Author Archives: Marella Rudebaugh

CONTAGIOUS CHRISTIAN

Global Communication from a Computer with a PC

by Byron Dulan, Vice President for Regional Affairs at the North Pacific Union Conference

The coronavirus pandemic has plunged the entire world into a global health crisis. This is not the first time, however, that an epidemic has shifted the course of world history.  The Spanish flu of 1918-20 infected a quarter of the Earth’s population and is estimated to have killed between 17-50 million people.  Yet, before that event happened, the extraordinary story of a young Irish immigrant, Mary, a cook in early 20th century New York, transpired; and she left in her wake, a trail of death, scandal, and controversy.[i]

Mary Mallon was born in Ireland but left there as a teenager to seek a different life in the New World.  By 1900, she was working as a cook in the homes of wealthy families in and around New York City.  At the time, between one and two million Americans worked in domestic service; and successfully obtaining a role as a cook, earned one the designation of “queen of the castle”.  In the role, Mary managed the kitchen staff, bought supplies, and held the privilege of being called, Miss Mallon.  Eventually, she gained renown for her tasty signature dish, peach ice cream.   

Mary Mallon worked in the ritzier neighborhoods of Manhattan; but things were not as well as they appeared on the surface.  Between 1900 and 1907, she had worked as a cook in the homes of seven different families – the final one located on Park Avenue – and in each home, people fell ill or died of typhoid.  Every time this occurred, Mary managed to quietly slip away and find work elsewhere.[ii] 

Typhoid, as a disease, was a known killer, but many erroneously believed it belonged to another world.  The disease, however, thrived in the overcrowded, unsanitary conditions of New York’s slum neighborhoods, such as Five Points and Hell’s Kitchen.

One victim’s family hired George Soper, a sanitation engineer and researcher, to locate Mary, to determine if she was a carrier of the disease.  When he found her, however, Mary angrily chased him out of her kitchen with a carving fork.  It is easy to empathize with Mary’s rejection of the idea that she was a source of transmission for a disease from which she, herself, never suffered.   But George Soper had correctly identified her as an asymptomatic carrier of Typhoid Fever. Ultimately, Mary was never infected by the disease herself; but she remained infectious to other people for the rest of her life.  Not surprisingly, Mary Mallon

found this concept impossible to grasp.  But New York authorities were desperate to contain the disease, and in 1907 Mary Mallon was exiled to an isolation facility on North Brother Island, located on a river outside of New York.

In that formative time of epidemiology, authorities lacked the knowledge we possess today, about how to slow the surge of an epidemic.  Ancient sources did contain practical guidelines helpful to their immediate crisis, had they only referenced them.  Eventually, however, through trial and error, they adopted and applied those self-same principles.    

In the Biblical book of Leviticus, chapter 13, Moses recorded health laws spoken to him by God, regarding how to contain the spread of leprosy and other contagious diseases.  Note verses 43-46:

            Verse 43,44 – “Then the priest shall examine it. . . The priest shall surely pronounce him unclean.”

            Verse 45 – “Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache and cry, Unclean!  Unclean!”

            Verse 46 – “All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean.  He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.”

It is amazing that in this passage we discover:

  • Testing:  The priest shall examine it and decide.
  • Masking:  He shall cover his mustache.
  • Social Distancing:  He shall cry unclean.
  • Quarantine/Isolation: He shall dwell alone outside the camp.

Evidently, the methods recommended by public health officials today are in keeping with God’s instructions to Moses over four-thousand years ago!

Back to our story.  In 1909, Mary Mallon hired a lawyer and unsuccessfully sued the Health Department that had placed her in quarantine.  But in 1910, a new Health Commissioner vowed to free Mary and assist her with finding suitable employment as a domestic, albeit, not as a cook.  Mary, was, subsequently released from quarantine; however, she never intended to abide by the agreement. 

