17 Jan


LVM Outreach Department and team – Farmington, New Mexico … Nearly 200 people gathered to celebrate fellowship with one another at the La Vida Mission* (LVM) in Farmington, New Mexico, at their local Christmas tradition, the Annual Community Christmas Fiesta, December 13.

Located far from the city and without much entertainment or big stores, malls, or other places to visit, La Vida Mission attracts gatherings and events among the local community providing source of joyful experiences and merriment in the community, especially during special seasons such as Christmas.

The Community Christmas Fiesta was prompted by the joy of community gatherings and by their love and desire to continually serve their friends of the Navajo Nation and neighbors and share with them the love and gospel of Jesus.

The services offered during the Fiesta include a free flea market, door prizes, spinning wheel prize, and games. Food bags, snacks and refreshments, and a Christmas lunch were also provided.

For this flee market, the school gym was filled with all kinds of goodies from groceries and food goods to clothes, shoes, bedding, and various household items. There were even small appliances and furniture to the delight of attendees.

A Food Court is run at the event that served the people non-stop and the door prizes were something those in attendance looked forward to as well. Organizers of the event were grateful to have enough door prizes for everybody.

There was also a much-anticipated propane give away of which 135 attendees received propane refills. This giveaway is truly a blessing during this cold season.

This Community Christmas Fiesta was blessed by donations from churches within the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) through the efforts of Pastor Mike and Cathy Kissner of the RMC Community Services Department,** the Navajo PRIDE NAPI (Navajo Agricultural Product Industry), and Bimbo Bakeries USA. Organizers of the event also want to thank the families, friends, and even a La Vida staff member who donated financially to help with the event logistics.

Dr. Robert Gardner, the newly elected La Vida Mission board president, with his wife, Kimone, have made several trips from Rio Rancho, New Mexico, during their weekly clinic at the Mission and, on many other different occasions, to deliver support for the Fiesta. They not only led in the health spinning wheel prize corner but also brought and donated most of the door prizes.

The guests at La Vida Mission always ask organizers where they get all the people who come to the events because all they see is barren land and a few houses here and there when they drive to La Vida. You may not see them but they’re there, they’re here, and yes, they do exist, so La Vida Mission and its local Seventh-day Adventist congregation can continue to share the love of Jesus to them.

* Please note that LaVida Mission is not affiliated with the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) nor the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.

** The volunteer efforts of Mike and Kathy Kissner were not in their official capacity at RMC.

—LVM Outreach Department team and VJ Panganiban, La Vida Mission Church outreach director, and his wife, Beth. Photos supplied.

25 Jan


Eeheon Ryu – Highlands Ranch … On January 13, Mile High Academy Upper School students participated in Service Day. The now-annual event is in memory of Mya Pena, an MHA student who passed away in January of 2020. This year, Service Day was held on campus with plenty of serving opportunities for all. As written in the Gospel of Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Students, divided into four groups, rotated among the service opportunities provided. From cleaning school buses, to writing thoughtful cards, to packing homeless kits, to making snacks for friends and neighbors, students were able to use their God-given talents to share the love of Jesus.

Students collaborated on cleaning out the school buses as Coach Camacho helped right alongside. At another station, students worked together to make Puppy Chow snack mix. In groups of three or four, they made the sweet snack which they could give out to others as a show of gratitude and kindness. At the letter-writing stations, students wrote personal notes for any of the following purposes: letters to include in the homeless bags, caring notes to Mya’s family, condolence cards to a school that just lost one of its students, thoughtful letters to Mrs. Maxine Gerst, a beloved former MHA teacher, and notes to staff members at the school. Many touching and uplifting letters went out that day.

The highlight for most students was the homeless kit-building station, where socks, toothpaste, snacks, and other essentials filled a large zip-lock bag. Students went home with one bag that they can personally hand out to a person in need.

In the spirit of collaboration, first graders came with sweet cards for each upper school student and even sweeter donuts.

The day ended with pick-up soccer games. Addie, a sophomore student, commented, “We chose soccer because it was Mya’s favorite sport. She would have loved this.” And though most students watched the games, some preferred to relax in the commons playing chess and other board games to end the day. 

—Eeheon Ryu is a freshman at Mile High Academy. Photos provided.

25 Jan


Kari Lange – Loveland, Colorado … Students at HMS Richards Adventist School celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 16, by taking half the school day to serve others in their community.

