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North American Division news:
UPDATED Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, 10:05 p.m. ET
Mile High Academy (MHA), local Denver, Colorado, churches, and the community have joined together as they honor the life of one of their students who passed away. Mya Pena was killed after she left school on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. A candlelight vigil was held Thursday at the academy.
“We ask our community to lift up the parents of the student, the Mile High Academy students and staff, our pastors and the counselors in prayer as we continue to grieve together,” said Lonnie Hetterle, Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) education superintendent.
On January 15, Mile High Academy’s administration issued a statement. “It is with profound sadness that Mile High Academy confirms the loss of one of our students. Our hearts go out to this family. We want the family to know that they are in our thoughts and prayers,” read the statement in part.
MHA is working closely with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department as they continue to investigate the tragedy. In the released statement Mile High Academy shared that it will have grief counselors and pastors on hand to help students, staff, and families with this loss.
“Prayers for our students and staff are appreciated. Thank you for respecting the privacy of our school community at this time,” the statement continued.
Ed Barnett, RMC president, visited the Seventh-day Adventist school on Wednesday and Thursday. “Our hearts hurt for the parents and family of our student who is no longer with us,” Barnett said. “The way the Mile High Academy students, staff, and local churches have come together speaks volumes to just how closely connected this community is, especially in times of sadness. We also want to say thank you to the counselors and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department for their assistance during this time. Please continue to pray for all involved.”
Services for Pena were held Monday, January 20, at 1:30 p.m. at LifeSource Adventist Fellowship in Denver.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with funeral and family expenses at https://www.gofundme.com/f/mya-pena-funeral-funds. For questions regarding additional ways to support Mile High Academy, please contact Jamie Frain, Mile High Academy’s interim principal, at firstname.lastname@example.org; or 303-744-1069.
— The original story was posted on Jan. 16, 2020.kmaran Fri, 01/17/2020 - 14:01
“Dis-interested benevo-what?” I can imagine a satisfied customer of Pulse Café saying in between bites of award-winning, plant-based cuisine.
That’s disinterested benevolence—an old-fashioned term that means helping people with no strings attached—the vision and driving force behind Pulse Café, a new Seventh-day Adventist vegan restaurant in Hadley, Massachusetts.
“You started this restaurant because you want to help people?”
Walk into Pulse and look around. High ceilings and a muted gray-and-mustard color scheme create a modern yet inviting open space. A sleek, black grand piano is tucked in the corner. Wood tables and chairs that fill the dining area are crafted from 100-year-old logs salvaged from the bottom of a river — giving each piece a delightfully aged character. A couple stylishly comfortable couches are arranged around gas fireplaces with floor-to-ceiling stone chimneys. Pulse sports a smoothie bar that lines an entire wall of the restaurant, and a room for creating fresh-pressed juices as well.
This is a place that draws 600 to 800 patrons for Sunday brunch alone, each hungry soul coming to dine on vegan “chicken” and waffles, or breakfast burritos, or sweet corn tamales, and more, all made from as organic and as locally sourced produce as possible. This is evidence of a forward-thinking and sophisticated business plan, but Pulse’s real mission is to use its service, menu, and other offerings to benefit the community.
A restaurant as an institution to benefit the community? While this altruistic motivation may astound the general public, it should be a well-known method and standard operating procedure for any well-informed member of the Seventh-day Adventist community of believers. It certainly is for Lance Wilbur and his wife, Evita, managers of Pulse, and the owners, Ted Crooker and Keith Rehbein.
Before becoming an Adventist, Wilbur studied through every major religion in his search for truth—Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism—and realized they all had some kind of health emphasis. “Before I started reading the Bible, I had stopped eating pork and red meat. Eventually I was a vegetarian or a vegan, and I didn’t even know what that was,” said Lance. “When I became a Seventh-day Adventist, I realized that there was a message in the Bible that brought it all together.”
After Lance was baptized, one of the first of Ellen White’s books he read was Evangelism. In it he encountered a practical application of Jesus’ Great Commission to take the good news of salvation to the world: meeting people’s needs, physically and spiritually. Various institutions were mentioned as part of this practical application: schools, wellness centers, literature work, publishing, media, and hygienic restaurants, now known as vegetarian or plant-based restaurants.
