Category Archives: Changed Lives

Changed Lives – Nobody Noticed

by Vincent Dehm
Source: NAD Ministerial

Tread softly this could get dark.

For most of my life, there was an underlying darkness that seemed to accompany me. I grew up in an environment where it did not matter what you felt like on the inside, as long as the outside was put together. This way of handling “stuff” nearly cost me my life.

It was the beginning of October in 2001. I had entered my last year of college in Texas. Two and a half years earlier, I had gotten out of the Army to pursue a degree in Theology. I had a supportive loving wife of ten years, three school aged children, a house that had squirrels in the attic, a full course load, and a marriage that was falling to pieces right in front of my face.

This particular season had been really tough on our relationship because like most men, I have a propensity Continue Reading…

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Changed Lives – Something Enduring

Carrol lived in the Spokane area most of her life.  She decided to move to the Walla Walla Valley and a friend invited her to church. At that point she was looking for something enduring in her life. Even though she grew up in the small town of Spangle, near an Adventist Academy and Church, she had very little interaction with Christianity. When Pastor Troy Fitzgerald heard about Carrol’s desire to learn and to follow God, he started studies and invited her to Sabbath class at the University Church. Every appointment and every experience at church deepened her love for Christ. Her commitment to health and peace in her life has grown and she is ready to testify about Christ’s saving power. She was baptized in the pool in her community with neighbors there watching scene.

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Changed Lives – Sexual Addiction and Marriage

by Marella Rudebaugh, Administrative Assistant in Ministerial, Creation Ministries, Native Ministries, and Evangelism for the North Pacific Union Conference

My husband, Mark, was seven years old when he was molested, but not by the type of person the world has come to expect. Not by a priest or a coach or a father or an uncle….by his seven year old friend. Mark’s friend came to his house for a sleep over and they camped alone in a tent in his back yard. It was then that his friend suggested experimenting. That one experience led to several more with the same boy over the months which led to a lifelong sexual addiction.

When Mark reached the age of 13, he discovered pornography in a magazine at a friend’s house and realized that a sexual experience between a man and a woman (he hadn’t been taught what sex really was) looked much more appealing and his addiction to pornography and self pleasuring began.

Fast forward 12 years and he meets me, his future wife, who had a part in leading him, once again, to Christ. We were married and then he was rebaptized a few years later, all the while hiding his addiction from me. He wanted to lead a life for Christ, but didn’t know how to break the cycle. He didn’t know where to turn for help. The church body doesn’t really talk about this type of problem and there’s so much disgust and shaming involved that makes it very difficult to even broach the subject with anyone. When his problem was finally discovered, he was very remorseful and ashamed. He saw the hurt it caused in me and I began to feel as if I wasn’t good enough to keep his attention.

Over the next 10 years, the cycles became pretty consistent. Mark would make an effort to change, then I would find some reason to doubt (perhaps an image on his phone or a behavior) and the same conversation would ensue; deeply hurt, I would cry and ask him why he couldn’t just stop. He would apologize and promise to do better. On and on this went.

Then something changed. We both became fed up with the cycle and I found an inexpensive internet filter ($55 per year or $44 with coupon discount code QUST20) and put it on every device we had, with me being the only one with the passwords. This helped for a while. He suddenly lost access to pornography. Problem solved! Well, no. He still had problems with his fantasy world of imagination and self pleasuring. I started looking up resources (sadly there did not seem to be much out there if you were on a limited budget) and discovered the Recovered Man and Pornfree Radio. This website became a tremendous help to both of us. We both started listening to the podcasts by Matt Dobschuetz which allowed me to better understand what he was going through and why he couldn’t just stop. It also gave Mark practical tips on how to make changes. It helped him to know that he wasn’t the only one struggling with sinful behavior, I had a problem with being critical. We began to check in with each other every Friday to discuss the struggles each of us had the previous week.

It wasn’t until Mark opened up and became very honest with me that God really started changing him. He started reading his Bible everyday and praying that God would allow him to focus his attention and energy on me, rather than his fantasy world.

By me making the effort to understand what he was going through and him being very honest with his struggles, we began to feel closer to each other than we ever felt possible. The weekly talks have drawn us together. My attempts to understand made him want to be better, want to do more things for me, which led me to want to better meet his needs. Time with me became much more meaningful than his fantasy, which made him not want to enter that world anymore.

Mark is still tempted, but the pull is not as strong as it once was and the moment he feels that temptation, he calls me. He’s experienced sobriety from his sexual addiction for about a year now and although that doesn’t seem like very long, after 36 years of extremely harmful sexual habits, we’re both praising God for the progress God has made in him.

