Community Outreach

Story Archives

Increase Your Talents
Ohana Youth Outreach

Ohana Fellowship Christian Church was given a challenge. The Oregon Conference gave Ohana $500 and was instructed to "increase" the money and use it for an outreach project. The Ohana Youth took on the task. Three projects were planned for the "Increase Your Talents" Outreach. The first was a bake sale. The second project was a car wash and the third project was an "Outreach Day." The plan was to pack as many sack lunches as possible to feed the homeless on the streets of downtown Portland.

Although the Ohana Youth Group planned and organized the events, the Ohana Church family came together to support the group. For both the projects, the group spent $200 to purchase supplies. The Youth and members of Ohana donated and baked sweet treats to be sold. Successfully, the bake sale raised approximately $400. For the second project, the Ohana Youth Group, with the assistance of Pastor Doug and other members of the Ohana Church, washed cars to raise an additional $200.

On Outreach Day, "no one was too old or too young to take part," stated U'lee Brown, one of the Youth leaders of the Ohana Youth Group. The Ohana Youth Group, members of Ohana and children as young as 4 years of age helped stuff sack lunches. The lunches included: "Happiness Digest" (Steps to Christ), bottled water, PB & J sandwiches, granola bar, small bags of carrots and oranges. After the lunches were packed, the Ohana Group drove downtown and passed out 259 sack lunches to the homeless of Portland. The Ohana Church members gained such a blessing to be able to spread a little bit of the "Kingdom" to those in need.

The Clark County Adventist Community
Services Struck Gold!

The story began when the National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive took place. Theresa Hekel of Vancouver, WA accidentally donated a fake (but very real-looking) Campbell Soup can; it was actually a small safe containing the most precious of her jewels. They included her wedding ring and some heirloom jewelry and totaled, in value, about $10,000. This can joined countless thousands of others in the 153,000-pound food haul for the area.

Theresa didn’t realize what had happened at first but the next week when she wished to add something to the safe and couldn’t find it, she knew immediately what she’d done. Between crying jags she made a phone call to the Clark County Stop Hunger Warehouse where the food had been collected and from which it would be distributed and asked if she could come in and look for it. Consent was given.

Over a thousand boxes later, Theresa and her parents retreated, defeated. She was certain she’d seen the last of her treasure. The nine area food bank directors, included Royalyn Whitley, who heads our Adventist facility, were notified to be on the lookout for the needle in the haystack–er,can.

Royalyn, Joann Reznicki, and Carolyn Karlstrom are the three volunteers who spend a half day a week unloading boxes, sorting, marking, and shelving food items. Carolyn, having no idea what she was looking for and fearful of not recognizing the can should it cross her path, prayed that if it did she might be enabled to recognize it for what it was. She began to shake every Campbell Soup can that came into her hand and hoped it would turn up.

On the eleventh of July it did. Shaking what she believed to be an ordinary can of Cream of Mushroom Soup, Carolyn felt a different heft to it and heard the slightest of rustling sounds. Upon getting the can open with the help of her two companions she could see what had made the sound–a loose bracelet, Everything else was contained in two pouches.

Since Theresa was happily reunited with her jewelry she has paid a visit to the center to thank the staff and give a generous donation. Carolyn has been interviewed on television and the radio and been featured in an article on the front page of the local newspaper. Clark County Adventist Community Services is on the community’s radar!


Easter Story Hits Home

By Mary Garrigan, Rapid City Journal staff


Having lost a home and gained a baby during the Fargo/Moorhead floods, Pastor Jordan Peck's Easter sermon may include some new insight on the holiday's themes of destruction, resurrection and new birth.

"Easter is a celebration of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we've certainly experienced all those things in the recent events of our own life," said the young pastor, who moved from Rapid City three months ago to start the Red River Adventist Church in Fargo.


Last month, the Pecks had to abandon their home to floodwaters at the same time they welcomed a daughter into their lives. "So we've seen the Easter story," he said.


