Tag: William Earnhardt

The Irony of Sympathy

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.Matthew 5:6-7 NKJV

I’ve been told the beatitudes are building blocks to a complete conversion. I find it interesting that after we are filled with God’s righteousness, instead of seeing ourselves as holier than others, we become merciful.

Several nights ago, as I was falling into my bed to go to sleep for the night, I heard a loud crash followed up by a boom! boom! boom! thud! I looked out my window expecting to see another fender bender on the little street outside my home. Instead I saw a broken-down fence and upside-down car on the grass. The man inside the car got out okay. Apparently he made the turn from one residential street to another a little too fast.

Years before I would have thought to myself, what an idiot! How can you have such an accident on a little street, while making a simple maneuver! However that is not what I thought this time. True, he was going too fast, but over the years I have learned the lesson not to make fun of people who make silly mistakes, because just as sure as I do, I will turn around and do something twice as crazy! Instead of making fun of him, or scolding him, the rest of the bystanders and I just made sure he was okay and had what he needed while we waited for help to arrive.

At UPS John, a seminary student, worked with me as a sorter. He was very mild-mannered and never lost it, even in the most stressfull situations. One day our belt was getting overloaded and I asked the unloaders to wait for us to clear the belt before adding any more packages. They did not listen, and more and more packages overloaded the belt. I became angry and said some things I should not have said. I caught myself and told John I felt bad for reacting that way. He assured me that this was a very stressful job, even more so when the unloaders don’t listen to you. He was right, but I marveled that even though he understood and was sympathetic, he still never lost it. He sympathized with me with his words, but he rebuked me like a slap across the face by simply living out a better example! It wasn’t what he said, it was what he did that showed me there was a better way to live.

My pastor once suggested that it is best to be “liberal” towards others and “conservative” towards ourselves. Hold yourself to a higher standard while cutting those around you a little slack.

Jesus is our perfect example in constantly forgiving all those around Him.

Here are some words to live by.Just like Peter, you don’t have to worry about forgiving your friends too many times. No one will ever sin against you more often than you sin against Jesus, and you will never need to forgive anyone as often as Jesus forgives you. I am going to throw in the oldest cliche of all time, just because it fits so perfectly here. “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” To be Christlike we must hold ourselves to a higher standard, while at the same time forgiving those around us. Jesus is the only One who ever lived a perfect life, and while He did so He sympathized with and encouraged sinners.

Often He [Jesus] met those who had drifted under Satan’s control, and who had no power to break from his snare. To such a one, discouraged, sick, tempted, and fallen, Jesus would speak words of tenderest pity, words that were needed and could be understood. Others He met who were fighting a hand-to-hand battle with the adversary of souls. These He encouraged to persevere, assuring them that they would win; for angels of God were on their side, and would give them the victory. Those whom He thus helped were convinced that here was One in whom they could trust with perfect confidence. He would not betray the secrets they poured into His sympathizing ear. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Pages 91-92. 

How ironic that the One who has never sinned would be the most sympathetic and understanding friend a sinner could ever have.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

August 2016 Open Newsletter to My Faithful Contributors

Dear Friends,

Several years ago, some friends of my ministry suggested for financial security reasons, that I start my own ministry. That seemed like a lot of work to me, so I put it off. Then in the spring of 2015 I found myself looking for a new job. I thought maybe now is the time to take my friend’s advice and start my own ministry. However that still seemed like a lot of work, and I am really not a maverick, and would rather work more directly within the Seventh-day Adventist organization. So one morning I woke up with an idea. Instead of asking people to contribute to my own ministry, why not ask them to contribute to something that is already organized within the church? So I asked the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church, if they would set up a fund that people could contribute to so that I could continue my ministry not only at Plant City but all over the place. As you know the rest is history and they said, “yes!”

Having been given the opportunity by the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church, I stepped out in faith, relying upon people being moved by the Holy Spirit to contribute. Amazingly, after a year and a half the contributions are still steadily coming in! I am delighted that so many of you are still faithfully supporting this ministry so that I can focus all my time on actual ministry instead of fundraising. Now, I have been advised by the Plant City SDA church that the monthly contributions are down just a tad. God is still providing, so nobody is in panic mode, but if you are a faithful contributor, and believe God is blessing you for being a contributor, I would ask you to pray and ask God if He would like you to invite others to contribute.

Since my last newsletter God has blessed in many ways. Thank you for allowing me a moment to share just a few of those ways.

Plant City:

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Last June I had my first Baptism at the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church. Joyce and her 13 year old daughter Madeline were not attending church, but Madeline wanted to learn more about Jesus, and this touched Joyce’s heart as well. Soon we were studying the Bible together and they both were baptized together. Joyce writes, “I am not perfect. I thought that God couldn’t love someone like me. I was so wrong. Through my bible studies, I learned how God loves me and is there for me. Each time I read the bible, it opens my eyes and heart to a loving and forgiving God.” I am currently teaching a baptism class during Sabbath School time, and Madeline wants to help me in this class.

