Posted by: Marella | December 14, 2011

Like Any Other Man

My name is Alexander Leyva . I am just like any other man, who runs out of faith and stops believing in God. My life has been , for a lack of a better word ,self destructive. Life isn’t what I hoped it too be, so I was angry at everybody, specially myself. All my mistakes eventually, landed me in jail. To a man like me, prison is like the jungle where you hunter or prey. As I did my time, I started to realize that my life was worthless. The harm I’ve done to my family and parents of people I’ve hurt, have made me an outcast that deserves no one’s love. With time and money I obtained my freedom and returned to my house.

The following day my wife told me about the problems she had to face on her own. I felt like the Samaritan woman who felt rejected by all. My mother and my sister showed up. I was telling them how fed up I was of not having anything to believe in. I explained how life was meaningless without a light to guide me through the darkness and that god must give me a purpose. At the climax of my plea Ricardo Castro shows up out of nowhere. I was frozen on the spot. He had visited me once before and I had not seen him since. I asked him why are you here? he replied I was on my way to another place, but for some reason I felt the urge to visit you. This is what I have been waiting for the response to that hollow cry. I knew in my heart that our lord had sent him. I told Ricardo that I am an imperfect lump of clay that has no shape or form, but if he’s willing to put the time and effort. that lump of clay can be transformed into a tool that may be put to use by our Father Jesus of Nazareth.

Since that day my life has changed. I no longer am a friend of drugs or violence, I am now a friend of knowledge and wisdom . The thirst of belonging is gone and my soul is now full, the darkness is now light and I walk hand and hand with my brothers knowing well that we walk over the dragons, like pastor Chazarreta explain at the Revelation Seminars at the Sunnyside Spanish SDA Church from November 26- December 4, 2011.

By God’s grace, the Revelation Seminar held at Sunnyside Spanish SDA church, many of my doubt and questions where answered. On December 3, 2011 I was baptized by Pastor Gerizin De Pena. Now as I look forward with hope, I plan on getting my GED and become an instrument of the Lord to help others discover what I have discovered of a life away from violence, drugs and emptiness.

I used to feel like an eagle that thought it was a chicken, but now I feel like I was created to do, Sore. When Jesus truly touches your life everything becomes clear and full of hope.


Posted by: Marella | August 2, 2011

Maria & Aldo

Maria was looking for a church after they moved to the TriCities. She had been raised in the Catholic faith and Aldo had been raised as a Seventh-day Adventist. Neither of them had gone to church for years, but it seemed like the right time to go back as they had a newborn baby boy. Maria talked with a co-worker about her desire to find a church. As it turns out, her co-worker did not go to church either, but her son did. She told Maria how much her son loved going to his church and how his life had been changed for the better. This is when Maria & Aldo showed up at the Richland Seventh-day Adventist Church.

After a few weeks of coming to the Richland Church, they wanted to study the Bible. The more they studied, the more their lives were changed. One example is that Maria began a daycare business in her home so she could stay home with her son. Business was poor and she wasn’t’ sure if she should continue, but they prayed to know God’s will in this situation. The next day Maria received calls to fill her daycare.

They came to the evangelistic series we held at the church. By the end of the series they committed their lives fully to God and were baptized. Aldo is on one of the praise teams at the church and they both are members of a small group.

Posted by: Marella | May 26, 2011

My Son

The story I will choose to share this quarter is especially meaningful to me.  I have been praying for this soul to give his life to Christ for 14 years.  My son, Cameron Fitzgerald, made the decision to be baptized and two Walla Walla University students began studying with him (Tommy Poole and Bryson Bechtel). As they marched through what it means to be a disciple of Christ in the Adventist Church, Cameron decided he wanted mark this decision by going to Africa and working with a team to do medical-missionary evangelism in Eastern Zambia.  He and his friend Noah Dybdahl will begin studying with two younger boys who made a decision to follow Christ in baptism—and so it goes that disciples are made! The words of the apostle Paul to Timothy are appropriate:


 “1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Timothy 2:1,2

Posted by: Marella | January 27, 2011

Peace and Hope by Pastor Gerizin De Pena

Efrain Analco Garcia, 21 years of age, arrived in Mattawa the same week we where holding evangelistic meetings entitled “A Life Change” in the school gym.  He previously was a member of a Pentecostal church, yet his life was overwhelmed with parties, drinking and unhappiness.  He literally needed a life change, by God’s grace a friend of Efrain (Mattawa Spanish Church member) took him to the evangelistic meetings and he was baptized the last day of the meetings.  When he rose from the water his face shone with peace and hope. 

Posted by: Marella | January 27, 2011

Cooperating with the Holy Spirit by Byron Corbett

There is no work like the work of cooperating with the Holy Spirit in bringing souls to Jesus Christ and watching Him change their lives. I’m not sure who is blessed more—us or them—but one thing I am convinced of is that God knew what He was doing when He ordained that every believer should work actively for the salvation of the lost. There’s no question it makes our own calling and election more sure.

