‘Let your Light Shine’: First ever NAD Zomi Adventist Youth Combined hosted at Bowling Green Zomi Church

From Sept. 4 to 5, Zomi Adventist Youth from across the North American Division (NAD) gathered at Bowling Green Zomi, Ky, Church for the first ever NAD Zomi Adventist Youth Combined. The purpose of the event was to connect young people and inspire spiritual renewal.

The meetings followed the theme “Arise, Shine, for Your Light Has Risen Upon You,” – a promise found on Isaiah 60:1. According to Thang Lian, member at Bowling Green Zomi Church and theology junior at Southern Adventist University, a lot of the discussions centered on how young people can use their talents for God.

“The main target was to let the youth know that they can be a light for other people,” Lian said. “They don’t have to study theology or be a pastor. … they can be a light in their school, workplace or university.”

About 70 young people traveled from across the country to join the event. Some of the states represented included Florida, Georgia, Michigan, and Oklahoma. An additional 200 guests joined from Bowling Green and Nashville. Bowling Green Zomi Church members hosted the out-of-state visitors in their homes and provided the meals for the event.

The program was organized by Kim Sian Mung, NAD Zomi Adventist Youth Director and master’s student at Andrews University. The guest speaker was ASAP Refugee Coordinator Bill Wells. In addition to the sermons, the event also included discussion panels, a prayer session for Burma and games.

“It’s been hard to get together since [COVID-19] hit,” Mung said. “So, the program comprised of spiritual emphasis but also social and physical emphasis. I think this was very significant and I heard that people were blessed by the fellowship.”

On Saturday afternoon, Mung made an altar call for those who wanted to dedicate their talents for God. More than 15 aspiring professionals, including those looking to get into the health care, ministry, business, engineer, and education field, responded.

“God gives us different talents,” Lian said. “We need to use them for His glory. Not for our own desire or just to live a comfortable life. We need to use [our talents] to proclaim the gospel.”

According to Mung, NAD Zomi Adventist Youth Combined will be hosted again this coming October at Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Nashville Church thanks firefighters with surprise breakfast in honor of 9/11 first responders

Members from Nashville First Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church volunteered this past Saturday morning, Sept. 11, to distribute breakfast across local fire stations. The gesture, idea of pastor Nelson Mercado, was made as way to thank firefighters for their service and honor the memory of the 9/11 first responders.

Prior to becoming a pastor, Mercado served as a firefighter and paramedic from 1997 to 2008. Mercado says that this connection inspired him to search ways for his church to reach the first responders’ community.

“I spoke to my personal ministry’s leader, and I told him about wanting to do something special for the [firefighters] in our community,” Mercado said. “He loved the idea. So, we told a few people and recruited a few helpers.”

A group of nine volunteers drove around Nashville delivering a variety of Panera bagels and cheese cream to a total of fifteen fire stations. More than 200 bagels were distributed. Inside each bag, organizers also included copies of Steps to Christ.

Mercado says the firefighters he spoke with were thankful for the food and the kind gesture; he hopes to make this a yearly tradition. In the future, Mercado also wants Nashville First SDA Church to prepare a special meal for police officers

“This was just a small token of appreciation,” Mercado said. “I can tell you, having worked as a firefighter and a paramedic, that unless something drastic happens, like at the events of September 11, it is a thankless job. And so, again, this is just a small way of showing our gratitude.”

‘Piensa en Grande’: Plenitud La Radio celebrates seven years of ministry, growth

On October 22 and 23, Plenitud La Radio, a broadcast ministry that begun in Springfield, Tenn., back in 2014, will be celebrating its seventh anniversary. Plenitud La Radio focuses on sharing the gospel through a wide range of programs which reach a global audience.

This radio ministry, which was originally known as “Piensa en Grande” (Think Big), was started by Pastor Nathan Delima who was working at Springfield Hispanic Church during that time. In their first year, Delima, with the support of his church and KYTN Conference, organized broadcasting classes for volunteers, built the radio’s studio and rented airtime on WSGI 1100 AM in Springfield.

In 2018, Francisco Amaya, church member at Madison, Tenn., Hispanic Church, took over as the director for Plenitud La Radio. Emilio Perche, pastor at Madison Hispanic Church, is the president. The new team worked on rebranding the radio by changing the name, transferring to different streaming platforms, and creating new programs.