Using an alias, Mary commenced working again for unsuspecting employers.  Employed as a cook at Sloane Maternity (a hospital) in Manhattan, within three months she had infected at least 25 people, including doctors, nurses, and staff, two of whom died.  This time, when authorities tracked her down again in 1915, they offered no sympathy. 

Mary was returned to isolation, where she lived in confinement for the next twenty-three years, until her death in 1938.  She was stigmatized as “Typhoid Mary,” by local newspapers, and became a laughingstock – the butt of numerous jokes and cartoons. In the end, her name emerged in medical dictionaries – as a synonym and designation of a contagious disease carrier.

Significant controversy remains regarding the treatment that Mary sustained at the hands of the Health Department.  Rather than educating her – and guiding her understanding of the health risks she posed to others – she was ensnared as a victim of local health laws instead.  Nevertheless, one valuable aspect of Mary’s legacy to the world may be, increased awareness of the importance of following medical advice, even when you do not clearly understand it. 

The history of Mary Mallon, declared “unclean” like a leper, may provide us some moral direction on how best to protect the ill; and how best to protect ourselves, from illness.  Mary refused the one operation which might have cured her.  “Typhoid Mary” has, indeed, become shorthand when referring to issues of non-compliance with public health laws.  The state’s pursuit of Mary, coupled with her own intransigence, places her at an unfortunate space within medical and social history.[iii]

Why, exactly, was Mary’s signature dish — peach ice cream – so critical to her story, you may ask?   Because, the typhoid bacterium can survive in cold food, but is destroyed during cooking.  If Mary Mallon had taken especial pride in an apple pie recipe, rather than her peach ice cream concoction, we may perhaps have never heard of “Typhoid Mary”.

What, indeed, have we learned?  The risk of asymptomatic contagion is currently a heated topic within health circles, and with the public at large.  The discussion proves to be relevant in a spiritual context as well.  The simple truth is, that we are all contagious!  

The Bible says: “All have sinned.”  Our interpretation of that verse is often, “Y’all have sinned!”  We human beings, particularly Christians, have a keen, innate ability to discern and point out the sins and faults of others, while remaining blind to our own sins and faults.

Some Christians appear to be asymptomatic to the controversy and confusion they often spread within their families and their churches.  They seem unperturbed and undisturbed, by the poison and contagion swirling around their being, wherever they are present.  As they hop, skip, and jump from church, to church, to church, trouble follows in their wake.  They see no need for virus testing.  They see no need for masking.  Or, if they do choose to don a mask, it is because they believe themselves at risk of catching something very bad from you.  Preoccupied by their own preferences, prerogatives, and privileges, they are disinclined to recognize the need of others to be protected from their very infectious state.  They demonstrate little, to no concern, for people within their communities, who are affected by their contagiousness.

I hate to say it, but at times, you do need social distancing from some (so called) saints.  When those persons come through the door, an alarm should be triggered.  Someone needs to yell “unclean!” – (hyperbole fully intended).  Truth be told, we are all too often afraid of the wrong people.  It is not the man with liquor on his breath; or the guy with dirty face and smelly clothes; or the woman with five runny-nosed, rambunctious children; nor the scantily clad, gaudy young woman, requiring more ‘fig leaves’ to cover herself.  No, they are not the problem.  Nor are they the true threat!  Rather, it is the asymptomatic Christian, who, to all appearances, looks fantastic outwardly, but inwardly, breeds conspiracies, lies, and innuendo; and steadfastly resists testing their words and actions against the Word of God. 

Thank God, there is a more positive aspect to being a Contagious Christian”.  As social beings, we humans are constantly carrying, transmitting, and spreading something.  For example:

  • Yawning is contagious.
  • Itching/scratching is contagious.
  • Laughing is contagious.
  • Rudeness is contagious.
  • Curiosity is contagious.

