Sharing Christ in an Appalachian Marketplace
by Albert Dittes
“All my life I wanted to do ministry in the United States,” says Kristina McFeeters while cleaning up after a day’s work in her vegetarian restaurant on the main street of Whitley City, KY. “I remember praying that God would show me a place where I could share Jesus’ love. When my husband and I got engaged, he lived in Appalachia, and that’s how I found Eastern Kentucky.”
She married Daniel McFeeters, a computer programmer and fifth generation Seventh-day Adventist from nearby Somerset, KY, in March, 2009. They started teaching cooking classes in Whitley City the following October and enlarged that into a thriving restaurant in June, 2014.
“We've been here 10 years,” she says.“ I began by researching the needs in our community and making friends for six months. Then I started a free cooking class at a local food bank with my new friends.”
Word of mouth brought people to her monthly cooking classes. Kristina volunteered at the health department with their weight loss classes, health fairs, and diabetes classes. She also helped with school backpacks, the local homemakers club, and kids’ health programs in the community.
After three months of cooking classes, a health food store in Somerset asked her to teach the same class there, enlarging her program to two cooking classes a month. That regimen has stayed the same for the past decade, with hour-long instruction in both locations. After five years of making friends, volunteering and teaching cooking classes, people began asking to buy Kristina’s food.
“So I operate a store here as well as a restaurant,” she says. “I also saw the need for a center of influence. We are a community center. The Farmers Market sets up here every Wednesday during the summer and conducts monthly board meetings here in the winter. Several non-profit organizations use our dining room for board meetings.”
The local homemakers club meets there once a month. The health department plans to conduct diabetes classes there because the restaurant attracts more people than their own facility. “I just have to prepare the food,” Kristina says.
She joined the Chamber of Commerce, which then asked her to cater their lunches a few times a year. That led to a seat on the board of directors and election as president.
She also represents restaurants on the county tourism commission and sits on the advisory council for the agricultural extension service.
On Thursdays, she drives 30 miles to Somerset and delivers sack lunches and baked goods to local businesses there. She loves getting out and meeting people where they are!
Customers daily patronize the restaurant serving plant-based foods as well as baked whole grain goods. Organic herbs and supplements are on the shelves for sale. Patrons on one afternoon included two out-of-state families, one local repeat customer liking the potato soup, spaghetti, chili, bilberry tea and vitamins; and four Adventist golfers from East Tennessee ordering tomato avocado sandwiches, veggie burgers, pinto bean chili, granola and Mediterranean rice salad.
Her mother runs the restaurant on Thursdays with the help of two employees. Four part-time employees comprise the staff, with one or two
on duty during any given day. Kristina also runs an apprenticeship training program for students who want to learn the health/restaurant ministry.
Kristina’s supportive husband began as a computer programmer, then added a bivocational lay ministry serving two churches. When the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference called him into full time ministry of four churches, the community responded positively, calling him a circuit riding preacher.
Operating the restaurant has led to Kristina giving two Bible studies a week resulting in two baptisms so far.
Kristina, a seventh-generation SDA, grew up in Washington State and earned a degree in personal ministries at Ouachita Hills College in Arkansas.
“When Daniel and I married, we moved here to bless others. It’s my dream come true!” she says. “Every Christian should be a witness wherever they are. It just takes being intentional. There’s nothing better than sharing Jesus’ love with others!”
Escape from Tradition
by Karen M. Phillips
y husband and I have been involved in ASI since the Spring of 2015 when we attended our first Mid-America Convention in Kansas City. Our HeReturns ministry is always blessed with amazing networking at these events. We were very excited to attend ASI’s 2019 International Convention in Louisville, KY. This is the story of a young man and his connection with our ASI family. His story is nothing short of miraculous!
The 2019 ASI International Convention in Louisville would be the second for Levi*. We became acquainted with him last year when he attended the 2018 ASI International Convention in Orlando with our son, Robert. Levi is in his mid-twenties and lives in a small town in Kentucky. His family comes from a very old order of the Mennonites.
At age 16, with the help of a friend, he began studying Adventist doctrines using the Amazing Facts Study Guides. Levi was experiencing some medical issues, so he was especially interested in our emphasis on health and nutrition. He began discussing these new ideas with his family, but things didn't go well. They felt Levi was being rebellious and no longer in tune with the Mennonite beliefs. His parents sent him to a behavioral health program, and there he was labeled “autistic.” He was introduced to drug therapy and was required to take the medication for more than a year.
Levi reached out for help from an Adventist family who lived nearby and moved in with them for six months. This is where he met our son. Here Levi was able to stop the medication and learn more about health. After juicing and detoxing, he noticed an improvement both physically and mentally.
A Mennonite bishop came to these friends’ house to visit with Levi and ask him questions. The elder gave him an opportunity to make a confession and stated that if he did not, he would be excommunicated. The Mennonites don’t believe that Saturday is the Sabbath. Levi had already accepted the Sabbath message. Levi told the elder he was no longer interested in being a Mennonite, so he was excommunicated. Now, Levi was no longer a part of his family, and the weight of rejection began setting in.
After this encounter, Levi went back to his parent’s home feeling shocked and embarrassed. He pretended he wanted to be a Mennonite again for his father’s sake. He justified his decision because he believed in some aspects of the Mennonite lifestyle such as the conservative dress. But there was still the problem of Levi’s excommunication. He was sent to the Mennonite ministers and required to “ask” to be reinstated. With the label “autism” in his mind, he couldn’t figure out what to say. He was confused. He felt sensitive and experienced horrible emotional pain. The stress of the situation caused him to lose all motivation and fall into severe depression.
