNOW SPORTS EXPERIENCE

Pedro Vieira – Granby, Colorado … Campion Academy’s international students had a winter retreat at the YMCA of the Rockies in Granby, Colorado, to experience snow sports and some of the activities that they are not used to in their home countries.

As soon as they arrived, the students went to the snow tubing area and enjoyed sliding down the hill. Eriane Saraiva, Campion Academy senior, shared, “It was an amazing and new experience for me. It was very hard going up and down holding my tube, but I think my favorite part was snow tubing with all the Brazilians. I felt really happy at that moment.”

For Sabbath, they started with a worship time with Jill Harlow, Campion Academy international club sponsor, sharing a message about how snow represents purity and the brightness of God in the Bible.

After worship, they went snowshoeing in the surrounding mountains, where they took a lot of pictures and got to enjoy the cold but sunny weather. Yngrid Silva, Campion Academy junior, commented, “I loved the view of the park when we went snowshoeing. I was very cold and tired of using the snowshoes, but it was good to experience the hike and take a lot of pictures with my friends.”

The students practiced ice skating and had the chance to go snow tubing again Saturday afternoon. In the evening, they enjoyed playing sports and roller skating in the YMCA gym.

To finish the weekend on Sunday, the students went skiing and snowboarding at Winter Park, Colorado, getting to experience the adrenaline of a new sport for most of them. Nicolas Rodrigues, Campion Academy freshman, added, “I really loved the trip and I really had fun. I think it was a little hard to snowboard, but, in the end, it was kind of easy. I wasn’t used to being that cold and I’ve never worn so many jackets in my life, but I really enjoyed the international retreat.”

Campion Academy currently has 20 international students from Brazil, as well as students from Democratic Republic of Congo, China, and recent immigrants from Tanzania and Mexico.

Luca Lu, Campion Academy sophomore from China, shared, “It was my first time going to a mountain resort. It was so fun to try some snow sports, and the icy world truly gave me an unforgettable memory.”

—Pedro Vieira, Campion Academy Student News Team. Photos supplied.

11 Mar

RECREATION AND PRAISE HIGHLIGHT WYOMING WINTER RETREAT

Michael Taylor – Casper, Wyoming … Nearly 60 attendees from Wyoming and Colorado gathered on for the 2024 Wyoming Winter Retreat at Mills Spring Ranch (MSR) in Casper, Wyoming, February 16-18. This event has happened annually for more than 30 years, and this year’s program happened thanks to the hard work of the team from MSR with a team of lay people from the Casper area.

After a mild start to the 2024 winter season, a fresh blanket of snow arrived just days before the guests showed up to provide the “winter” feeling of this retreat. The timely arrival of fluffy white powder allowed many attendees to enjoy such outdoor activities as sledding and snowshoeing.

However, the favorite option for many attendees was snowmobiling, as Hasina from Mead, Colorado, shared, “I loved learning how to drive a snow mobile with my friends.” Mary from Torrington, Wyoming, also giggled as she mentioned that she rode a snow mobile for the first time in her more than 60 years of life.

While the recreational activities were popular, they were not the only highlight of the weekend. This weekend was also a spiritual retreat and focused on drawing closer to God through meaningful worship services each day.

These services were enriched with music by a praise team made up of members from across Wyoming and Colorado, led by Lyle Wortman and his praise team. Sydney from Casper, Wyoming, noted that she especially enjoyed seeing little kids and youth involved in the music for the retreat.

Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) Youth director Brandon Westgate was the featured speaker for worship services. During his talks, Pastor Westgate appealed to members with the Good News of freedom from sin and our status as a child of God. He shared his testimony along with Bible stories to connect Bible truths in a practical and personal way. He also presented a workshop on how to have meaningful Sabbath experiences. Karen from Fort Morgan, Colorado, said that she was thankful for the chance to reconnect with God through the weekend’s spiritual services.

The Winter Retreat team is already looking forward to next year’s event at beautiful Mills Spring Ranch, and they hope to see many more people gather for the weekend of February 14-16, 2025. For more information about other family-friendly events happening throughout the year at MSR, visit www.millsspringrach.com

—Michael Taylor is pastor of Casper Seventh-day Adventist Church. Photos supplied.

11 Mar

CAMPION CHURCH HOLDS A JOB FAIR FOR STUDENTS

Vashty Segovia Santos – Loveland, Colorado … Occupational professionals from the Campion Seventh-day Adventist Church in Loveland, Colorado, hosted Campion Academy students for a job fair. The students had the opportunity to meet and ask any questions with people in different careers that they might want to pursue.