If, in fact, we are all contagious in some manner or other, what, precisely, are we spreading?  Are we spreading hope or fear?  Are we spreading truth or lies?  Are we contagious with logic and reason, buttressed by facts; or conspiracy theories, based on speculation, innuendo, or wishful thinking?  Do we even recognize what an actual risk we are, as asymptomatic contagious spreaders?  Do we ultimately care about the people we are infecting, and the people they will infect – and so on – due to associating with us? 

Is it possible, some of our Sabbath afternoon potluck conversations could be characterized as “super spreader” events?  Do we realize it may be beneficial to ‘mask’ our tongues; socially distance ourselves from gossip and speculation; and endure congregational separation or isolation for a brief time, to ensure vulnerable persons in our families and churches are protected from infectious disease? 

Each of us requires testing by the Word of God to determine our own, clean, or unclean status, according to God’s standards.  We urgently need to be inoculated with the vaccine of God’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy – the antidote to all our ills – that we may, indeed, be healed.

Praise God, that we are not required to hold celebrity status to receive daily testing and treatment.  Sin is the deadliest disease infecting the world today.  It manifests itself in many forms.  The grace, faith, and love of Jesus Christ comprise the only efficacious vaccine – sufficient to cure. 

The Bible contains numerous stories regarding Contagious Christians.  One of my favorites is found in Acts, chapter 16, about the experiences of Paul and Silas while in the Philippian prison.

You know the story.

  • Paul and Silas spoke truth to power and were arrested as a result.  Speaking truth to power will often land you in trouble.  Almost every prophet in the Bible was opposed, ridiculed, ignored, and persecuted.  They were exiled, stoned, beheaded, crucified, and imprisoned.
  • Paul and Silas were imprisoned, this time, for exorcising demons from the life of a young slave girl, “in the name of Jesus”.
  • Her “pimps” – rhetorically speaking – immediately witnessed their stock portfolios crash.  Say what you will, but “never mess with the money”.  The first century version of the Mafia immediately ordered their arrest.
  • We read Paul’s counsel in Philippians 4: 4,6-7.  “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again, I will say, rejoice!  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
  • Acts 16:25, shows us that Paul truly ‘walked the talk’.  He and Silas had been stripped, whipped, placed in stocks, and thrown into solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison.
  • Every inmate, incarcerated in that specific prison, on that particular night, wanted to know who these two ‘losers’ were; and what precisely, they had done, to deserve such harsh treatment.
  • In prison, as in life, credibility hinges on your story – your testimony.  And to have a powerful testimony, you must have a test.
  • I do not know the exact time the meeting started, but by midnight the prison was rocking, with hymns, prayers, and spiritual praise to God, resounding throughout its halls.  And the entire prison population was on board – caught up in their fervor.
  • Suddenly, a mighty earthquake shook that prison to its foundations.  Every cell-door opened, and every chain was loosed.
  • If those events transpired today, we would witness one of the biggest prison breaks in history.
  • Awakened by the quake and the tumult, the warden panicked as he observed every prison door breached.  He knew he would be held responsible, and likely executed for the loss of any prisoners.  So, he quickly prepared to take his own life.
  • Paul called out and stopped him; reassuring the warden that no one had escaped – every prisoner was accounted for.
  • No question about it – Paul was a Contagious Christian! Silas, too! Their example was so contagious in fact, that the Spirit of Christ constrained every prisoner from seeking to escape (some of whom, no doubt, had been in those dungeons for months and years, without the possibility of parole.) To forgo their one chance to escape, demonstrates how thoroughly they had been “infected” – and powerfully changed – through the example of Paul and Silas.

Yes, we are all contagious.  We are all spreading something, for good or for ill, about life; both, in the here and now, and in eternity.  Daily, we are a living testimony.  Let us, determine, therefore, not to replicate the story of “Typhoid Mary”.  But choose instead, to spread hope, joy, and love, to all whom we encounter.  That is my most earnest prayer.  AMEN.


[i] “How Typhoid Mary Left a Trail of Scandal and Death,” Kevin Connolly, BBC News.

