Overcoming various life challenges, the following three women engage their calling to ministry and connect people to an abundant life with Jesus in their own unique way. They remind us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).
A dream fulfilled
Kayla Chavez, an 18-year-old, has been a member of the Grass Valley church her entire life. She attributes her spiritual growth and relationship with God to her amazing church family. “I love them so much!” Chavez declared.
Early on, she was diagnosed with a blood disorder. “It affects my energy, immunity, and, especially, blood clotting factors,” Chavez explained. “With this being a factor, I often cannot be in large crowds or in close contact with others.”
But Chavez still felt called to serve. “I began to pray that God might show me a way to use the talents I've been given for Him and in a manner that would not risk my health,” she said. Her passion is digital outreach and technological evangelism through graphic design and writing. “The goal of my writing and work is to always point to God’s true character and make others think just how precious they are to their heavenly Father.”
Chavez continued, “Two days after that prayer, I received a call from Pastor Richards asking me to be the new editor for the Valley Views—the newsletter for the Grass Valley church! God listens and answers prayer in ways that we would never see coming! I am so excited, humbled, and grateful to be a part of such a ministry!”
"Kayla is a very talented senior in high school with the sweetest, kindest heart,” said Jeff Richards, pastor at Grass Valley church. “It was clear to me that her passion is to write and organize our communications for the furthering of God’s work.”
Not only is she the editor for the local church's newsletter, she is also a new contributing writer for the Northern California Conference. “We are very excited to have such a passionate, talented, and committed young person on our team!” said Laurie Trujillo, director of communication and development. “She will bring a unique perspective that is necessary to effectively communicate how God is working in our conference.”
Chavez confirmed, “My dream is to serve God in the Northern California Conference, and again God answered my prayer!”
Honorable Judge Allison Williams, a church member in the Northern California Conference, made the history books! In November 2021, as one of the two appointed judges to the Sacramento County Superior Court, she became the first public defender in Sacramento County to rise to this level of leadership in the last 30 years.
“I was propelled to serve people and give back to my community when I started practicing 16 years ago,” said Williams. “I believe God bestowed upon me special gifts and blessed my work; I was a successful public defender. In 2020, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that I was too comfortable, and that I needed to give more,” Williams continued. “I looked around my community and saw the distress and distrust of the justice system, and I felt God telling me that I needed to be more and to serve my community in a different way.”
From the time Williams applied for the position in 2020 to her appointment in January 2022, the Holy Spirit removed many obstacles, making her journey full of miracles. For instance, during the process, the State Judicial Nomination Evaluators mailed about 1,000 evaluations to almost everyone with whom Williams had come into contact during her career. When these evaluations came back, the appointee secretary asked her to come in for another interview. However, there was no need to worry because God had it all worked out in advance. "Out of all the returned evaluations, there was not one negative comment. Not one!” Williams said. “This reaffirmed that God wanted me on this leadership path."
The Honorable Judge Williams’ call to ministry and her ability to engage the community is unique. She has the opportunities to reveal God’s character. “When presiding over cases, I can show compassion, patience, and understanding. Equality, equity, and justice are values that are synonymous with our American system of jurisprudence and with my Christian faith,” Williams explained. “Never did I think my life would lead to where I am at today. I never had plans to be a leader like this—a Black woman serving the community as a judge. But then the Holy Spirit reminded me of something that Ellen White wrote: ‘Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator—individuality, power to think and to do. The men in whom this power is developed are the men who bear responsibilities, who are leaders in enterprise, and who influence character. … Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children’” (Education, pp. 17-18).
It's not a board vote
“It does not take a church board vote to show that someone is loved and important,” said Shirley Grear, a Paradise Fire survivor, Grass Valley church member, and recent widow. Shirley has transformed her tragedy and grief into a blessing for others who have experienced trauma in their lives. “Satan tries to isolate people with problems and tries to make them feel alone,” she explained. “This is where Satan works best. But as believers in Christ, we can step in at these critical moments and ruin Satan’s plan.”
Last August, when a wildfire threatened her community, she worked with the Grass Valley church and Pastor Jeff Richards to establish a member and community communication system that serves as an effective early warning alert and a way for the church to stay connected with the members during a disaster.
Grear then turned her attention to connecting with widows and single moms. “This is an overlooked population, and their needs are very specific. They are alone and feel very isolated. God has used the passing of my husband to help others facing similar grief.”
Shirley Grear is an inspiration and embodies what it means to use your God-given spiritual gifts. “There are many special situations in our churches, like parents who have special-needs kids, or empty nesters, or families who lost a child,” she said. “Each one of these groups feels alone. And our job is simple—reach out and embrace them. Ministry like this does not take a church board vote.”
By Laurie Trujillo