‘Eternal Medicine’: church member creates podcast as a tool for the medical community

Ridgetop, Tenn., Church member David Gargner recently launched a podcast miniseries called “Eternal Medicine Podcast.” This is a self-started ministry meant to serve as a tool for medical professionals wanting to better meet the spiritual needs of their patients.

Garner, who currently works as an occupational therapist at Tristar Skyline Hospital, was inspired to create the podcast after he realized there was little training available for medical professionals trying to address the spiritual worries of a patient. According to Garner, this was something he personally struggled with.

“When you’re in the hospital, you’re away from family and friends,” Garner said. “You may be getting a medical diagnosis that may be long term or possibly even terminal. So, I was thinking, how I can help patients beyond their physical needs in an ethical way?”

In his podcast, Garner interviews different people in the medical field such as nurses, doctors, mental health counselors and physical therapists. The miniseries, which was launched on September 24, 2021, will have a total of eight episodes.

Garner says the hardest part of this project has been finding the time to conduct the interviews and edit the podcast, which has taken a bit over six months to produce. The podcast is currently available in all major streaming platforms including Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. 

“I have heard back from a couple of listeners who told me they were blessed by it,” Garner said. “I was excited to hear that because I want [the podcast] to make a difference.” 

Eternal Medicine Podcast currently has three live episodes, with the remaining five coming out weekly until the end of November. Garner says his next project is to start a Sabbath morning devotional podcast.

Click Here to Listen to Eternal Medicine Podcast

Manchester Adventist Community Services continues to grow, distributes thousands of pounds of food

After five years since it began operating, the Manchester Adventist Community Services (MACS) continues to grow the reach of its food pantry through partnerships and the work of its volunteers. Since COVID-19 hit in 2020, the pantry went from serving an average of 80 families a week to 300.

MACS is a food pantry ministry started by the Manchester, Ky, Church back in 2016. In its beginning, the pantry operated through the donations of church members and food drives conducted by its Pathfinder club. Eventually, organizers partnered with God’s Pantry Food Bank in Lexington, Ky, which helped the ministry serve more community members. 

Since 2020, the pantry started distributing an average of 250 to 300 boxes of food per week, depending on the date of the month. This ends up being about 12,000 to 15,000 pounds of food.

“When COVID hit, we realized we couldn’t let all this people be in line,” said Dawn Wardecke, member at Manchester Church and volunteer at MACS. “So, we had [the people] stay in their cars and started bringing the boxes to them instead, kind of like a drive-thru.”

The items distributed include fresh produce, canned goods, rice and pastas. 

In addition to the help received from God’s Pantry Food Bank, MACS has also received support from the North America Division, AdventHealth Manchester and anonymous donors. The Business and Professional Foundation (BPF), an organization by the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference that financially supports evangelistic outreach, also aided MACS by providing funds for a new storage facility.

At the beginning of each month, MACS volunteers personally hand out a copy of Signs of the Times magazine. Sometimes they also include copies of Steps to Christ or The Great Hope – an abridged version of the Great Controversy.

“So, there is not just a physical impact, but also a spiritual impact,” Manchester Church Pastor Tom Kyser said. “Sometimes we get the magazine late, so some of the people come and ask ‘Well, where is our magazine? I look forward to reading that every month.’”

According to Kyser, the food pantry has opened the way for Bible studies in the community as well as with some of the volunteers.

During Thanksgiving and Christmas, organizers prepare special baskets with foods to match the season. Moreover, Manchester Church Pathfinder and Adventurers, led by Wardecke and her sister, visit Bridge Street, Ky, to distribute hot meals for the homeless people.

“It’s as much a blessing to me as it is it is to them,” Wardecke said. “They’re getting food and they’re getting a contact with our church. I just feel like this is an outreach that is needed in our community.”

Highland Academy students aid community in flood recovery efforts

On August 21, 2021, heavy rainfall in Waverly and McEwen, Tenn., resulted in a widespread flash flood across the area. The rainfall, which reached a high-record of 17-inches, damaged more than 500 homes, some of which were completely destroyed. Highland Academy students went out to the community to aid in the recovery process.

Will Lebrenz, chaplain and Bible teacher at Highland Academy, organized the relief efforts. The idea came after one student in Lebrenz’ class requested to pray for his grandfather who had been affected by the flood. Lebrenz says that upon hearing the prayer request, students were eager to help.

“[Students] love being involved,” Lebrenz said. “Anytime that I’m teaching a Bible class, I’ll stress to them ‘hey, it’s important to help people in your community.’ So, they were like, ‘let’s not just talk about it. Let’s do it.’”

Highland Academy students went out to help on two different occasions. On September 6, Labor Day, the senior class went to residential homes to clean up debris and pull-out damaged appliances and furniture. The team helped from morning till afternoon.

Another team was organized to go help on September 27. This time, it was the freshman class. The freshman group spent the entire day pulling sheetrock, insulation, door frames, and flooring from a damaged house in Waverly.