Students in grades K-2 delivered about 50 handwritten border sheets with verses of encouragement in the nearby neighborhood. Those who came to the door were greeted with, “Happy MLK Day and Peace Begins with Me.” Each person they met was shocked to see 20 students at their door and so thankful and appreciative of their time. 

Some students in grades K-2 joined with grades 3-4 and drove to Berthoud to sing praise songs to downtown businesses and pass out more border sheets with Bible verses of peace and hope. The students received a huge round of applause at Cocina & Cantina Mexican Restaurant as their voices echoed through the restaurant singing, “You are My All in All.” The Kofe House was about to close, but they were happy to let them come in to sing. As the students left, a young man expressed how much he needed to hear the song the students sang. 

At RE/MAX, the owner sang every word of “Jesus Loves Me” with the students. The ladies at the salon just listened with great smiles. The pharmacists at Berthoud Drug were in awe and ever so thankful for the music. It was such a blessed day not only for the students, but for all the chaperones as well.

Students in grades 5-6 went to downtown Loveland to hold up signs of encouragement on street corners and pray with people passing by. They got positive honks, cheers, and many thank yous. Students Tryg Sorensen and Conner Jahn prayed with a homeless vet in a wheelchair. The man then talked to Roger Hagen, a chaperone, and said he would really like a hardcover KJV Bible. Roger has it ready to give to him when he sees him again. After the man spoke with them, student Chloe Lange approached him, not knowing he had already prayed with Tryg and Conner, and asked if she could pray with him. His prayer request was to find a dollar or two so he could get something to eat or drink. As soon as Chloe finished praying, to everyone’s amazement, a dollar bill came floating down from the sky and landed at his feet.

Students in grades 7-8 passed out free hot cocoa and handmade ornaments at a local King Soopers. Carey Jordan, the school’s teaching principal, commented, “So many people were surprised when we offered them our handmade snowflakes. They couldn’t believe that 7th and 8th graders were giving them a kind word of encouragement and a gift without expecting anything in return.”

Some people tried to donate money, but students turned it down knowing that this was a special day, a day to give to the community, not take from it. Some comments of those who came by their table were, “Wow! Thank you! True kindness like yours comes only from God,” and “If it wasn’t too awkward, I would give you a big hug,” as stated by an older lady with tears in her eyes to one of the students.

Here are some reflections by some of the 7th and 8th grade students:

“Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted everyone to know how special they are and that it is our Christian responsibility to help people know that. Today, we showed people the true purpose for MLK day in our words and actions.” – Elin Sorensen

“I realized that today we made the world a better place by showing kindness. We didn’t deliver a speech to thousands of people today, but we did bring a smile to their faces, which in turn makes the world a better place.” – Ben Nelson

“We chose to share kindness to everyone, even if they didn’t accept it … that is love.” – Grace Balbin

May we all share Jesus’ love, promise, and hope for His soon return. May we, every day, be a blessing to those around us and let them know that Jesus loves them.

—Kari Lange is the grades K-2 teacher and vice president of the HMS Richards Adventist School. Photos provided.

25 Jan


RMCNews – Littleton, Colorado … The Littleton Adventist Church gathered on January 21 to welcome and pray over their new pastor, Godfrey Miranda. The church had been awaiting a new head pastor since the summer of 2022. The dedication prayer was led by Darin Gottfried, RMC vice-president for finance, along with the team of elders at the church.

When Pastor Godfrey was asked what called him to Littleton Adventist Church, he remarked, “After much prayer and reflection as a family, we really sensed that God was opening up this door for ministry.” His hope and direction for his ministry there is to partner with families in discipling young people, deepening a transformational relationship with Christ, and exploring ways that God has uniquely gifted our church to fulfill the Great Commission in the Littleton community.

Brodie Philpott, head elder at Littleton Adventist Church, remarked on the pastor search. “The last year has been quite a journey for our church, but one that God has shown His leadership through. We thank the Lord for bringing Pastor Miranda to us, and we fully believe that the Lord has shown him to be the person He has chosen for us. We also realize that his move to Littleton left a hole with a sister church in our conference, and we extend our arms and love to them and pray the Lord brings them their next leader as well.”

Pastor Miranda started his pastoral life in the Rocky Mountain Conference in 2016 when he helped plant a church in Castle Rock, Colorado. He was pastor at the Fort Collins Adventist Church before coming to Littleton Adventist Church. He shares his life and ministry with his wife Debbie and children Genna, Jadon, Jacob, and Giselle.

—RMCNews. Photo by Liz Kirkland.

