Tornados and Divine Appointments
by Amy Pershin
n March 3, 2019, tornadoes swept through Smith Station and Beauregard, AL, cities close to Uchee Pines Institute in Seale, AL. As we volunteered to help those in distress, God opened the door for many divine appointments and spiritual conversations.
On the first day, a small group of us, including my nine-year-old daughter, went to a Baptist church in Smith Station whose gymnasium had been set up as a processing point for volunteers. I didn’t know what to expect as we entered the gym. It was buzzing with the activity of hundreds of people—I couldn’t believe my eyes! Volunteers stood at different stations processing other volunteers who would then go to the destruction sites. I was so impressed by all the people willing to drop everything to respond to this emergency. It was a rebuke to me and I asked myself, “These people of various religions, maybe some atheists, show so much compassion and sacrifice. Do I possess this spirit as much as they do?”
When the volunteer at the first station found out we were from Uchee Pines, she exclaimed with a big smile, “I love Uchee Pines! Dr. Agatha was my mom’s doctor!” She continued to share her fond memories of Uchee Pines and Dr. Agatha.
When a volunteer a few stations later found out we were from Uchee Pines, she exclaimed joyfully, “I am your neighbor! I live right by you all!” She was very happy to see that we had come. The man at the last station also explained that he was our neighbor. We pointed to the woman a few stations down who had said the same. Smiling he said, “She is my wife.” We gave away literature (a set of books Uchee Pines uses in outreach: the Bible, The Great Controversy, and The Desire of Ages) to each volunteer we connected with. Our presence proved that Uchee Pines doesn’t just teach people how to be healthy, we also help people in crisis.
Children under age 14 were not allowed to help clear debris at the sites, so we were given the job of assessing the damage of each home on the path of the tornado and filling out appropriate forms. We were in the same group with a retired veteran I had met volunteering at a women and children’s shelter; he was there with his team of veterans. We had a wonderful time getting to know them. In fact, one man was just at Country Life Restaurant and Store the day before, and told us he had received health counseling from the Naturopathic doctor and was very pleased with his experience. We gave each person on our team sets of books.
As we walked along the path the damage was incredibly immense. We were supposed to knock on doors so the owners could answer questions for the form, but most homes were not livable. We stuck tracks in each door. We approached a home where two men were outside clearing debris. I walked up to them and started a conversation. God steered it toward spiritual matters. One man looked at the other man and exclaimed, “This woman coming here is a divine appointment! You needed her to come here!” He looked at me and explained that his newfound friend was struggling with trusting God, and he believed God sent me as a second witness to help convince his friend that God loves him! Before we left, I gave them the books and suggested we pray together. It was a sweet moment of prayer and realization that our Father had brought us together.
When we arrived at the last house, I stayed back to talk with a few Red Cross workers while the children and a few adults went ahead to talk to the owner. A few minutes later I saw the children running back. They told me, “Don’t go to that man, he’s not nice!” However, the Holy Spirit gave me the desire to go to the house and speak to the man anyway.
As he came into view he was staring at me through his sunglasses. I kept a smile on my face as I approached him. He surprised me by asking, “Do you remember me?” With a confused expression I responded, “No.” With one hand he pulled his sunglasses onto his forehead and asked, “Now do you remember me?” Still looking puzzled I regrettably answered, “No.” He went on to prompt my memory. “Last year when my mother’s home was on fire, you stopped to offer your help.”
I couldn’t believe it! It was her son! We were very happy to see each other! He told me the sad news that his mother had recently died of cancer. I did my best to share words of comfort, prayed with him, and gave him a set of books. With the Bible in his hands he said in amazement, “Just yesterday I gave my Bible away to a nine-year-old girl who didn’t have one and now I’m getting one back!” “That’s exactly how God works!” I exclaimed joyfully.
The Lord truly blessed our efforts, giving us one divine appointment after another (and there are many more I could share that are not included here)! Praise the Lord for His goodness.
The deadline to apply for the ASI mission trip to Papua New Guinea is TODAY! Join us in what could be the largest evangelistic outreach in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We need speakers, health presenters, musicians, and support staff. The deadline to apply is today!
“In Our Homes, the Song Is FARM STEW!”
by Joy Kauffman, MPH
Fifteen women in brightly colored dresses, a few fully veiled, gather together under the shade of a mango tree to cook. In Wanyange Hill, this rural village in eastern Uganda, there is no electricity or running water, yet these women have something many others lack: joy!
What is the celebration?
It is a FARM STEW training day! Today the women will learn to make a rainbow dish (a mix of colorful vegetables), and soy scrambled eggs (tofu). Besides learning to cook healthy meals, the community is growing healthier both spiritually and mentally. Even marriages are becoming healthier too!
The change in the villagers is a result of FARM STEW’s mission: to promote the health and well-being of poor families and vulnerable people around the world. FARM STEW’s vision is inspired by Jesus's desire that all "may have life and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Through FARM STEW training, participants learn to address the root causes of hunger, disease, and poverty, including spiritual and relational poverty.
Mrs. Irene, an SDA church member and the head organizer of a local women's group, says, “Our husbands were even suffering; they even wanted to run away. But we women are now okay; we have kitchen gardens, have soy gardens, and have learned about sanitation. Before, I never used to wash my hands. I knew about soap, but we had no money for it. Then we learned that we can wash our hands with ash. It is helping us stay healthy. May God bless this program until the end.”