His parents worked to get Levi brain wave treatments called Electro Stimulation Therapy. They were later frustrated the therapy didn’t work because Levi refused to change his beliefs. Following his treatments, Levi decided to go back to the Adventist home to become better educated on nutrition and healthy lifestyle practices. He wanted to go to an Adventist Lifestyle Center but had little money to afford this option.
Once back with the Adventist family, Robert suggested Levi attend the ASI 2018 International Convention in Orlando, FL. Levi went back to his home to pack his belongings. His suitcase contained most of what he owned. When Robert came to pick him up, Levi’s dad locked him in his bedroom and wouldn’t let him leave. Robert was on the front porch praying and reasoning with his father. It was then that Levi jumped out of his bedroom window, ran to the car with what he could gather, and left with Robert for Orlando.
ASI was a tremendous blessing to Levi. For the first time, he witnessed the health message in action and saw how huge the Adventist laymen community is. He visited many of the lifestyle center booths and book displays. He was happy to connect with Andy Weaver and his family who are formerly Amish.
For the past year, Levi has been working at a lifestyle center in western Tennessee. He has learned more about health and has trained using natural remedies and mixing herbs. It is here his relationship with Jesus has grown. He has also accepted Ellen White’s writings.
Levi’s second ASI International Convention in Louisville was another building block in his faith. He was encouraged by listening to the speakers, attending seminars, and being introduced to amazing mission-minded and health-minded people. His mind was clearer this year, and he was able to comprehend more of the Adventist doctrines and truths. He can’t wait for his third Convention—back in Orlando, FL—and is anxiously awaiting the miraculous things the Lord will continue to do in his life!
Don't Take Your Honda to Mexico
by Luella Nelson
didn't know I was going to become a Missionary Volunteer until after I heard myself saying to an elementary school principal in La Paz, Mexico, "Well, I could become certified in 2-3 months and return in August." That was April 2017. I had flown to La Paz to see my friend who was giving me complementary treatments for a neck issue. Upon my return to San Diego, I studied hard and fast, completed the Teaching English as a Foreign Language course in 2.5 months, and began making plans to retire from nursing. I also began the process of packing, trying to keep my luggage down to what I could put in the back of my Honda Fit. However, God had other plans.
The Sabbath three weeks before I was to leave, I drove from San Diego up to the San Marcos Church (still San Diego County). As I drove, I heard a voice: "You cannot take your Honda to Mexico." Immediately, I began questioning this voice. "Lord, my Honda is paid off, it gets good gas mileage, it is versatile for hauling my stuff.” For a few minutes, I reiterated my arguments. I dismissed the voice as soon as I reached my destination. I didn't think about it again until Tuesday, when I heard the voice a second time: "You cannot take your Honda to Mexico." Now it had my full attention.
Two years prior when I was hunting for a new car, the only two cars that I could comfortably get in/out of were the Mazda-5 Mini-Sport Van and the Honda Fit. I bought the Honda because of the much better gas mileage and its versatility to carry my nursing bags and supplies. It was perfect. Now it had 48,000 miles on it.
Considering the voice, I went online to several sites to see what my Honda was worth and to research more about the Mazda-5. I was disappointed that the Honda was so devalued and again disappointed that the Mazda had held its value. I did find a Mazda that I thought might fit my needs. After a few minutes of conversing with the owner over the phone, I asked, "Where are you located?” The salesman quickly said, "Vermont." Well, that was certainly too far. I decided to drive to a much closer dealership.
As I entered the dealership, one salesman approached me and I asked whether he had any used Mazda-5 Mini-Sport Vans. He paused for perhaps five second, then answered, "Yes, I believe we just took one out from the detailer. Let me get the keys." We took it for a spin. It was as I remembered. Easy to get in/out of, comfortable to drive, seats for 6-7 people, and seats that folded down for lots of cargo space. But I still didn't understand why I needed this car.
The salesman and I chatted about my decision to go to La Paz, Mexico (in the southern part of the Baja) to teach English in a small parochial elementary school, more specifically a Seventh-day Adventist school. The salesman seemed genuinely interested. The fact that I was going to be a Missionary Volunteer, giving my time away for free, was a new concept for him and he wanted to know more. Eventually, we got back to the subject of the car. I said I needed more time to think before purchasing.
I went home and discussed the car with some of my family. They wanted to immediately drive back to the dealership and see it. After another test drive and inspection, we all sat down to talk with the salesman. We were several thousand dollars apart on the sale price and the price I was able to pay. After a few trips to the dealer’s finance man, our salesman brought us a good figure. Esther, one of my family members, said, "I think you just need to trade pink slips." And 20 minutes later, that's just what we did. I only had to pay for the tax and license.
Now I had a car that got much less gas mileage but was a bigger vehicle that could haul more stuff. Upon arriving at the school in La Paz, I found out that their seven teachers didn't have a car, and it was a two-plus mile walk from their homes to school and church. I became their "Uber driver." Later, my car was used to transport students on field trips, and most recently, was extremely useful in hauling 10-20 sacks of cement and other building supplies to a church that was being completed.
The concept of "You can't take your Honda to Mexico" and the fact that we merely "traded pink slips," will always be a miracle in my eyes. The Honda Fit would not have been large enough to handle any of the vehicular needs at the school. No matter what, listen to that "still, small voice" (or perhaps not so still and small)! It is telling you something you need to hear. God is the owner of this car; He has merely entrusted me to use it for His honor and glory.