April 2023 Column

Stewardship

A Blessing in Disguise

What is your first reaction at church when the calls for offering, resources for the homeless, or volunteers for the work bee are made?  If you’re like most of us, it’s probably hesitation followed by justification as we contemplate the sacrifices to be made while grappling with our carnal nature.  It’s no surprise that love of self is one of the strongest and most destructive temptations.  After all, it was the cause of Ananias and Saphira lying to the Holy Spirit, the rich young ruler saying no to salvation, and even Judas betraying the Savior in Gethsemane.

What makes a preference for self so dangerous is that it is an all-consuming pursuit.  Matthew 6:24 says that “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Loving the world and loving God is mutually exclusive.  The former leads to our own tribulation and anguish (Romans 2:8-9) while the latter results in the indwelling of God (John 14:23).  

While this looks like an easy choice on paper, in reality, it is anything but.  But there’s hope!  When we make a decision to put God first, taking a step of faith and believing that our life’s purpose is to serve, God begins to do a special, supernatural work in our hearts where our will becomes wholly united with His.  Where we once desired to live for ourselves, we now wish to live for Christ!  In this, the chains that once made us helpless to our carnal selves are broken and our guilt is gone.  A heavenly peace settles on our hearts as we trust God with our needs.  He has set us free!

You see, God doesn’t need your money, time, or skills.  He’s the Creator of the universe.  What He really wants is your heart – your whole heart.  He asks us to store our treasures in heaven because “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). 

Questions for Discussion

Why is a lack of stewardship really a heart problem?

When was a time when God proved His faithfulness to you? How does the goodness of God impact your attitude on stewardship?

What are some ways you can contribute your resources to God that you aren’t currently?

I pray the next time an opportunity arises to give, we would be the first to raise our hands, counting on the sweet promise of Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  May we be rich towards God.

Contributors

Editor
Picture of Xiomara Perdomo

Xiomara Perdomo

Assistant to the President for Mission

Writer
Picture of Angela Hui

Angela Hui

Finance Director

Back to top

Justin & Sheree Kelly

Meet Sheree Kelly, a spirited and visionary leader in elementary education with over a decade of transformative experience. A proud alumna of Oakwood University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, Sheree has earned accolades aplenty, including the illustrious Southwestern Union Conference Teacher of Excellence award in 2023. Her dedication to nurturing young minds is enhanced by a Counseling endorsement on her denominational certification, showcasing her commitment to comprehensive student well-being.

Justin Kelly is a dynamic professional whose expertise spans education, information technology, and missionary work. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Oakwood College and a Master’s Degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Justin is a tech-savvy trailblazer. He is the creative force behind Superscrum.net, a cutting-edge blog on agile software development techniques, making waves in the tech community.
This powerhouse couple, Justin and Sheree, shine as local elders at Fondren Seventh Day Adventist Church in Houston, Texas. They’ve also shared their talents as elementary teachers at Excel Adventist Academy. Beyond their professional roles, they are known for their love of salsa dancing, country music, and throwing unforgettable themed parties. Their true passion lies in building community through small group studies, potlucks, and engaging events at their home in Fresno, Texas.
Justin and Sheree excel in mastering the delicate art of balancing life, work, and church. They champion the virtues of temperance and healthy boundaries, ensuring harmony in all aspects of life. With nearly eight joyful years of marriage, their unwavering faith in Jesus Christ fuels their journey and dedication.

Daniel Pino

Daniel Pino Romero serves as a pastor at the Houston Spanish Northwest SDA Church.

Dr. Tom Grove

Dr. Tom Grove is a proud native of Pennsylvania who calls Texas home. He is serving as the
Associate Director for Ministry & Evangelism for the Texas Conference. He also serves as the
English Men’s Volunteer Coordinator for the Conference. Prior to his transition to the Texas
Conference office, he served as the Executive Pastor of the Arlington Seventh-day Adventist
Church in Arlington, Texas. Before coming to Texas, he spent 15 years pastoring in the
Pennsylvania Conference. He is an alumnus of Columbia Union College (now Washington
Adventist University) as well as Andrews University where he received his Master of Divinity
and his Doctor of Ministry. He is the author of the Men’s Spiritual Leadership curriculum,
Joshua’s Men, which is published by AdventSource and is being used throughout the North
American Division to mentor men to be leaders in their homes, communities, and churches.

He has been married to his wonderful wife Deborah, a Speech-Language Pathologist, for 27
years and is the proud father of Mark and Caroline. In his time off, he loves reading, traveling,
playing racquetball and cheering for all the sports teams who call Pittsburgh home.

Xav Handfield

Xavyance “Xav” Handfield is a nationally recognized speaker, health and wellness activator, educator and is the CEO of the Handfield Group, LLC. His mission is to use his gifts and his voice to inspire and evoke change in the world. In 2015, he started his speaking career and has been blessed to inspire and speak to thousands of individuals across the country for corporate events, churches, and community organizations. In 2017, he created Plant Based Brotha, which initially started to empower people to be able to transition to a plant-based lifestyle but has since pivoted to teaching others that health and wellness is a holistic experience.