[ii] Ibid., BBC News.

[iii] “Mary Mallon and the history of Typhoid Fever,” Annals of Gastroenterology, Hellenic Society of Gastroenterology.

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Pastoring During a Pandemic

Reopening for business adapt to new normal in the novel Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Rear view of business owner wearing medical mask placing open sign "OPEN BUSINESS AS NEW NORMAL" on front door.

I think it’s safe to say we all thought this would be over by now. What started as a two week lock down has turned into a year. So much has changed in so many different areas of ministry and it can be hard to adapt, especially if you had become comfortable with how you lead your church. This article was written 6 months ago, when many thought the lock down might be coming to an end, but it’s still very applicable now. Mandates for churches, here in the Northwest, have been loosened in the last few weeks, but we are still seeing a huge decline in attendance. We can’t expect things to go back to the way they were. Here’s some practical tips on Pastoring During a Pandemic.

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How to Amaze God

Unbelievable shocking news! Portrait of stunned brunette man with beard in casual white t-shirt holding face and keeping mouth wide open in amazement. indoor studio shot isolated on orange background

by Dr. Stan Hudson, Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference

Have you ever been amazed? I mean, have you ever seen something and the only expression that can come to mind is…“Wow!” Steph Curry hits a 37—foot jumper, nothing but net. Pat Mahomes eludes seemingly dozens of defenders, Corey Seager hits a 100 mph fastball 450 feet. Amazing!

I have only been to one Broadway-style musical, but there was one I had to go to. While pastoring in Spokane, “Fiddler on the Roof” came to a local venue and featured the 1971 film’s original star, Chaim Topol. When he sang “If I Were a Rich Man…all day long I’d bidi-bidi-bum.” Wow! And when he sang “Sunrise, Sunset” about the years rolling by and his daughters growing up…well, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Absolutely amazing. A standing ovation was the result. 

Since we are created in the image of God, we can assume that our feelings are feelings that He also experiences. God can be amazed, too. However, we often think that to be amazed there has to be an element of surprise in it. Not so! All of the examples I gave above were very anticipatable. Even though you expected something awesome, when it does actually arrive…it can still be amazing to see.

With that in mind, did you ever think about how God experiences amazement?

During my morning devotionals I noticed from the gospels that Jesus displayed amazement at times. You might even say that Jesus could join us in expressing “wow” at the things He saw in His ministry. And like us, He was amazed at negatives things, and at other times He was amazed at positive things.

An example of a negative time was when He healed a man’s hand on Sabbath and saw the attitude of the religious leaders who were present. Mark 3:4,5: “Then He said to them, ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” It was a hard thing to comprehend for the Lord. Why would someone oppose a healing act of mercy, especially on Sabbath? It didn’t compute! At its core, their mischaracterization of God and His willingness to heal was astounding to the Savior. There was no faith and to see it in person was amazing.

So, let’s get personal. Has my or has your attitude about God’s character ever surprised God? Have we ever doubted His willingness to heal, to answer prayers, to meet needs? As a pastor, I wonder if there were many times when I “should have known better?”

On the other hand, there were times when Jesus was genuinely amazed by a person’s faith. Remember the Centurion’s request, the one where he sought Jesus to heal his beloved servant? Matthew 8:5-13 records the story. The Roman officer knew all about authority and recognized that Jesus had it. He knew Jesus could order the miracle, even from distance. Such faith brought this response from Jesus: “When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed,

‘Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!’” Matthew 8:10. When Jesus saw faith like this, which had at its core a correct understanding of God’s character (to put it in today’s vernacular, “somebody finally has got it!”), Jesus was amazed and pleasantly soSince I seriously doubt that angels in heaven do anything more than yawn at Steph Curry’s shots or Patrick Mahomes’ skills, I would love to do something that can bring a “wow” from heaven’s courts. That is, a positive one, of course!