Keaton Drake, Campion Academy junior, shared, “It was very interesting and helpful to get advice and knowledge from people who are experienced in the profession I’m interested in. They were very friendly and were willing to answer all my questions. It was a good experience to be able to learn from someone in the field I want to work in.”

​Professions like occupational therapy, graphic design, photography, law, and education were a few of the careers represented there. The occupational professionals talked to the students about colleges and universities that they could apply to for their career track.

The job fair was a great way for the students to see what the future has in store for them. “They really helped me figure out exactly what kind of job I want and how I can get there,” Campion Academy sophomore Max Bicknell expressed.

—Vashty Segovia Santos, Campion Academy Student News Team. Photos supplied.

06 Mar

AN IMMIGRATION JOURNEY: GOD STILL WRITES STRAIGHT IN OUR UPSIDE-DOWN WORLD

José David Rodríguez – Denver, Colorado … The immigration rate has increased to almost 40% in the United States according to 2024 Gallup polls. This means that, currently, the United States is receiving nearly 260,000 immigrants a month.

Such volume creates issues in communities as the local infrastructure cannot support them and they have become viewed as an unwelcome burden: few job opportunities, not enough housing, or not enough “good Samaritans” to sustain that high number.

As a Seventh-day Adventist Church in the United States, we are not ignorant about these issues, Denver, Colorado, notwithstanding. Each Sabbath, the Denver metropolitan and mostly Spanish-speaking churches receive people from Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, and from Venezuela. All are in need of financial help to pay the debts they left behind or the basic needs of now, like simply the need to eat.

Looking at the recent situation, the congregations could help the immigrants with some basic resources: paying for food, providing housing, offering rides, and supplying clothing. However, due to the high demand, churches are struggling with fulfilling their needs. Hispanic pastors and their congregations have been also engaged in allowing some immigrants to stay at their houses, even for months, teaching them how to live in this new land and for eternity.

But lately, we can report good news. It is a pleasure to see new conversions—people that once were desperate but now are living with hope in our Lord Jesus.

Luis and Nancy, a couple from Colombia, after struggling for many years in their native country, decided to take the risk. Luis had built up a savings of 30 million of Colombian pesos (around 7,500 U.S. dollars) enabling them to travel. Together, with their nine-year-old daughter, Luciana, they spent two months crossing through Mexico.

Emmanuel and his five relatives left behind Cuba. They spent five days crossing el tapón del Darién (Darien Gap), which is regarded as a very dangerous jungle. “It is not uncommon to see people dying from exhaustion, others just being abandoned by the group, and yet others drowning in the mud,” reminisces Gerardo. After five months of searching, Emmanuel and his family arrived in the Loveland Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church in Loveland, Colorado, and gave their lives to Jesus.

John, Walter, and Christian are three young men of 22, 23, 28 years old, respectively. They were seeking a place to sleep when they were befriended by a pastor and were invited to live in his house for four months. During that time, they learned about Jesus and his love for the humankind. To God be the glory that, while they were eating the spiritual bread, the Creator provided with food, jobs, and everything else according to his promise:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all
these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:33).

It was at South Aurora Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church in Aurora, Colorado, named as “El Refugio del Amor” (Refuge of Love), where Luis, Nancy, Luciana, John, Walter, and Christian met one Sabbath of the last summer. Describing their journey with tears and hugs, they gave courage to each other.

José David Rodríguez, lead pastor at El Refugio del Amor Church, recalled one special evening: “Luis met Jesus at Pecos church where, after one night, he finally decided to enter with his wife Nancy. That night when an altar call was made, Luis came to the front, and I could see the Holy Spirit was upon him. That night was his best night yet, and he knew it. I did too.”

It was at the 2023 Rocky Mountain Conference Hispanic Camp Meeting at Glacier View Ranch (GVR) in Ward, Colorado, with no previous arrangements, that Nancy, Luis, and Christian were baptized and became as active part in the kingdom of God.

There are many stories we can witness around us. We certainly know that, even in this upside-down world, God continues to write in straight letters.

—José David Rodríguez is pastor of three Spanish congregations, including El Refugio Denver Metro Spanish Church in Berthoud, Colorado. Photos supplied.

06 Mar

LIFESOURCE BAKE-OFF SUPPORTS KIDS AND BUILDS COMMUNITY

Heidi Carpenter – Denver, Colorado … The tables at LifeSource Adventist Fellowship (LAF) were loaded with delicious baked goods for the annual Great LifeSource Bake-off, March 2.

