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Mission to the Cities and China—an Overview of Florida Conference Evangelism in 2014

posted on July 08, 2014, under Church, Conference by

by Abel Paulín

This year, Florida Conference embarked upon an emphasis of returning to our purpose as a missionary agency. The goal is to foster evangelism and church planting in this territory and promote overseas missions.

Embracing these aspects, Florida Conference launched a five-year Mission to the Cities initiative. This program targets five urban areas: Miami, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Naples, North Florida, and Central Florida. At the same time, the Conference is raising funds for an overseas mission effort to support 130 national missionaries planting churches in China.

China Church Planters

With increased prosperity in China and diminishing religious oppression, this is an opportune time to share the gospel and the Adventist message. It is the goal of Florida Conference to raise support for 130 Chinese workers who are trained and prepared to reach their people. Through June 1, churches, schools, and individuals had raised $80,000 to enable 53 church planters to enter and work in a city in China for one year.

Impact Miami 2014

Alejandro Bullón preached, Steve Green sang, and 1,050 people responded to the Sabbath morning appeal. (Photo: Freddy Fernandez)

Alejandro Bullón preached, Steve Green sang, and 1,050 people responded to the Sabbath morning appeal. (Photo: Freddy Fernandez)

More than a dozen events are scheduled during 2014 as part of the Mission to the Cities—Miami initiative. The first major program in February combined evangelistic fervor with the health message.

More than 1,000 people benefited from free health screenings. (Photo: Freddy Fernandez)

More than 1,000 people benefited from free health screenings. (Photo: Freddy Fernandez)

Nearly 5,000 church members and their community friends joined in a Sabbath of preaching and celebration. Held at Miami Airport Convention Center, the day featured Evangelist Alejandro Bullón. During the closing appeal, 1,050 individuals responded.

The following day, 4,000 people attended Total Health Expo for health lectures, gifts, information, and screenings from 107 exhibitors.

The program culminated with 30 reaping meetings held across Miami-Dade County, resulting in nearly 200 baptisms.

Evangelistic Series

Avon Park Spanish—Conference Hispanic Evangelist Rolando de los Ríos conducted Happy Destiny, an evangelistic series at Avon Park Spanish Church. The close of the series resulted in six baptisms, and many others are studying the Bible as they prepare for a weekend of reaping meetings.

Bonita Springs—Evangelist Lester Pratt preached a bilingual evangelistic series for Bonita Springs Church which holds services in English and Spanish. At the culmination of the series, Lay Pastor Juan Tuya baptized three people.

Bill Waters, speaking during his Cocoa meetings, has served as a pastor and evangelist for 44 years. (Photo: Mike Suchora)

Bill Waters, speaking during his Cocoa meetings, has served as a pastor and evangelist for 44 years. (Photo: Mike Suchora)

Cocoa—Evangelists Bill and Sunshine Waters held a five-weekend evangelistic meeting at Cocoa Church with 11 baptisms. Six other interests are attending and are on the verge of making their decision to become a part of the church.

Florida Institute of Lay Evangelists—As part of the 2014 evangelism project, Conference Hispanic Evangelist Rolando de los Ríos, in collaboration with Allan Machado, Vice President for Spanish-language Ministries, and Abel Paulín, Conference Evangelism Coordinator, organized the Florida Institute of Lay Evangelists. There are 275 students registered for the class from different parts of Florida.

North Tampa—Lay Evangelist Jesús Tirado visited North Tampa Spanish Company. He trained church members in personal evangelism, visited their friends, gave Bible studies, led a baptismal class, taught prophecy seminars, and preached an evangelistic series that resulted in 13 baptisms.

Church Evangelism

Orange Cove CREATION Health Seminars—In the Jacksonville area, Orange Cove Pastor André Van Heerden had conducted CREATION Health series at Fleming Island YMCA. This Florida Hospital program impressed YMCA leadership, and they requested to partner with Van Heerden in their health programs.

Palatka Church at the Putnam County Fair—Reversing their initial decision, Putnam County Fair officials allowed Palatka Church to sign people up with Discover Bible School. One hundred fifteen people enrolled in the study program, and two individuals received a Bible for the first time.

