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Archive for June, 2013

Greater Miami Adventist Academy Outreach

posted on June 29, 2013, under Education, Video Report by

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

This month’s video highlights various community outreach projects conducted by students of Greater Miami Adventist Academy.

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I Challenge You, Class of 2013

posted on June 28, 2013, under Education by

A May 25 Commencement Address To Forest Lake Academy Graduates

by Sandra Doran

It’s almost time for the drum roll. One more set of nice words. One more inspirational pitch. You may be wondering why it is so important to us to get up and offer these lofty visions for you. Those of my generation may remember a song by Cat Stevens:

Oh very young
What will you leave us this time?
You’re only dancing on this earth for a short while…

Sandra Doran. (Photos: Tim Floyd)

You see, the reason we are urging you to go out and be your best is that we need you. We need your energy, vision, and passion. We need your commitment. We’re all getting older here. You’re it!

So I challenge you:

I challenge you to write so passionately, deeply, and clearly about the social injustice in my neighborhood that I will no longer be able to sit silent.

I challenge you to listen to a child with such compassion, understanding, and insight that she will feel loved for the first time in her life and begin to heal.

I challenge you to analyze the engine of a car so studiously that when I am stalled and frustrated, you will know it needs a new fuel injector, and I will be able to get back about my business.

I challenge you to fly to Africa and cradle a child with AIDS in your arms so the tears on her mother’s face will dry for just a fraction of a second.

I challenge you to craft the words and melody to a song so beautiful, so eloquent, that I can do nothing but fall down on my knees and weep.

I challenge you to figure and refigure numbers with such sharpness and precision that I can sleep at night knowing my books are in order.

I challenge you to pore over medical books and study every bone, muscle, and fiber of the human body so that when my grandchildren become ill, you will be able to offer a cure.

I challenge you to study the vanishing breeds of birds and butterflies, save the African Green Broadbill, the Alabama Heelsplitter, the Apache Trout, the Apollo Butterfly, and the Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross.

I challenge you to take up your pencil and produce light and shadow, layers and levels of meaning, and create a drawing that stirs my soul and reminds me of my Creator.

I challenge you to become so intimately acquainted with air currents, jet streams, and weather patterns that you will warn me long in advance of an approaching tornado.

I challenge you to repair our computers, our cell phones, our hearts, and our marriages.

I challenge you to care for our pets, our neighborhoods, our bodies, and our souls.

I challenge you to fall so deeply in love with Christ that you cannot help but spread the news to a world in crisis.

I challenge you to pass the bills that will offer dignity to all people groups and write the legislation that will eliminate poverty. I challenge you to represent honesty, goodness, and all that is right within our world.

I challenge you to fly a plane as straight as an arrow and navigate the seas with skill and accuracy.

I challenge you to produce audio as clear as a swiftly running stream and video that shatters old stereotypes and leads to new levels of understanding and empathy.

I challenge you to find a cure for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and congenital heart disease.

I challenge you to forge a truce with the battle-weary, a path into undiscovered places, and a way where there has been no way.

I challenge you to bind up the wounds of the broken-hearted, preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and release the oppressed.

I challenge you to fight the fires that ravage the nation, write the sermon that converts 1,000, and baptize the teenager who changes the world.

I challenge you to make a difference. I double dare you. I challenge you.

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Giving the Gift That Was Given To Me

posted on June 28, 2013, under Education, Member by

by Gladys Neigel

Rachel Torres. (Photo: Buddy Summit)

Rachel Torres is the first new hire for the 2013-2014 school year in Florida Conference. She will be teaching 1st and 2nd grade at Forest City Adventist School in Altamonte Springs.

A product of Florida Adventist education, Rachel spent elementary years at Orlando Junior Academy and grades 9-12 at Forest Lake Academy in Apopka. She graduated from Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education.

During her college years, Rachel sought every opportunity to stretch her horizons, broaden her knowledge, and learn successful techniques for teaching. “I want to make school a safe, exciting, and encouraging environment where students are free to explore and be part of a learning community,” says Rachel.

She was enabled in her search for excellence by monetary support from encouragers whose desire is to aid young people on their education journey. Rachel was a beneficiary of a grant from the Worthy Student fund maintained by the Florida Conference Planned Giving and Trust Services Department. For information on tax-deductible contributions to help young people like Rachel receive an Adventist education, call (407) 644-5000 x251.

Summer of 2013

To my educational supporters:

It’s hard to believe I can say I am an alumni of Southern Adventist University (SAU). I look back on my college days quite fondly. It was only by generous donors, dedicated prayers, and God’s promises that I was able to attend all four years.

My experience at SAU was priceless. While there, I was blessed to make lifelong friends, strengthen my relationship with Jesus, have incredible mentors and teachers, and be a part of a powerful, energetic student body. I praise God for putting it on people’s hearts to give and make college experiences, like mine, possible.