Members had lovingly planned and prepared for this event culminating in the donations of their tasty creations. All-you-can-eat tickets were for sale at the door with all proceeds benefiting LAF Club Ministries! Over 95 people attended, giving more than $1,730 in support of the children.

All ages took part in the competition, with the youngest group being our Little Lambs baking and decorating their own cookies. Club Ministries Leaders Daisy Dalegowski, Lydie Birai, and Karene Watts, with their entire team of teachers and helpers, envisioned a night of connection as a church family through fun and competition.

Intergenerational games brought young and old together at the event. “My favorite part was the teams of different ages represented,” said Orpha Thomas, LAF member and Club Ministries teammate. When asked what she enjoyed the most, she commented, “The creativity, laughter, and competitiveness when playing the games.”

Karene Watts, a LAF Club Ministries leader, shared this: “I just love seeing the church coming together and having fun. This year was also really special because I saw others outside of LifeSource participating in the event. It truly is a representation of us ‘doing life together.’”

A fantastic group of judges came to try a bite of every baked entry. Their job was to decide the winners for each age category. Our judges were from all over the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) including RMC Education director Diane Harris, RMC Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director Nathaniel Gamble, realtor Matt Prowant, RMC Youth director Brandon Westgate, and cook and personal trainer Stephen Harris. Many thanks to these judges for their time and support!

The annual Great LifeSource Bake-off was made possible by our members, our sponsors, and, most importantly, by our children, the key ingredient and reason for it all.

—Heidi Carpenter is the LifeCycle Coordinator at LifeSource Adventist Fellowship. Photos supplied.

05 Mar

CAMPION SCHOOLS AND CHURCH JOIN TO CELEBRATE DIFFERENT CULTURES

Vashty Segovia Santos – Loveland, Colorado … Campion Academy, HMS Richards Adventist School, and the Campion Seventh-day Adventist Church in Loveland, Colorado, came together to celebrate the diversity in our community with an International Sabbath, February 24.

Students from both schools started off the program by dressing up in clothes from the countries they were representing and carrying flags from all over the world. The students greeted the church in different languages.

Afterwards, the praise team presented songs in other languages that had different translations. They sang songs in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Indonesian. Natan Fogaca, Campion Academy student, commented, “It was a good experience, I got to sing and praise God.”

Students shared special performances, scriptures, and prayers in different languages. Campion Academy students Julia Santiago and Beatriz Moraes sang a special music called “Alem” in Portuguese.

Moraes shared, “This song is important to me because it shows me that I always have someone I can trust and always do what’s best for me. God showed me in this song that he is always with us, even in the storms. Believe and trust in Him that he will do what is best.”

“It was beautiful to see so many countries represented throughout the church,” Euan O’Keeffe, Campion Academy student, expressed, “It really painted the church as what it should be—a great unifier, unrelated to language and culture.”

—Vashty Segovia Santos, Campion Student News Team. Photos supplied.

05 Mar

A MEATLESS MARCH: MORE PLANTS, LESS PROCESSED!

Carey Jordan – Loveland, Colorado … In the month of March, HMS Richards Adventist School in Loveland, Colorado, is diving into finding more plant-based options and fresh ideas to swap for animal proteins and processed foods.

The current movement towards more plant-based eating is nothing new (hello, Adam, Eve, and the Garden of Eden!). Thanks to recent documentaries like Forks over Knives and books like The China Study, the quest to find answers on what should be consumed is becoming clearer: eat more plants! Many have chosen to increase the plant load on their plate in a search to become healthier and free their bodies of the bondage of Western diseases.

As we see omnivores increasing their percentage of vegetarian options and more vegetarians becoming vegan, there is one thing standing in the gap: convenience. This has given rise to many pre-packaged foods loaded with sugars, unhealthy oils, and faux meat. But, hey it is “vegan” right?!

I can’t help but think about Daniel and how the king showered him with all the most expensive and decadent foods available. But Daniel refused. In Daniel 1:12-15, we read:

Daniel said to the guard, “Please give us this test for ten days: Don’t give us anything but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then after ten days compare us with the other young men who eat the king’s food. See for yourself who looks healthier. Then you judge for yourself how you want to treat us, your servants.” So, the guard agreed to test them for ten days. After ten days they looked very healthy. They looked better than all of the young men who ate the king’s food.