25 Jan


By Heather Colburn

I never stop being amazed at all the ways that God finds to answer our prayers. Most recently, He planned a huge answer to prayer for our family BEFORE we even prayed it. And He even did it with a sense of humor! 

At the beginning of this school year, I had gotten a teaching job that was online and very flexible. I was excited to have some freedom this year while our kids were back in school. I had it all planned: some working, some exercising, time for errands, maybe even a little free time once in a while.

Then just 4 days before school started, I got a call from a friend who is the principal at a small Christian school in Fort Collins. She still hadn’t found a teacher for one of her classes. She wanted to know if I would consider this last-minute position. Even though I had been looking forward to only one online teaching job, I asked her more about the position. Her answers actually made me laugh out loud! 

You see, I am an elementary teacher. God created within me the love of working with young kids. I like fourth grade and below, but most recently I have discovered a love of teaching Kindergarten. It’s pretty amazing teaching kids how to read! 

Well, guess what position my friend needed to be filled ASAP? It was teaching science, which was my very worst subject when I was in school. And it was for middle school students: grades 6th, 7th, and 8th. You really can’t get further from my abilities and experience than to ask me to teach middle school science classes! 

Long story short: I said yes to the job. I prayed and thought about it so much and felt in my heart with certainty that I was supposed to take this job. The funny part was that this didn’t make any sense to me. Why would God want me to take a job that I wouldn’t like, that was beyond my experience and what I love to do? 

I found out a few months later exactly why He placed me in that school at that time. I’m sure it was partly to help my friend and to help the middle school students, but even bigger than that, He knew that one of my own kids needed to attend this school. I would never have known that part-way through the first quarter, we would need to make a dramatic change for our son Carter because his school situation was not healthy for him. I had never even visited this new school before so it wouldn’t have been on our radar for Carter. We would’ve been stuck without a Plan B when Carter needed a new school option.

The beautiful part about this story is that before Rande, my husband, and I even prayed for an answer to Carter’s school dilemma, God had already provided an answer! He placed me in what I thought was the most absurd teaching position so that I could be ready to prepare the way for Carter to join me at that school. 

Carter has been at this new school for only a couple weeks now, and I have seen God’s hand in so many ways already. From the sweet kids in his class, to the teachers, the workload and schedule, this school was hand-picked for our son by God. The way that He led Carter here was not a path I would have ever chosen or thought of, but I can see now how He was leading us here all along … even before we asked. 

I hope this experience reminds you how God loves you so much, that He already has a plan for you and a solution before you even ask for His help. You can trust Him with what comes next! I have seen this year His incredible providence to be at least 10 steps ahead of me, always ready with what He knows my family will need next. We are so loved and tenderly cared for to serve a personal God like that! 

Isaiah 65:24: “Before you call, I will answer. While you are still speaking, I will hear.”

Heather Colburn is a member of The Adventure Church, Greeley, Colorado. Article is republished by permission and appeared first in The Adventure Church eNewsletter, January 21, 2023. Photo from iStock.

19 Jan


Brandon Westgate – Ward, Colorado … “Elevate” was the theme for this year’s Greater Summit teen prayer retreat at Glacier View Ranch, and the presence of God was truly felt. About 80 teens and sponsors attended the long weekend event January 13-16. Speaker for the event was Jessica Rios from Campion Academy who presented powerful and honest messages that truly resonated with the young people. Praise and worship was followed by a time of Bible study and conversations that solidified the challenging message that had been presented. 

We also enjoyed a host of activities including snow tubing, winter hiking, swimming, table games, dodgeball, and Bible studies. Jade Teal, RMC assistant youth director, led a blanket-making project for a local children’s hospital. The blankets made during Greater Summit will go to children in need of a blanket. 

The weather was cool at times, but the fellowship was warm and nurturing. Sponsors and participants alike were so thankful they took the time to attend this event. Many of the participants were already talking about coming back next year! We are grateful for the support of the faithful people in the Rocky Mountain Conference that allows our youth department to offer events like Greater Summit. With your generosity, prayers, and support of ministry efforts like Elevate, and by God’s grace, we will see the fruit of our efforts both here and in the kingdom of Heaven. Thank you for partnering with us in ministry in the RMC!

Brandon Westgate is the RMC youth director. Photos by Brandon Westgate and Rajmund Dabrowski.