I am FULL of gratitude for the generous people that made such an impact on my life through their monetary support. Because of them, their belief in me, and Adventist education, my dreams have come true.

This year, I am excited to begin my first year of teaching. It is my privilege to use everything I learned to be the best teacher I can be for my students. I plan to keep giving the gift that was given to me by not only being an educator, but also allowing God to use me to bless others as I have been blessed.


Rachel Torres

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An Investment With High Returns

posted on June 28, 2013, under Conference, Education by

by Mike Cauley, D.Min.
Florida Conference President

Recently, our friends, Pastor Noel Shanko and his wife, Pat, made a trip back to Yale, Virginia, where they celebrated the 100th anniversary since the beginning of the church there. It began on October 4, 1913, when the 68 members of the Ukranian Baptist Church (all immigrants from Eastern Europe) affirmed their belief in the Seventh-day Adventist faith and, along with their pastor, John Yecoshenko, became Seventh-day Adventists. Pastor Yecoshenko was Noel’s great-grandfather and appointed by Virginia Conference as pastor.

Only five years earlier, an Adventist boarding academy was established in the small farming town of New Market, Virginia. Those early Ukranian Adventists were encouraged to send their high school students to this new academy. They responded and, six years later, Isaiah Shanko became the first Yale Church member to graduate.

Chelsea Campbell, left, granddaughter of Noel and Pat Shanko, is the 50th Shenandoah Valley Academy graduate who is related by blood to the first member of the Yale, Virginia, Church to graduate from the school in 1919. (Photo: Bucky Thacker)

This past month, Chelsea Campbell, Noel and Pat’s granddaughter, became the 50th graduate from Shenandoah Valley Academy who is related by blood to that first graduate from Yale Church. I dare say that this family’s heritage of five generations in the Seventh-day Adventist Church owes much in their faith development to Adventist Christian education.

The 30 Adventist schools in Florida Conference with more than 3,000 students are making a life-changing impact upon children and families today. Please prayerfully consider sending your children or grandchildren to an Adventist elementary or secondary school or university. It provides an opportunity to leave a powerful legacy for generations to come. Ask God to provide the resources, and look for how Providence will lead you and your children.

I want to thank our churches that support a local church school. It is a significant financial investment; however, the spiritual investment is even greater. I also thank each one of you who faithfully returns tithe and offerings to help maintain this vital ministry for nurturing children in the ways of God.

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Testimony of a Life-changing Experience

posted on June 28, 2013, under Education by

Caroline and David Collins study during class at Lay Institute For Evangelism. (Photo: Seth Dixon)

by Renee Edwards

“I’ve grown up in an Adventist home, and I know the doctrines, but I don’t know the texts by heart.”

“How do I give a Bible study?”

“How do I get out of my box?”

“I want to do more.”

These are among the comments and questions of many who feel a burden to serve the Lord; yet, they don’t know how. Backed by Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI), Lay Institute For Evangelism (LIFE) revives, inspires, grounds, and equips laity from around the world at its Lady Lake home base. Jesus, the pre-existent source of LIFE, is lifted up during every class and training session. As a result, students grow and gain a whole new boldness to share the truth.

Dana West. (Photo: Seth Dixon)

“LIFE was everything I had hoped for and so much more,” testifies Dana West, Health and Bible instructor for Palmetto Church. “It is a well-rounded and thorough education in preparation to be a Bible worker, pastor, or whatever health or gospel ministry one plans to embark upon. I learned so much, and I continue to learn as I put it into practice.

Scott Moore, right, is president of LIFE. His wife, Melanie, is food service director. (Photo: Seth Dixon)

“As a health and Bible instructor, words cannot express how exciting it is to see people respond and embrace the fullness of the gospel, and I get to be a part of it. “This is not just my work—the whole church is involved. LIFE has brought new life to Palmetto Church!

“The program at LIFE continues to add new classes, and I hope to continue learning by participating in every new class as I am able, bringing my students with me. Given the opportunity, I would take the entire course over again. That is how good LIFE is! Praise God for LIFE!”

Since Dana’s experience at LIFE, she has brought others to Christ. One is currently attending LIFE. If you share a similar burden and long for a LIFE changing experience, “Come Experience LIFE.”

231 Lake Griffin Road Lady Lake, FL 32159
(888) 628-2819

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International Student Discovers God’s Grace Through Collegiate Bible Studies

posted on June 27, 2013, under Education, Hospital by

by Eric Cadiente

Han Chen, nursing student at Adventist University of Health Sciences, hopes to share the faith he’s embraced with family, friends, and patients when he returns to China. (Photo: Sarah Crowder)

The story of Han Chen’s journey into the Seventh-day Adventist Church began in 2009, in the central Chinese city of Changsha. Han first heard of Adventist University of Health Sciences in Orlando, through his aunt, Yuesha Chen, executive director for Florida Hospital’s Institute for Lifestyle Medicine & Retail Pharmacy Division. She not only suggested he look into studying nursing at Adventist University, but she was also instrumental in introducing him to the Adventist faith.