Dear Lord, when I am around Jesus, let my actions show that I have faith to move mountains. May I show that I “get it” about your loving character and desire to answer my requests for help and healing. May I believe so strongly in my Savior’s authority and power that it brings a “wow” of approval. Grant me, Lord, that kind of faith!

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Finding Hope

Hand turns a dice and changes the expression "new year" to "new start".
Photo by Fokusiert on iStock

by Jorge Richarson, Pastor of the Nueva Vida and Independence Spanish Seventh-day Adventist churches.

“Approximately 18 years ago, I arrived in the United States. I came with dreams and illusions of a better future. God gave me the opportunity to come with my greatest gift on this earth, my family,” Sara says.

Sara has been living in Independence, a city southwest of Salem, for 17 years. There, she has seen her three children grow up. She has also experienced the pain of a marriage destroyed by the alcohol and drugs her husband consumed. Alone, without hope, and with the battle of finishing the education of her three children, she kept going. As the years went by, her life kept feeling empty, stressful, disillusioned, and hopeless. One day her neighbors told her about some hope meetings. Sara said, “I need to hear hope.”

Sara then met Magoo, Head Elder at the Independence Spanish Church, started a friendship and became part of a small group in his home and began to study the Bible together. Pastor Jorge Richarson would visit twice a month and encourage her to go forward and give her life to Jesus.

Sara says: “My best day of the week was when they would visit me on Wednesdays at 7 PM and have the small group. That was a day where I could learn new songs, learn more about how to live a new life in Jesus. At first I did not understand anything, but then I was creating a study habit and I liked to learn about my origin, why we are as we are, we react as we react, it was very interesting to know: creation, the origin of evil and the effects of sin throughout time, and the great provision that God has made through Jesus Christ so that we do not continue in the chaotic life that we have lived because of sin. It has been 14 months since the small group became part of my life. I am now has peace, and I want to give myself to Jesus,”

In May 2020 there were three weeks of spiritual emphasis & evangelism through ZOOM entitled: Hope in a World with Covid-19 Bible Study led by the Pastor of the church.

In June 2020, the church met again in the building and Sara decided to be baptized and also her nephew who attended the small group.

When she was in the baptismal pool Sara said: 18 years ago I came to USA, and I came with dreams and illusions of a better future – today I have found a better future in Jesus Christ – today I decide to be born again, to live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Today Sara is emotionally restored, she serves as a deaconess in the church and testifies of what God has done in her life. In addition, she is giving Bible studies to her parents and her husband who wants to restore their marriage relationship after 7 years of separation.

This story of Sara’s redemption reminds us that there is still hope in a world with Covid-19.

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Until the Nets are Full

Old fisherman is catching fish with fishing net on his boat, Çivril, Denizli, Turkey.

by Sergio Manente, Pastor of the Richland Seventh-day Adventist Church

God has been blessing us with new visitors every weekend. Our church leaders are mission focused and enthusiastic to nurture each current member and serve our community. Growing each member as mission minded disciples and investing personal energy, time, and resources to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and His message to the unchurched in our community has ever been our focus.

We’re ever brainstorming ways of establishing connections in our community and helping the unchurched in the Richland Seventh-day Adventist Church experience Christ. In 2020, we developed a new series on the 11th chapter of Hebrews called By Faith. This was a 3-month Sabbath series, covering 18 sermons that focused on each life and what defined their faith.

The series had a great energizing effect in our congregation. We have baptized six so far, even though covid-19 tried to take the wind out of our sails. We are studying with more contacts and hope to have an even richer harvest.

I am thrilled with how many members are actively involved with the community and how many new connections are being made every day. Our attendance is up and we are continually seeing a stream of new seekers coming through our doors. I’m excited for the next few years growing the amazing leaders we are blessed with here in Richland, collaborating with them in this endeavor, and figuring out new ways to bridge the gap between members in our community. 

I love the everyday evangelism and discipleship that happens at Richland and look forward to the proclamation evangelism series that will bring in the harvest that each dedicated member has worked towards and prayed for. We are all so blessed and enriched by God’s great mercy to partner with us to usher his soon return.

