Theodore Brown, Sr. Honored

by:  Jay Prall

A joint Sabbath potluck between the Decherd Church of the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference and Decherd First Church of the South Central Conference was the perfect cover for a surprise pastoral blessing for Theodore Brown Sr., Ph.D. pastor of the Decherd First Church.  Orchestrated by Annette Martinez, the church asked Nelson Mercado, pastor of the Decherd, Tullahoma, and Murfreesboro district to conduct the service.  But the event grew even larger as Steve Haley, president of the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference, and his wife Melinda were visiting the Decherd Church family that Sabbath.

Members of both congregations shared personal tributes of how they had seen the Holy Spirit working through Brown.  Then gathering around, they laid hands on him and prayed that God would continue to bless his ministry in profound ways.

Brown is an associate professor of management in the School of Business at Oakwood University.  In addition to his academic responsibilities, he pastors the Decherd First and Fayetteville First (TN) churches.

Photo:  Participating in the event were Will Griffin, elder at Decherd First (left); Steve Haley, president Kentucky-Tennessee Conference; Theodore Brown Sr, pastor, Ph.D.; Nelson Mercado, pastor; and Leroy Wilkerson, deacon at Decherd First.

Cans and Coins

by:  Deborah Jones

October 31st offers a great opportunity for outreach in the Brandywine Pointe community of Old Hickory, Tennessee.  John and Nicole Levoy wanted something for their four children to be involved in that would be a positive influence rather than the “darkness” generally associated with Halloween.  October 31st marked the fourth annual Cans and Coins Drive.

During the week prior to October 31st, flyers were placed into each mailbox stating the children would be collecting “Cans and Coins” on the 31st which would go to help feed the hungry in the Nashville area.  This gave neighbors the opportunity to be prepared with their contribution.  The flyers began with the scripture “…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure…meditate on these things”.

Children from the 3rd and 4th grades at Madison Campus Elementary, along with their families, were invited to help with the event.  After everyone ate a quick meal, Pastor Nacho Silverio gave a short devotion telling the children that it was on October 31st that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church beginning the Reformation which is part of our Christian heritage.  Then groups were formed and given a map of their section of the neighborhood.

Since many neighbors are home expecting trick or treaters, it’s a great time to collect.  This year $242.24 in cash and coins and 363 cans were collected and donated to the 403 Center (Adventist Community Services).  After delivering the money and goods, the children were given a tour of the 403 Center and saw shoppers and workers in action.

The end result:  a community is pointed to scripture and giving, children will remember Halloween as other-centered, the hungry are fed, and everyone is blessed!

Simple Baskets, Simple Message

by:  Jay Prall

As Decherd’s potluck luncheon wrapped up, it was time to create and assemble another meal.  Potatoes, green beans, gravy mix, apples, cornbread and cookie packets, oranges, and other food items needed to be arranged into simple baskets to bless the community.  A marketing postcard showing the church on the front, and an invitation to Sabbath services and a Wednesday night Ladies Bible Study was conspicuously tucked into the front of each package.

Once the baskets were finished with a red ribbon tie, it was off into the surrounding streets, knocking on doors, doing introductions, and leaving a blessing for the surprised neighbors.

“The annual event is a reminder that the church is in the community for a greater purpose than to just serve as a meeting place for members of the congregation,” explains Pastor Nelson Mercado.  “One of the recipients spent considerable time telling us about health problems facing her family, and asked us to pray for them.  Another neighbor called the church the following week regarding a crisis he was facing.”

The baskets are part of the church’s strategic plan to love the community in practical ways throughout the year.  Church members had previously responded to a county health department plea for packages of diapers and wipes that were donated to needy parents.

“One of the strengths of a small church is its ability to respond quickly to emerging needs,” explains Kathy Prall, elder and community services coordinator.  The Decherd Church always looking for new opportunities to show God’s love in a practical way.

A Faithful Steward

byPastor Bob Wint, who serves the Clarksville, Hopkinsville and Oak Grove Churches

 

Mary was in her late 70s when I visited her. Her church attendance had been very sporadic yet she seemed to enjoy the fellowship and worship. When I greeted her Sabbath after church I happened to ask her why we did not see her more often. She began to cry and said “Pastor I need to talk to you. Can you stop by this week?”

When I visited her she got right to the point. “Something is bothering me and I’m afraid I’m going to be lost. Pastor I cannot tithe and I feel so guilty. I love the church and the people, but I feel so ashamed because I do not tithe and seldom give offerings.”  With tears in her eyes she told me she was sure she could not go to heaven because it was impossible for her to do God’s will.

She told me that a pastor had said because of her circumstances God did not expect her to tithe. But she said, “I still feel so guilty. What do you think Pastor?”  What I said was, “my opinion is no better than yours. Let’s look at what God says.” I turned to Mal. 3:8-12 and we read it together. She then asked me if I expected her to tithe and give offerings and not pay some of her bills or go without food.