“The transition took us about a year,” Amaya said. “We did a lot of research prior to it and consulted with experts… it was a lot of work, but it was a blessing.”

Plenitud La Radio now broadcasts 24/7 in seven different platforms including MIXLR, TuneIn and their website. According to Luz Resendiz, assistant director and church member at Maranatha Hispanic, Ill., Church, the radio has received more than 2 million streams in MIXLR and has a global audience with listeners across the US, Mexico, Chile, Italy and more.

“Really, anyone who has internet access can listen to [Plenitud La Radio],” Resendiz said. “We have a lot of platforms, so our reach is wide. For me, I am just touched that so many people get to hear about the love of God.”

Plenitud La Radio is all done by volunteer work. There are 13 announcers in Tennessee, California, Missouri and Illinois – all which prepare their own programming. The programs include daily devotionals, Bible studies, health seminars and music sessions. In addition to volunteering their time, announcers also help finance the ministry.

“We have an agreement to contribute a monthly amount to help pay for the budget [of Plenitud La Radio],” Resendiz said. “We do it with great pleasure because it’s a ministry that we believe in.”

To celebrate Plenitud La Radio’s anniversary, the team is preparing a special event that will be livestreamed on October 22 and 23. During this weekend, organizers will also conduct a fundraiser that will help pay for the yearly licensing fee of the streaming platforms.  

“What keeps me going is hearing all the testimonies of the people who met Jesus or got rebaptized because they came across our radio,” Amaya said. “This is my first time working in a Christian radio and I do not receive any payment. But what better payment is there than knowing that a soul gave itself to Christ?”

To find out more about Plenitud La Radio visit their website at plenitudlaradio.com, email 12companerosdelcamino@gmail.com, or contact Amaya at (615) 582-2018.

A Four-Wheel Ministry: Pastor buys, drives bus to provide church children with an Adventist education

Thang Mang, pastor at Bowling Green Zomi, Ky, Church, wanted the children in his congregation to receive an Adventist Education. However, the closest Adventist school was an hour away in Highland, Tenn., Elementary. Without a way of transportation, the church families could not send their children to this school even if they wanted.  

For two years, Mang used his own van to drive the six children from his church that were enrolled in Highland Elementary School. But he wanted to do more.

“I spoke with my church family and found out they were willing to commit [sending] their children to a private Adventist school,” Mang said. “So, I went from having to drive six students to 16. So, you know, I needed a bigger van.”

After prayer and research, Mang was able to get the support from the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference, an anonymous donor and his church to purchase a $7,500 minibus. According to Mang, the minibus’ insurance is paid through his church’s budget while parents split the bill for gas, which ends up being more than $1000 a month.  

Every week, from Monday to Friday, Mang drives total of four hours a day to pick up and drop off the children.

“[Driving the bus] is a very important ministry to me,” Mang said. “I believe Adventist education makes a difference. The Bible says that if you teach a child the way of the Lord, even when they grow up, they will not be estranged from His path. … I drive 16 children in my minibus. My hope is each will accept Jesus as their Savior.”

‘A most solemn import’: VBS at Madison Campus Church places a focus on the Three Angels’ Message

From July 26 to July 29, Madison Campus, Tenn., Church hosted its annual Vacation Bible School (VBS). This time, however, the program had a twist. Instead of buying the VBS package

from Lifeway, organizers drafted their own program to teach children about the Three Angels’ Message.

The idea came after Kristin Fulton, Advancement Coordinator at Madison Academy and Madison Campus Church VBS Coordinator, read a passage from Ellen G. White’s “Testimonies for the Church.”

“In a special sense, SDA have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers,” the passage, found on Vol. 9 Chapter 2 reads. “… They have been given a work of the most solemn import — the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels messages. There is no other work of so great importance. …”

After discussing this text with Madison Academy Principal Kris Fuentes, the school decided to purchase Sandra Doran’s “Three Angels for Kids” – a lesson plan designed to teach children and teens about the Three Angels message. The curriculum will be used during the Bible classes at Madison Academy and Madison Campus Elementary.

“And so, I thought, ‘you know what? I can start [the lessons] in VBS,” Fulton said. “The whole goal is to teach kids from a young age, so they can begin to learn the Three Angels’ Messages.”