Xav is excited about life and is a living testament that our gifts make room for us, and he truly works towards God’s purpose. He is married to his wife Jasmine, and they just welcomed their first child, a baby girl in April. Xav aspires to inspire before he expires and has a favorite verse, Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Michal Anne Whitcomb

Michal Anne Whitcomb is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Dallas, Texas. Michal has spent her 16 year career dedicated to the empowerment, healing, and growth of her clients.  She began her career at Genesis Women’s Shelter, where she worked with women and children impacted by domestic violence. Michal continued her work with children and their families at Dallas ISD’s Youth and Family Centers. In 2012, she began her private practice in Dallas, Texas, where she works with adults, teens, and families on issues of depression, anxiety, grief/loss, relational issues, and trauma. Michal has training in several modalities, many related to the treatment of trauma and adverse experiences. Michal is Certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), an evidenced-based trauma treatment, and is also an EMDR Consultant-in-Training. Michal lives in Arlington, Texas with her husband, Levi, and their two children. If she is not at work, you can usually find Michal playing softball, singing at church, or enjoying a hike.

Stephen and Felecia Lee

Stephen and Felecia Lee are a mission-minded creative duo. Stephen founded a marketing business, and Felecia is a homemaker. They led at ASI and spoke at GYC, SAC, AYP, and conference events. Based in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, their talks on communication, relationships, productivity, and faith empower individuals to inspire change.

Costin Jordache, MA, MBA, APR

Costin Jordache serves as Vice President of System Strategy and Brand Development for Adventist HealthCare, a healthcare system operating in Maryland and Washington DC. In his role, Costin oversees strategic planning and development, as well as public relations, marketing and communication for the healthcare system.

Over the last 25 years, he has served in leadership roles including News Editor for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines, Vice President for Communication in the Central California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Director of Communication in the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor for Media at the Loma Linda University Church and Senior Pastor of the Dallas First Church.

Costin holds a Masters degree in Radio, Television & Film from the University of Texas at Austin as well as an MBA from California State University, along with a BA in Theology and Biblical Languages from Southwestern Adventist University. Costin is accredited in Public Relations by the Public Relations Society of America.

He specializes in strategic communication and media leadership, public relations, teaching, strategic planning and organizational leadership.

Costin is married to Leah Jordache. They have two sons, Roman, 18 and Lance 16.

David Asscherick

David is a speaker/director for Light Bearers and ARISE co-founder and instructor. Since his baptism in 1999, David has traveled the globe preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He and his wife Violeta are the happy parents of two boys, Landon and Jabel.

Keynote Speaker

Benjamin Lundquist, host of Rise & Lead, will headline 2023 AYP Convention.

Benjamin Lundquist is a top motivational speaker and one the leading voices for leadership development and empowerment. He is passionate about helping students and professionals see their worth and value, see themselves as a leader, and see their potential to change the world. The message he shares is motivating, relatable, and highly practical. Audiences are challenged to take extreme ownership of the unique gifts and opportunities they have. He is an international speaker and host of Rise and Lead Podcast which has been downloaded in over 110 countries providing aspiring and experienced leaders of all ages with world-class content and conversation. He frequently speaks at corporate and faith events, universities, and high schools.

Identity in Christ | Breakout Track

April is currently an associate pastor for discipleship at Keene SDA church. She is enrolled in a dual graduate program for Public Health and MDIV chaplaincy. She enjoys working with different ministries that highlight service, hospitality, and life enrichment. 

Her hobbies include traveling, reading, music, and extreme sports. An introvert at heart, she enjoys moments with close friends and in the quiet. Her and her husband, Blake Snyder reside in Burleson, Texas.

Purpose & Calling | Breakout Track

Ann Roda likes to describe her life as one long adventure with God. She began her career as a registered nurse in OB then transitioned into healthcare administration. Then, God unexpectedly redirected her path to the Adventist Theological Seminary, for an MDiv, and into pastoral ministry. She spent 15 years as a church pastor in Marietta, Georgia and Fulton, Maryland. Six years ago, God had another adventure for Ann, and called her back into the health care ministry, serving with Adventist HealthCare as Vice President for Mission and Spiritual Care. 

This position is the perfect combination of both pastoral ministry and health care. Ann is married to Jose Hernandez, a licensed professional counselor. Ann and her husband enjoy hiking, biking, and traveling.

Relationships | Breakout Track

Stephen and Felecia Lee are partners in the mission. They share a mutual passion for young adult ministries and using their talents to share the Gospel online and through speaking engagements. Stephen helps individuals and businesses function more efficiently through time management and productivity techniques. Felecia is a full-time homemaker and also the founder of the New Wives Club. 

In addition to this, she runs a program teaching women of color how to learn principles of faith through natural hair care. They live in New Hampshire and speak in different places on topics related to singleness, courtship, communication, evangelism, and faith.

Spiritual Health | Breakout Track

Shawn is passionate about generations coming together! She grew up in a four-generation family business and knows, from first-hand experience, that when people of all ages work together, everyone wins!

She has a B.S. in marketing from the University of Nebraska and is an award-winning sales and marketing professional. Her professional certifications include being a member of the John Maxwell Team and DISC Behavioral Consultant. Recently she published her first book “Strategies for Generational Inclusion at Work.”

Communities | Breakout Track

Michael Gibson currently serves as the Lead Pastor at the Keene SDA Church where he most previously served for four years as Pastor for Young Adults and lead Elevate, a growing and thriving young adult community in Keene. Michael is married to Melissa and they both enjoy the outdoors, long walks, and traveling to new, unexplored places. 

Most days, when he’s not teaching, preaching or studying, you’ll find him playing disc golf or working on home renovations with Melissa. They recently welcomed their son, Micah Eden, into the world last October and ever since, life has taken on a whole new meaning. Above all, Michael and Melissa have a passion for discipleship and telling others about the incredible God they serve. For them, the gospel boils down to loving God and loving people.