Highland Academy Freshman Nathan Hillebert says the hardest part of the job was prying up ruined hard wood flooring. However, he thinks it was worth it at the end because it helped someone.

“I think it is important that we go out and help the community because we are told in the Bible that we are to love are neighbors,” Hillebert said. “Whether that is opening the door for someone and saying hello or ripping out drywall; we should do our best to help others in need. …If everybody tries to do that, we can make a huge difference.”

Although the flood took place more than a month ago, Lebrenz says there is still a lot of work to be done in the area. Though no specific dates have been scheduled, he adds that Highland Academy will prepare to take another group if their help is requested again.

“Our mission is to build Christ like characters and lifelong learners,” Lebrenz said. “So, [students] are learning to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Like Jesus reached out to us, we are reaching out to our community.”

‘A new church congregation’: Middle Kentucky Adventist Fellowship continues to create an online community

As COVID-19 closed in-person church services in 2020, pastors from Middle Kentucky wanted to find a way for their church members to remain connected. Joining efforts, they created the Middle Kentucky Adventist Fellowship – a group dedicated to bringing spiritual encouragement and community. More than a year later, the group remains active and recently held its first-ever in-person event.

The idea of the group came from Jon Remitera, pastor at Danville, Somerset and Grove churches in Kentucky. Remitera, who was new in the area, wanted to start a daily devotional series that would be live streamed on Facebook. After speaking with Pastor Tom Kyser and Pastor Daniel McFeeters, the group created the Middle Kentucky Adventist Fellowship Facebook group, which published 15-minute-long devotional thoughts.

“That provided a space for our church members, in the midst of the pandemic, to find community,” Remitera said. “I’ve personally drawn closer with a lot of my fellow pastors in my area, and other members of their churches that I otherwise would not have met had it not been for the [Middle Kentucky Adventist Fellowship].”

After a few weeks, Pastors Mykal Ringstaff, Kevin Shearer and Christopher Langston also joined the fellowship. The six pastors would take turns to share devotionals. Eventually, they started live-streaming weekly Vespers services as well, which received about 50 unique views per video.

“I think the most exciting part of this program was actually just seeing our church members forming, if you will, a new church congregation,” McFeeters said. “[Church members] were seeing themselves as part of something bigger than just one local church and seeing the church as more than just a place we go on Sabbath morning.”

Through the year, the Middle Kentucky Adventist Fellowship also held a revival series. The devotional, sermons and revival series were all programs conducted online. But on August 29, Somerset church hosted a Chili and Cornbread Festival – the first in-person event of the Middle Kentucky Adventist Fellowship.

The festival was well attended with more than 75 guests, many of whom were not part of the Adventist Church. Remitera says the Middle Kentucky Adventist Fellowship will continue to plan events to connect churches and serve its surrounding community.

“We’re better together,” Remitera said.  “So often, we do ministry in isolation, and even in competition with one another. … So, we’re trying to break from that mold because collectively we can do so much more.”

To see the work of the Middle Kentucky Adventist Fellowship look up @MidKAF on Facebook.

Boulevard Church experiences revitalization through week-long evangelistic series

From Sept. 11 to 18, Boulevard, Tenn., Church hosted an evangelistic series in an attempt to revitalize and grow their church community. The series, made in collaboration with the Southern Union, concluded with six baptisms.

Prior to hosting this evangelistic event, members from Boulevard Church attended training programs led by Southern Union Ministerial and Evangelism Director Roger Hernandez. The training sessions, hosted through Zoom, focused on prayer, Bible studies and reaching out to individuals who have left the church.

“[The Southern Union] has actually been working with eight churches who have under 100 people in attendance,” Hernandez said. “We worked with the churches for about a year and provided them with support and resources that, sometimes, smaller churches don’t have.”

In addition to the training programs, Boulevard Church received help from Bible worker Bobby Andrews.

The evangelistic series followed the theme, “We All Have Hope.” Each night, Hernandez talked about a common problem people face, like financial burden and death, and aligned it with a doctrine of the church. About 50 individuals attended the program each night and an additional 100 watched online.

“These were topics that were easy for all kinds of Christians,” said Alex Sozinov, pastor at Boulevard Church. “[The sermons] were understandable for new people and church members alike. … I was listening, and I was blessed every night.”

On Saturday, September 18, six people were baptized. According to Sozinov, two were regular members at Boulevard Church, two were former Seventh-day Adventists, and two were completely new to the faith.

“I think one thing that this series showed is that people will still respond to evangelism,” Hernandez said. “Evangelism is not dead. My hope now is that [the Boulevard church members] will not think it’s over. Evangelism needs to be a lifestyle, not just an event.”

According to Sozinov, Boulevard Church plans to expand their community service and Bible studies efforts throughout the following months.

To watch recordings of this evangelistic series, visit Boulevard Church’s Facebook page @BoulevardSDA.

‘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