Carolina Officers’ Retreat for Elders: CORE

The officers of the Carolina Conference held their annual Carolina Officers’ Retreat for Elders (CORE) at Nosoca Pines Ranch on May 11-12, 2018. While the typical elders’ retreat focuses more on learning and the elders’ curriculum, CORE is a time for spiritual nourishment and rejuvenation.

The main speaker for the weekend was Doug Jacobs, a former pastor who is currently a professor at the School of Religion at Southern Adventist University. His message to the elders was about finding the Gospel and the love of God in every passage of the Bible. One attendee said the message was “Christ-like and very encouraging.” CORE is also an opportunity for Conference administration to receive feedback from local leaders, answer questions regarding how the conference is run, and give advice on Conference ministry or specific church situations.

 

Above all, the retreat was a way to say thank you to local church elders for all the hard work they put in every day so the churches can run smoothly for God’s glory. There were activities for the elders and their spouses to enjoy, such as boat rides on Lake Wateree and a hayride. The elders enjoyed their fellowship and built relationships with one another, which will bolster their ability to work together making wise, godly decisions for the Lord’s work

-by Rachel Beaver

 

Camp Meeting 2018

Another wonderful, Christ-filled Camp Meeting at Lake Junaluska has passed just as quickly as it came. Despite some rainy weather, the Spirit of the Lord was with the many inspiring speakers over the course of the week.

 

 

 

Ty Gibson spoke at the evening meetings Sunday through Wednesday, and Shawn Boonstra was the main speaker for the weekend starting Thursday evening. Weekday speakers included Orlan Johnson on stewardship, Kandus Thorp for women’s ministries, Kathy Goddard for Adventist EDGE, Hans Diehl on health, Eric Flickinger for SPARK, and several more. Special musical guest Naomi Striemer gave a beautiful concert and testimony as well.

 

Funds collected for this year’s Dollar Club were distributed in the community on Thursday afternoon. Armed with 70 $10 gift cards and $800 in cash and Walmart gift cards for groceries, the Carolina Conference Communication team and several members of the Conference pastoral staff set out to bless the Waynesville community. Many of those served by the generosity of the Dollar Club had never heard of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and some were moved to tears at the kindness of strangers.

 

There was a wide variety of activities for kids of all ages throughout the week. The younger children enjoyed the playground, crafts, singing, and Bible stories. Primary and Kindergarten children also had the opportunity to perform a mini concert before the main service on Thursday evening. The theme for the Junior and Earliteen meetings was the same as the adults’ — The Great Controversy. On Sabbath afternoon, 24 Pathfinder clubs and 20 Adventurer clubs paraded down Lakeshore Drive for their annual awards ceremony.

 

The annual Run4Life 5K and Fun Run had a great turnout. The rain stopped and the air was cool Friday morning, which made for an enjoyable run despite a few technical difficulties with race results.

 

It was truly a blessed week at Lake Junaluska. The Carolina Conference app and podcast channels are full of audio files from this year’s sermons and seminars, and the Conference YouTube channel contains videos of meetings held in the auditorium. We hope to see everyone again next summer for another week of relaxation and spiritual nourishment.

-by Rachel Beaver and Casey Vaughn

 

The Church that Prays Together STAYS TOGETHER

The Sumter Seventh-day Adventist Church struggled for many years with brokenness and with being pulled in several directions. Finally, the church agreed it was time to stop all programs and focus on prayer instead. They pleaded for the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and direct the church.

 

Early in 2016 the Holy Spirit led the Sabbath School department to create a class for non-members who were attending. This class studied the Amazing Facts Bible study guides. By November of 2016, the church established a Week of Prayer service and decided to make it an ongoing, vital function of the church every quarter. In January 2017 they participated in the 10 Days of Prayer and continued again in 2018.

 

In September 2017 the church held and participated in several community outreach events, including a one-week health seminar entitled “The Greatest Wealth Is Health — Natural Remedies.” A booth was also set up at the 2017 Sumter County Fair with a literature evangelist and health professionals who conducted health assessments, manicures, makeovers and chair massages. The church distributed tracts and community surveys offering Bible studies. Catering to both English- and Spanish-speaking visitors, the booth was one of the most frequented at the fair.

 

In October 2017 the Lord sent a new pastor, Phillip Roberts, and his wife, Ellen. Pastor Phil came with a passion for introducing others to Christ and encouraging total member involvement. A praying congregation combined with a strong personal ministries program and a pastor with a drive for personal evangelism is a recipe for growth. The church has blossomed, and not only are several teams actively giving Bible studies in the community but also the church has established a young adult group.