Could you imagine if he asked for vegan food and was brought cakes, candy, fake burgers, or oil-laden crackers? Do you think he would have kept his strength up?!?

If you find yourself leaning heavily on processed foods for you and your family, do not despair! Do not overwhelm yourself, but instead commit to small changes at a time. It is March, and the season of making things anew is right around the corner! Spring brings a renewed hope as we remember the journey Jesus made for us to the cross and his resurrection from the dead. He did that for us. You can do this!

Here’s to fresh start with more plants this March!

—Carey Jordan is principal at HMS Richards Adventist School. Photo by Unsplash.

05 Mar

WEEK OF WORSHIP SPEAKER TESTIFIES OF CHRIST’S LOVE

Pedro Vieira – Loveland, Colorado … Campion Academy in Loveland, Colorado, held a Week of Worship (WOW), February 19-24, with guest speaker Wayne Morrison, lead pastor at the Brighton Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brighton, Colorado. Morrison shared about the unconditional love of Jesus and how He transforms us to be more like Him.

 

The main point of Morrison’s message was to help students understand the gift of eternal life, our identity as children of God, and our transformation in Christ. Morrison gave a clear message of how God is working in our lives and that He is love.

 

Davi Vieira, a new student at Campion Academy this semester, shared, “For my first Week of Worship at Campion, I really enjoyed taking some time away from classes and worshiping God with my friends this week. The way Morrison talked made me feel motivated and happy because we are not alone, and Jesus is working in our lives. I can’t wait to have another week like that.”

 

In addition to the speaker, the praise team introduced the theme song “Champion,” making the message more impactful to the students. 

 

Yngrid Silva, a Campion junior student, expressed, “I think the theme song for WOW was one of the best. It really impacted my thoughts about our salvation in Christ, and I really enjoyed listening to the praise team singing it on the stage. It made me feel good and inspired by the lyrics.”

 

Piano player for the praise team, Shawn Ferguson, shared, “Honestly, this week was one of the best we’ve had as far as music, in my opinion, and I really enjoyed the message. Overall, the experience was great, and I can’t wait for the next Week of Worship.”

 

—Pedro Vieira, Campion Student News Team. Photos supplied.

29 Feb

KNOWING CHRIST AND MAKING HIM FULLY KNOWN: PART 2

During the revamp of the Rocky Mountain Conference’s priorities for this current term, attention was given to something that had been on the conference website for some time. Listed as priorities were some items that would need to be embraced and done as individuals, some as a local church, and some as a conference as a whole.

As I worked to refresh and refine this list, I split things out into two separate sections. We now have a separate section for Aspirations and one for Priorities. The Priorities list shows concrete steps the conference organization needs to pursue as those are things that the conference can address directly in various ways.

The Aspirations list also includes things that can be addressed directly, but they are not things that your conference can legislate and make happen just “because we said so!” They require a personal buy-in. They require each of us as members in a local church to respond with prayer and study to see how we can best live out the Gospel commission where we are. Living the aspirations I have prepared, and that the Executive Committee has voted, will help mark our churches in a consistent manner throughout our conference though the circumstances vary greatly from church to church.

My next few articles will unpack these Aspirations, and it’s my earnest prayer and desire that each church member will decide in each of our churches to endeavor by God’s grace to rise to these aspirations, for they, together, represent what a healthy and well-functioning body of believers can do together. All of these Aspirations are written in the present tense, as if they are all happening everywhere right now. I believe they are all attainable, and I believe that these already exist in our conference to varying degrees.

It’s my personal belief that if these are all lived strongly in the present in each of our churches that this conference will be a powerful force for Christ—the kind of force He can use to build us His kingdom here where He has planted each of us.

While the list of Aspirations is not listed in any particular order, the One at the top of the list is there on purpose. That’s where we’ll start because it’s, or rather He’s the most important.

Jesus is Our Highest Focus

Easy to say. And we even mean it when we say it. But, in my lifetime as a Seventh-day Adventist, I’ve noticed we don’t always live that way in reality.

We have entire cottage industries in our faith community devoted to something that each organization feels is really the most important thing. Jesus, yes, but this, too, is the most important thing. In fact, I’ve noticed that some in these cottage industries react as if you don’t really love Jesus or take Him seriously unless you fully buy in and think what they are telling you or selling you is the most important thing, too.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not indicting anyone here. Most of those in these cottage industries are all about good things. But there is only One first thing, and His name is Jesus.