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Momentum – Planning Every Detail

by Brandon Korter, Pastor of the Valley View Seventh-day Adventist Church

The evangelistic series was outstanding in almost every way. From the very beginning, the Valley View Seventh-day Adventist Church (located in East Wenatchee, Washington) came together in a beautiful unified spirit. Virtually everyone was excited and inspired to be able to share the good news of Jesus to our community.

The leadership of the church really rallied together and we began planning almost a year in  advance—planning for outreach events, planning every detail of the evangelistic campaign—along with our Evangelism Committee. The leadership of our Evangelism Committee did an outstanding job in the finalization of all details, ordering resources, planning the children’s programing and all internet and media advertising.

The attendance of the church family was strong each night, averaging between 100 and 120 each night. We sent out 43,000 invitational brochures, and on opening night, 64 non-Adventists came to the meeting. Attendance for the non-members continued in the 54-60 range.

One of the families attending had previously visited our church and they were very excited about the meetings that were starting. There was, however, a major conflict because they were highly addicted to tobacco. The family members expressed the belief that they would certainly never be able to stop after smoking for 46 years with multiple failed attempts to quit the addiction.

Happily, during the evangelistic campaign, Pastor Korter did a stop-smoking training with this family. By God’s grace, they quit cold turkey, remained smoke-free until baptism, and praise God that His victory is still theirs. Similarly, another man was victorious who had smoked for years and years. He, too, did not believe he could quit smoking—especially due to the home atmosphere from his wife’s smoking habits. However, the pastor did a stop-smoking training with him. By God’s grace, he too quit cold turkey and remains smoke-free to this day. This man had previous baptisms into the Pentecostal church, the Methodist Church, a Nondenominational Church and even the Mormon Church because of his search for the truth. Now be was baptized into the Adventist Church and is thrilled to discover truth as it is found in Jesus Christ. The man’s wife has become interested in learning more about Jesus and is attending along with him. Evangelism still works!

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Changed Lives – Why I Left the Church

 

by Janna Thomsen

Growing up, I had always belonged to a church family. Summer camp, pathfinders, SDA schools through high school. It was always easy to find friends with the same/similar beliefs. Not anymore. Only recently have I started to connect on a Christian level with a few of my friends.

Years ago, I moved back to Seattle from Spokane, and I never felt comfortable finding a new church. Especially because I’d be doing it on my own. I had saved the contact info from all the churches in the area in my phone, intending to visit them, but never did. I also went through quite a few life changing things (marriage/divorce/moving across the country twice, etc.), that made me question my relationship with God. I still had love for Him, but nothing felt right. Time passed so quickly, and before I knew it, I hadn’t been going to church for 12 years.

It took a breakup from my first official boyfriend since my last divorce, that made me finally realize that I had really lost myself and needed to make a change. I wanted a church.

I still had no desire to visit churches to find the right one. The whole idea of that gave me anxiety. So, I decided to use technology to my advantage. I checked online for all those churches that I had saved years before. A lot of them had links to sermons on YouTube. I watched a few, but nothing was getting me excited. Then finally, a sermon from a pastor from Volunteer Park Seventh-day Adventist Church (VCP) in Seattle impressed me. It was interesting. It was relevant.

So I decided to check out VPC. It was a big church with a small congregation. I could get in on the ground floor. Be a part of the establishment of this church. Everyone was kind, the sermon was great, and the music incredible. I then met Elton, who’s eyes lit up when he found out I could sing. I joined the praise team and was able to feel that powerful feeling of worship through music that I hadn’t felt since I graduated from Upper Columbia Academy.

My position at the church eventually grew into me becoming and elder… What?! It was really just the elder that made the church look pretty though… basically VPC’s own interior designer.

Shortly after I became an elder, I made a difficult decision and took a new job in New York City. So I moved across the country. A church was recommended to me, but ugh. A new congregation. Again. I forced myself to go. The music was great, the sermon was decent, but it was well established. I did not feel as welcome there as I did at VPC. the only people who said hello to me are the greeters. And it’s not like I hid in the back. I sat in the middle pew, in the dead center. I went a handful of times for almost a year. Tried to connect to their multiple social groups, but my schedule never permitted.

A year later, I decided to move back home to Seattle. I went straight to VPC. So happy to be home. But just a few Sabbath’s ago, I found out my pastor was leaving. I was actually in tears about it. I was excited about church again because of his sermons and how he had grown our church community. How was this going to affect me? Then I remembered, it wasn’t just him. We have an amazing congregation who are hungry to continue the vision for VPC. I’m scared but excited to see what is in store for us.

I struggle every day with what my relationship with God should be. With what kind of Christian I should be. What kind of woman I should be. Honesty, it’s never-ending. But I do my best, or at least I try to. I just need to remember that I’m not doing it alone.

