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“For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (Luke 15:24, NIV).

Demanding and receiving his inheritance while his dad is still alive, Jack packs his convertible and leaves home for the West Coast. There, he quickly makes friends, rents a great apartment and parties hard until he runs out of money. Deserted by his friends, he is evicted from his apartment and is forced to sell his car to buy food and lodging. In desperation, he takes the only job he can—a pig slaughtering factory.

Reflecting on his situation, he realizes that even the housekeepers at home live better than he does, so he decides to return home, practicing his speech on the long walk back.

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“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10, NKJV).

It seems I was born to suffer. The physical and emotional abuse at the hands of my father began when I was 4-years-old. I was always sick, to the point that the doctors diagnosed that I could be either mute or deaf for the rest of my life. I was bullied during my school years and always struggled to “fit in.” I got into a toxic relationship that destroyed my heart, my identity and self-esteem. I felt sick, lonely, rejected and purposeless.

Tired of fighting hard for belonging, love and health, it crossed my mind to take my own life. I was missing something; rather Someone.

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“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7, NIV).

To be honest, when I was first asked to write a devotional, I desperately wanted to decline. I felt my heart beat a little faster and my breath become shorter—symptoms associated with anxiety. The fear of not being good enough was so overwhelming, and I was just about to say no until I remembered 1 Peter 5:7. I’ve heard this verse multiple times, and right at that moment, it stuck with me.

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“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3:5–6, NKJV).

This text became especially significant to our family when we planned
to move from Nigeria to the United States, where I was to study in the seminary at Andrews University (Mich.). I applied for a visa for myself, my wife and our little boy. Well-meaning people shared horror stories with us of their visa application denials, and suggested that perhaps I should apply for the visa alone and try to apply for my wife and child later. Maybe we would have better luck that way.

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“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You” (Ps. 73:25, NKJV).

It was 25 years ago, and I’ve never experienced anything like it before or since; not that anyone else hasn’t had the same issue. In my mid-30s, I experienced depression for the first time in my life. Being a very positive person who is known for my laugh and optimistic demeanor, it was such a stark contrast from my usual state of mind.

Ralph Martin, president of the Columbia Union Conference from 1994-1997, passed away June 19, 2021, at the age of 88. He was an administrator for 42 years--12 in the Columbia Union.

"Ralph was a very innovative leader, and one of the architects of the 'Caring Church' movement, says Dave Weigley, current union president. "He was known for being fresh and creative in ministry, trying different methods to move the mission forward."

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Story by Debra Anderson

The Potomac Conference recently celebrated a busy season of ordinations. Since the beginning of the year, five pastors have been ordained to the gospel ministry: Cheryl Wilson-Bridges, Isaac Hanna, Carlo Duran, Jesse Nascimento and Chris Cheatham.

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“But Jesus said, suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14, KJV).

One hot July, I was working as a literature evangelist. That morning, I held just one lead card—the person I had been requested to visit that day. The name David was scribbled on the card, obviously a child’s handwriting. The house was more than an hour away on narrow roads.

It was two days before payday, and my tires were bald. I had enough fuel to make the trip, and $1.76 in cash.

Dear Lord, tell me what to do.

Story by V. Michelle Bernard

In August, registration opens for “Relentless,” the 2022 Columbia Union Conference Pathfinder Camporee, August 10–14, at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

The facility boasts more than 10,000 acres to explore. Attendees will be able to fish, hike, mountain bike, zip line, scale a climbing wall, kayak, white water raft and more.

“We want our Pathfinders to know that God’s love for them is stubborn, unyielding and unchanging. ... He is fully committed to loving us with His relentless and unfailing love,” says Frank Bondurant, Columbia Union vice president for Ministries Development, whose team will oversee the event. Find out more at cucamporee.com.