CENTRAL ACTS - June 2024

Student Week of Prayer

Led by Students

Central Valley Christian Academy, located in Ceres, California, held a student week of prayer March 11-15 that impacted the students by letting them lead. This week of prayer was similar to others in many ways, including skits, music, scripture and speakers talking about how to connect with God. But the distinct part of this week of prayer was that the program was created and led by the students.

The 55 high school students spoke, led music and organized the program for both the high school and the 104 elementary students. This gave the students the ability to create a week of prayer where they could learn from what was being presented and learn from creating the program.

Harold Reeve, science educator and IT director for Central Valley Christian Academy, helped the students organize this week of prayer. He said that in late January they held a mini retreat where students and staff talked about the theme. “At the retreat we had Pastor David Dean speaking. He really inspired the students. He spoke to them about speaking and the value of music,” said Reeve. This encouraged the students to create a program that focused on the Fruits of the Spirit.

A prayer map was introduced during the week, which focused on praying for people in specific cities throughout the world. “There are over 500 cities in this world with more than a million people each. And we realized as we were looking at them that we’d never heard of many of them. But these are cities where God knows every name, every person—everything about them. 

It made us realize how big God is,” said Reeve.

Twelve speakers spoke about the Fruits of the Spirit throughout the week, including Katherine Messing and Sarah Schlatter. The elementary and high school had separate meetings, all organized and run by the students. Each evening, the students sat down and created a run sheet, organizing everything that would happen in the meetings the following day.

“We were sitting down Thursday night making a run sheet for the Friday meetings,” said Reeve. “And I told Katherine I thought there was something we needed for the end of the meetings. For most meetings, at the end the pastor steps up and says some things that pull everything together.”

Reeve told Katherine she was the closest they had to a main presenter. But when they were creating the run sheet, she left the part about a closing comment blank. She said she wanted to write it in at a later time. “I don’t know if she ever wrote it in, but she wrote it in from the front with her beautiful comments about what our role is, how to worship God and how to lift up His name. It was fantastic!” said Reeve.

“I loved how this week was centered around students and students did it all (with the help of Mr. Reeve, of course),” said Sarah, a senior at the academy. “Through students putting on the week of prayer, we saw how God is real even though we are just kids. I feel like the Fruits of the Spirit theme stuck with the kids.”

Madi, another senior, mentioned that this year’s week of prayer was her favorite. “The speakers and hosts brought strong emotions into our hearts. I wanted to be there because the environment was positive.” The students and staff put a lot of work into the week, and she said this effort inspired her. “I saw God working through each of our speakers; my friends who spoke and my friends who listened strengthened my relationship with God. I’m surrounded by God-fearing people who love and accept me and that’s a great reason to praise God.”

Darci, a sophomore, added that she thought the week was fun and informative. “Through all the student speakers’ talks, I learned a lot, and some of the speakers brought out points that I had never thought of before. It challenged me to look at the messages in different ways.”





Finally, Reeve added, “Don’t be afraid to trust your students. When they’re tasked with something like this, they really come through and it strengthens them and your school.”

■ By Brennan Hallock

Santa Cruz Church’s 130th Anniversary

The Santa Cruz Church was founded on March 31, 1894, making this year a milestone. Celebrating its 130th anniversary, three of the former pastors attended this event and helped with the service. Doug Motsenbocker, Joe Reynolds, and Thom Garner all helped by offering prayer, acting as elder, and presenting a history of the church. Pastor Jireh Yi, current pastor, spoke for the event highlighting the sanctuary and God’s message through it—the symbolism of the sanctuary and how it is applied to us today.

Normally about 50-60 people attend the Santa Cruz Church on a weekly basis. But for this event, 124 people came to celebrate the church’s anniversary. Invitations were sent to current and prior members, encouraging them to help celebrate this milestone. Ken Sjoboen, head elder of the church, said, “We got a great response and a few from out of the area came and shared the day with us.” A planned lunch was held after the service, and of those who attended, Sjoboeb said that about 80 stayed to eat and visit. “The weather cooperated and only a short burst of rain fell during the church service, so we all stayed dry,” added Sjoboeb.

Santa Cruz Church was started by a colporteur named Saunders, who arrived in the area in 1894. He came in contact with Mrs. Howell and Mrs. Annie Rowe, who wanted to start a church in Santa Cruz. Along with the help of the conference president, Elder D.C. Hunter, the church was formed. Their first church service took place in downtown Santa Cruz on Lincoln Street, and 14 members signed the church charter, promising to proclaim “the everlasting gospel, God’s message of warning, hope, love and comfort to all the world in the power of the Holy Spirit in the earth’s final days.”

“Another milestone we have is for the church building itself, it will be 70 years old in June,” added Sjoboeb. In 1949, the congregation voted to find a new location and build a new church. This was completed in 1954, completely debt-free, giving Santa Cruz Church its current location and building.

■ By Brennan Hallock

Volunteers from Armona Union Academy

Lay a Church Building Foundation in the Dominican Republic

On March, 13 volunteers from Armona Union Academy spent 10 days on a project with Maranatha Volunteers International, a supporting ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The group laid a foundation for the La Nueva Barquita congregation in the Dominican Republic. This group of 40 worshipers sprouted from a nearby mother church and needed a solid structure to accommodate its growing membership.

Roughly 80 percent of the volunteer team had never been on a mission trip before, including both adult leaders. “It was a learning experience for all of us,” said project coordinator Barbra Tabura. The first-timers had a challenging task before them: pouring concrete by hand in sweltering tropical humidity. “We didn’t have a truck come out and deliver all that concrete,” remarked Tabura. Instead, students hauled, mixed, and poured the foundation by hand. “It was a learning experience. It did not come easy, and that’s what we wanted,” said Tabura.

In addition to construction work, volunteers led a four-day vacation Bible school program for families in a complex of government housing. The first night of the series saw roughly 35 attendees—a number that consistently grew each night. Armona students enjoyed connecting with local children while singing songs, sharing Bible stories, and teaching crafts.

Logan Avila is a junior at Armona Academy and discovered the infectious joy of helping others while doing so on this trip. “Part of our mission as Christians was revealed to me in a somewhat plain and simple light,” he said. “There are real people in the world, both kids and adults … And it is part of our mission to reach out a hand to them in one way or another.”

Maranatha mobilizes volunteers to build churches, schools, water wells, and other urgently needed structures around the world. In addition to projects open to the public, Maranatha helps church and school groups organize their own mission trips at no additional cost. Since 1969, Maranatha volunteers and crews have constructed more than 14,000 structures and more than 2,200 water wells in nearly 90 countries.

■ By Sidney Needles