In May and June we had students from Southern Adventist university come to the Tampa Bay area, holding prophecy seminars at Plant City, Tampa and other areas. I was able to attend some of the training and planning meetings to do a little mentoring and even taking some of the student Bible Workers into the community to invite people to the seminars and begin personal Bible studies.

The Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church has fully embraced me as their own and even asked me to serve as head elder for this current term.

Tampa Bay area:

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In the Tampa Bay area, I had personal Bible studies with Hans (Pictured) Cleveland, Paul and Nicson, who were all baptized during the June 2016 prophecy meetings at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church. In addition to personal Bible studies my group Bible studies continue to grow strong in the Tampa area as well. Last Friday night, my group Bible study had 11 non Adventists, three of which have begun attending the Tampa First church after being in this study group. My other group Bible studies keep me busy as well. My Thursday afternoon teen Bible study group, again made up mostly of teens with no church, has some very faithful members. A few times a teen cannot make it to the study for family reasons or whatever, but they will join on Facetime or Skype.  This week Tampa Adventist Academy confirmed with me, my Bible chain referencing schedule for the new school year. This will be the 7th year in a row that I have been teaching the 5th and 6th graders how to chain reference their Bibles and give their own Bible studies to their friends and family. All this in addition to baptism classes and taking my turns with the weekly chapels. 

Around the World:

As many of you know, my mother passed away in the middle of June.  I had several unexpected expenses from last minute airline tickets to funeral costs and so forth. Right before flying out, I prayed and told God that I wanted to stay out of debt, but of course would do whatever my family needed me to do. Right after my prayer, a faithful contributor in Texas saw on Facebook that my mother was dying. She sent me a message telling me that I needed to be with my family and that she was sending a generous gift which helped me with all my expenses! This was truly a sad time for me, but I was very comforted to see God’s loving hand as everything unfolded.

Being in Tulsa for my mother’s funeral and caring for my family afterwards, gave me opportunity to continue my Bible Work in Oklahoma. I was able to reach out to former Bible students during my Oklahoma days. Alan, who I began Bible studies with back in the ‘80s and even came to the Owasso Seventh-day Adventist Church when I would preach there, was able to connect with me again, and I connected him with the current Owasso Bible Worker. Alan wants to resume Bible studies after all these years, and will be returning to the Owasso Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Twice while visiting my mother while she was sick, I was able to share the gospel  at the Broken Arrow Seventh-day Adventist Church.

I continue to write for the Sabbath School network, SSNET.ORG as well as my own website Inlightofthecross.com. Both websites are read from around the globe. A while back a church in Connecticut contacted me through ssnet.org and had me visit their church in Torrington twice to hold gospel meetings. Recently they told me of their plans to share my sermon on Youtube during the worship service.

So you see, even though Plant City SDA church opened up a fund where people can contribute to my ministry from around the world, this ministry also reaches beyond Plant City and goes around the world. It can even reach your neighborhood. All you have to do is give me a call. Thank you again for being such faithful loyal supporters and continuing to support this ministry, and for inviting friends to join you in supporting this ministry. Please follow me on Facebook and at InLightOfTheCross.com.

As always your tax deductable donations can go to the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church, P.O. Box 5379 Plant City, FL 33563. Please mark your contribution “Bible Worker Fund.” Thank you!

 

Is the Role of the Church in the Community Just to Baptize People?

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel…. 1 Corinthians 1:17 NKJV

Does the church have to baptize every member of the community in order to serve its purpose? Is it possible God has some people cross our paths just because they need to be loved, regardless if they join our church or not?

Years before ever becoming, or thinking about becoming a Bible Worker myself, I found myself on a church softball team, captained by the new local Bible Worker. I failed to eat breakfast before running off to play. In the middle of the game, I began to get dizzy and lightheaded. My team was up to bat when I pretty much blacked out. I was sitting right next to the Bible Worker and told him, as the batter was striking out, “I am blacking out. I can’t even see anything right now.”

His reply? He threw my mitt in my lap and said, “That’s the third out. Let’s go take the field!” Not exactly the reply I was expecting. Needless to say, I did not go out onto the field. I managed to get myself to a nearby building where I got a drink and laid down. I had heard people who had been studying with this Bible Worker say how wonderful he was. I guess already having been baptized, I was not a potential “notch on his belt,” So he was not that wonderful to me. He never even missed me when I failed to come back to the game.