Until the nets are full!

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Sources for Free Visuals for Sermons

GC Evangelism.net – High quality graphics to support your message provided by the General Conference Evangelism Department
Canva.com – A free design suite with a library of backgrounds
Pixabay.com – An artist share catalogue with an option to pay the photographer a few dollars for their photos or clip art
Unsplash.com – High resolution photographs for free with you attribute the photographer

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The Lying Crisis

by César De León PhD LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference

Lying originated outside this planet. It was born before the human race was born. It was made known to the world through a leader who had selfish and deceptive intentions. Lying is a distorted form of truth.

What makes lying dangerous and deadly is its sensitive, metamorphic nature of constantly changing and evolving to make it difficult to be discovered.

Truth is believed to have the power to transform, well, lying has the same power because once accepted, it germinates and propagates distorted thoughts that are intended to destroy trust, reality and love; in you and others.

A lie confuses, convinces, traps and promotes actions usually directed towards evil, violence and self-destruction and that of others.

Truth is constant, lying is mutant; truth liberates, lying enslaves; truth brings unity, lying strife and division. Truth has the power to transform from the inside out. Lying has the power to transform from the outside in.

Truth motivates community action to seek the well-being of others. Lying seeks self-benefit and the action is usually egocentrically motivated.

Truth is eternal. Jesus said, “I am the truth and the life … ” (John 14:6), and according to the Bible, those who practice truth and justice, will live forever.

Lying is temporary. It had a beginning and will have its end. “And the devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone … “ (Rev. 20:10). Those who practice lying will not live forever: “The truthful lip will remain forever; but the lying tongue just for a moment” (Prov. 12:19).

This great country is in crisis, and in the midst of the crisis is the practice of lying and spinning the truth. Lying has been sold as truth and truth as lying. White has been called black and black white. 

As the result for this evil practice, people are outraged, angry and deceived. Negative emotions are running high. Fear, anxiety, depression and hopelessness are all being experienced in the social, political and even the religious arenas.

By lying, Satan brought rebellion to this once-perfect, angelic and harmonious world, and lying will continue to do the same diabolical work wherever it finds minds willing to believe and accept facts without foundation or evidence.

The Bible urges us, “If you think you are standing firm you had better be careful that you do not fall” (1 Cor. 10:12, GNT). This is a warning! It’s easy to fall; it’s easy to be deceived.

Our great-grandmother, Eve, rose one morning as a saint. She was a pure, immaculate woman who had perfect peace, love, joy and a totally intimate relationship with God and her husband. Lies changed that before the day was over.

The moment you believe in a lie, you’re robbed, assaulted and transformed. Eve ended up naked, stripped from everything she loved and valued. That’s what lying does to those who accept and practice it.

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YouTubing for Rookies

Federal Way, WA, USA - Dec 11 2011

by Roger Hernandez, Director of Ministerial and Evangelism for the Southern Union

Click here to learn the following YouTube skills:
How I went from zero to 5K plus subscribers
Tangible steps for you to do the same
The Rs of Success – Resolve, Regular, Relevant, Research, Responders, Rapport
The goal of your channel: Redemption

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2020—It was a VERY Good Year!

by Dr. Stan Hudson, Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference

In 1965 Frank Sinatra recorded a song that won him a Grammy Award. It’s title? “It Was a Very Good Year!” In this melancholy song he reminisces about years past. I’ve been reminiscing about 2020 and all that we’ve experienced.

So, was 2020 a very good year? I think so. Despite riots, forest fires, race issues, politics and a pandemic, let me tell you why 2020 was good for me. Primarily, it was in what the year taught me.

Riots in Portland and Seattle: There are a lot of very angry people, many with very deep hurts. The riots are a negative way of coping with their pain. The Bible predicted there would be a loss of love in the time of the end. We can expect that unhappy people will become remarkably violent, despite our civilized ways. 2020 taught me to not be surprised to see this coming.