Fulton and her team adapted the curriculum to match the structure of VBS. On the first day, during story time, children learned about the story of Jesus. On the second and third day, they learned about the First Angel’s Message. On the fourth day, teachers shared about the Second Angel’s Message and introduced the Third Angel’s Message.

“These kids were so excited and eager to learn,” Fulton said.  “I was thrilled to see that they were so into it. They asked questions, memorized the verses, and listened so attentively. It was amazing.”

More than 100 kids joined the VBS program. Madison Academy will start teaching the curriculum at the beginning of the Fall Semester and Madison Campus Elementary will follow later.

“There is a calling to teach [The Three Angels’ Message] to this generation now,” Fulton said. “These kids are ready… We could probably list 10 to 20 reasons as to why; but it all just comes down to the Lord wanting them to learn this message.”

To learn more about “Three Angels for Kids” go to threeangelsfortoday.org; If your church has questions about adapting the Three Angels’ Message for VBS contact kfulton@madisonacademy.com


The privilege of canvassing: KYTN on the go for a greater mission

It was a warm Thursday evening. A young group of people found themselves in the parking lot of a Lowe’s retail store. Each of them carried a black satchel bag filled with books about health, history and hope. Among the group was Juan Hernandez. Like his friends, Hernandez was a canvasser with the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference.

The day for Hernandez was not going too well. He was having a hard time selling books, facing rejection after rejection instead. Standing under the heat, Hernandez felt disappointed.

“God, send me the right person at the right time,” Hernandez prayed.

On the surface, that is the job of a canvasser – to go door to door, or person to person, selling books. During a ten-week program, these young students approach strangers and offer a selection of books for a monetary donation.

The days are packed, working Sunday through Thursday and following an organized schedule from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The team, composed of 23 canvassers and 5 leaders, cook, clean worship and train together.

“The days are very systematic and purposeful,” said Ivan Martinez, leader of the canvassing program at Taylor Mill, Kentucky.  “We want to make sure that our students are thoroughly furnished and properly prepared for the work that’s before them.”

But beyond selling books, canvassers have another, more meaningful goal: to share a message of hope. Among the list of inventories, are History of Freedom and In Search for Peace, also known as The Great Controversy and Steps to Christ, respectively. Canvassers also carry books promoting the health message, like Live Life to the Fullest and Something Better – books with tips and recipes for improving health.

“Selling books is hard, you know? But it’s a privilege,” said Neri Rivera, a canvasser who came all the way from Belize. “Because we are rejected, we are being a witness for Jesus.”

Heisler Aguila says he always tries to put his best smile when knocking on someone’s door, even if the previous house was not interested.

“We are out here not to just sell books, but also to manifest Christ through our character,” Aguilar said. “Maybe their encounter with us is the only connection they’ve had with the church and thinking that I might see someone in heaven because of the work I’m doing here keeps me going.”

According to Martinez, canvassing is also an opportunity for the students involved to grow their relationship with God. Martinez, who started canvassing in 2018, says his role as a leader includes meeting students in their spiritual walk.

“The most rewarding part is when you have students telling you that their lives are completely different because of our programs,” Martinez said. “Seeing God work and transform [the canvassers’] lives make everything worth it. Because this isn’t this isn’t only about the people out in the community, it’s about the kids that we have here.”

Hernandez was still in Lowe’s parking lot when he heard someone calling him out.

“Hey, are you Richard?” the stranger asked.

“No, my name is Juan,” Hernandez replied.

And as simple as that, the two began a conversation. Hernandez explained to the man how he was selling books to raise money for school and explained what each book was about. The man did not seem interested at first, but his attention peaked when Hernandez presented him History of Freedom. Without saying much, the man took out $10 from his wallet and gave it to Hernandez. Hernandez thanked him and the man went on his way.

“As I saw him walk away, I remembered my prayer just a few minutes before,” Hernandez said. “It was amazing, because God send the right person when I needed the encouragement. I wasn’t looking for him. He came to me. The thing is, when your faith is tried that is when your faith grows.”

New church mission in Lexington meets lack of Adventist presence in area, caters to Spanish community and outreach needs

On Saturday, July 3, 2021, the day before Independence Day, Parsons, Tenn., Church leaders conducted the grand opening of the Lexington, Tenn., Mission Church. This new mission marks the first Seventh-day Adventist church in the area, where the Spanish and English community will have a place of worship and a multipurpose center for outreach.

