31 Mar

RMC Disaster Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Are you the light?

Denver, Colorado … I have always enjoyed teaching Kindergarten Sabbath School classes. The children are so excited to sing songs that have actions to them. Remember, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna’ let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna’ let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!   Hide it under a bushel, No! I’m gonna’ let it shine.  Hide it under a bushel, No! I’m gonna’ let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Are you, are we as the church, letting our light shine or are we hiding our lights under a bushel? During a disaster–yes, a pandemic is a disaster–the Seventh-day Adventist Church through the Disaster Response team becomes a beacon in the impacted community. Today, our community, county, state, nation, and world are impacted by the pandemic. Even with social distancing being very necessary how can we, as a church, let our light shine?

The North American Division Community Services Department will be giving the Rocky Mountain Conference a one-time $25,000 grant to be used in purchasing food items for those in need. Does your church have a food pantry? Feed the homeless? Give out Senior boxes? If so, please contact Cathy Kissner at [email protected].

During World War II, homes that had loved ones serving or that were far from home, placed a lighted candle in the window. I have a candle in my window because we are called to be the light on the hill.   We are not to put our light under a bushel, nor to hide in a church building. Christ can lead you to know how and when to shine your light. Trust in Him to guide you and your church. Remember that prayer is the key that opens the door to your light shining.

Cathy Kissner; photo by Anuja Mary Tilj on Unsplash

31 Mar

Teachers and students learn in isolation

Denver, Colorado … I know from personal experience that you are probably getting inundated with information on the coronavirus and the resulting consequences. Many of you with children are having a complete paradigm shift as you assume the role of mentor/teacher for your own children. This is both a blessing and a challenge.

Our Rocky Mountain Conference school teachers have made fantastic efforts to continue with quality education for your children, spending many hours in learning best practices for distance learning and incorporating them into their plans for your children.

Thank you for your continued patience and encouragement as we strive to meet the needs of God’s children in this unique time. Please know that we are doing our very best to assure that your child has optimum opportunity for continued learning at their level. And if you are experiencing some struggles as teacher/mom or teacher/dad, that is okay. You are not alone, and I trust that a few comments from other parents will not only bring you courage but also, perhaps, a smile to your face. From children begging to return to school, to parents admitting they aren’t able to figure out their child’s homework, to knowing how to fill all the hours of the day, to just going stir-crazy, these are the issues parents are facing.

Let me share a few comments that have made the rounds on social media concerning this forced education at home. They have been posted about parents temporarily assuming the role of teacher for their own children.

  • According to one child, homeschooling has not been “going good” from day one. In a post uploaded to Facebook, a mom shared a screenshot of her son’s journal entry from their first day of homeschooling: “It is not going good. My mom’s getting stressed out. My mom is really getting confused,” the eight-year-old student wrote. “We took a break so my mom can figure this stuff out and I’m telling you it is not going good.”
  • I have been homeschooling a 6-year old and an 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year, or a week.
  • Forty-seven minutes into homeschooling my child while working from home and I’m about to hit the streets demanding teachers be paid a million dollars per year.
  • Yes, I love teachers and respect them sooooo much more–after just one day.
  • My 8-year old is covered in paint and my 17-year old is not speaking to me because this pandemic is ruining her social life and it is obviously my fault.
  • Homeschooling is going well–one student suspended for fighting and one teacher (me) fired for wanting to drink on the job. Easy peasy.
  • My Confident Friend A Week Ago: “I have a schedule. My kids will stay on schedule and their day is very structured with assignments and activities.”
    My Confident Friend Today: “I gave up. Every day is movie day for homeschooling. As long as they’re quiet.”
  • The struggle was enough to prompt one father who has been attempting homeschooling to tweet: “Anyone else think teachers should all earn about $500,000 a year?”
  • Others have also suggested that teachers deserve more money, with some suggesting that their salaries should be somewhere in the $1 million-a-year or higher range for their patience.
  • “If this has taught me anything, it’s that teachers deserve a raise,” one person tweeted.
  • Another said: “Been homeschooling the kids since 9:00am. It’s 9:08 a.m. and I’m starting to think teachers deserve l-o-n-g holidays.”

Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Philippians (4:13) promises that you can “do all things through Christ who gives me strength”.  May you use this time of social distancing and home isolation to do some fun things with your children and perhaps even teach them some things that have, perhaps, been lost in our society. Here are a few ideas: how to make bread, how to sew on a button, how to plant a garden, how to make a card for a shut-in, how to learn about family history?