19 Jan


RMCNews – Greensboro, North Carolina … January 8-11 concluded three intense years of leading the churches in each of the North American Division conferences in new ways of doing ministry. Several hundred church ministry leaders have had to get creative and think outside the box during the pandemic, as they could not allow the pandemic to stop them from sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Under the theme Replenish, the Adventist Ministries Convention met in Greensboro, North Carolina, to evaluate their own ministry and learn how creative and successful other colleagues had been.

Among them was Vanessa Alarcón, a licensed therapist and ministry leader from Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC), presenting issues of faith and mental health.

“One evening after work, DeeAnn Bragaw, NAD women’s ministry director, called and invited me to present a seminar focused on mental health. She told me she couldn’t get me out of her mind as a potential presenter and felt impressed to invite me officially.” I was stunned. “Me?” I asked myself. “Of all the women across the division, women with more experience or a fancy ministry title, why me? I’m a licensed therapist with experience presenting these seminars, but a room full of Conference and Union directors sounded highly intimidating. During that call, I felt peace knowing God was behind this invitation,” Vanessa reminisced.

DeeAnn expressed that she wanted to create a space for younger and newer voices in the division. And she was right. As Vanessa looked at the program and other presenters, she wasn’t surprised to realize that she was, indeed, the youngest presenter at the convention. 

Reflecting on her convention experience, Vanessa said she spent months preparing for the seminar. “The day of the presentation was a whirlwind of adrenaline. I was blessed to have my parents, Rubén and Patty Rivera, attending the convention in their respective ministry roles at RMC. They prayed with me throughout the day, which helped ground me when my nerves began to increase. Minutes after I arrived at the room where my seminar would take place, I received a surprise visit from Doug Inglish, RMC vice president for administration. He came to give me words of encouragement which was a nice way to feel the support from the conference,” she explained.

Hearing reports from other participants, she sensed that they all had a wonderful experience presenting and chatting with the directors after the seminars as they met to debrief the content. Vanessa hopes more young people get to experience connecting with leaders across the division through experiences like she had. “It brings a new appreciation for the ministry happening in our church,” she believes.  

She looks forward to collaborating with the NAD leaders on creating relevant ministry material to further equip church leaders to provide trauma-informed spiritual care. 

Among other participants from RMC was Mickey Mallory, RMC ministerial director.

“The theme for this convention,” commented Mickey, was ‘Replenish’. It was a very timely topic for Christian leaders who sometimes spend so much time helping others that they don’t set aside enough time to be replenished physically, emotionally, and spiritually.” 

“It was great being together with ministry colleagues again after not being able to meet for a few years due to the pandemic. I found the morning and evening sessions to be very practical. My favorite was by Pastor Dave Ferguson from the Collegedale Church on the benefits of laughter. It is amazing how a little humor can make a big difference in your day,” Mickey added.

Doug Inglish shared his observations about the convention, saying, “The breakout sessions have been highly relevant for me, addressing some critical administrative issues that RMC is facing. But perhaps the most significant benefit is meeting with people outside the sessions who are providing possibilities for our future personnel needs,” he said.

—RMCNews with Mickey Mallory and Vanessa Alarcón. Photo by Mickey Mallory.

19 Jan


Fred Hardinge – Montrose, Colorado … January 15 witnessed the start of a health outreach at the Montrose Adventist Church. More than 35 people attended the first night, learning how to prepare delicious meatless meals, sampling each demonstrated dish, and being shown how easy it is for vegetarians to get protein and needed nutrients for wholesome living.

The next day, one community member who attended the event posted on her Facebook page, “I thought this sounded like a fun, free vegetarian cooking class held at our friends’ church! And it was! The food was delicious, the people were friendly, and they gave us the recipes for everything that was made! There are three more classes on upcoming Sundays. If anyone is interested in a fun evening activity, you can sign up for free with the link in the comments and I’ll see you there!”

All demonstrations, samples, and education were provided by local church members. This follows three months of praying together, training, and organization led by local church member and health ministries leader, Fred Hardinge, DrPH, RD. God richly blessed these efforts by developing a team of more than 12 people who have enthusiastically volunteered to fulfill the many roles necessary to put on a program like this. “While cooking schools are always a lot of work, many hands make it fun and enjoyable,” said Hardinge.

Three more sessions will follow during the next three Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Soups, salads, and sandwiches will be the focus of the next class, along with better breakfasts; and finally, sweet treats. A long-time church member remarked, “It was good for ‘us’ also. I learned things I didn’t know before!”

Hardinge concluded, “We praise the Lord for these blessings, and trust our humble efforts will bring honor and glory to God.”

