Arise and Go Training Seminars
During the months of February and March, Arise and Go training seminars in evangelism were held in each of the eight areas throughout the Central California Conference (CCC). Dan Serns, CCC president, explained that the purpose was to train lay leaders to be soul winners and witnesses for Jesus. For that reason, conference ministry directors provided training for children, youth, young adults, community service, literature distribution, family worship, prayer, church planting, and small groups. Members were encouraged to creatively share Jesus with someone every day during the “40 Days of Sharing Jesus” from March 1 to April 9—with the hope that it will become a habit. The culmination took place on April 30 with the “Fill Every Baptistry Sabbath.”
In February’s Recorder, there was a report on the most recent “Fill Every Baptistry Sabbath” in December of 2021. We mentioned in that story that two people had responded to a call at the Watsonville church. One was “a young man just released from prison who had studied the Bible with another inmate. He was so excited to be at church so he could respond to the appeal.”
Here’s some of the rest of the story: Jose Ambriz had just been released from prison on Friday at 10 p.m. Being tired, he almost did not honor his commitment to go to church the next morning; however, he managed to arrive at the Watsonville church just before the sermon on that special Sabbath in December. Fortunately, the baptistry was full so he could be baptized. Ambriz is now part of the “Let’s Preach” initiative, with his very first evangelistic series from April 23 to 30—and it will end with another special Sabbath when the baptistry will again be full. Will that be the end of the story? Not likely—more miracles are sure to result in the coming months as blessings are poured out in the lives of those who respond to God’s call.
Missionary Outreach in Taft
Although the city of Taft is mostly known for its oil production, it is surrounded by fertile lands that are part of the most productive agricultural region in the world. The U.S. food system has long been dependent on the influx of an ever-changing group of workers in the farm labor market.
Members of the Taft church realized that they had an important missionary opportunity. Without having to go to a foreign country, they could help many of the local agricultural workers who were performing some of the most arduous farm labor tasks. Many of the workers come from the San Pablo Tijaltepec region of Mexico. Beyond their need for the basic necessities, the farmworkers also need the help of the Mexican government’s consular service, which is located in Fresno. The consulate's role is to advance the welfare and protection of its citizens globally via several means, one of them being through the issuance of necessary documentation.
The church members believed their injunction came from Scriptures: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself” (Leviticus 19:33-34, ESV). And Ellen White wrote, “When you meet suffering souls who need help, give it to them.… In doing this you will be working in lines of Christ’s ministry” (Welfare Ministry, p. 29).
The Taft church and the North American Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Association (PARL)-West considered this a call to serve. It all started when Daniel Rodela, an elder at the Taft church and board member of both PARL-West and the Conscience and Justice Council, and Valentin Bautista Silva, president of Taft San Pablo Tijaltepec Indigenous Federation, contacted Mexican Consulate Chief Adriana Gonzalez Carrillo. They requested support and described the need for mobile consular services in Taft. The Mexican Consulate agreed to visit three times during this year.
In most venues, the mobile consulate initiative will serve about 70 people daily. However, from March 14 to 17 at the Taft church, 317 people were helped, with about 80 people served daily, exceeding the consulate's expectations. "My team is committed to serving the people," said Consul of Documentation Linda Carrasco. "People in Taft are very kind and respectful. Taft is in our hearts, and we look forward to coming back again soon."
The Taft San Pablo Tijaltepec Indigenous Federation leadership team was also grateful to the church for hosting the event. Over 20 members of its board of directors attended the worship service at the end of the initiative. "We are thankful for the support of the community,” said Silva. "We look forward to attending and collaborating with the church on other impactful projects."
The Mexican Consulate is eager to participate with other churches in the Central California Conference and for opportunities to partner with PARL directors. It is certainly a way to identify and cultivate relationships with leaders and community members. As the Taft church can also testify, it is an outreach that will bring Christ to people’s hearts and life to the church. For more information, you may contact Daniel Rodela at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to CCC’s Communication Director
It is with great pleasure that CCC introduces its new communication director: Pastor Benjie Maxson is now on board to share how God blesses His amazing people!
The CCC seeks to serve by providing Christlike leadership, support, and resources for its churches, schools, and ministries so that relationships and trust will be strengthened. In order to be effective, the conference’s purpose and vision need to be communicated. The communication department and its director are essential in supporting the conference by managing, directing, and coordinating the internal and external communication through a variety of platforms and projects.
Maxson now has a vital role to fill with an assortment of duties and responsibilities—all meant to inform and inspire us to share the gospel. It took him a little while to decide whether or not to accept the assignment—especially because it meant leaving his pastoral position. However, there is no doubt that he was called by God to serve at this particular time. The conference is embarking on some new initiatives with its emphasis on “Arise and Go,” and it needs his many technological and design proficiencies, as well as his social media skills and abilities.
As he begins his new role, Maxson stated, “I will want to know how I can become more of a help to our churches, schools, and ministries. I will be reaching out to see how we all can more effectively and efficiently communicate and what resources we can share from the conference to help with local initiatives and direction.”
Maxson comes with a background in both pastoral and educational ministry. He served as a youth pastor in West Virginia and was ordained in 2009 while serving as the youth director of the Rocky Mountain Conference. Most recently, he served since 2017 as the senior pastor of the Modesto Central church. Believing in involvement with the community and the church at large, he has been the chaplain for the Stanislaus County sheriff’s office for the last three years, and he also now serves as a member of the Executive Committees for CCC, Pacific Union, and North American Division. He is also on the latter’s pastoral advisory committee. Many CCC members will know him from his present role as the administrative director of Soquel camp meeting, a position he has held for several years.
Maxson has also held many positions in Adventist education. Graduating from Southern Adventist University in 2001 with a major in health/physical education and a minor in religion, Maxson received his Master of Theological Studies degree from La Sierra University in 2020. He has served in four senior academies—in Washington, Maryland, and Colorado—as Bible teacher, dean, chaplain, recruiter, and vice-principal, and he was principal of Central Valley Christian Academy in the CCC from 2014 to 2017. As a pastor, he kept his ties to education by serving as the chaplain for the CCC education department.
Maxson is joined in his ministry by his wife, Kartini, who is a registered nurse, and his son, Benjamin, who is currently studying biology education at Southern Adventist University.
Commenting on this new assignment, CCC President Dan Serns said, “God is doing amazing things across Central California, and all of us need to hear the stories. We welcome Benjie Maxson, a top-notch communicator, as our new communication director to keep us saying Praise the Lord and Hallelujah! We're so thankful for his ability to mobilize and motivate writers, social media influencers, and all communicators in the mission of telling our stories as we take the Adventist message to all of the Central California Conference and to the world in this generation.”
Please pray that Maxson will help keep us focused on doing as Scripture would tell us, “Through Christ, let’s bring to God a continual sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Let’s confess with our lips the reality of what Christ has done and praise His holy name” (Hebrews 13:15, CW).
By Deloris Trujillo