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Changed Lives – Pastor, How Can I Get Involved in Ministry?

by Ryan Rogers, Pastor of the Poulsbo Adventist Church

Pastor, how can I get involved in ministry?” That is an exciting question for a pastor. And it’s the question Daniel asked one Sabbath after church that led to discussion, brainstorming, prayer and, eventually, got Daniel and me out on the streets going door to door. We shared a desire to reach the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood across the street from our church. Daniel speaks Spanish and I don’t. He printed off some fliers to offer Spanish Bible studies. As we stood at each door I would silently pray and smile while Daniel talked with the people. It was exciting to see Daniel’s enthusiasm for sharing his love for Jesus.

Daniel is an overcomer. I was reminded of this as we went door to door. Daniel had a cast on his hand that made it difficult for him to pass out fliers and to knock on doors. He had recently had a wood shop accident and it was likely that he would loose a finger. But Daniel’s hand was healing. I was inspired as I watched Daniel serve so willingly, even with these limitations. Overcoming is something that Daniel has experienced a lot of. Daniel just graduated from high school. This was a remarkable achievement considering that he had suffered a major trauma when he was 14 years old. He was in a comma for 2 weeks, had to eat through a feeding tube, he lost his ability to walk and talk. God blessed his recovery and he relearned how to do the basic things of life. Early on in his recovery he experienced a distinct calling from the Lord to serve Him. Daniel’s recovery has been richly blessed and Daniel desires to live out that calling to serve his Healer.

I first met Daniel during an evangelistic series I preached in the Fall of 2018 at my Church in Poulsbo, Washington. God again called to Daniel’s heart during those meeting. Daniel reaffirmed his desire to respond to God’s calling to serve him and in November, 2018 I had the privilege of Baptizing Daniel.

It is a blessed pleasure to baptism a child of God. But that blessing is extended when you get the added opportunity to disciple that person and to serve along side of them. I praise God that I had the opportunity to meet Daniel through evangelism. I continue to praise God that six months after his baptism, Daniel is inviting me to do ministry along side of him.

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Changed Lives – Soaking it All In

by John Miller, Pastor of the Winlock Seventh-day Adventist Church

By God’s grace our fall meetings went really well! Our little church was excited to hold another evangelistic series and my wife and I appreciated the support and prayers of the members. Many of our members committed to helping in various ways and it was encouraging to see their enthusiasm and dedication.

A few months back one of the couples attending our church had taken the initiative to follow up one of the It Is Written Bible study leads that we had received back from our recent mailing. This couple met the Peters family; a dear family of seven. After doing Bible studies with them for quite a while, they were able to bring the Peters to our evangelistic series.

We started our meetings off with 13 non-Adventist adults and 8 children. The Peters family and several individuals faithfully hung in there with us through the entirety of all 24 presentations.

Brandy was a lady in her mid-thirties who gave her life to the Lord in the last five years. She came to this series because she got a flyer in the mail and was interested in learning about the prophecies of the Bible. One evening after I sent out a group text to those attending, she responded with the following message:

“Great. I plan to be at all the meetings. Thanks. I don’t really have any questions.. , I’m just soaking it all in at this point. It is very interesting to me and I am enjoying everything I’m learning. It’s really helping me to understand many of the difficult-to-decipher verses I have read in the past, but now make much more sense.”

We were thrilled to see her excitement and openness! Brandy continued to regularly attend each meeting and readily accepted the Sabbath along with other testing truths.

Not only were non-Adventists blessed by the truths presented. We also had two recently baptized couples from the Castle Rock Seventh-day Adventist Church who faithfully attended each meeting. Every night they sat in the front row and loved hearing the messages they were understanding better and becoming more grounded in.

In the book Evangelism page 5 we read: “Evangelism, the very heart of Christianity, is the theme of primary importance to those called to herald God’s last warning to a doomed world. We are in time’s closing hours, and the Advent message, proclaimed to make ready a people prepared for our Lord’s return, must swell to a loud cry reaching the uttermost parts of the earth.”

I want to be a part of that “loud cry” here in my little communities of Winlock and Onalaska. Pray for us as we continue to work and make disciples of those who attended our meetings. May God continue to help us all to be faithful and sharing God’s last-day message with the world.

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Changed Lives – “A” Interest

by Mike Armayor, Pastor of the La Grande Seventh-day Adventist Church

Our story begins with opening night of the Prophecy Seminar held in La Grande. One of the guests in attendance was a retired business owner by the name of Linda. Linda became an “A” interest as she took in every word of each presentation and filled in every blank in the lesson with the Bible answer. Over time she shared with us that in the previous seven years she and her husband had been regularly watching 3-ABN and had thought about responding to the advertising mailers and attending one of the seminars offered a couple times each of those same years. She wondered if the messages she was enjoying on TV were the same as those presented in the seminars at the local Seventh-day Adventist church. Linda explained that she thought about attending, but for whatever reason she just didn’t until this seminar. In my recollection as a pastor, I’ve never had someone with perfect attendance, but Linda did not miss one series presentation of the thirty one.

