November 20, 2018

November 20, 2018
Thanksgiving Day is this week, and as we approach this meaningful celebration this year, our hearts are torn. Yes, we have so many reasons to be thankful to God, to our family, to our community, to our country and to our church; however, we are still hurt and sad.

As you know, within the last two weeks, we have witnessed such intense tragedies that our hearts ache for the pain of so many people in our Southern California conference area. First, the shooting in Thousand Oaks left dozens of families devastated by the loss of loved ones. The next day, the Woolsey Fire started and spread quickly to other neighboring towns leaving hundreds without homes and some dying by the fires. May God help us cope with this adversity and help those in need. I invite you to visit and participate in helping others.

I pray that we can have the same attitude the apostle Paul had toward the adversities we face in life. In Romans 8, we read: “35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

On November 7 at 7 a.m., I attended the Glendale Give Thanks Community Prayer Breakfast where many of the Glendale religious, educational, medical and civic entities join every year to pray for this city, its surrounding communities and this country. Currently, Pastor Todd Leonard (Senior Pastor at Glendale City church) is the president of the Glendale Religious Leaders Association. This event gives us an opportunity to interact with other entities and collaborate for the betterment of our communities, and for them to know more about the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Thank you, Pastor Todd, for taking this important role.

After 25 years paying a church mortgage, the Olympic Korean church dedicated their sanctuary on the afternoon of November 10. Esther and I had the opportunity to join them at this memorable milestone, which concluded a long financial pressure on this congregation. After burning the mortgage document, the church treasurer announced that now the church will be able to invest much more money in evangelism. Kudos to Pastors Sun Hwa Hwang and Young Rin Kim for leading this church into this new chapter.

That evening, we attended the GLAR Black and White Gala at the LAX Renaissance Hotel. This elegant annual three-fold event gave the opportunity to 1) raise $18,000 for Christian education; 2) recognize Philadelphian church as the Church of the Year and Pastor Eugene Hamilton as the Pastor of the Year; 3) recognize Eunice Winston, Canary Green (community service), Jamelah Stuckey (youth ministry), and Anthony Bailey (music), church members who have served and supported the ministry of the Greater Los Angeles Region. Thank you, Elder Royal Harrison, for setting aside time to recognize those in who are making the difference in GLAR advancing the Kingdom of God.

Last Sabbath, November 17, I dedicated the entire day to the Japanese ministry in the South Bay area. In the morning, we worshiped with 35 people of the newly planted church group for Japanese speaking people, followed by a fellowship meal with these wonderful people. In the afternoon, we participated in the East-West Language School 50th Anniversary. This is an amazing story of a unique mission among the Japanese community in Southern California that deserves a full article in the Recorder. So look for it in early 2019.

Your fellow traveler,

Velino A. Salazar
Southern California Conference