At that point in my life, I was not really that familiar with the Bible Worker concept. Therefore I had never really considered becoming one, but on my way home that day, I remember thinking to myself, that if I ever did become a Bible Worker, I would not be like that one! I also told myself that if I genuinely care about people who are about to be baptized, then I would genuinely care about people who will never be baptized. Even though I was not a Bible Worker at that point, I told myself, that as a Christian as well as being theologically sound, I also want to be relationally sound. I decided to be a genuine caring friend not matter what position I ever have in church.

Ironically I did become a Bible Worker, and found myself studying with a man, in the first district I had been assigned, who finally showed up to church with his 14-year-old step-daughter. She had never been to any church. I went to the parents of teenage girls and told them this girl had never been to church before. Please have your daughters greet and befriend her. One of the mothers shrugged her shoulders and said, “But my daughters already have friends.” The father ended up getting baptized in another nearby Adventist church. We never saw his step daughter again.

Later in another district, I was studying with a war veteran who needed a ride to the veteran’s hospital one day. Wanting to connect him with members of my church, I called several retired members and asked them to give this worthy veteran a ride. One person told me they were unavailable because, “That’s the day I water my garden.” And that was the most legitimate excuse! Not only did this veteran never come to my church, but that was also the end of our Bible studies. Do you blame him?

After studying a few months with a young married couple, they became baptized and joined my church of mostly older people. One of the elders never reached out to this young couple, until finally he heard them say something in Sabbath School that was not theologically correct, so he took it upon himself to call them later in the day, to “reach out” and tell them that they were wrong! That was the only contact he had with them, and it was not long before they were out of the church. How long would you stay in a church where people only call to tell you that you are wrong?

In Texas I studied with a teenage boy, that for sake of anonymity, I will call Scott. He found a ride to church every Sabbath, as no one else in his family came to church. Shortly after his baptism he moved to Tampa Florida. We had a going-away party for him, and I wrote in his card, “Bible Workers come and go, but friends are forever.” I did not think that much about it. Eight years later I moved to Tampa Florida. I had talked with him a few times after his move. One day, shortly after moving to Tampa, I ran across his name in my address book, and the address “Tampa Florida” jumped out at me. I called the number, to find out that he was in jail. I arranged a visit. Not exactly the reunion I had planned with a former Bible student. We were glad to see each other and had a lot to talk about since our last visit. He explained to me what had been going on with him lately and how ended up in jail. Towards the end of our visit, he told me, “When I moved away, you wrote in my card, Bible Workers come and go but friends are forever. I never forgot what you wrote, and now that you have come to see me after all those years, even though I am in jail, shows me you meant what you said.” I realized even more, that being relational is just as important as being theologically sound. I realized too, that even though he had been baptized eight years ago, my work with him was not over. Scott needed a forever friend. I am glad God moved me across the country to where I could reach out to him.

As a Christian my goal goes way beyond seeing people get baptized. My goal is to see them in heaven. That means being a forever friend to those who are preparing for baptism, and to those who have already been baptized, as well as to those who I may never see get baptized.

Some people think they can’t give Bible studies, but if I can, anybody can. Even so, what a teenage girl needed in a church long ago, was not just Bible studies, but a friend. A veteran just needed a ride to the hospital. A young couple needed someone from the church, to call them just to say hello, instead of just to tell them they were wrong. A young man sitting in jail needed to know someone still cared, even though he was less than perfect.

That morning on the ballfield, I needed a friend. I needed someone who cared for me regardless if I was someone about to be baptized or not. I needed what every other person needs, and that is a forever friend. Do the people in your community know that regardless if they ever get baptized or not, that they can find forever friends at your church?

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

January 2016 Open Letter to My Faithful Contributors

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I thank God I am still writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Dear Friends,

I want to thank everyone who has been contributing and/or praying for my ministry. It has been a wonderful year! I have kept all my old friends and Bible study students in the Tampa area, while making new friends and contacts in Plant City and beyond. I am enjoying the best of both worlds! Here is just a little of what’s been going on.

In Plant City: We recently did a mass mailing which brought in way more Bible study requests than I was imagining! This brought me to the door of an elderly lady who invited me in. I studied the plan of salvation with her. She asked what church I belonged to. I told her, “Seventh-day Adventist.” She told me her doctor years ago in Tampa was a Seventh-day Adventist. Dr. Guest. She told me how wonderful he was to her, even delivering medications personally to her home when she could not get out. Since he was such a wonderful SDA Christian she decided I should all right to study with too. I thought how cool that Dr. Guest helped me clinch a Bible study while resting in his grave. I hope to live such a life. I took Dr. Guest’s daughter with me on my next study and she was very glad to meet her! She told us she was looking for a church family. I invited her to our Christmas program at the Plant City SDA church, and she has been coming pretty regularly ever since. Last week she accepted the Sabbath!