Peck and his wife, Natalie, had planned a home birth assisted by a midwife for the birth of their third child. On March 23, floodwaters were encroaching on the 3/4-mile driveway into their rural home in Hendrum, Minn., just as their baby was trying to get out into the world. As one midwife got stranded in a North Dakota blizzard and a second was delayed by the rising floodwaters of the Red River, Peck was forced to deliver their daughter himself at home.


"My wife said to me, 'I think you're going to have to deliver the baby,' and I remember saying, 'I don't really want to deliver this baby,'" said Peck, 28.


Unable to get medical assistance, Peck used delivery instructions that Natalie downloaded from the Internet, and delivered baby Margaret Elana, healthy and safe.


"It was just really the Lord's blessing," he said.


The midwife arrived about 45 minutes after Margaret did and, soon after that, Peck moved his family to safety. In addition to Margaret, the couple has a daughter, Hailey, and a son, Elias. Peck stayed behind for several days to sandbag the house against rising waters, but when electricity failed and pumps quit, the river quickly swamped the basement.


After spending the last two weeks in Bismarck with family and friends, the Pecks will return to Fargo this weekend to pick up the pieces of their lives and to celebrate Easter with their new congregation and several other Adventist churches. Adventists observe the Sabbath on Saturday, not Sunday.


"It'll be a little more memorable this year," he said. "It's special for us because we've got new life in our family."


The Pecks will return to the Fargo area, even though their basement is still filled with water. Like everyone in the path of the Red River, they'll wait to see what this weekend's expected second crest of the river will mean. It's too early to tell whether the house will be inhabitable again, or whether they'll have to find a new home, just a couple of months after purchasing this one. The family had flood insurance, but still doesn't know what it will all cover.


They may have lost their possessions and perhaps their house, but not their faith, said Peck.


"It's all in the Lord's hands," he said. "It was a crucifying experience in some ways, but the Bible says that the 'arm of flesh will fail' and truly that is just so true. In situations like this, we can only trust in God."


Peck plans to use the experience to further his ministry. "It was just really the Lord's blessing. God's hand was at work in all this. I see it as an opportunity to exalt the name of Jesus in planting our church. I want people to see that the Adventist Church has a gospel message to proclaim," he said.


"We want to turn it into something that we apply to our ministry. It's taught me that my family and I have to learn lessons, as well," he said.


In addition to his job as a church pastor, Peck works with the Power of the Cross Revealed Ministry and has the Web site,


The Pecks' story made headlines worldwide after The Weather Channel picked up a local television station's report and CNN circulated it.


In Rapid City, fellow Adventists like Phyllis Alexander saw those news reports. Peck is remembered fondly by people who knew them during their short stay here, she said. He was in town for six months with the worldwide Adventist television ministry, It Is Written Television, which sponsored a six-week educational series.


"He's a fantastic guy who just did a great job here," said Clarence McKey, the Seventh-day Adventist pastor in Rapid City.


The Adventist Church is well-known for its disaster relief efforts, and the Fargo/Moorhead flood is no exception. Students at the Dakota Adventist Academy and other members of the church's Dakota Conference, which is headquartered in Pierre, journeyed to the Red River Valley to fill more than 500,000 sandbags.


The conference also established a fund for cash contributions to the young family's needs. Donations marked "Peck Family Assistance Fund" may be mailed to Dakota Conference, P.O. Box 520, Pierre, SD 57501. For more information about the relief fund, contact Elder Biloff at 605-224-8868.


Peck said he's always known the Seventh-day Adventist church does a great job of extending a helping hand in times of crisis, but he's got a new perspective on it now that his family has been swamped with the prayers, help and concerns of people nationwide.


"The Seventh-day Adventist Church is just a gem. They've rallied behind my family," he said. "I knew we do a great job of helping from without and, now, I can say that we also do a great job of helping from within."



Martin Weber of the Mid-America Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists contributed to this story.

Contact Mary Garrigan at 394-8424 or