Conference Banner Conference Banner Conference Banner


Archive for September, 2012

Forest City Spanish Church To Host Second Let’s Get Moving Kids Event

posted on September 28, 2012, under Church by

by Shirley Flores

Let's Get Moving Kids

These three young participants received medals for their participation in the run last year. (Photo: Shirley Flores)

Forest City Spanish Church will hold its second Let’s Get Moving Kids event on Sunday, October 7, 9:00 a.m., at Crane’s Roost Park in Altamonte Springs. The success of last year’s fun/walk day to promote active and healthy lifestyles encouraged organizers to plan this year’s event to be “bigger, better, and with greater impact in the community.”

Let’s Get Moving Kids 2011 attracted 150 participants and highlighted kids running with parents, family, and friends. Runners chose between a 3K or 1/8-mile run/walk, and each received a T-shirt and finisher medallion. Participants were given water as they ran and received encouragement from posted signs with promises and health facts throughout the park.

Bike Winner

Last year, one lucky participant took home a new bike. (Photo: Shirley Flores)

Located around the park’s water fountain, local venders provided healthy resources to the participants and visitors. The event finished with drawings for gifts to promote an active lifestyle. Coverage of the day’s activities was given by Telemundo Telenoticias Orlando.

This year’s event will include a mini Health Fair, Healthy 100 Kids Fit Team, giveaways, face painting, a bounce house, music, and more. More information is at

Telenoticias Orlando produced this story on last year's event. (Video is in Spanish language)

Leave a Comment

Children Involved In Mission Project For Orphanage In Tanzania

posted on September 27, 2012, under Church by

by Naomi Zalabak

The VBS theme, Sky, reminds kids that everything is possible with God.

Children attending Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Avon Park Church became involved in a mission project for an orphanage in Tanzania, Africa. They raised $134 to help the children with food and much needed medications.

The VBS, under Dulcie Tangunan’s direction, utilized 39 young people and adult helpers to present the program, Sky Adventure. Emphasizing the theme, decorations included an airplane on the lawn and a plane replica in front of the platform with a puppet sitting at a window.

Leaders carefully planned activities to teach a Bible lesson for the day. (Photo: Tom Amos)

Each day consisted of games, stories, crafts, and songs. Activities were carefully planned to teach a Bible lesson for the day. More than 170 children attended the VBS held in the Walker Memorial Academy gymnasium.

At the closing program, children sang songs learned through the week including the theme song, “Fly.” When Pastor Ryan Amos would mention a life situation in his talk such as, “No matter who you are,” “No matter what happens,” “No matter what people do to you,” and “No matter where you go,” the children would proudly proclaim, “Trust God!” They had apparently learned their lessons well.

Leave a Comment

Death of Forest Lake Distance Learning Academy Student

posted on September 22, 2012, under Education by

J.J. Branchedor

We are shocked and saddened by the death of J.J. Branchedor that occurred late Friday afternoon at New Smyrna Beach, Florida. J.J. was on a school outing with Forest Lake Academy, our Seventh-day Adventist high school located in Apopka. He was a student of the Distance Learning Academy through Walker Memorial Academy in Avon Park.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the parents of J.J., the student body, and faculty at each of these schools, as well as our extended church family. We are all devastated right now, but we take courage in the hope and assurance of a soon coming Saviour.

Counselors have been on hand to counsel our students and will continue to be available to be with our student body as needed.

We want to thank all of those who were involved in the search and rescue operation.

The safety and welfare of our students is our highest priority, and we take seriously our responsibility to protect them every day.

Arne Nielsen, Florida Conference Vice President for Integrated Youth Ministries, is the spokesperson for the school and the Conference pertaining to this tragedy. Send e-mail to Arne with any questions or information.

1 Comment

SALT Ministry

posted on September 21, 2012, under Church, Conference, Video Report by

Florida Conference In Mission is a monthly video series about people reaching people.

This month’s report highlights Service and Love Together (SALT), a Central Florida youth ministry with the goal of leading people into a personal relationship with Christ, nurturing them to Christian maturity, and equipping them for service.

Leave a Comment

Article Validates Adventist Education Principles

posted on September 21, 2012, under Conference, Education by

by Sandra Doran

Photo courtesy Greater Miami Adventist Academy.