I’ll never forget the look on Cleo’s face when I met her the second night of our series. She was lingering by herself in an obscure corner of the foyer with a dark, unpleasant look on her face that said, “Stay away from me. I don’t like you.” I walked over to her and thanked her so much for coming the meetings. She had received a brochure in the mail. As we talked a little more, I sensed this woman needed to give her heart to Jesus Christ. After training my visitation teams on how to lead a person to Christ, I specifically found the team who would be seeing Cleo and I told them that Cleo needed to give her life to Jesus and to be sure to cover that carefully with her. When Carol Bryan visited her, she did lead her to Christ and it has changed Cleo’s life. The next time I saw her after she had invited Jesus into her heart, the dark, unhappy look was completely gone and now her face radiated with joy and peace.

Later in the series she became convicted to give up her tobacco and caffeine addictions. The Lord has given her marvelous victories over both, and she has been completely free of smoking and all caffeine for over one month now. Best of all, Cleo was baptized on October 23rd, and she’s getting involved in ministry already, saying she wants to know how to share her faith with others. Watching Cleo respond to the Holy Spirit’s work in her life and watching her grow by leaps and bounds is absolutely one of the most rewarding experiences our congregation is having right now. There is no joy like it. I want to repeat—there is no work like the work of cooperating with the Holy Spirit in bringing souls to Jesus Christ and watching Him change their lives.

Posted by: Marella | April 19, 2010

I Hated Soul Winning! by Ramon Canals

“I hated soul winning,” said Sonia. “In fact, every time the personal ministries director, or the pastor got up in front of the Church to talk about soul winning or evangelism, I would take my daughter and go to the restroom just to escape the talk about soul winning. This went on for about five years. I hated soul winning and did not wanted to hear anyone talk about missionary work. Let alone, push me to do it.”

But everything changed one day when the nominating committee was trying to select a new personal ministries director and couldn’t find anybody. Nobody wanted to accept the responsibilities. After going through several names and not knowing who to choose, Sonia unaware of what she was doing and volunteered herself. Everybody was surprised, but unanimously voted Sonia to be the next Personal Ministries Director. She began praying for guidance and for a plan to reach out to non-believers. Today she is one of the most exciting and dedicated Personal Ministries directors and soul winners I have ever known. Before I began the meetings in Federal Way, she already had fourteen people ready for baptism and showed me the pictures she took of them so that the church could pray for them….

Posted by: Marella | February 22, 2010

The Green River Killer

If you google the name Gary Ridgway you’ll discover he’s the most prolific serial killer in US history. He makes Ted Bundy and Jeffery Dahmer look like amateurs – he was prosecuted for 48 killings, but it is said he likely murdered 90. Shocking stuff. He did much of his ‘work’ in the Seattle area. He became known as the Green River Killer.

Not long ago, he was baptized out at the Walla Walla Penitentiary. He’s a Seventh-day Adventist now.

As far as jailhouse conversions go, the guys who’ve worked with him say he is entirely genuine. He has nothing to gain by this – he’ll be in that place until the day he dies. There’s zero chance of him ever seeing the light of day. But he has given his heart to Christ and embraced His word, and those who know him say the change in him is obvious and visible. God is good.

This is the work of the Holy Spirit and our prison ministries group here in the Walla Walla valley. There’s a ton of volunteers from many different valley churches that minister at the penitentiary. There were another four baptisms at the Pen just a few weeks ago. The Lord is working.

Posted by: Marella | January 27, 2010

“Take off Your Headphones” by William Earnhardt

Late this afternoon I took my laundry to the apartment Laundromat. I really wasn’t in the mood and had other things to do, but something was telling me, “do it now, get it out of the way.” I grabbed my MP3 player so I could listen to the Bible as I did my laundry. I walk into the laundromat and an older man asks me a question. I did not understand so I asked him to repeat it. He told me, “Take off your headphones.” Not used to strangers telling me what to do but okay, whatever, I removed the headphones. He asked me if I was listening to the football game. I told him no but I had heard what the score was.

He started rambling about the west coast offense and on how the teams that were great a few years ago are not great today because greatness is not inherited. It is only on an individual basis. I agreed even though I was not sure what he was talking about, and told him that is why everyone needs their own relationship with Jesus since its on an individual basis and not inherited. He totally agreed with me and said that was exactly what he was talking about! I asked him where he went to church. He did not answer but asked me where I went. I told him. He told me when he was in Nigeria he went to an Adventist boarding school and assured me he knew more about Adventist theology than I did. He told me those were the best years of his life. I gave him my card and invited him to our church and group Bible studies. He told me he would definitely come.

Later I was thinking how odd, this total stranger tells me to take off my earphones so he can talk to me, and then we end up talking about Jesus. Then I remembered that last night at the Radical Prayer meeting we were praying for opportunities just like this!

We talked for quite a while and sometimes he would get to what he called philosophizing and sometimes would get a little tense. Then I would direct the talk back to football, lighten him up a little bit and then bring it back to Jesus.