She then began to show me her check book and explain that her monthly expenses were over $900.00 and her income was only slightly over $800.00. In addition to this she had gone to a payday loan company and had borrowed $400.00. Because she could not pay on time she now owed almost $1,000.00. Her debt was growing faster than her repayment. She told me she tried to get a job but her poor health caused her to lose it.  “Now,” she asked, “where is the money for my tithe and offerings?” I pointed to the income amount we had written down when we were doing the math of her impossible balance sheet. I told her to take it off the top, God’s money first.

I explained to her that it was not my words we had read but God’s and that He has said “Prove Me”. In other words: put Him to the test and find out if God can take care of you when you are obedient.  She said “Pastor I’m going to do it when my check comes this month” and she did. She came to prayer meeting and gave me her tithe envelope and asked me to turn it in for her as she was afraid she would lose courage and spend it.

That month her daughter sent her some money. Her grandson began sending her money every month. She never told them what she was doing, but God must have. The church took care of her pay day loan and she never failed to pay her bills or buy groceries. She began to praise God for His faithfulness and tell how He was rewarding her faith. She is now in her late 80’s and has, through a series of God’s blessings,  more than twice her former income. She is faithful in tithe and generous in offerings and has taken many opportunities to give to others.  She finds joy in sharing her testimony and has thanked me over and over for not telling her it would be alright not to tithe in her financial circumstances. “Prove Me” God said and she did!

 

Starting Over and Doing it Right

by Frank Barton

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

My wife and I both came out of bad first marriages.  I was a Catholic, and she was in the Assembly of God. We both had had unpleasant experiences with churches.  We didn’t know where to turn, but we decided to try to find Bible truth and not just accept whatever somebody was preaching.

When we got married and started thinking about attending a church, my wife said to me, “Would you mind returning tithe on my paycheck? You can do what you want with yours.”  I told her that we had made a commitment to serve the Lord in our marriage, so even though I didn’t have enough money to pay the past month’s rent, we were going to tithe on both of our salaries.

The Lord soon led us to the AdventistChurch.  He has blessed us for our commitment to follow Bible truth and to use the opportunities that He places before all of us to have a part of His ministry through our tithe, offerings, and time.

On many occasions we were thrilled to hear of opportunities and needs in other parts of the world to advance the Lord’s work.  We felt impressed to give money without calculating the consequences on our own lives.  But it seemed that no matter how much we committed to these various projects, we were never without our own needs being met.

Even though we were starting a new life in middle age with five children to support, no home, and many bills, the Lord continued to bless us so much that in twelve years we were able to buy ten acres, a home, and vehicles, and to have them all paid off.  I was able to retire at 55 and volunteer full time to building a prison-ministry program in the Florida Conference.  In eleven years the Lord has made it grow to 500 volunteers working throughout the conference and affecting about 80 institutions.

In 23 years of marriage, we have never missed paying a bill on time.  The Lord has continued to bless us to such an extent that we have lived completely debt-free for about twelve years.

 

This story, about the experience of my friends Frank and Maxine Barton, was first printed in the 2000 edition of the book Over & Over Again! 2.  Frank was the long-time coordinator of the successful Florida Prison Ministries.  As active members of Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASi) they are firm believers in “sharing Christ in the market place.” The Bartons are presently members of the Paris, Tennessee Seventh-day Adventist Church.  By Lin Powell, Stewardship Director

 

The Herschel Powell Story

by Lin Powell, Stewardship Director

 

If God is in the Plan, Nothing can Stand in the Way

 

My phone rang.  It was Sister Xochitl Guerra asking if I would help with the Memphis First Hispanic Church renovation of a building they had just purchased.  Someone in the local conference office recommended that she contact me because I am a mechanical engineer and have worked with the conference on other projects.

Now this does not seem like a major request, but I was dreadfully sick with an uncontrollable e-coli infection that had colonized in my body as a result of a surgical procedure.  I struggled with this infection for nearly two years. There is no need to go into detail.  Suffice it to say I was losing the battle.  I was so weak and sickly that I had given up driving.  It was all I could do to get through each day.  I had to turn down several jobs due to failing health.

I did not know how I was going to manage this project in my weakened condition, but I knew that if God wanted me to do it, I would be able to do so through His strength.

At first, I had to be chauffeured to the church for meetings and for inspections.  Mentally, it was a joy, but physically it was totally exhausting.

Out of the blue, my internist suggested a course of treatment that hadn’t been used for years.  Within a week’s time, I was feeling so much better and stronger. What still amazes me is how quickly I improved.