A recent article published by National Public Radio boasts something Adventists have known all along: “‘Children Succeed’ With Character, Not Test Scores.” Not surprisingly, author Paul Tough asserts that “intensive mentoring” by caring adults who teach “character-building experiences” is what gets kids over the rough spots in life and assures success. His latest book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, argues for less emphasis on memorizing facts in the formative years and more time spent on the deep traits that will last a lifetime.

What matters most in a child’s development…is not how much information we can stuff into her brain in the first few years. What matters, instead, is whether we are able to help her develop a very different set of qualities, a list that includes persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit, and self-confidence. Economists refer to these as noncognitive skills, psychologists call them personality traits, and the rest of us sometimes think of them as character.

We, as Adventists, would lend a hearty “Amen!” Florida Conference operates 12 early childhood centers, 28 elementary schools, and two academies in the state of Florida. Our goal is not only to provide the best academics, but to fit our students with what the world at large is finally realizing matters most: a character that will ground them for everything life might throw their way.

Learn more by contacting the Florida Conference Office of Education at (407) 644-5000 x139 or

Leave a Comment

Will You Say “Yes” When God Calls?

posted on September 14, 2012, under Conference by

by Mike Cauley, D.Min.
Florida Conference President

God is at work in Florida Conference! The stories in the Autumn 2012 issue of Florida Focus especially underscore that reality.

I have long been inspired by the life and ministry of Elder Horace Walsh. We are deeply indebted to him for 67 years of faithful service to our Lord—40 of those years here in Florida. God continues to use him powerfully.

Perhaps the most profound way that I see God at work is in the lives of so many surrendered lay members—both young and older; the ministry of fireman Rudy Prado; the wisdom and skill of lay worker Janice Boone; the Christ-like compassion of Prison Ministries volunteer Robert Wilson; the love for kids exhibited by Ed and Laura Wolanski; and the way God has led in the life of Jerry Sutton. These stories, featuring these committed volunteer workers, evoke in me a deep sense of gratitude, both to the Lord and to them.

The function of church leadership, according to Ephesians 4, is to equip God’s people for works of service. Shepherding is part of the role of the pastor, but even more so is the work of engaging believers in works of service to build up the Body of Christ. In fact, this is the way we grow to spiritual maturity. God’s ordained method for leading us to a life that reflects the character and ministry of Jesus is to guide us into blessing the lives of others. Each of us has abilities that the Lord has given which may be used to convey God’s love in tangible ways. Accepting the prompting of the Holy Spirit to become involved in the life of someone else is the path to a life of fulfillment and blessing.

Back in the summer of 1969, while attending church in Jacksonville, God used a witnessing team from Forest Lake Academy to ignite a passion within my young heart to show people God’s love. God is calling men and women, boys and girls, all over our Conference to communicate God’s love as they surrender themselves to be used by Jesus. May God bless you to say “yes” to the Holy Spirit when He prompts you to be a channel of blessing.

Leave a Comment

Trucker Teaches Sign Language To Teens

posted on September 14, 2012, under Church, Member by

by Herb Pritchard

Jerry Sutton.

While eating at a restaurant, trucker Jerry Sutton was approached by a small lad and given an alphabet card for the deaf. Bored on long trips while delivering Freightliner tractors around the United States, Sutton practiced learning sign letters. This led him to study sign language courses for more than three years.

An Adventist trucker who drove for the same company gave religious tracts to Jerry from time to time. A friendship developed and Bible studies ensued. The provocative literature and his personal study created a challenge for Sutton when he could not find Bible references to support Sunday keeping. Not fully convinced of Adventist truth, he kept looking for the right church.

One night, he had a dream of three girls waving and beckoning him to come into Ocala Seventh-day Adventist Church. Sutton decided to attend the church and saw the three girls. “I could have picked them out of a lineup,” he says. Before long, he became a church member.

A short time later, Sutton found a surprising opportunity to awaken his interest in sign language. One Sabbath, a member brought a deaf friend to church and Sutton was asked to sign for the guest. The Ocala Church deaf ministry which started that day still continues.

Volunteers Amanda Raices, 15, left, and Rebecca Nolasco, 13, interpret for Winnie Tuninson in Ocala Church's sign language ministry. (Photo: Sam Minosh)

With challenges caused by a bad back, Sutton has focused on teaching sign language to Rebecca Nolasco, 13, and Amanda Raices, 15, who now communicate Sabbath services to deaf attendees. “We saw a need and wanted to make friends with guests,” the girls admit. Pastor Dave Swinyar adds, “They are an answer to prayer by picking up the skill in a very short time.”