West Palm Beach—West Palm Beach First Church Pastor Stephen Stewart led members through the book, 40 Days of Prayer and Devotion. Afterward, the church conducted its third annual Seasons of Power evangelistic series. Keith Albury Jr., a pastor from South Bahamas Conference, conducted the series which resulted in 20 baptisms.

Evangelism in the Media

A Key Encounter on the radio—A Key Encounter now operates radio station WHNJ, Whole Health ‘N Joyful news: Christ IS coming! This 24/7 station is an outgrowth of the tourist attraction, A Key Encounter, which operated in Key West for more than 17 years.

Bethel Haitian of Orlando radio broadcast—Bethel Haitian Church sponsors a weekly radio program for the community whose primary language is Kreyòl. The program, heard Sundays on Radio Tropicale from 3:00-4:00 p.m., was a key ingredient contributing to 42 baptisms.

As a result of North Lake Church's WGTT-FM broadcasts, Sandra and David Yandoh, right, began Bible studies and were baptized. (Photo: Lee Bennett)

As a result of North Lake Church’s WGTT-FM broadcasts, Sandra and David Yandoh, right, began Bible studies and were baptized. (Photo: Lee Bennett)

Radio Station at North Lake—Operated from North Lake Church, this low-power FM station covers a 25-mile radius. While many nearby communities consider the station their church, several listeners visited one of the five Adventist churches in the area and were subsequently baptized.

Radio Station at Port St. Lucie—Eternal Hope Radio is owned and operated by Midport Church. WEHR broadcasts the Three Angels’ Messages 24/7 along the Treasure Coast to a potential listening audience of more than 200,000 at a cost of 2.5¢ per person each month.

Revelation Seminars on TV at Cape Coral—A professionally recorded Revelation Seminar series received an introduction and closing to make it suitable for television. These programs have aired on Christian television in Punta Gorda during the past several months with a potential viewing audience of 1.5 million. After each program, staff members answer phone calls requesting literature and prayer.

Evangelist Rolando de los Ríos produces a weekly radio program, Revelacíon, which has resulted in many baptisms. (Photo: Lee Bennett)

Evangelist Rolando de los Ríos produces a weekly radio program, Revelacíon, which has resulted in many baptisms. (Photo: Lee Bennett)

Revelación Spanish Radio Program—For 11 years, Rolando de los Ríos has directed and produced Revelación, a 30-minute weekly radio program. Heard on stations throughout Florida and worldwide through the internet, de los Ríos has cultivated a faithful audience. The broadcast has resulted in many baptisms.

South Orlando on the radio—Broadcast every Sunday night, Pastor Dan Forbes hosts the Families by Design radio program. It gives the community an opportunity to see the church as one that cares about their families’ needs and challenges while offering expert advice from guests.

Tampa Spanish on the radio—Pastor Andres Portes is the speaker for Nuevo Amanecer (New Dawn), the weekly radio program produced by Tampa Spanish Church. The director, Margarita Ramirez, and her team distribute hundreds of copies of the program on CD. Many individuals have joined the church during the 15 years of programming.

Evangelism through Church Planting

LifeSpring in Wesley Chapel—LifeSpring is a new church plant at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel in a high-growth section of the greater Tampa area. Seeking to minister to secular-postmodern people, Lifespring’s vision is “making passionate Christ-followers as we gather with God, grow with others, and go to serve,” says Anthony WagenerSmith, church planter.

Charter members of Lighthouse Community Mission Group were welcomed by members of Florida Living Church which sponsors the new congregation. (Photo: Aric Turlington)

Charter members of Lighthouse Community Mission Group were welcomed by members of Florida Living Church which sponsors the new congregation. (Photo: Aric Turlington)

Lighthouse Community in Altamonte Springs—This energetic group of different ages loves to live the gospel. They target the unchurched and the urban community with events for kids such as field days with games and free food. Once a month, they take lunches to the homeless and spend time listening, talking, and praying with them. The members of this church plant are now preparing to plant another church in the form of a youth center in a tough neighborhood of Orlando.

SRQ Sarasota—Using the three-letter airport code for its name, SRQ Sarasota grew from a home setting to leasing a store front. The relocation enabled more effective community service in an area near three college campuses in the city. This downtown Sarasota church combines new methodology with solid Adventist theology.