In the Letter to Romans (8:28) we are also told that “all things work together for good to them that love the Lord.”  Hard to admit, but maybe this pandemic time just might be an opportunity for you and your child to make memories that will last a lifetime and beyond.  Courage to each one!

Lonnie Hetterle, RMC Education Superintendent; photo by Marsha Bartulec

30 Mar


Denver, Colorado … The upcoming Special Sabbath, April 4, which was designated for the Rocky Mountain Conference churches as a Day of Fasting and Prayer, received much attention during a weekly consultation of the RMC leadership team. Leaders of the various ministries shared the current needs and plans, which includes dedicated programs to different sections of the church. No changes were made to the closure dates of the offices and churches, though we expect such changes in the future.

Following the meeting, Ed Barnett, RMC president, shared the following message to church members and pastors ahead of the Fasting and Prayer Special Sabbath:

“Seventh-day Adventists are a people of hope. We are awaiting the return of Jesus, but we are a people who live our hope daily. Seeing the suffering around us resulting from the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, and anxious about how it is affecting our churches, families, and communities, we recognize that all is in God’s hands. This needs to be recognized by each of us in prayer. A day of fasting and prayer is important for God’s people as it unites us in our supplication and desire for His strength to carry on until the day when there will be no more tears and death.

I am inviting all members of our RMC church to pray. Let us pray to recognize God’s guidance and grace. Let us lift to God prayers of gratitude about the way He has supported us in His mission. Let us pray for those who are hurting, for the families of those who have contracted the virus, and who have passed away. Let us pray that He wipes our tears, but that we do not lose faith and hope in His power to help us overcome fear, pain, and death. Let us pray for those on the front lines – the doctors, nurses, ambulance personnel, security people and decision makers.

But let us also offer our gratitude to the Lord who heals and sustains. We can share with you a story of answered prayer. We learned that one of our Denver pastors, Purasa Marpaung of the Rocky Mountain Indonesian church, contracted coronavirus. He wasn’t alone. About half of his congregation, perhaps as many as 35 church members, have coronavirus. Through God’s grace, he is out of the hospital, though still in quarantine and recovering.

He shared that it was like a miracle and an experience of answered prayers. His story includes a dream in which he saw a review of his life, his loving family, a black cloud and someone holding him tightly by his feet as if pulling him out of the cloud. ‘My cough and resulting pain were unbearable. At the hospital, they put me on a ventilator and it helped me breathe. But it was Jesus who pulled me through. I was out of this black cloud,’ he shared with us. Pastor Purasa also said that he recognizes ‘fellowship with Jesus Christ in his experience and dedicates his ministry only to Him.”

We praise the Lord for Pastor Purasa’s recovery, and may we recognize that by keeping close to Jesus, amazing things happen. We need to pray for the Indonesian sisters and brothers who are still not out of the woods. Let us praise our Lord Jesus and present Him all who are suffering. Let us pray on behalf of each other, on behalf of our pastors, and all who are doing the Lord’s work.

Let us make the Sabbath hours on April 4 become a turning point in our full reliance on God’s love and grace toward us all.

We shall overcome. With Jesus.”

RMCNews; photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

30 Mar


Denver, Colorado … At Glacier View Ranch, our facility exists as a place for people to gather and to experience; to explore ideas and relationships, adventure in beautiful places, ignite passions, summit mountains and moments, engage with God and connect with each other.  Our goal is that every person who experiences Glacier View Ranch leaves better equipped to live a greater story.

During the time of COVID-19, our continued commitment is that everyone within our community, near and far, lives healthy, vibrant lives.  In the best interest of the health and wellbeing of our community, we are closed to the public through at least April 17 and have cancelled or postponed all of our groups through the end of April.

Questions still remain as to what the immediate future holds for the services that we offer at Glacier View Ranch. In these times of uncertainty, we commit the following:

  1. We will remain focused on our mission to be a place for people to connect and to experience. While this may look a little different in the short-term, we promise that we will not be going anywhere.  Although the timing is uncertain, we are sure that this crisis will end. As soon as it is legally and safely possible, we will reopen and welcome you back to Glacier View Ranch.  In the meantime:

For spaces to connect in a virtual setting, visit: rmcyouth.org/virtual.

For resources & ideas to help you create experiences at home, visit: rmcyouth.org/resources.