Each week, Sutton also teaches sign language to three young people at the Ocala Public Library. “Signing can be a difficult and tedious study as there are more than 5,000 signs alone in the Random House American Sign Language Dictionary,” he says. “Not only is there complexity in signing, there is a discipline of learning to teach with accuracy.”

The phonetics of sign language was born in the 17th century. Now, two 21st-century Ocala teens are moving out of their comfort zones into a ministry meaningful to others less fortunate; yet, who deserve to hear about the love of God.

Leave a Comment

Orlando Fireman Trains Emergency Responders In Dominican Republic and South America

posted on September 14, 2012, under Member by

by Martin Butler

Rudy Prado, right, trained Chilean ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) volunteers on a South America trip with David Canther, ACTS (Active Christians That Serve) World Relief president. (Photo: David Canther)

“Lord, please show me how I can give my talents to serve you,” prayed Rudy Prado, an Orlando lieutenant fireman, paramedic, and member of Markham Woods Church in Longwood. The next week, David Canther, who contracts with Florida Conference and World Vision to train and deploy in emergency response, invited Prado to join him.

A month later, Prado was in the Dominican Republic training firemen, youth, church leaders, and personnel for World Vision and ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) in incident command, life-saving skills, and emotional and spiritual care. Soon afterward, a pastor wrote, “My recent training already helped me save two victims involved in an automobile accident.”

Prado is planning his work schedule so he will have even more time to join Canther in training individuals in Florida and throughout Central and South America. “This is the most fulfilling opportunity God has ever given me,” he admits.

World Vision Emergency Response volunteers in the Dominican Republic evacuated victims from a staged incident after they received training from Markham Woods Church member Rudy Prado. (Photo: David Canther)

In early August, Prado accompanied Canther to train 500 youth and church groups as emergency responders in Chile. The World Vision Emergency Response director for that South American country described the week as “utterly fantastic!”

Among the 45,400 people working for World Vision (the world’s largest humanitarian organization), 1,400 are Seventh-day Adventists with the same deep passion to share the love of Christ through their actions. “God is moving in miraculous ways to unite His people in new ways of evangelism which must exemplify itself in a willingness to lay down your life for others according to John 14,” says Canther.

Emergency response action photos are posted to Canther’s new book, First Response: Change Your World Through ACTS of Love, is also available from the ACTS site as well as the Adventist Book Center.

Leave a Comment

The Pulse: Meeting Community Needs Through Friendship

posted on September 14, 2012, under Conference by

by Gladys Neigel

The Pulse Christian Youth Center ministers to at-risk kids after school. (Photos: Ed Wolanski)

A yellow school bus stops at 3101 Spring Park Road in Jacksonville as 14 kids pour out of The Pulse Christian Youth Center to hop on board. These students come early to this bus stop in order to join in prayer and a short devotional worship at what they call their church. As they leave, each receives a granola bar, juice box, and banana to give them a good start for the day.

“Our mission is to help each one of these young people recognize they have a purpose, to find out what it is, and to pursue it for God,” says The Pulse Director Ed Wolanski who, with his wife Laura, volunteers 40+ hours a week. When they opened the youth center in 2009, they soon discovered many tangible needs of the young people as well as the intangibles. Located in a high-crime and low-income area, young people are often forced to go hungry. In order to meet this need, every evening program includes a meal.

The holistic approach is only part of this faith-based program which offers opportunities for Bible study and worship. Volunteers try to befriend young people who have learned to survive in the environment they live in and help them rise above the influences of their neighborhood.

Various programs offered by The Pulse include:

Evening Programs—Monday through Thursday, a program is developed especially for a designated age group: Pulse 912 (grades 9-12) on Mondays, Pulse 68 (grades 6-8) on Tuesdays, Pulse 45 (grades 4-5) on Wednesdays, and K3 Pulse (grades K-3) on Thursdays. Included in the evening’s programs are:

  • Bible lessons that teach morals, life principles, and good citizenship.
  • Bible-based discussions of the challenges facing young people today such as peer pressure, making right choices, sexuality and teen pregnancy, crime, and drugs.
  • Group games teaching teamwork.
  • A healthy dinner.

Academic Assistance—After-school tutoring for students and assistance completing homework and projects.

Computer Lab—Allows students access to the internet which may not be available at their home.

Library—Encourages reading with story times and quiet hours.