At one point I told him it was not coincidence we had met. He was not so sure, “whatever.” But later when I left I told him I hoped to see him again soon. He held up my card, smiled and said definitely, “You will!”

The gentleman’s name is Hillary. Please pray God continues to lead him. I think it is more than ironic that this happened right after our prayer vigil and Radical Prayer meeting.

Posted by: Marella | December 28, 2009

Appetite for the Bible by Curtis Rittenour

David and Tina Hopkins grew up in nominal Christian homes but slipped away from God as the cares of living pulled them into survival mode. But there was a longing in their hearts for the Lord. Something was missing. One day they received a “Revelation Unleashed” flier for a series of meetings at the Spokane Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church. Along with their 18 year old daughter, Heather, they attended.

A week after the meetings began, Brian Smith and Pastor Curtis Rittenour visited the Hopkins. Tina shared, “My appetite for the Bible was sparked and we just had to keep coming back for more! The meetings opened the Word of God up to us. It was all so clear and helpful.” But when it came right down to it, Tina was afraid to make a decision for God. She had experienced some difficult things with her own father’s religion and hesitated to make a deep commitment.

In a prayer session with the pastors a few weeks later, Tina gathered up all her concerns, put them in a box, and handed them over to Jesus. On November 28, 2009 Tina and her daughter Heather were baptized. David came into the church family by Profession of Faith. After the baptism, as Pastor Curtis introduced them to the church, there was a beaming smile on the face David as he looked at his wife and daughter. He said, “This is where God wants us to be.”

Posted by: Marella | December 17, 2009

Abused, Angry, and Full of Guilt by Roger Beltran

As I waited anxiously for the meetings to start, I wondered if we had done enough preparation or visited enough homes or just simply encouraged enough the local congregation to come out in support of the meetings. I had a short list of names that we had been working on and prayed that the Spirit would bring these people to the meetings.

As the nights progressed and calls were made by Elder Jose Rojas, I tenderly approached each individual as they passed to the front and heard from their lips their sincere desire to be baptized. I was truly happy for these individuals as they were buried in water night after night, but every time a call was made I would turn and look for the one girl I had been praying for a long time. Let’s call her Mara.

You see, her story is a rather sad one, abused as a very young child she grew up confused and full of anger and guilt, she eventually left her single mom (the mother later remarried) and returned to her biological father’s house in a different state. Everyone thought that perhaps this would heal her wounded heart and finish high school and make a life of her own.

Unfortunately she was violated by her very own father, became pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful child. Read More…

Posted by: Marella | December 16, 2009

Nothing Can Separate Us by Ricardo Torres

I want to share a brief testimony of a young woman that I will call Janet. She shared her testimony with me when she was visiting  the church, during the crusade that we celebrated.

Janet moved from California to Oregon a few years ago, trying to start a new life away from  her abuser husband.  “I have no luck in life, I had suffered so much; my life has been destroyed, I’m a wreck”, she said.  When she was 8 years old, her own father try to sexually abuse her. When she expressed to her mother that something improperly almost happened, she was surprised, astonished that her mom did not believe it.  She was afraid and went to different family home just to be away from her father.

At young age Janet encountered a handsome gentleman, hoping to fulfill her dream of being happy.  Her dream turned to a nightmare, her husband became her worst enemy, after she got pregnant with the first baby;  then she have the second, third and fourth children.  Her life in California had no meaning, she tried many things; partying all night, drinking, smoking just trying to be happy, but nothing worked. She decided after lengthy deliberations with a friend to go north, and went to Portland. She didn’t know anybody in Oregon, but she came anyway with her four children and belongings.  

Life in Oregon was very difficult, without a job, a home or friends.  Physically, emotionally and spiritually, life was not worth living She suffered from insomnia, depression, anxiety and loneliness. Read More…

Posted by: Marella | October 28, 2009

A Witness in Life and Death

Catalina Perez (May 7, 1992-July 17, 2009)clouds-jesus

Catalina Perez, 17, began her new life with Jesus at Washington Adventist Camp Meeting on June 20, 2009, where she testified through baptism she was ready to meet Jesus. Catalina is now waiting the resurrection morning when she will awake to eternal vigor and health as cancer claimed her life on Friday afternoon, July 17, 2009.

At age 11, Catalina and her family started Bible studies with colporteur, Gerald N. Retzer. About this same time, Catalina was diagnosed with cancer. Her family continued Bible studies off and on due to Catalina’s illness and frequent hospitalization. Of the entire Perez family, Catalina was the one who showed the most interest in Bible studies. One day she told Retzer, “The more we study the Bible, the more interesting heaven becomes.”

Catalina and her family began attending White Center Spanish Church in Seattle, Washington, in December 2007. She started Bible studies with Pastor Benjamin and Marcela Figueroa who talked with Catalina about giving her life to Jesus. “I would love to,” Catalina said.

Two more years went by and Catalina’s desire to get baptized grew stronger. Every time she was scheduled for baptism, Catalina ended up in the hospital the day before her baptismal appointment. Read More…

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