As Han started researching Adventist University, he realized it was an opportunity to not only study abroad, but to learn more about God. “China is a place that really needs God,” says Han. “It’s a place where many don’t know Him.”

Han arrived in Florida in May 2011, and he graduated in April 2013 with an associate degree in nursing. He plans to begin the bachelor program in the fall.

Han Chen practices his nursing skills on a mannequin in Adventist University’s nursing skills lab. (Photo: Sarah Crowder)

“God led me here,” Han reflected. “He has made everything go smoothly.”

During his first trimester, Julie Cook, associate professor of health sciences, invited Han to join Circle of Faith, an interfaith Bible study group composed primarily of students.

Cook was unsure how he would react, but, to her surprise, he replied, “You don’t understand, I’m glad you asked.” Cook soon realized he had never heard of “grace” or a God who loves him. Han regularly attended the Bible studies where he embraced the Word of God completely.

“Han turned out to be an example to me,” said Cook. “He soaked up everything we talked about. I admire his enthusiasm.”

In one of the Bible studies, someone asked Han his religious affiliation. After a brief pause, he stated, “I am a pre-Adventist.” When asked what a pre-Adventist was, he replied, “It’s someone whose belief and faith has turned to God, but he just hasn’t been baptized yet.” Han’s studies resulted in his baptism into the Seventh-day Adventist faith on May 28, 2011, at Forest Lake Church in Apopka. On that day, he converted from a pre-Adventist to a full-fledged Seventh-day Adventist.

Han has recently been in communication with a nurse manager in China about job possibilities. After he finishes his bachelor’s degree, he plans to return and use health care as a ministry in a place where few know God’s grace as he now does.

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Southern Student Reaches Hundreds For Christ

posted on June 27, 2013, under Education, Member by

by Angela Baerg

Sarah Andrews at Southern Adventist University. (Photo: Dillan Forsey)

When Southern Adventist University student Sarah Andrews first saw a sign advertising a mission trip to Sierra Leone in West Africa, she felt drawn to it like a magnet. The Forest Lake Church member always wanted to go to Africa, but she was a nursing major, not a theology major. Besides that, she didn’t have the money.

A few days later, she saw another sign by Southern’s Evangelistic Resource Center (ERC) and again ignored her desire to follow up on the opportunity. Finally, when ERC made a presentation in her Christian Spirituality class, she decided to meet the obstacles head on and chase her dream.

Sarah with new friends in Sierra Leone, Africa.

In Sierra Leone, Sarah preached 19 sermons that touched many lives, but one night was especially unforgettable. She was giving a sermon on the unpardonable sin to approximately 250 people while a spiritualism crusade simultaneously blasted sound nearby. Due to technical issues, the church members who provided the generator and microphones for her meetings only had one microphone that night, which Sarah allowed her translator to use. Sarah had to shout to be heard, even by her translator, and she was terrified as she felt her voice giving out.

“The devil attacked that night, and no one could focus—not even me!” Sarah remembers. “He did not want that important message to be heard.”

She wanted to stop and pray, but being an inexperienced preacher, Sarah was afraid she would lose track of where she was in her notes. Finally, she borrowed the microphone from her translator and begged for God’s help to calm the crowd.

“After that prayer, everything changed,” she recalls. Almost immediately, the crowd seemed to focus. Not only did Sarah’s voice come back, but it was now louder than ever. In spite of the noise and lack of a microphone, even those sitting in the back could hear her. During the altar call that night, people filled the platform to give their lives to the Lord.

“It was so incredible,” Sarah shares. “I didn’t do anything at all—it was just all God. It was amazing to watch Him use miracles to touch lives right before my eyes.”

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“Your High School Prepared You Well”

posted on June 27, 2013, under Education, Member by

Anthony is pursuing a doctoral degree in math at Rice University in Houston, Texas, where he also leads the Adventist student group. (Photo: Valmir Bucaj)

by Anthony Bosman

“Anthony, reading your research essay was a breath of fresh air,” said Professor Wendy Goldberg, my freshman Writing and Rhetoric instructor at Stanford University, California. She continued, “I can tell that your high school prepared you well.”

Since I’m a math major, English has always been more of a peripheral interest to me. Nevertheless, my professor was right. I’m indebted to my high school, Forest Lake Academy (FLA), for providing an excellent foundation for my future studies.