How We Grew in 2013

Florida Conference membership now exceeds 62,450. A renewed evangelistic emphasis this past year contributed to growth through 2,684 baptisms and professions of faith. We celebrate these additions and thank God for the collective work of our churches under the leadership of our pastors and evangelists.

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Annie Bell Celebrates 106th Birthday

posted on July 08, 2014, under Member by

Annie Bell

Annie Bell

by Robin Moss

Annie Bell was born on February 29, 1908, in Camilla, Ga., to parents who were sharecroppers. As she celebrates her 106th year, her advice to others is, “You just do the right thing. It doesn’t matter what others do.”

Annie married Otis Bell, and they had 15 children. She would carry her children to church every Sunday. However, her sister, Essie Mae Johnson, would continue to come and witness to the family about the Three Angels’ Messages and the Sabbath. Annie had always loved the Lord, so she began to search the scriptures and later accepted the Sabbath truth. She was baptized in early 1960 in Albany, Ga.

Most of Annie’s years of employment were on various farms and domestic work. She managed her own sewing business and was able to keep her head above water even when labor was only worth $3 a week.

After the death of her husband in 1970, she moved to Orlando, Fla., with one of her daughters. There, she attended Mt. Sinai Church and worked with the Dorcas Society and Community Services, helping anyone in need. She resided there until 2000 when she moved to Daytona Beach, Fla., to live with her daughter, Nellie Johnson. They are both members of Daytona Beach Church.

Annie has been a vegetarian for many years, and her vision and mind are sharp. Though she has begun slowing down, she still takes occasional strolls around the house with the help of her walker.

Of her 15 children, nine are still living and eight of them are Adventists. She also has 100 grandchildren and 50 great-grandchildren. Her greatest desire is for all her family to accept the Lord as their personal Savior and be saved in God’s kingdom.

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Michael Termine Turns a Healthy 100

posted on July 08, 2014, under Member by

Michael Termine

Michael Termine

by Karin Alderfer

Michael Termine was honored at Florida Keys Camp Meeting in February on the occasion of his approaching 100th birthday. He was born in Norristown, Pa., on February 25, 1914, as the second child of Italian immigrants. His thirst for knowledge and new truth from the time of his youth led him to join the Adventist Church.

Michael met his wife-to-be, Marie, at a party hosted by her brother, and they married in 1939. Their close and loving relationship continued for 68 years until her death in 2007.

After years of praying for a child of their own, Michael and Marie adopted Joyce in 1948. “My dad was and is a loving father,” states Joyce. “He sacrificed a lot so I could attend Blue Mountain Academy, Andrews University, and University of Maryland.”

Michael was an accomplished tailor, then worked as a master plumber until retirement at age 75. He installed the plumbing system for Pottstown, Pa., Church where he served in many roles, including head elder for many years.

Producing vegetables from his garden for his family, siblings, and neighbors was his principal hobby. After laboring all day, he would tend to his plants and spent many late nights with Marie canning and freezing the bounty they had harvested.

Michael’s habit was to study his Bible and Sabbath School lessons, and he was a frequent Sabbath School teacher. In retirement, he has the opportunity to re-read many of the volumes he previously studied, including The Great Controversy. In his present church in Key Largo, members appreciate his enthusiastic presentation of the weekly mission reports.

He maintains a healthy lifestyle with daily exercise and a healthy diet. Michael’s doctor says he is the healthiest centenarian that he has ever seen.

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Safely Back In The Fold

posted on July 08, 2014, under Member by

by Priscilla Lynn

Priscilla Lynn, right, with her sister, Kaye Johnson and husband, Noel, returned to the Adventist Church three years after their mother, Mary Elizabeth Carter, died with the hope that her daughters would come home. Someday, Mary will learn how the love of God filled her daughters' hearts to serve Him once again after 40 years. (Photo: Martin Butler)

Priscilla Lynn, right, with her sister, Kaye Johnson and husband, Noel, returned to the Adventist Church three years after their mother, Mary Elizabeth Carter, died with the hope that her daughters would come home. Someday, Mary will learn how the love of God filled her daughters’ hearts to serve Him once again after 40 years. (Photo: Martin Butler)

While attending college, I, along with my sister, Kaye, and brother-in-law, Noel Johnson, drifted away from our Adventist backgrounds. Kaye and Noel no longer lived the life God asked of them, but they still believed. I, on the other hand, didn’t live it or believe it.