  1. Summer Camp Ministry is our passion and we will not falter in our preparations to run the best Christian camp program in the Rocky Mountain region. At this time, it appears that our summer camp program may be altered in some way for the 2020 season.  Whether it be limited capacity, a shortened season, a virtual camp experience – or some combination of the three –we will maintain our mission of providing a place where kids have the opportunity to experience their best summer ever.
  2. We will keep information flowing. The crisis unfolding across our country is fluid and evolving.  Over the next few weeks we will make decisions regarding our user groups and summer camp program.  We promise that we will keep you up to date here, through email communication, and in our Rocky Mountain Conference NewsNuggets  Our decisions will be based on information from county, state and national authorities and will be grounded in our desire to ensure that we provide spaces and services that put first the health and safety of everyone who visits.

It is true that our world feels out of our control right now.  While this may be a new feeling for many of us in the Springtime of 2020, it is not a new phenomenon for believers in God.  We encourage you to reach out to God, remaining confident in Him.  Ultimately, our faith is not in the things of this world but is in Jesus Christ.

Join us in claiming Paul’s message to the Christians in Rome, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13 ESV)

Kiefer Dooley, RMC youth director; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski

30 Mar

Ministering to Children in Times of Coronavirus

This week, as I read news articles and had conversations about the challenges families are facing during the COVID-19 crisis, a concern that many shared is how to survive social distancing/self-isolation with young children. These articles and conversations have reminded me of the time when our family served as missionaries in Fiji.

When we first moved to Fiji, our daughters were just three and five years old, respectively, and I had undertaken to homeschool them. Aside from the social isolation of homeschooling in a foreign country, we also faced the isolation brought on by the rainy season, which sometimes kept us indoors for weeks and even months at a time. Here are some things I learned then that your family might find helpful now.

Start and Finish Your Day with God

Each morning, give thanks for all that is good in your life; read passages of Scripture that help calm your anxiety; and then ask God to give you all that you need — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:2223) — so that you can be the parent your children need.

Ask God also to help you remember to seize those moments when you fail as an opportunity for your family to learn about His amazing grace. Children don’t need a perfect parent. Instead, they need a parent who models humility by being willing to apologize and who models grace by offering and receiving forgiveness.

Each evening, reflect on your day and identify the moments when you experienced God’s presence; thank Him for those moments and for the things that went well; ask forgiveness for the things that didn’t go so well. Ask Him to give your children all that they need to grow in their experience of being loved unconditionally by their heavenly Father; and then ask Him to help you learn from your failures, to give grace to yourself, and then to move on.

I have often found comfort in these words: “We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged” (Ellen G. White, Manuscript 31, 1890).

Teach Your Children How to Connect with God

In times of fear and anxiety, children need parents to not just model their faith in God but also to help them connect with His providence in meaningful, age-appropriate ways. Here are some ideas on how to do this.

In early childhood (age 2-6)

Take your children on a quiet nature walk, asking them to keep their eyes and ears open and their mouths closed. Later, talk about what they saw and heard, reminding them of God as Creator. They can also look for an object while out walking that reminds them of God’s providence and then draw this object as a way of imprinting this lesson in their minds.

Play quiet sacred music, asking them to be still and listen. Then ask them what they heard, and talk about how the song described God as provider and protector.

Read simple Bible stories that focus on the love of God, connecting God’s love with yours.  Then encourage children to respond to the story by memorizing a short phrase, drawing a picture, creating something with modeling clay, or dictating a thank-you note to God.

In middle childhood (age 6-12)

Continue with the activities of early childhood but add Scripture memorizing. Choose Bible verses that speak to fear and anxiety, and help children think about how the verse applies to their feelings. Encourage them to memorize and write the verse and put it in their pocket, and to pull it out and read it when they feel afraid.

In later childhood and adolescence (13+)

By age 12 or 13, children begin to think about God and spirituality differently. Their task for this stage of development is to find God for themselves, which means they need to put what their parents taught them on a shelf for a little while. What they need from us as parents is that we understand the journey they are on and that we come alongside them in support. They need to see our faith as authentic — that it makes a difference in our lives, even in times of fear and stress, and that it provides meaning — that our faith offers answers to the difficult questions of life.

So what can we do?

Intentionally spend quiet time together. Pre-teens and young teens crave alone time with an adult. Go for a walk together in the early morning or evening, contemplating the dawn or the stars and listening for sounds, and reflect on God as Creator. These quiet times are also an opportunity to share something from your devotional time that morning.

Read small portions of Scripture together, slowly and reflectively, and talk about how they might apply to your children’s lives. Choose narrative passages that provide evidence of God’s providence in difficult times; Psalms that describe God’s sovereignty and goodness; and passages that speak directly to human fears and anxieties, such as Philippians 4:6-7.