God is so good!  What a reminder to me that when we are about our Father’s business, he is faithful to provide all our needs. I do have to laugh a bit, because on the dedication Sabbath I hobbled on a cane due to having just torn a tendon working out too hard at the gym!   At age eighty-four, I am working full time, again.  Thank you, Lord Jesus.

On September 25, 2010, Memphis First Hispanic Church dedicated its new sanctuary.  This congregation is so alive in Christ.    One dear brother shared with me that Sabbath, “We believe in the mission of the church.”  I have witnessed this first hand over the last twenty years as the Memphis First Hispanic Church congregation has grown from one member to over three hundred and has also helped establish two more local churches.  What a joy it was to be a part of the dedication service.

Herschel and Rita Powell are active members of the Memphis First Church and living examples of Christian stewardship, realizing that in the giving of their time, talents, and resources they may rejoice in the blessings that come to others because of their faithfulness.

 

Madison Academy Serves the Community

by:  Karen Hamberger

In this season of giving, Madison Academy students and staff spent Friday, November 8, giving back to their community and neighbors.  The first all-school service day for the school year included projects such as painting houses, cleaning gutters, and fixing shutters.  Students also fed the homeless, played games with the elderly, and decorated for Christmas at a retirement home.  Other groups spread mulch, raked leaves, and cut down blown over trees.  Everyone worked hard and shared the love of Christ through service.  Madison Academy students made a difference in their community.

In Death As In Life

by Lin Powell, Trust Director

Lillian Vesta Brown-Johnson (1914 – 2008) was a true Adventist southern belle.  A third generation Seventh-day Adventist, Lillian gave a lifetime of dedicated service to her church’s mission of taking the gospel to all the world.

She valued her heritage:  her family had a part in founding the Elam Road Seventh-day Adventist Church in Murfreesboro, TN, and she was proud of her family’s deep American roots traced back to the American Revolution.  Her community knew her as a committed Adventist Christian who was active in charitable and historical civic organizations. She was an accomplished genealogist and author of four books.

A faithful Christian steward in life, Lillian was determined to be faithful to the Lord in death.  With the assistance of our Trust Services Department, she prepared her estate with a well-planned distribution to family and friends and civic charities, as well as to her home church, media ministries, foreign missions, Adventist education and the ministries of the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference.  Only in heaven will Lillian know the full extent of her support of the work of the Lord.

I invite you to contact our office for assistance in modeling an estate plan unique to your wishes which may include a last will and testament with guardianship provisions for  minor children, a trust, a charitable gift annuity, a financial power of attorney and a health care directive/living will all drafted by an experience attorney.

Gospel Roots – The Elbie Kittinger Story

by: Lin Powell, KY-TN Conference Trust Services Director

Elbie Kittinger was raised in the Calhoun and Rumsey Kentucky area, two towns connected by one of the few bridges on the Green River. This part of Kentucky is in the Western Coal Fields Region and has a reputation for excellent agricultural production. Wherever Elbie lived, he never forgot Kentucky.

During World War II, he served his country as a medic in the United States Army. While stationed in England, the Lord led him to truth-filled books that planted the gospel seeds and were nurtured by the Holy Spirit for several years.

After receiving a medical discharge from the Army, he moved to New Jersey and married Rachel Locke; they had two children. Elbie had a gift for growing things and eventually worked in the grounds department of Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.

Elbie never forgot the truths he learned as a young soldier, so he earnestly shared his thoughts with Rachel. They studied with a Seventh-day Adventist church member and eventually joined God’s remnant church. Elbie and Rachel/s daughter recently told us that her parents loved the Lord and His church and liked to sit on the very front row during services.

Elbie and Rachel loved their church very much. They decided to seek the assistance of the Conference Trust Services Deparment, and in their estate plan they remember the Lord’s work. Consequently, a portion of their estate was designated for gospel outreach in Kentucky’s Appalachian region.

If you feel like Brother and Sister Kittinger that the Lord is leading for you to give a portion of your estate to fund the Great GOspel Commission given to us by Christ in Matthew 28, we at the Conference Trust Services Department would count it as a privilege to assist you.

HAY!FAITH Festival Launched in Paris, TN

by: Jay Prall
On October 27th, the Paris church launched their first annual HAY!FAITH Festival.  Banners, balloons, and newspaper ads combined to announce to the community the intent of Paris church to be more involved in the lives of the families of Paris.

Every child was given a card to punch at each station – ranging from face painting to a bouncy castle, from roping a steer to petting a goat that knew how to shake hands.  At the end, the completed card could be turned in for a special snack.

Along the way, the children heard stories the Native Americans once told their children, made a basket out of rolled up newspaper, practiced archery, and took a 30-question Bible quiz.  Food and hot apple cider were provided as well.

“It was a great inaugural event,” Matthew Lucio, pastor of Paris church, said.  “We look forward to next year.  HAY!FAITH has made me ask myself why more of the ministries we do are’t this much fun.”