 

From August 2017 to April 2018, the Lord has blessed the church by adding nine souls in nine months — far more than the usual one baptism every two or three years. Prayer changes things!

 

Someone recently stated, “If you arrive late at the Sumter church, you cannot find a good seat.” What a great problem to have!

 

—Sumter Personal Ministries Team

Sewing God's Love

 

As Barbara, a member of the Statesville, NC, Adventist Church, listened to her granddaughter tell stories of her social work with Child Protective Services (CPS), her heart broke. So many stories were about children taken from their homes, often at night, and removed from deplorable conditions to a safe place. She wondered what the children might be thinking and feeling when taken from the only homes they knew and placed with complete strangers. She wanted to do something to help these kids.

 

Loren, a friend from church, mentioned that his sister in Nebraska participates in a program called Bags of Love, which provides bags of necessities for kids moving into foster care. After talking with Loren’s sister and doing a few Google searches, Barbara approached her church family about starting a local program. In October 2017, the Sewing Seeds of Love program was born. The ministry gets together monthly to sew and assemble bags for both boys and girls, infants to size 14. Each bag includes a Bible book, blanket, outfit, pajamas, underwear, socks, toiletries, and a night light and stuffed animal for comfort. For older children, coloring supplies or other activities may be included as well.

 

Approximately 10 church members regularly participate in the construction and assembly of the bags, while others contribute financially. Each bag receives a tag stating the name of the church, and is prayed over before they are delivered.

 

In addition to church member support, donations have come in from some surprising places. After Barbara spoke about the ministry on a local radio program, a trucker passing through the area contacted her with a $100 donation. Five hundred bars of soap and 160 bottles of shampoo have been donated by hotels, and a local woman crocheted scarves and mittens to be included in the bags distributed in winter. A sorority group even showed up with an SUV full of coloring books, crayons and night lights. Between October 2017 and May 2018, Sewing Seeds of Love made and distributed 69 bags: 25 have gone to the Statesville CPS, 19 to the Mocksville CPS, and 25 to the Children of Hope Alliance in Troutman. Fifteen “fire bags,” each containing a book or coloring book, crayons, and a stuffed animal, have been donated to the Statesville and Troutman Fire Departments to share with children they come in contact with who may be in need of comfort as well.

 

In addition to making Bags of Love and fire bags, the ministry has also sewn several lap quilts for church members. Each quilt is unique, beautiful, and made with love and prayers for the recipient. In fact, small strands of yarn are sewn into each one, and before each quilt is presented to its recipient, it is laid out in the church foyer with a sign asking people to tie a knot in a pair of the strings and say a prayer for the individual.

 

Small as they may be, the Bags of Love touch an at-risk population and fill a very real need. Hurting people are all around us. Tragedies often unknown to us play out around the world every day. As Bible-believing Christians who take seriously the biblical mandate to care for the widows and orphans and to care for “the least of these,” Barbara and fellow members of the Statesville Church are using this ministry to help fulfill the gospel commission. It is their prayer that these Bags of Love will, in some small way, share the love of Jesus with vulnerable children and those who care for them. What can you do in your area?

 

— by Vicki Redden

Irmo Church Takes Evangelism TO A NEW LEVEL

The Irmo Seventh-day Adventist Fellowship Mission Group has had immense success with its recent evangelism efforts. Hundreds of people have come through their doors for cooking classes, health seminars, prophecy series, Valentine’s banquets, a piano concert, and Thunder in the Holy Land studies.

 

Many people have been blessed through these events and are taking steps to have better, healthier lives. One individual said she took one of the cooking classes and then lost 25 pounds after changing her diet. Two individuals have expressed a desire to become members of the church, and two more attended Camp Meeting and are now taking steps toward baptism. Others have faithfully attended services on Sabbath, and the mission group is very blessed as they fellowship together. The mission group hopes this cycle will continue and bring more people to God.

 

“Many have thanked us for our efforts in educating and serving our community,” says lay leader Ronald Sturkie. “It is beautiful to see how some continue to come, at first with reservations. However, each time we see them, one more barrier is thrown down, and they open up to our congregation when they see that we desire their good.”

 

Sturkie is also deeply grateful for the way God has provided the financial support necessary to continue their cycle of evangelism. He remains hopeful that all the hard work the mission group has put in this year will bring even more people to a saving relationship with Jesus.