Read biblical narrative/fictional stories together. If you’ve never read aloud to your children, or if you stopped when they learned to read for themselves, this time of social distancing may be an opportunity to begin a new family tradition that might continue for years to come. In our family, we read aloud while the girls worked quietly on crafts, drawing, and painting.

Show respect by listening, rather than continually preaching and correcting. Have the humility to believe that you can learn from, rather than just teach, your children. And share some of your own struggles, in age-appropriate ways, so that your children can see how your faith intersects with the challenges of life. These types of conversations can have a lifelong impact on your children, so try to see this time of enforced confinement as an opportunity to practice having these conversations.

Structure Your Day Around Predictable Routines

Children (and adults!) thrive on routines, as they provide a sense of stability and security in times when things feel out of control. While a strict schedule is not necessary, having somewhat regular times for rising, worship, meals, schoolwork, outdoor play, story time, and bedtime provides structure so that children can anticipate what is coming next and what is expected of them.

One routine I found particularly helpful is what we called “rest time.” When our children stopped napping during the day, we helped them learn to have quiet time in their rooms. This allowed us to rest and helped them learn to have some downtime and to play alone.  Initially, they had special toys, puzzles, and activities for their rest times; however, as they got a little older, this was no longer necessary, as this was when they listened to recorded stories and they looked forward to it.

If you look online, you will find many suggestions for keeping children engaged and occupied, some of which you might enjoy and some of which you might loathe. I loved reading to our children, and I enjoyed simple crafts, but I hated science experiments, I didn’t love board games, and I got lost in attempts to be consistent with anything that required charts and stickers. You might be the exact opposite of me, so do what you’re good at and what you enjoy. But whatever routines you decide on, be sure to include some outdoor exercise once or twice a day, which will help your children be more calm; and keep your habits at least somewhat predictable, as this will help your children feel safer and more secure during a difficult time.

Remember, This Too Shall Pass

When we were first asked to serve in Fiji, I was ambivalent about the move. I was anxious about raising our children in a different country, so far from extended family, and I was ambivalent about homeschooling. Now that our children are grown and I am older, I consider those years in Fiji as the summer of my life, and I give thanks to God for the slow pace and the many hours of family time, which ultimately shaped the family we have become.

The original version of this commentary was posted by Adventist Record.

“This article was originally published on AdventistReview.org

30 Mar

Did God Send COVID-19 and Should Governments be Able to Close Churches?

Adventist Review continues its Pivot Points series with an episode titled “Saved and Sound.” Four theologians discuss questions about the relationship of COVID-19 and theology. What does the pandemic tell us about God? Did He bring the COVID-19 pandemic upon the world? Is this pestilence only meant for unbelievers? Do governments have a right to tell local churches not to gather?

Our guests are Rahel Wells, associate professor of Hebrew Bible at Andrews University; Frank Hasel, associate director of the Biblical Research Institute at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church; and Leal Caesar, associate editor at Adventist Review Ministries. The conversation is facilitated by Gerald Klingbeil, associate editor at Adventist Review Ministries

Once again, we hope that you will find the conversation clear, informative and hopeful and that you will share it with others.

To view Pivot Points video please click here.

“This article was originally published on AdventistReview.org

Photo by Jon Roberts

26 Mar

We are a people of hope

“We all know as Seventh-day Adventists, that we are a people of the future. We know where we are going and Jesus is preparing a place for us,” says Ed Barnett, RMC president in his special message to RMC church members.

He continues: “But also, we are a people for today. Those around us need to see in as a people of hope, hope lived out today.”

26 Mar

We believe in prayer

Denver, Colorado … Like never before, our world is turning to prayer. The crisis at hand causes most of us who are followers of God to take a reflective step back and, like Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:12, say, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you!” Responsibly following guidelines to help “flatten the curve,” learning the challenge of “social distancing,” and receiving messages on our phones that give “shelter in place” directives – we didn’t even have those words on our radar a month ago.

But what we did have, and what we do have and what we will have is a mighty God who invites us to “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will glorify Me,” (Psalm 50:15). We, in the Rocky Mountain Conference, we believe in prayer. We’ve got prayer calls up all over the conference where members gather to pray!

Sabbath, April 4, has been designated as a special Day of Fasting and Prayer to pray for our people, our communities, and our world in light of the COVID-19 crisis. We invite you to plan now to be part of that day!  Yes, it will be an unusual Sabbath – we’ll be worshiping at a distance from each other, but our hearts will be closely united in prayer!