“I was excited to know that these things existed, and I immediately went out to see them all . . . and found out that there weren’t many,” said Lance. He saw a need and determined to fill it. “This is one of my reasons for being,” he said. It’s been 18 years since he was baptized, and he’s still adamant: “With these things in place [we] can genuinely help the community in a sustainable way that’s not just looking for converts or looking for money, just genuine . . . love and interest for a community that’s at risk. In many statistical categories, most communities are at some risk.”
Enter Keith Rehbein, a Seventh-day Adventist farmer and businessman in western Massachusetts interested in promoting God’s work. When he spotted a restaurant that had closed and was up for sale, he recognized an opportunity. Rehbein notified Ted Crooker, an Adventist from Maine who had recently sold a construction business and, because his heart was also infused with the spirit of disinterested benevolence, was seeking a health ministry to invest in rather than the stock market. With the intent of creating a plant-based restaurant as a center of influence to bring God’s message of hope and wholeness to the community, Crooker purchased the property. He and Rehbein also purchased property nearby to create an organic farm to supply some of the produce for the restaurant.
With a timing that only God could orchestrate, Lance, while conducting evangelism training in western Massachusetts, met Rehbein, and the two found that they shared a vision for health ministry. To Lance’s surprise, Rehbein told him about the property and said, “We are looking for a ministry to partner with!”
“Well, we’re a ministry looking for a business to partner with!” replied Lance. So Pulse Café began.
Between Lance and Evita, they had experience in administration, food service, and catering, but never all together. They leaned on instructions from Ellen White’s books and adapted them to the twenty-first century. “We started with no one,” Lance says. “We had to develop all of the systems, the models, and [find] the workers to pull it off. We traveled to places, scouted out owners and managers of different restaurants. We brought in consultants to help us.”
The hardest part? Starting. “A lot of people talk, then struggle with concepts and theory,” Lance shares. “So it requires a sound business mind. It requires capital. It requires construction and knowing how to order and deal with contractors. How do you purchase equipment? Do you get it new or used? What do you use for point of sale? You literally learn how to deal with all that stuff. The only real way to learn how to do it, is by doing it. . . . It taxes you to the uttermost.”
Why all the hard work just to benefit the community with the unique Seventh-day Adventist message of hope and wholeness? Isn’t there an easier way?
“Most people are not going to come to your church . . . [or] subscribe to your doctrinal teachings. And that’s not the goal,” Lance says. He maintains that the goal is to engage the community and show people that there is a better way to live.
At the bedrock of Pulse’s mission is Christ’s method of reaching people: “The Saviour mingled with [men and women] as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’”*
“We’re told that the hygienic (plant-based) restaurant was designed by God . . . to reach people with the gospel,” says Lance. “It’s the practical extension of the concept of God desiring to restore [humanity]—complete restoration of health, peace, and . . . character.”
The restaurant model brings people in, allowing Pulse employees to mingle with all classes of people, show sympathy through caring service and Christlike demeanor, and then minister to their needs.
“What is their need?” Lance asks. “Food! They come here because they need to eat. They want to eat. So if the food is healthful and tasty—looks good, smells good, tastes good—and the service is of the same quality, you win the people’s confidence almost instantaneously. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Food is powerful. “However secular we’ve become in New England—one of the most secular regions in the United States—food is still somewhat intimate,” Lance continues. “There’s just a different level of vulnerability and mutual agreement between patrons and those providing the service.”
Coming Back for More
The food brings people in and keeps them coming back, and the Christlike service and atmosphere warms their hearts. But Pulse also offers practical solutions to the health risks of the community, just as Christ did. In addition to offering a healthy plant-based menu, Pulse has hosted a cooking class for children, a breast cancer awareness event, a health screening expo, and seminars and workshops on everything from hypertension and heart disease to reversing diabetes and arthritis. They also offer one-on-one wellness consultations.
In essence, Lance and Evita, with support from owners Crooker and Rehbein, are doing whatever it takes to make it easy for the general public to experience health and wholeness. They sell a packaged juice cleanse, complete with an insulated tote, which offers a three-day supply of fresh, organic, cold-pressed juice, making the benefits of a cleanse easy to attain and available to all. In addition to their decadent-tasting comfort foods and desserts, they offer increasingly popular whole food rice or quinoa bowls topped with vegetables. Pulse offers gluten and other allergen-free options on their regular menu. But if you call ahead, or are fortunate enough to find Evita on duty—despite her busyness as manager of the Café, wife, and mother of four— when you come in, she will create a plate tailored to your specific health needs or allergies.
