Summit attendees at Burman University. Photo: Evaldo Vicente

Pastors across Canada meet to be restored and empowered

Alberta, Canada

The gentle hum of summer life was altered at Burman University, Alberta, Canada, during the first weekend of July as hundreds gathered on the campus. It began weeks and months out as the organizing team started preparing for the soon arrival of 300 pastors from across Canada, with the visitors totaling 500 people, including families, presenters, and exhibitors for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada (SDACC) Ministerial Summit.

Attendees were encouraged by Paul Lewellyn, SDACC president, challenging us to keep striking our bows in faith, and Elizabeth Talbot, Jesus 101 speaker/director, reminding us that Jesus wins, the other guy loses, so we need to pick who we will stand with. Ivan Williams, Ministerial Association director of the North American Division (NAD), left us with the final charge and prayed for all the ministers in Canada.

Every presenter and workshop facilitator brought something special, giving us practical tools for ministry and reminding us that what we do matters. Jeffrey Brown, associate ministerial secretary of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference, took pastors through the mountains and valleys of ministry, helping them identify their life stage, or “season.” The fun and delight of the exhibitors’ hall filled Burman’s new library with energy. A highlight for me was gathering with fellow female pastors to shared a meal, put faces to names, exchange hugs, pray together, and leave as friends.

Pastor Jordane Smith shared, “The SDACC Ministerial Summit was refreshing, educational, and empowering! The worship was inspiring, the workshops were leading-edge, but the community was the aspect that truly made our gathering a summit.”

I will hold close to my heart the feeling of being surrounded by so many who understand the calling of pastoral ministry and are committed to following the way of Jesus. Until we meet again, may we all have the courage to continue. [Massiel Davila-Ferrer, chaplain, Burman University/Jeffrey Brown, Ministry.]

Fraser Catton was a proud member of Team Australia. Photo: Adventist Record

Pastor wins medals at World Transplant Games

Victoria, Australia

A Seventh-day Adventist pastor won two bronze medals at the 2023 World Transplant Games.

Fraser Catton, from Victoria, Australia, was among 150 athletes in Team Australia competing in the games, held in Perth, Western Australia. He won medals in the men’s singles and doubles tennis.

“It was pretty special to represent Australia and come away with something to show for it,” Catton said. “The atmosphere was certainly competitive but also very encouraging and supportive. At the end of the day, everyone was there to push themselves and celebrate organ donation.”

Competing at the games for the first time was an incredible experience for the Burwood Adventist Community Church pastor.

Having lived with kidney disease most of his life, Catton underwent a kidney transplant in early 2022. Being given a new chance at life is something for which the father of three will forever be grateful.

“We read about being given a new heart of flesh,” he shared. “My understanding of that has deepened considerably. While I didn’t receive a heart, I did receive something equally as life giving in a functioning kidney. And the process was long, at times painful, slow, and required me to rely, sometimes completely, on other people. There was actually very little I could contribute to the process apart from accepting it and living a new normal. But that new normal is beautiful!

“There were many people who supported this journey. My wife and girls, parents and extended family, my church family and friends, and my donor and their family. They all deserve gold medals!”

Needless to say, Catton is a keen advocate for organ donation.

“I know that this is a sensitive subject for some. However, I would encourage people to consider their final gift. If we believe we are called to make disciples, and that requires hearing and responding to Jesus, then people deserve that chance. Your donated organ could allow someone the extra years of life to have a chance to hear about Jesus. That’s worth signing up for.” [Tracey Bridcutt]

Pastor Edgar Mongua talks to a group of people about the message of the gospel on a public plaza before giving out arepas or snacks throughout communities in Miranda in eastern Venezuela. Mongua distributes up to 60 arepas once a week to children, single mothers, and seniors as part of his “Give Them Something to Eat” initiative. Photo courtesy of Edgar Mongua

Pastor spreads hope in public plazas, communities, and prisons

Miranda, Venezuela

For more than a year now, Pastor Edgar Mongua has led the “Give Them Something to Eat” initiative and social assistance programs in public squares and prisons in Ocumare del Tuy and Yare, Miranda, in eastern Venezuela.

The “Give Them Something to Eat” event, which takes place specifically in the Uveritos de la Pica and Guillermo García neighborhoods in Yare, includes distributing 30 to 60 arepas one day a week to children, single mothers, and seniors.

Likewise, 5 to 10 food bags are distributed among low-income families. Leaders also organize other activities to benefit the community, including haircuts, free consultations with a dentist, and blood pressure check-ups. Volunteers also distribute clothing, shoes, and hot meals to those who need them.

“We also organize games and sports activities for children, the youth, and teens,” Mongua said. “On Friday afternoons, these kids and young people meet with us to listen to a message from God’s Word.”

A group of Adventist volunteers also visit a public square in Ocumare del Tuy every Friday morning to meet the physical and spiritual needs of those who are there.

“We sing, we pray, we study the Bible with a group of approximately sixty people (most of them senior citizens), and then we share a tasty breakfast with them,” Mongua shared. “We also organize health and social assistance special days, which again, include offering free haircuts and dental services.”

The initiative has resulted in many new regular visitors to local congregations. Among those who were assisted included 20 who had studied the Bible and requested to be baptized.

The outreach has also moved from public places to benefit those who are detained or in prison. Every Tuesday morning, Adventist volunteers offer physical and spiritual support at the Ocumare del Tuy police station. The church’s initiatives have benefited prisoners and police agents.

“Every Tuesday is a different experience. We have seen how the Lord has touched and transformed hearts,” said Wilma, Pastor Mongua’s wife. She added that so far, 12 people have been baptized as a direct result of this prison ministry initiative.

Thanks to the support of local church boards and the funds provided by kind church members, the various ministries led by Pastor Mongua distribute 680 breakfasts, 240 hot lunches, and 12 food bags with seven basic food items every month.

According to Mongua, close to 15,000 people have already benefited from their initiatives in the last 12 months. [Inter-American Division News]

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