Shortly following the seminar, Linda made her decision for Jesus in joining the La Grande Seventh-day Adventist Church by Profession of Faith. She has continued to attend church with her husband for which we praise the Lord. Linda now serves as one of our Evangelism Team members who has faithfully supported subsequent evangelistic seminar series. Linda told us that as a Christian in her teens she began searching for the right church and now after forty years she says God has led her home.

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Changed Lives – Sleep Induced by God?

by Matthew Vixie, Pastor of the Clarkston Seventh-day Adventist Church

His name was Ray, he had lost his wife recently. He told me he was hoping she would hang on a little while longer for “the rapture.” Jack had invited him to come to the meetings. He accepted the invitation but didn’t return until one night when our topic was the 2nd coming. I said a prayer and preached the topic, certain that Ray would be offended by the information and never return. As I preached the sermon I noticed something about Ray, his eyes were shut, his head bowed down, he was either sleeping or in a very long prayer! Is God in the business of causing sleep to a kind old man who just lost his wife and isn’t ready for what he is about to hear?

A week or so later Ray showed up again, he apologized for being sleepy the last time he came. That night our topic was the Millennium. I said another prayer and proceeded with the information from God’s word, we went over the same information and Ray wasn’t sleeping this time. After the meeting he asked me a question that went something like this. “Pastor where is my wife tonight?” Certain questions have answers that change the way some individual lives. I went over some of the same verses from scripture concerning what happens at death. Ray responded, “I want to know where you personally think my wife is tonight.” I told him I believe the Bible when it says the dead are going to rise first. Ray told me something then that struck me as profound. “All my life I believed the dead go to heaven when they die, that Jesus comes back in the rapture. Now I don’t know what I believe.”

For me that was a high point during these meetings. Why? I saw firsthand the word of God move someone from a belief whose foundations are outside of scripture to a willingness to study what the Bible really says. Did he get baptized? Not yet. Anymore conversations about the Bible? I plan on having them with him first chance I get. For now, I am rejoicing that the word of God still moves men and women.

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Three Prayers and Their Answers

by Stan Hudson who served as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 38 years and is currently the Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference

In national polls taken in America, the vast majority of respondents answered the question of whether their prayers had been answered with “Yes!”  Answered prayer is perhaps the most meaningful personal evidence that there is a God.  That’s why it is so important to pray regularly and with specific enough requests as to make answers obvious.  We need to remember that it is in God’s own interest to answer the needs of His people, so that their faith would grow.

There have been three huge prayers with answers that I’ve had in my life.

“Back in the day,” as my son Daniel thinks I lived, I was a cowboy-loving kid in Los Angeles.  For one birthday I received a cowboy outfit complete with plastic bullet-shooting six guns.  This was back in the day when the world didn’t freak out about playing with guns, of course.  In my playing I dropped a silver, plastic bullet into our short dichondra grass.  But, where did it go?  It should be straight down, I thought, and very easy to see.  I sure didn’t want to lose some of my birthday gift.  I panicked a bit;  what would Mom and Dad say?  So I remembered there was this Jesus person you could pray to (we didn’t go to church).  I knelt down and said, “Dear Jesus, please help me find my bullet!”  I opened my eyes and it was there in front of me, right where I had looked and looked.  I closed my eyes and said “Thank you!”  My bullet was found.

A couple of years later my Mom told me, “Daddy isn’t coming home anymore.”  I cried and cried.  Then I prayed to Jesus, Who had answered my prayer before:  “Please send Daddy home!”  But Dad didn’t come home.  I knew things were complicated and I remember I didn’t disparage Jesus, but obviously the answer was “I can’t do that.”  But because of Mom’s concerns for my sister and I, she put us in a Christian (Adventist) school.

Years passed until the next serious prayer.  I was not a Christian, and I was living in a bachelor pad in Riverside, California with a good buddy David Friend.  We were full time employees at two local McDonalds.  One night we had a party with McD folks, ending up with Dave, a young lady and I going to a Dennys restaurant at 3:00 in the morning.  The talk suddenly turned serious as we reviewed our lives and where we seemed to be going…which seemed like nowhere.  We started talking about changing things, then David added “and let’s look for God.”  Seriously?  The next day he asked me to borrow my Bible.  After some searching I found my children’s Bible and he started reading it.  Then, I did, too.

The moment came for prayer #3.  I knelt by my bed (that’s where you’re “supposed to pray”), and simply asked, “Dear God, it looks like David and I are looking for you.  Will you help us?  Amen.”  The answer was YYYEEEESSSSSS!!!  And it still is….

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