Granted, when I graduated from FLA in 2008 and began studying at Stanford, I was intimidated by the backgrounds of my fellow students. Stanford accepts less than one in ten applicants, making its students hand picked from around the world. Yet, over time, I discovered that my education at FLA provided me with a competitive advantage in a number of ways. Here are five examples:

A Solid Foundation
In addition to the small class sizes and variety of teaching styles I encountered at FLA, a number of the faculty became personal mentors. They took an interest in my personal life, creating an environment that allowed me to flourish.

When I arrived at the university, I could do more than just write well. For instance, I immediately entered the most rigorous track of math courses. Last year, I graduated from Stanford with a degree in Mathematics with Honors, a distinction given to a minority of graduates.

A Passion For Service
The same faculty who taught me in the classroom at FLA were involved in leading student service activities, varying from small programs in the community to a 12-day-mission trip to Latin America in which I participated one spring break.

Anthony’s area of research in mathematics is topology, the study of abstract shapes and surfaces. (Photo: Valmir Bucaj)

This cultivated in me an integrated view of education and service, and I was inspired throughout college to put my knowledge into action through a variety of volunteer activities in the local community and abroad.

Practical Work Experience
I had a part time job all four years of high school. One summer, I worked with the school’s grounds and maintenance crew. During the school year, I tutored students with their math problems. Working to financially support my education taught me responsibility and broke down my false notions of entitlement.

A Christian World View
In both FLA’s science and humanities classes, I learned to evaluate information with a Christian world view. In one class, we studied the French Revolution from a secular perspective, then evaluated it in light of biblical teaching. In college, not only did this help me to understand information within the context of the biblical narrative, it also enabled me to critically evaluate and intelligently respond to the many ideas and theories expressed.

A Knowledge of Christ
Most importantly, FLA’s Christian students and teachers, along with religious programs and classes, allowed me to grow in my relationship with Christ. In college, I was shocked to discover how many students were searching for purpose and, devoid of satisfaction, entered into destructive habits and relationships. I discovered that FLA equipped me to share the joy and freedom found only in a relationship with Christ.


Gary Whittenburg Returns To Florida: Voted New Adventist Book Center Manager

posted on June 26, 2013, under Conference by

Gary Whittenburg. (Photo: Lee Bennett)

by Gladys Neigel

Gary Whittenburg was voted Adventist Book Center (ABC) manager on March 19, 2013, by the Florida Conference Executive Committee. He replaces Pablo Ayala, manager since August 2006, who now manages Sunbelt Natural Foods Distribution—solely owned by Florida Conference.

This is Gary’s second term of service in Florida. In 1998, he left Florida ABC, where he worked as assistant manager for 9½ years, to become manager of Southern New England ABC in South Lancaster, Massachusetts. Fifteen years later, on May 1, 2013, he returned to Florida as ABC manager.

Gary began denominational work as an intern in Kentucky-Tennessee Conference and then served as an assistant Adventist Book Center manager in Ohio and Southern New England Conferences.

Gary and his wife, Anne, have three children: Carrie Ann, Brett, and Ryan.

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Florida Conference Office Staff Walks Nearly 8,000 Miles

posted on June 26, 2013, under Conference by

by Gladys Neigel

How do you get sedentary people to begin some kind of fitness regime? This was the quandary of Joe Holloway, Florida Conference Health Ministries Director, when he thought of the people who work at their desks every day in the Winter Park headquarters.

During the past few years, Holloway has managed to get more employees to eat properly through programs his department has sponsored, such as CHIP and CREATION Health. Now, he was ready to initiate a fitness program with participation being the key. Thus, Tour of Italy was born.

With the help of a Wellness Committee, plans began to evolve. The replica of a full-size human skeleton appeared in the lobby with the upcoming eight-week program poster. Eight teams were formed with each group choosing one of four Italian cities as their destination of a circuitous walking route starting in Rome. The number of participants continued to grow until more than 60% of the employees were involved.

The Tour of Italy genre was to be a “no guilt zone,” said team leader Kim Johnson. “It’s not how much you do. Everyone is a champion. You are successful if you simply participate and walk.”

Team leaders became encouragers by organizing a group walk during a ten-minute break in the mornings, writing notes of praise upon receiving weekly totals, and sending YouTube videos to walkers featuring the Italian countryside.

The results of the program were life changing. Participants collectively walked a total of 7,972 miles and lost 175 pounds. Many reduced their blood pressure and had incentive to get off medication while deepening friendships with coworkers.

“My blood pressure medicine has been lowered, and my goal is to soon be off it completely,” says team leader Shawn Hayden. “I thank God for this, and walking is something I have added to my lifestyle. I’ll be walking until I walk into the kingdom, and at that point, I will fly.”

Walking for wellness continues with Florida Conference employees. “We’re going to kick off a new program this fall, right after Labor Day,” says Holloway. “Next, we’re going to Japan on a journey that will be different and exciting.”

“The camaraderie you experience in a walking group and the shared fitness success can help you walk your way to better health.” —Mayo Clinic

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