All the women express their great appreciation for Betty and Jonah, the two FARM STEW trainers who, every Tuesday for the past five months, have shared the "recipe of abundant life.”
Norah, another FARM STEW participant, shared her story of transformation. Norah had been struggling to feed her four children and there was tension between her and her husband. But so much has changed. She says, “I give my thanks to God who gave us life. God has enabled you people, the FARM STEW guys, who have brought this message to us. When FARM STEW teaches you, it helps your family, your community, and even your neighbors. Even our husbands are surprised asking, ‘Where did you learn this?’ We always tell them, ‘FARM STEW, FARM STEW!’ The FARM STEW lessons are not something to hide; you reach somebody’s home, and you can see they were taught FARM STEW. In our homes, the plates talk FARM STEW. In our homes, the song is FARM STEW.” (To watch Norah’s video testimony, visit FARM STEW’s website at www.farmstew.org/post.)
The song in these communities echoes the song of Moses and of the Lamb, as they give glory, honor, and praise to God for what He has done for them. The hope is that “all nations will come and fall down in worship before You, for Your acts of justice have been revealed” (Revelation 15:4 NKJV).
Susan, another church member, also shares: “I didn't know the importance of water. Now I know that I need to drink water. I have a very big difference in my skin. Every morning, before we brush our teeth, we take water.
We now have vegetables. We know how to plant them, and even if they are not ready yet, we can use the wild greens and jackfruit. My husband reminds me about the training saying, ‘Every Tuesday, training day!’”
These Adventist women are reaching out to their neighbors, even Muslim women, in a way that exemplifies “Christ's method alone,” as described by Ellen White in Ministry of Healing (p. 143).
Although what is happening in Wanyange Hill is incredibly hopeful, they still lack one of life's essentials: clean water.
The water they use is muddy in color and full of parasites. Those organisms grow inside the body, swelling the belly with a swarm of worms that get first dibs on the food that enters the stomach. Many children have a similar look due to the parasites: skinny arms, sunken eyes, and big fat bellies that are teeming with life.
In the next few months, all that will change. The locals are working together to solve the water situation. Mrs. Irene has organized her women’s group into a FARM STEW Savings Club, and now that the villagers have vegetables to sell, each member brings 6,000 Ugandan Shillings (about $1.75) to contribute every week.
FARM STEW will partner with the group to bring clean water to their village by contracting with a local drilling company. Community members will be required to bring the stones and sand for the well, in addition to getting training on pump maintenance. Their savings will provide the insurance plan they need to ensure the pump will be maintained and repaired quickly if it ever breaks down!
FARM STEW has planned fifty water projects, impacting an estimated 2,500 families at the cost of $15 per person, at an average cost of $4,680 per repaired or drilled well in 2020. Contributions to FARM STEW will be matched dollar for dollar up to $84,000!
We can only imagine that, at the pump, the song will be FARM STEW.
Learn more about FARM STEW and how you can get involved at farmstew.org.
Boots on the Ground
by Karen Phillips, ASI Mid-America VP of Communications
hat does it mean to have boots on the ground for Christ? As a Seventh-day Adventist church member, I really had no idea. I would take my children to church each Sabbath and do the best I could during the week to pray and study my Bible. I started to lead out in a women’s Bible study each week at church and saw the growth as we dug deeply into God’s word. But all these women already knew the Lord. There were so many unreached in the world, and I had no idea what to do to reach them. Sadly, when it came to missions, I was asleep like many of us.
“Boots on the ground” is defined as ground troops who are fighting in a war or conflict. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” How is it possible to get engaged in missions and spread the everlasting gospel to the world?
As I pondered this question, a church friend of mine told my husband, John, and I about Adventist-laymen’s Service & Industries (ASI) and invited us to an ASI Mid-America conference in Kansas City in the spring of 2015. We walked into that conference with our youngest son, Robby, not knowing that it was about to change our lives. We listened to the Members in Action (MIA) segment, heard the speaker (Ty Gibson), and visited all the exhibit booths. We were also able to share meals and fellowship with missionary-minded people. We were so impressed that we decided to join ASI as an “Organizational Non-Profit” with HeReturns, our 501(c)3 ministry.
Our first ASI International Convention was in Spokane, Washington, that same year. We were able to witness ASI’s motto, “Sharing Christ in the Marketplace,” in action on an even larger scale. We met mission-minded individuals and ministries from all over the world and were impressed that the Lord was giving us our marching orders.
By the spring of 2016, at the ASI Mid-America in Denver, Colorado, we had our boots on ready to go. We wanted to be part of this great organization that is committed to spreading the Three Angels’ Messages to the world and to awaken church members to the opportunities to serve. When asked to serve as ASI Officers in the Mid-America Union, we wholeheartedly accepted.
What does it mean to be an ASI officer? It takes commitment and prayer. We have worked with our team to plan and work rallies, design and distribute flyers and newsletters, commit to monthly conference calls, update our website, work with various local churches and pastors, position Members in Action (MIA) spots, secure key-note and seminar speakers, coordinate music and audio/visual teams, arrange hotel accommodations and meals, and much, much more. We passionately pray at rallies and conventions for the Holy Spirit to move people to service just as the Lord had moved us.
Our commitment to serve as ASI officers has led to a global view of the need for “Sharing Christ in the Marketplace.” We are amazed at how the Lord works to connect individuals and ministries from all over the world to work together to finish His work. With these mission boots on, we have traveled where the Lord has led, spreading the good news of ASI involvement and encouraging others to do the same.