A prayer guide, helpful hints for fasting, and other materials for this day based on 2 Chronicles 20, will be uploaded shortly to www.rmcsda.org/prayer. We invite you to join with your families and your church families to pray. We’ll also have a Rocky Mountain Conference prayer time together, Sabbath, April 4, 8-9 a.m., to start the day, and 6:30-7:30 p.m. to end the day with our eyes on God! Plan now to join! Call 605-468-8026 and enter the access code 1010801# RMC – Let’s PRAY!

100 Days of Prayer .Around the world, we thought we’d be praying for 100 days leading up to the General Conference Session in Indianapolis this year. The devotions were written and everything was “all systems, GO!” But…the world changed, and the 100 days of prayer has changed with it! Please join with brothers and sisters around the world to pray for 100 days, Beginning Friday, March 27, and continuing until July 4. You can sign up to receive a devotional thought and prayer prompts for each day at https://www.revivalandreformation.org/100days

RMC- Let’s PRAY!

DeeAnn Bragaw, RMC Prayer Ministry Coordinator; photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

26 Mar

Littleton welcomes new pastors . . . at a distance, for now

Littleton, Colorado … Coronavirus Covid-19 does not stop church life. In an eerily quiet and nearly-empty sanctuary, Littleton Adventist Church welcomed their new pastoral team on Sabbath morning, March 21.

Seventh-day Adventist churches throughout the Rocky Mountain Conference are closed in compliance with government decisions as the country and world are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, with Sabbath worship conducted via live streaming. But, life of the church continues, though with inconveniences.

Standing at a social distance, Ed Barnett, RMC president, who was the visiting preacher that day, offered a dedication prayer over new lead pastor Andy Nash, new associate pastor, Chris Morris, who will join the team July 1, and current associate pastor Alise Weber, who is hired locally.

In his sermon Pastor Barnett referenced Matthew 24 about the hope in the Second Coming of Jesus and signs of the times. “We can see this happening before our eyes,” Barnett said about the Covid–19. “Brothers and sisters, are we living in perilous times today…everything that He says that will happen at the last days is happening around us today.” He concluded, “Jesus is coming soon…we need to live faithful lives for Jesus at the end of times.”

“It’s definitely an unusual way to begin a pastoral assignment—not seeing anyone,” said Nash. “But I think for all pastors and churches right now, there’s almost an early-church feel to this—a longing to be together as a church family. I feel so blessed to be able to work with Alise and Chris in ministry together.”

Nash has been sharing a verse online: “Brothers and sisters, having been separated from each other for a short time in presence, not in heart, we endeavor more eagerly to see you face to face” (1 Thess 2:17).

Morris is currently a full-time middle school teacher at Mile High Academy, but says he’s truly excited about his return to pastoral ministry. Morris will lead the worship, youth, and visitation ministries at Littleton.

Weber has been children’s pastor at Littleton the past two years. “I have seen God’s hand and leading throughout the past year, and I feel so blessed to be working with both Pastors Andy Nash and Chris Morris,” she said. “In these unique circumstances, where we are required to be apart, I believe it is God’s timing that we join together now to creatively nurture our congregation. ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

“Great days lie ahead for the Littleton church,” commented Barnett. “They have a tremendous team of pastors. They are very gifted and dedicated,” he added.

Jon Roberts, text and photo

26 Mar

How Are You, Really?

This Tuesday I began my online Junior Bible class at Mile High Academy by asking my 12 students a simple question: “How are you, really?”

By my tone of voice, the students could tell this wasn’t an ordinary question. I hadn’t seen them for 11 days—the last Friday chapel before spring break. Their life and world had changed dramatically.

One by one, they answered the question with more candor and sobriety than I’d ever heard in their voices.

“To be honest, I’m depressed,” said one student. “It’s just so hard to be away from everyone.”

Several other students shared their own struggle with loneliness.

A few of the students didn’t want to say much, which I understood. I would have been the same way as a junior in high school.

Then one student said: “I just feel like Jesus is about to come back. I don’t know why, but I really feel that way.”

It was interesting. The focus of Junior Bible is Daniel and Revelation. Last semester the students were pretty into Daniel. But this semester they’ve struggled to get into Revelation.

Until now. On Tuesday—even online—they seemed more eager for Revelation than ever.

“Okay,” I said as the final student shared how they were doing. “Let’s turn to Revelation 12.”

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains…”

So how are you, really?

Andy Nash is the pastor of the Littleton Adventist Church. He also teaches junior Bible at Mile High Academy.

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