Years later, my husband and I retired in Florida and purchased a home next to Kaye, Noel, and our mother. Every time we drove by Forest Lake Seventh-day Adventist Church in Apopka, my mother—even after senility had set in—would say she wanted to go to church again. I hated to hear her comments because I had no intention of taking her to church.

When God placed several Christian friends in our lives, we noticed a peace we did not previously have. I asked Kaye to go to the Methodist church with me, but her answer was unequivocal, “If I go to church, it will be to ‘my’ church.” So, on a Saturday morning in January 2007, Kaye, Noel, and I found ourselves in Forest Lake Church. After several months, I decided it wasn’t for me, although Kaye and Noel continued to attend every Sabbath.

Kaye and Noel Johnson welcome new member Marvin Lowman to Forest Lake Church where, until recently, they served as directors of the Greeting Ministry. (Photo: Martin Butler)

Kaye and Noel Johnson welcome new member Marvin Lowman to Forest Lake Church where, until recently, they served as directors of the Greeting Ministry. (Photo: Martin Butler)

My opinion of Adventists was still not favorable, so Noel was stepping out on a limb when, almost a year later, he asked if I would be interested in attending a special meeting at Forest Lake Church. I heard myself say, “I don’t have anything better to do, so I will go.” Evangelist Mark Finley was speaking about the Holy Spirit, and I listened—really listened. At the end, he asked everyone to kneel and pray for the Holy Spirit, which I did.

Priscilla Lynn is a Sabbath School teacher at Forest Lake Church. (Photo: Martin Butler)

Priscilla Lynn is a Sabbath School teacher at Forest Lake Church. (Photo: Martin Butler)

When I got to my feet, I was a different person. I became saturated in my desire to know more. God put a burden on my heart for studying His Word with people, and I was soon involved in giving Bible studies, organizing prayer walks, and eventually teaching a Sabbath School class.

Yes, my life, as well as the lives of Kaye and Noel, changed from what we wanted to what God wants for us. Miraculously, God brought three of His children back into the safety of His fold.

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Thees and Thous

posted on July 02, 2014, under Conference by

by Lee Bennett

You’ve almost certainly heard it before. A group of people are discussing their favorite Bible translation, and at least one person will inevitably share that they don’t care much for the King James Version. When asked why, the answer is often the same: “I don’t understand all the thees and thous.”

Naturally, it goes much further than two words. There is, indeed, a considerable amount of language that hails from centuries ago. Yet, however stereotypical the response may be, people genuinely do get hung up over what the King James Version means when the words thee and thou are used.

Ready for a brief grammar lesson?

The first week of June 2014, Florida Conference employees participated in the annual Week of Spiritual Emphasis. Ernie Bursey, Ph.D., Professor of Religion for the Department of Health and Biomedical Sciences at Adventist University of Health Sciences, shared this year’s presentations. During the week, he explained that modern language uses the pronoun you regardless whether the intent is singular or plural. If someone says, “You are welcome,” the statement is equally correct whether the speaker is talking to one person or one hundred. This, however, has not always been the case in the English language.

In modern English, the pronoun you not only can carry a singular or plural meaning, it can also be used as either the subject or object of a sentence, such as, “You have the cup,” or, “I gave the cup to you.” In the early 1600s, however, when the King James Version of the Bible was written, you only had one part of speech—a plural object.

To be clear, this means that the English which was spoken in the 17th century had no such sentence as, “You have the cup.” And while it was grammatically correct to say, “I hath [have] given the cup to you,” such a sentence would never have been spoken to an individual. Rather, the speaker would have been addressing two or more people. In other words, the speaker is saying he gave the cup to a group of people.

So, how did a speaker refer to just one person? Here’s where the thees and thous came into play. The correct object and subject forms of the you pronoun were, “I hath [have] given the cup to thee,” and, “Thou hast [have] given the cup to me.”

Consider the following chart:

A visual chart comparing modern-day you/your(s) to King James-era thou/thee/thy/thine.

As this breakdown shows, the words thee and thou had very specific meanings. Likewise, the meanings of thy and thine were also specific as the singular possessive form of your(s). For example: “This is thy cup,” and, “The cup is thine,” would have addressed a single person. Had the word your(s) been used, the speaker would have been addressing multiple people.