Field Trips—Outings to museums, parks, and community events provide opportunities for social, academic and cultural growth.

Sports—Encourages good, clean fun by organizing football, kickball, soccer, and other games in the neighborhood.

Saturday Nights—Safe and clean alternative for young people to enjoy games, movies, and theme nights such as guys-only or girls-only.

Several kids gave up their Christmas vacation to transform a storage area into a serving pantry. This new kitchen addition is helping streamline food service, teach more responsibility, and save on food costs.

Recently, The Pulse was given additional room to expand its operations and convert the space into a proper computer lab, separate library, reception area, and office. This space was donated rent free until the end of 2012, and Wolanski says, “We are confident the Lord will provide the funding when the rent comes due in January.

Since its inception, ministry at The Pulse has been kept alive through donations from those wanting to help at-risk kids have a better life. The Florida Conference Youth Department believes in this program enough to financially support approximately 20% of the operating budget. More information about this ministry, including promotional videos, can be found at and The Pulse was also featured in the monthly Florida Conference In Mission video series for June 2012.

Leave a Comment

God Answers a Mother’s Prayers

posted on September 14, 2012, under Member by

by Janice Boone

Janice Boone, left, studied the Bible with Rene Brunet. His mother, Grace, attended his baptism.

When Rene Brunet began studying the Bible with two gentlemen who came to his home in Florida, his mother, Grace, in Tennessee became worried that this exposure would misguide him. She had prayed for many years that he would join her in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

While visiting him two years earlier, Rene’s mother, Grace Brunet, had attended the Adventist Church in Brooksville and kept the bulletin for that day. Now, as the worry increased, Grace got out the bulletin, found my name listed as the first elder, and called me. She asked if I would contact her son and perhaps study God’s Word with him.

As my husband, Van, and I drove to church the next day, I decided to call the number Grace had given me. I simply invited Rene to come to a community clubhouse where I was conducting a Revelation Seminar that included a special slide presentation on space taken by the Hubble telescope. He seemed interested and agreed to attend. After the meeting, I asked Rene if he would like to come to our house to start at the beginning of the Revelation Seminar studies. He readily agreed, and we made an appointment for the following Monday evening.

A seeker of truth, Rene Brunet anticipated studying the Bible with four individuals.

When Rene arrived at our home, we learned he was a Vietnam War veteran who had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. He had also suffered a severe loss of hearing from bombs exploding close to him as a young soldier.

Rene became such a seeker of truth that I told him he reminded me of Nicodemus meeting Jesus. He diligently studied, comparing scripture with scripture. As soon as he recognized there were certain adjustments that had to be made in his lifestyle, he learned to rely on Christ’s ability to get him over these hurdles.

It wasn’t long before Rene told me that his mother was worried about him studying with the two gentlemen. My response was, “Well, Rene, I’m NOT concerned at all because you are studying the truth, and if there is anything you hear that is contrary to that truth, you will recognize it!”

Soon, he was showing the two men scriptures that were not in harmony with what they were teaching. After several weeks of attempting to help them recognize truth, the men stopped coming to his home. Rene hoped that God would prepare him to minister to them some day.

Rene's mother rejoiced as she watched Brooksville Pastor John Sabo baptize her son.

It was a great blessing for Van and me to watch Rene grow stronger in Christ week after week. Sometimes, it was hard for him to hold back tears when he was obviously at the foot of the cross. During his six months of Bible studies, he also read The Desire of Ages and asked if we could study twice a week with him.

Rene wanted to go right into the Daniel Prophecy Seminar when the studies on Revelation were finished. After three months, he decided to be baptized. What a day of unspeakable joy for Rene’s mother to be at Brooksville Church, watching her precious son step into the water as he was baptized by Pastor John Sabo. Grace had prayed many years for this moment, and God had answered her prayers.

By this time, Rene had planned to become a Bible teacher. He had four people with whom he was planning to study; however, this would never happen. Just three months after his baptism, Rene and his son, Derek, were in a motorcycle accident. Rene was rushed to the hospital where he went to sleep in Jesus.

How grateful Grace is to have seen God’s purpose for her son realized, and how blessed and honored I am to have been his teacher. When Grace calls or writes, she constantly speaks of the reunion she is promised with her dear son when Jesus comes again.

My purpose in sharing this story of Rene and the answered prayer of his mother, Grace, is to encourage mothers and other family members to never stop praying for loved ones—God may answer in the eleventh hour!

Leave a Comment