The vision for church plant began in 2017 when Daniel Spencer, Parsons Church pastor, saw the need for outreach among the Lexington community. Lexington has a population twice as big as the surrounding districts of Lobelville, Tenn., and Parsons combined, according to a statistic report by Data USA.

“Lexington is a big city, yet there was no Adventist presence in between our churches in the district,” Spencer said. “The next Adventist Church, which is in Jackson, is about one hour away.”

The new church was also made to accommodate the growing Hispanic community and to open the door for outreach ministries in the area. Church board members unanimously voted to rent a building right across Lexington City Hall, according to Spencer. One side of the building will be used for church services, conducted in Spanish and translated to English, while the other side will be reserved for outreach programs such as cooking classes and activities for children.  

“The plan of this new church is to be a light and to go out and search,” said Josue Lopez, the Bible Worker for Lexington Tennessee Church. Lopez was heavily involved in starting the community connections at Lexington and finding the building for the church. “Our mindset is that though we may be starting here, we won’t finish here. We want to work with people, make friends and help in the community. We want to go out and serve.”

The grand opening program was led by Parsons Church members. KYTN Hispanic Ministries Coordinator Armando De León gave the message and, joined by other leaders and participants, conducted the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Lexington Tennessee Church will be led by Lopez along with 12 volunteers and the guidance of Parsons Church leaders. Currently, the church is aiming to start with an attendance of around 30 individuals each week.

“To me, this a great blessing and dream come true,” Spencer said. “I’ve seen how God has His timing and works things for good. … I am happy we are [in Lexington], and I do believe there’s a lot of potential here.”

‘Looking for God’s still voice’: Indian Creek Camp ignite spiritual growth among staff, counselors

Indian Creek Camp (ICC) has been running their summer programs for more than 60 years, with well over 1,000 campers joining the sessions throughout a period of seven weeks. While the camp is geared to serve the family and children through a spiritual environment, camp staff and counselors are also blessed during their time at ICC.

This was the case for Eustace Eusebio, ICC’s Super Science instructor and a co-counselor.

“In the beginning of the summer, we had these interviews and one of the questions asked was ‘why are you here at camp?” Eusebio said. “In my mind, I knew the main reason I came here was because my friends had been bugging me for a couple years to join them.”

Eustace Eusebio is a computer science and engineer senior at Louisville University, Kentucky. Though he grew up in an Adventist home, he says it was difficult adapting to a secular setting.

“Growing up in an Adventist community, you’d expect [your faith] would carry on to any environment that you go into,” Eusebio said “…But when I went to college, I could feel myself drift away from God.”

Marian Prieto-Perez, ICC camp counselor, went through a similar experience. She is also a student at Louisville University finishing her B.A. in History. Prieto-Perez has been working at ICC for four years and says coming back helps her reflect on her spiritual journey.

“[At school], I’ve had a lot of uncertainty about my faith,” Prieto-Perez said. “[ICC] has just been a really good place to reevaluate my beliefs and see where I am with God.”

ICC is divided in three different sessions spread throughout the summer: juniors, teens, and family camp. The day consists of worship and activities such as horseback riding, archery and wall climbing. At the of the day, camp counselors put on a play following a story of the Bible.

This summer, the theme was “The Ultimate Promise,” which portrays the story of Moses and Joshua reminiscing on their journey on earth and looking forward to heaven. After the play, camp counselors get to discuss lessons with their campers. Prieto-Perez says this is one of her favorite parts of the day.

“You’re teaching the kids a about Christ, but in a lot of ways they are the ones teaching you,” Prieto-Perez said. “The children remind me about the faith that I used to have as a child. It’s not necessarily liked a blind faith because they still have a lot of questions, but it’s a curious faith that is expanding.”

Eusebio feels the same way. After being in camp for several weeks, he thinks about his response to that initial interview question. Now, he wants to change his answer.

“My new answer would be ‘I came here to camp looking for God’s still voice,’” Eusebio said. “I feel like I completely lost that over the past three years of college. I’m still looking, for sure, but it’s a lot clearer now than it was at the beginning of summer.”