 

The Irmo mission group is preparing for their next Bible prophecy seminar, which begins on August 12. This will be an ongoing seminar that meets every second Sabbath of the month and covers topics such as the mark of the beast, what happens after death, signs of Jesus’ return, and much more. Please pray for the future attendees and ask that the Holy Spirit will draw them to Jesus.

 

—by Rachel Beaver

KEEPING A FOCUS ON OUR 20/20 Vision

After the last issue of Carolina Action in March 2018, we have now come full circle in unveiling each of the seven visionary goals established two years ago at our last Carolina Conference Constituency Session in the summer of 2016.

 

During this quinquennial term, which extends through the year 2020, it is our desire to continue highlighting these goals in each issue of Carolina Action with an update on how God is guiding and blessing us in accomplishing these benchmarks of progress. Never in the history of the Conference have we so widely expanded the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to encompass more communities with the message and mission of God’s end-time church.

 

In 1909, Ellen White received a vision in the night of what she referred to as an impressive scene. In that vision, one with authority pointed her to a map picturing God’s vineyard that needed to be cultivated and nurtured. She wrote: “As light from heaven shone upon anyone, that one was to reflect the light to others. Lights were to be kindled in many places, and from these lights still other lights were to be kindled. … I saw jets of light shining from cities and villages, and from the high places and the low places of the earth. God’s word was obeyed, and as a result there were memorials for Him in every city and village. His truth was proclaimed throughout the world,” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, pp. 28, 29.

 

I am grateful to Brad Cauley’s leadership and the combined efforts of the Church Planting Committee and the Church Growth and Revitalization Committee for the consecrated energies that have been invested in advancing God’s Kingdom throughout this vineyard of the Carolinas.

 

Guided by Heaven’s wisdom, we have made significant strides in developing guidelines and a supporting structure to facilitate the advancement of God’s church in more un-entered communities. And we’re not finished yet. Plans are being developed and fine-tuned to expand a volunteer lay pastor training program that will help meet the needs of additional church plants.

 

During the past two years, we have witnessed 34 steps of progression in church plants. This means these plants have made transitional growth in their status from group to company and/or company to church. Of these 34 steps, 21 are new church plants in the Carolinas: 8 new plants in South Carolina and 13 in North Carolina.

 

I praise the Lord for His blessings! I also praise the Lord for the prayerful efforts being made by consecrated volunteer lay leaders and lay pastors who are passionate about growing God’s Remnant Church. May our heartfelt desire be to finish the work so we can soon go home with our Savior!

 

—by Leslie Louis, President

 

SURROUND ME IN STILLNESS in the Storm

The Lord’s power and presence surrounds us all the time. We may take this for granted or perhaps forget all together. However, everything in God’s creation directs us to His glory. Psalm 66:4 says, “All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you, sing praises to your name” (NRSV). David wrote an incredible passage about the overwhelming grandeur of the Lord as manifested in nature. He uses powerful imagery so the reader can vividly picture God’s omnipotence.

 

“Then the earth moved and the mountains shook. God acted in my behalf! Smoke issued from His nostrils, and flames poured from His mouth. He opened the sky and rode down on clouds of the storm to rescue me. He answered my prayer as quickly as if He had flown in on wings of the wind. I knew He was there, but could not see Him because He was covered with thick clouds, hiding behind the dark storm. Hail and lightening were part of His response from behind the clouds. The Most High God spoke from heaven in claps of thunder with hailstones and lightning. Bolts of lightning were arrows from His quiver which scattered my enemies. The bottom of the oceans were laid bare and the heart of the earth uncovered. The Lord roared at my enemies, the breath of His nostrils blasting them. He reached down from heaven, took me, and pulled me out of the whirlpool of death. He rescued me from my enemies, from those foes who were too strong for me. They confronted me in battle, sure of victory, but the Lord rescued me. He surrounded me with stillness and delivered me because He loves me” Psalm 18:7-19, (The Clear Word).

 

These verses leave me breathless. Can you imagine the electricity in the air in the presence of God? We need the reminder that the Lord of all the earth’s elements is working for us. He may be hiding in the thick clouds of our darkest storm, yet He is there. When Jacob returned to Canaan with his family and livestock and beheld angels, he said, “God’s angels have been traveling with me and I didn’t even know it!” Genesis 32:2 (The Clear Word). The Lord’s angels travel with us, too, wherever we go; we just can’t see them. The Lord surrounds us with stillness in the midst of battle as an act of profound love. How incredible! We need to seek His stillness in the midst of our lives and know we are not alone. The Lord Himself and His angels are in front of us and behind us for protection along the way.

 

—by Rebecka Noble Louis

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