–Fred Hardinge is Montrose church health ministries leader. Photo supplied.

12 Jan


Christina Hernández – Denver, Colorado … Over Christmas break, the Denver Hispanic (Pecos) Church and Mile High Academy (MHA) partnered in a clothing drive. Since December 9, more than 2,000 refugees have arrived in the city of Denver, among them several Adventist families. The church has had an increase of visitors who have expressed a dire need for winter clothing, shoes, hats, gloves, personal hygiene items, and even household items.

It was when word came to MHA that Denver Park Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church, La Nueva Esperanza Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the community all responded immediately by bringing bags and bags of items that would benefit the recent refugees.  A team of community members from MHA and the ministry team from Pecos church joined forces to sort and separate these items in MHA’s cafeteria. The church community outreach team then transported the items to the Pecos church to be made available for those in need.

On Wednesday, December 28, the need was such that items were delivered personally to several Adventist families who had just arrived with this surge. On Sabbath, December 31, the church opened its doors, shared lunch, and distributed dozens of bags to several families and individuals. As the city scrambles to house and feed several thousand, Pecos and MHA continue to partner as they serve those in great need.

Pecos continues to open its doors on Wednesday nights for prayer service from 6-8 p.m. and Sabbath after-church service as an opportunity to minister, not only physically but also spiritually. A big need still exists for men’s winter clothing, men’s snow boots, men’s tennis shoes, men’s work boots, women’s snow boots, women’s tennis shoes, male and female personal hygiene products, and backpacks.

If you would like to support the drive or have any questions, please reach out to [email protected] or [email protected]

— Text and photos are by Christina Hernández, MHA Middle School teacher and Education director/praise music director at Denver Hispanic Pecos Church.

12 Jan


By Doug Inglish

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:31-34, NIV)

I suspect that like me, you find this passage challenging. It’s even more difficult to understand it in the King James Version of the Bible from which I was taught. The phrase in NIV is translated “do not worry” and in KJV is rendered as “take no thought”. I might keep the worry under control, but how do I shop for groceries if I am instructed to not think about what my family will eat?

At some level, of course, we have to pay attention to these matters. The key is obviously to not let concern over them dominate you. Believing that God will provide while you hold down a job, manage a budget, shop for necessities, and consume what you purchased is all possible. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t challenging. Especially when it comes to the big bills.

It was a challenge for my parents to put my brothers and me through an Adventist education. My sophomore year was especially problematic because my father, having left a secure job to heed the call to ministry, was in the seminary at Andrews University. My older brother was a senior and my younger brother a freshman, so having us all at boarding school relieved some pressure on the space in the one-bedroom apartment, but the cumulative expense of all that tuition and related costs was beyond what my mother was making at the university library.

How did we do it? Of course, that’s the wrong question. The right thing to ask is, how did God do it?

Not that we were not part of the equation. Dad took an overload of classes every quarter and finished in one year, so that saved a bundle. We all worked jobs at the academy and watched our food intake, which also helped. Coupons were clipped, bargains were sought, luxuries were foregone. Those things add up. But the real tangible evidence of a master plan from a place beyond earth was in how those academy bills, which piled up as the year went on, all fell aside as each child graduated.

I’ve never known a harder worker than my older brother. He would start the tractor up at four in the morning to get a couple hours of cutting hay in before breakfast, then spend the afternoon at the academy industry and take overtime hours if available. When his senior class voted to place the leftover class funds on the account of the student who did the most to work off his bill, it was just enough to pay it in full. He graduated with no debt.

I tried to follow his example. I baked 75 loaves of bread three times a week, having it in the oven before breakfast for another student to take out while I headed to class. Afternoons were at the industry and evenings I was a Resident Assistant (RA) in the dorm. What put me over the top in time for graduation was the small inheritance my grandmother left.

My younger brother worked just as hard, again in the industry and as an RA. Dad returning to employment with the conference and mom finding a better paying job were enough for them to catch up and he, too, graduated owing nothing.

We couldn’t manage those costs on our own. All the work we could find was not enough. It was the things we could not plan that fell into place at just the right time that paid the big bills for our family. All the worry we could collectively focus on the problem would never have been enough to make those things happen.

Not worrying doesn’t mean not doing your part. It means not worrying. You have to get a job, manage your money, go to the store, control your consumption, just like everybody else. But unlike everyone else, you don’t have to worry. Instead, you get to marvel.

–Doug Inglish is RMC VP for administration and stewardship director. Photo by freestocks on Unspash.