The outcomes? Pulse Café was awarded number-one plant-based restaurant in the area within six months of opening. They’ve shared both health and spiritual information with many people. “But the most tremendous element is the relationships,” Lance shares. “We have regular customers . . . who are literally like family. . . . You connect with people in ways that you would have never connected with unless you had a restaurant.”
“People ask questions,” Lance says. “‘Why are you closed on Saturday, the busiest day of the week?’ ‘Why is everybody so happy?’ ‘What is this music [that] you’re playing—hymns?’” According to the Spirit of Prophecy, these are the questions that will be asked, and these are the questions that Lance, Evita, and crew, are asked without solicitation. And the Adventist community has answers to share! With help from the Florence Seventh-day Adventist Church in Massachusetts, 12 Bible studies are under way.
A Serving of Disinterested Benevolence
The world is hungering for a better way to live. People crave acceptance and fellowship in a loving community—and are ready to receive answers that God has to offer. Lance cites the evidence: “What is the fastest growing industry? Health food, supplements, a plant-based [lifestyle], veganism.” The Seventh-day Adventist Church has answers for the needs of body, mind, and spirit, and proven ways of sharing these answers with success. Plant-based restaurants such as Pulse Café is just one of these ways.
“Come and see!” invites Lance. Drop by, sample the food, experience the service and atmosphere, ask questions—get a taste of Christ’s method for reaching people. There is a need for more workers—from investors, businesspeople, chefs, farmers, and waitstaff, to Bible workers, literature evangelists, and prayer warriors. Answer God’s call, seek training, and get involved in twenty-first century disinterested benevolence!
*Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 143.
— Sandra Dombrowski is a freelance writer based in Connecticut. Visit www.pulsecafe.com for more restaurant information.kmaran Wed, 01/15/2020 - 08:11
"We all need somebody who listens to us at some time or another,” Kari Paulsen told Ministry magazine in 2006, describing how, as the wife of a Seventh-day Adventist Church administrator, she was able to find a personal ministry despite the limitations of chronic illness.
Paulsen, whose phone ministry of calling those who need encouragement was an integral part of her life, passed to her rest Jan. 10, 2020, in Oslo, Norway, at the age of 85. Jan, her husband and the past president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, was at her side.
“Mrs. Paulsen was a very capable person and a strong support for Pastor Paulsen in his life and their ministry together over many decades in different parts of the world,” said Ted N. C. Wilson, current Seventh-day Adventist Church world president, in a post on his Facebook account.
“Kari Paulsen was a woman of great grace and dignity," said Daniel R. Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America. "Throughout her life she faced daunting challenges, but her faith and Christian buoyancy allowed her to also serve effectively as the leading support to her husband Dr. Paulsen.”
Rajmund Dabrowski, former communication director for the world church, noted a close bond with the Paulsens: “I felt that they were our second parents,” he told Adventist Review. Having first worked with Jan Paulsen in the Trans-European Division, and then while Jan was General Conference president, Dabrowski noted the family commitment Kari Paulsen had.
“When we were abroad, [they] eased our way of accepting a new area, a new culture, and so forth. These are the kind of memories we will have. It is a tremendous loss to not only the family, but to those who were accepted by them as a family,” Dabrowski said.
Gerry and Verna Karst worked with the Paulsens when the couples were in Silver Spring, Maryland. Gerry served as Paulsen’s assistant and Verna as the headquarters nurse. Both remember Kari Paulsen’s adventurousness.
“She was not above having a little bit of fun,” Gerry Karst recalled, while Verna Karst noted Kari’s deep interest in others.
“Kari was a caring person and was very interested in people. But because of her health issues, she was restricted in what she could do,” Verna Karst said.
Kari Trykkerud was born in a small town near Notodden, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) from Oslo. She grew up during World War II, when Norway was under German occupation. Shortly after the war, Kari underwent surgery — the first performed in Norway — for a heart condition. During her recovery, she promised God she would become a Christian if He helped her get well.
That vow led to a search that ended when an Adventist relative’s pastor offered young Kari a copy of Steps to Christ by Ellen G. White. Following a Voice of Prophecy correspondence course and Bible studies, Kari decided to become a Seventh-day Adventist, even though this caused trouble at home when she refused a traditional Christmas dinner of pork. Infuriated, her father asked Kari to leave home, and the young woman went to live at an aunt’s home.
After secondary school in Norway, Kari went to the church-owned Vejlefjordskolen (Danish Junior College) in Daugård, Denmark, to study theology. Arriving two weeks into the semester, she admitted to being confused during a lecture on biblical dates, not least because of language differences. It so happened that another Norwegian student named Jan Paulsen was sitting next to her and offered to help. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ll explain it to you later.”
