Southern Connect - October 2023

Andy Villanueva Joins SCC Literature Ministries


Villanueva with his wife, Areli, and daughter, Adeline.
Villanueva with his wife, Areli, and daughter, Adeline.

In the summer of 2009, Villanueva experienced his first summer as a Youth Rush student. After four summers, wanting to receive deeper Bible work and evangelism training, he felt impressed to attend SOULS West.

After graduation, he joined the Southeastern California Conference as assistant literature ministries director. He later accepted a call to Oregon Conference in 2015 as associate director of outreach ministries.

This summer, Villanueva accepted a call to join the Southern California Conference team as the new literature ministries director. Villanueva and his wife both grew up in Southern California, and with a young daughter, it’s a blessing to be near family. “We began praying about it, and we just starting seeing God open up different things that we were praying for specifically,” he said.

Villanueva has experienced the personal, spiritual impact of literature ministries. “I knew the power that literature ministry has for church mem- bers and young people involved in doing outreach,” he said.

“What I see in the future,” he con- tinued, “is our department becoming a resource for schools out in the field as well as for churches.”

“Everyone is called to do ministry,” he said. “Oftentimes, literature ministry can seem like a scary thought for a lot of people. But in reality, anybody can do literature evangelism. When you put yourself out there—to actually step out of your comfort zone—and you leave some room there for the Holy Spirit to work, you’re going to be able to see how God uses all of us.”

Celeste Harrison Is Ordained


Celeste Harrison began her journey in ministry as a Pathfinder director 20 years ago. The first time she heard God’s call was during a baptism of three Pathfinders; however, she felt neither ready for nor worthy of this call.

But God pursued her and continued to work on her until she finally stepped forward into her calling.

Harrison (center) receives her new credential from John H. Cress, SCC executive secretary.
Harrison (center) receives her new credential from John H. Cress, SCC executive secretary.

“I began to see that all of my life God has been leading me, teaching me, working with me, instilling things in me,” Harrison said, “even when I didn’t know it.”

At her ordination service this summer, this call was affirmed by all in attendance: members from Norwalk and South Bay churches, where Harrison previously served; members from Alhambra church, where she currently serves as pastor; plus family, friends, and colleagues from the Southern California Conference (SCC).

“God has been calling you for a long time,” Velino A. Salazar, SCC president, said in his homily. “God is the only one who is in the business of calling people. Our role is to send out workers into the harvest field.”

When Harrison received her new credentials, her excitement for this next step in her ministry was clear. In her response, she shared how she at first saw this ordination as a destina- tion but soon realized that it’s just one step in her journey in ministry.

“I’m so incredibly blessed to have gone through all these things and to have learned so much along the way,” Harrison said, acknowledging how her life experiences have prepared her for pastoral ministry. “Journeying is how we build relationships. You guys are here with me today because we journeyed together.”

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