As for the sentence that would not have been correct in King James’ days, “You have the cup,” correct grammar of the day would have been to say, “Thou has the cup,” if a single person had it. Otherwise, the sentence would have been, “Ye have the cup,” if it was owned by a group of people.

This is a very important distinction when reading the Bible. According to Dr. Bursey, “When we apply this principle of reading the King James Version, we discover how often the audience is a group instead of an individual. This can lead to a corrective in our Western world with its strong emphasis on the individual.”

Therefore, now that thou can be sure whether the speaker/writer is addressing one person or many people, challenge thineself to re-read thy favorite passages in the King James Version. As Florida Conference employees discovered during the Week of Spiritual Emphasis, knowing this distinction could have a significant impact on thine understanding of God’s Word.

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Passion for Fitness Becomes Outreach

posted on July 02, 2014, under Church by

Employees of Lee Memorial Health System are surrounded by participants of the Fort Myers Fun Run who raised $3,000 for Golisano Children's Hospital's Mission Nutrition program. (Photo: Terry Wiik)

Employees of Lee Memorial Health System are surrounded by participants of the Fort Myers Fun Run who raised $3,000 for Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Mission Nutrition program. (Photo: Terry Wiik)

by Sherryl Ford

Sunday, March 16, was a crisp spring morning in Fort Myers, Fla. Idyllic was a perfect weather description as Fort Myers Church held its inaugural 5K/1M Fun Run and Health Fair. “It was a runner’s paradise,” said Fort Myers Pastor Javier Diaz who turned his passion for physical fitness into a vehicle for ministry.

More than 220 runners and walkers registered for this premier event. Hundreds of family and friends cheered them on. Many participants were graduates of the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP), an active church ministry.

One goal for the day was to benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Mission Nutrition program. Golisano is part of Lee Memorial Health System and is the only pediatric acute care facility in southwest Florida. The 5K/1M Fun Run and Health Fair raised more than $3,000 for this cause.

“Your passion and leadership helped to make the 5K Fun Run a big success!” said Jim Nathan, President and CEO of Lee Memorial Health System. “Your kindness and efforts will have a profound impact on our community. Please accept my genuine thanks and appreciation and know that you are making a difference in the lives of others.”

Another goal was to provide a fun, educational event to help people make informed choices about nutrition and lifestyle. Many exhibits offered information and gifts including: dental, vision, chiropractic, physical and massage therapy, the Police Department SWAT team obstacle course, Lee County Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services, nutrition, and fitness. WINK TV, the local CBS affiliate station, provided live news coverage.

Pastor Diaz credits his team of planners for the event’s tremendous success: Kathy Randall, Jeff Perry, and Diaz’ wife, Dinorah. “Passion, purpose, and planning are the keys to effective outreach,” he says.

In order to connect to the community and let them know the church cares about them, Pastor Diaz consistently challenges the church family. “Whatever your passion is, it can be a platform for ministry to your church and to your community.”

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Prayers and Squares Ministry Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

posted on July 02, 2014, under Church by

Volunteers of Forest Lake Church Prayers and Squares celebrate the ministry's tenth anniversary. (Photo: Don Yakush)

Volunteers of Forest Lake Church Prayers and Squares celebrate the ministry’s tenth anniversary. (Photo: Don Yakush)

by Jo Ann Roth

Ten years ago, nine women brought their scraps of fabric to the Lower Youth Center Building at Forest Lake Church, Apopka, Fla. Those women began a quilting ministry that would eventually have a global effect with approximately 2,700 quilts sent to 43 states and 33 countries.

From the beginning, this organization was to be a teaching ministry as well as a giving ministry. The first project was a baby quilt. Since then, every baby dedicated to Jesus at Forest Lake Church receives a quilt signifying the church family is praying for them.

After research, members decided to model the ministry according to the Prayers and Squares quilting program begun in California. Thus began a program of the prayer quilts. Each quilt is 50 x 60 inches, beautifully pieced and quilted. Sixty ties are then placed on the quilt representing 60 prayers said for the recipient.

This quilting ministry was designed to reach members of the church and community alike who are experiencing crisis in their lives or in the lives of people they know. The ministry’s mission is to present Jesus as one who cares when we go through hard times. Participants’ prayer journals are full of names gathered through the ten year history. God has responded to each according to His will.

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