That remark began a continuing conversation that lasted more than six decades. Friends at first, love grew between them, and the couple married before Jan went to Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, to continue his education. Kari soon followed, and the couple learned a new culture along with adjusting to married life. They had three children, all of whom survive her: Laila, Jan Rune, and Rein Andre.
The couple went to Africa, first to Ghana and then Nigeria, where Jan Paulsen served as president of Adventist College of West Africa, now Babcock University. Mrs. Paulsen’s health problems worsened while in Africa and remained with her throughout her life. Returning to Europe, Jan served as president of Newbold College in Binfield, England; secretary and then president of the Trans-European Division, as a general vice president of the world church, and as General Conference president, a role he assumed in January 1999 and held for 11 years.
“I have experienced quite a lot of illness, and this close proximity to death does something to you and your relationship with the Lord,” Kari told Ministry magazine in 2006. “Somehow you rely more on Him. It’s important to stay close to Him, to pray, to read. It’s kind of a constant reminder that this life might not last that long.”
In 2015, Pacific Press released Against All Odds, Kari Paulsen’s memoir of life as a Christian and her struggle with chronic illness and family tragedy. The book won wide praise from readers.
“Kari Paulsen defined ‘resilience’ for me, and for thousands of believers for whom her challenging life story has been a great encouragement,” said Bill Knott, Adventist Review editor and executive editor. “Her honesty and wit have helped so many of us understand how grace has intersected our own moments of physical pain and disappointment. She reminded us by her words and her example that the Lord always has the last word — and that His word is deep affection for us.”
Tor Tjeransen, communication director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Norway, who has known the Paulsens for more than 50 years, noted Kari Paulsen’s lifelong optimism: “Kari has always kept a very positive attitude toward everything, everything she met in life. The strain on those who are in traveling positions is just enormous. She has always been there, and always very supportive of Jan,” he said.
Funeral services for Kari Paulsen are being planned in Mjøndalen, Norway, on Monday, January 20. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested for donations to be made to the Life Hope orphanage and school in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; donations may be sent via PayPal to email@example.com.
In a message, Jan Paulsen remarked, “Kari gave often to keep the school alive and would love for it to continue after her departure.”kmaran Tue, 01/14/2020 - 19:51
Twenty-nine children with special needs were the stars of the second annual Christmas nativity talent show in Auburn, Washington, in December 2019 — all because of one boy with a vision.
Elias Barahona from Tacoma, Washington, had a long-time dream of being Joseph, but no one ever chose the boy with Down’s syndrome to play this role. Not until the faith community came together with five weeks of planning to produce the first special needs Christmas talent program in 2018.
Since then, the participant, donor, and audience interest keeps growing for providing a stage for special needs children to shine for Jesus.
“I love how our community is embracing this program,” says Nitza Salazar, Washington Conference children’s ministries director. “Not only our churches, but our community. This is unique. This is something new. Everyone is excited about this program. They aren’t seeing it anywhere else.”
Salazar explains why this program is particularly meaningful: “The parents don’t see their kids up on stage often. Some of the parents told me this is the first time they saw their kids on stage. We have all kinds of needs represented, and it is so beautiful to give them a place where they can shine.”
The production isn’t heavy on lights or sound so kids won’t feel uncomfortable. There isn’t a lot of stimulation. A quiet room is available for overwhelming moments. The storyline narration, read by retired teacher Harold Richards, is simple and short.
Different talents, by cast members ranging from 7 months to age 31 and averaging about age 12, include playing an instrument, saying a Bible verse, singing, acting or sharing sign language — with varying levels of stage freight. Siblings, friends, parents, or caregivers are often right alongside the performers.
“Our audience is very forgiving,” Salazar says. “They love those time when kids come on stage. They take videos and pictures. It’s so adorable to see the kids performing. The parents love and treasure it so much to see their kids on stage.“
Parents and their children feel like they belong, and they want to share this happiness. They want more kids to have this an opportunity to shine.
“I can see God looking at these kids and smiling,” Salazar says. “Every child is uniquely created with gifts and talents to exalt their Creator. And our ministry is blessed to come alongside families with special needs and celebrate their children. My desire, my dream, my prayer is for more churches and communities to embrace special needs families.”
— Heidi Baumgartner is Washington Conference communication director.kmaran Tue, 01/14/2020 - 19:26