Forest fires: Oregon suffered under a terrible season of forest fires, wiping out several communities and causing many to lose their homes and possessions. This was a reminder that this world is not our home, “we’re just passing through.” We should be prepared to possibly lose everything. 2020 taught me that.

Race issues: As a white man “of privilege,” a term which appears to me to be increasingly pertinent, I was able to see that racial inequality still rears its ugly head in our “land of liberty.” Hatred and mistrust still are present in the fallen human heart. 2020 reminded me of the great creation truth that we are “all of one blood” and in Christ there is no division. If the world is to truly unite, it needs Christ. Another lesson of 2020.

Politics: It seems that it’s getting darker and darker every year. Elections reveal the real character of people, despite their pleas for unity. And fear is the main weapon in advertisements. 2020 taught me the blessings that big elections only come every four years. All kidding aside, 2020 taught me the value of being in the kingdom of God’s grace. No earthly leader can provide the healing He alone can.

Pandemic: As if this year wasn’t full enough! 2020 will forever have the pandemic, front and center, of what the year was all about. Imagine…something too tiny to see causing so much suffering in the world. The entire world coming to an economic halt. Governments struggling as to how to combat this unseen terror. Churches locked down. Everyone was affected. How quickly events can shake a world! 2020 taught me how to get along without theaters, sports and travel, too. It also taught me to look past this world to times and places of unspeakable glory. Finally, it taught me that I should help others to prepare.

So, in hindsight, Frank got it right. “2020…was a very good year.”

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First Fruits

by Victor Rodriguez, pastor of the Shelton Spanish Adventist Group

Shelton Spanish is a daughter church plant project of the Olympia Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Hispanic population has grown considerably with Mexicans, Guatemalans, and others Latinos and the need for more churches is great. So our new church was started just a few months before the pandemic reached Seattle area in February 2020.

Although the pandemic has hurt church attendance for several months, the Shelton Spanish Group was ready to adapt and get into prayer and intersection mode as well as to do Bible study in a different way. All of these could not be done face to face because of the preventive orders and rules in place in our Washington State to stop the rapid growth of sick people. However, through teleconference and the use of Zoom virtual meetings, the group was able to navigate to a new era to which it was not prepared.

For several months, a group of sisters and brothers in Christ lead intercessory prayer for our community. By the end of August 2020, we finally saw the opportunity to open the church, but it was a completely different environment. Following the recommendations and mandates of the state, everyone in attendance wore masks, and physically distanced. Hand sanitizers were provided and a registration was taken every Sabbath. But, although the service was then shorter and schedule changed to a later time, all those who where able to attend were very happy to be there. Many new friends were gained.

We were then, ready to follow our evangelistic meetings set for every fall, which normally becomes the last reaping meeting of the year. All the members were excited that we could still have a meeting, which could be also be available through digital media to the public who may not be able to attend.

The Shelton group was set for evangelistic meetings dated for the end of October 2020 and beginning of November. Advertising was done every Sabbath and through social media. Our meetings were planed to take place on the weekends. Every night we had people from other places and countries who connected on Facebook to watch the presentation of the series “We will see Jesus,” with speaker Pastor Victor Rodriguez.  The series presented answers for our times of troubles, the love of God, certainty of salvation among other topical presentation which ended with the second coming of Jesus.

We had local people who attended the meeting but within the capacity limitations that were indicated. Every night we had a good response to the calling of the Spirit of God through Pastor Rodriguez and we can say that about 20 to 25 contacts were establish who continue to come to church on Sabbath services. On October 30, three new members were baptized and joined the Shelton Spanish Seventh-day Adventist group.

We have seem the hand of God guiding and leading as we move by faith toward the goal of making disciples for Christ as the Great Commission asks us to: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).

Please pray for us as the new year will bring new opportunities in witnessing for Jesus Christ.

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