Some of you might have heard my take on the Biblical scene we call the Transfiguration. It was that brief, holy, tearing of time and space where Jesus was revealed in His full glory before three rather frightened friends—Peter, James, and John. James and John knew enough to keep their mouths shut at such a time, but Peter blathered on about building three tents or huts or something for each of these three glorious beings to occupy—as if any earthly dwelling would be enough.

Remember who was at that scene with Jesus? Moses and Elijah, as you well remember. Two great heroes and legendary figures in Jewish history. If you had asked most any common Jew of that time who the person from the past they’d love to meet, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t say Moses or Elijah.

And it wasn’t that there just weren’t many people to choose from in heaven who had once lived on earth, I believe these two were chosen for another reason. The Old Testament is referred to in the New Testament as “The Law and the Prophets.” Moses wrote the books containing the Law, and who better to symbolize the prophets than Elijah?

When the great voice spoke from the cloud of glory surrounding Jesus and His companions, I can’t help but think God placed a specific emphasis on one particular word: “Him.” Instead of saying, “This is my beloved son, listen to Him,” I rather think God said, “This is my beloved son, listen to Him.”

Do you count the significance of that? Who could possibly be greater than Moses and Elijah? What could possibly be greater than the Scriptures themselves? Him. Jesus. The others were certainly good things. But Jesus was above them all.

I recently was blessed to hear a devotional sermon by Elizabeth Talbot, director-speaker of Jesus 101, an official media ministry of the North American Division. Her text was John 4, the familiar story of the woman at the well. Among the things she pointed out was the worship issue between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews, of course, only believed you can worship on their mountain, and the Samaritans only believed God could be worshipped on theirs.

Dr. Talbot rightly pointed out that it’s far too easy to make our preference into our principle. Forgetting that our principle is really only a preference, we make our preference the first thing and then we judge others by their fidelity to our preference, our first thing.

Only a determined effort to keep Jesus as our highest focus will keep us from making other things first. Keeping Jesus first is the only way I know of to protect us from going off on tangents and detours, however compelling they might seem.

I challenge each of us to be so determined—so focused on Jesus that when others look at your face, they will wonder what’s going on inside of you! I promise you that if Jesus is your highest priority, if lifting Him up is the highest priority of your church, that God will bring into your path those who are ready to follow Him. And isn’t that what we all most want?

Until next time,
Pastor Mic

—Mic Thurber is RMC president.

29 Feb

SEVEN TEAMS PARTICIPATE IN PATHFINDER BIBLE EXPERIENCE FINALS

Sue Nelson – Denver, Colorado … The Pathfinder Bible Experience (PBE) for the books of Joshua and Judges, was held at Denver South Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church in Denver, Colorado, February 24. Six teams participated in person, including Colorado Springs Pleyades, Colorado-American Indonesian Flying Garuda’s, Greeley Lesem, Longmont Thunder, Loveland Cougars, and Pecos Rocky Mountain Stallions, and the Durango Ironhorse participated remotely from Durango, Colorado.

The PBE got underway with the Color Guard, performed by the teen representatives Clemente Martinez, Jr., Kariany Ortiz, and Jamie Mira. Praise music was led by Daniel Gonzalez of the Redeemed Music Ministry from Colorado Springs, Colorado, and a devotional was led by Andrew Carpenter, Mile High Academy principal.

Nearpod, a teacher-based computer program, was used for interactive lessons. It enabled the teams to see questions, write answers, and submit on a computer or tablet as the presenter controlled the questions in English and Spanish from the platform. This system is also used at the Union and North America Division (NAD) levels.

All the teams’ answers come into Nearpod, which is then sent to a team of judges and scorekeepers to grade and record. Using a code for access allowed the Durango club to participate in the event without having to drive long distance during wintertime.

There were 90 questions total, with a 10-minute break halfway through. Questions were taken from the Andrews Bible Commentary, which is the official commentary for the PBE.

The Loveland Cougars and Greeley Lesem teams won first place finish, and both will be advancing to the Union level of the competition in Lincoln, Nebraska, on March 16. All first-place winners at the Union level will advance on to the NAD level, which is being held this year in Greeley, Colorado, on April 20.

Stacey Rodriguez, Loveland Cougars director, commented, “the kids were so nervous that they weren’t going to do well. So, it was such an encouragement for them to do that well.”

Brent Learned, Rocky Mountain Conference associate youth director said, “it was wonderful to have so many pathfinders passionate about studying and memorizing scripture together for PBE.”

—Sue Nelson is the Rocky Mountain Conference Club Ministries executive coordinator. Photos supplied.

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