Destiny is a young lady who attends the Emanuel SDA church across town in Plant City. She recently attended a Bible Worker school in Boston. She is on fire for the Lord, and has been enthusiastically helping me with all the leads we have. We have been working together on Wednesdays and Sabbaths both learning from each other and enjoying our teamwork. Destiny has lived in Plant City all her life, and is helping me find my way around, and she knows a lot of the people who sent in the Bible study request cards. She is a Godsend.

Our Acts 29, Wednesday night youth study continues to attract people from the community. Now, we have been invited to team up with the Spanish SDA Church, meeting in their church as well, to grow our group even more.

In Tampa: Last Sabbath I baptized two people at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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During the holidays, Pastor Brad Cassell asked me to call Frank, who had completed the Amazing Facts Bible Study course. Frank joined my New Believer’s Sabbath School class and fit right in. This was the first time he was ever baptized and he is very excited about being a member at Tampa First.

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Janea is the granddaughter of Larry and Janice Green, who were members of my class, and I have already studied with and baptized one of their granddaughters. Janea recently moved to Tampa in search of a new life with Jesus! Its been a pleasure and honor working with Larry and Janice’s family.  Earlier in October I had the pleasure of baptizing Dekontee after our Bible studies, just like her sisters years before.

Tampa Adventist Academy: Every year I teach the 5th and 6th grade how to chain reference their Bibles to give Bible studies and get decisions for Jesus. This year I gave them a new assignment. They provided videos of them giving an actual Bible study to a friend or family member. The videos were sensational.

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After one class, where we chain referenced the Plan of Salvation, Naomi was giving the presentation to her family for family worship before I even gave the assignment to share the studies with others!

Earlier in the year I held my annual baptism class at TAA, which led to four baptisms last fall.

Beyond Tampa Bay: Last October I celebrated my 50th birthday by going to Hugo, Oklahoma where I preached at the Hugo Seventh-day Adventist Church, and used Sabbath School time for a how to give Bible studies workshop. I also spoke that evening at their fall festival. I am available this year for more engagements so I would love to hear from you.

Again I want to thank everyone for keeping my dream alive to be sharing Jesus each and every day. The Plant City SDA Church is currently putting together a new website and hope to make online giving easier. In the meantime I appreciate your systematic contributions to the Plant City SDA Church, PO Box 5379 Plant City, FL 33563. Thank you for marking it for the “Bible Worker Fund.” Thank you for your contributions and for also sharing this opportunity with your friends and asking them to give and/or pray for this ministry. God bless you and happy 2016!

Your Christian Servant,

William

PS Please follow me on Facebook or my blog inlightofthecross.com to see even more exciting things God is doing in Plant City, Tampa and beyond!

A New Commandment and Prayer for 2016

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35 NLT

Dear Jesus, I know all about the Sabbath and clean and unclean foods. I totally understand or at least think I understand all the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation, and have taught several prophecy seminars. I know all about the mark of the beast and the anti-Christ. When it comes to love, I know how to be nice to people who have been nice to me and to be good to people who have been good to me. But this morning in your Word I saw something new. Oh, it’s always been there, and the Bible scholar that I think I am should have already seen it by now. I know I have heard it before, but this morning it struck me like a 2×4 right between the eyes. You said,

“Love each other. Just as I have loved you.”

Jesus, you said there was plenty of room in your Father’s house. If the innkeeper who didn’t have room for you were to show up at your house, I imagine you would have room for Him too, right? I just can’t see you telling him, “Sorry you left me out in the barn so you can’t come in. Ha ha serves you right!” I can see me doing that! But you aren’t anything like me.

I greet people who greet me. I do huge favors for those who do huge favors for me. I give to those who give to me, and I call that being a Christian, but you call that being a pagan! (See Matthew 5:43-48) In 2016 can you teach me love the way that you love?

Now that I ask that, I am sure the first time someone mistreats me in 2016 I will want to write them off or retaliate one way or another. But when that happens will you please promise to whisper in my ear, “Now, William! Now is your chance to be like Me!” 

I have given bread to those who have never given it back. Yet I still always have plenty of bread because you give me so much. I imagine if I love people in 2016 who never love me back, that I will still have plenty of love because you give me so much love too.

I can recite the fundamental beliefs. But I suppose pagans can do that too. I can preach and teach, but You have met your fair share of pagan teachers and preachers too, haven’t you? How can I show you that I am a genuine disciple of Yours? Ah, yes, by my love for others. By loving others not the way that pagans love but by the way that You love. That is what being a disciple is all about.

Jesus I am really going to need Your help in 2016! Because in 2016 I don’t want to lose weight or save up money or give up Nachos. With Your help I am going to do something totally supernatural and miraculous! I am going to love others the way that you do! I can’t do this without your supernatural presence in my Life. I can’t do this on my own. Who am I kidding? I can’t do this at all! Why don’t I just lay down my life and let You do it through me?

I am 50 years old. I was raised in the church and have been an elder ever since I was 22. Yet I have met 12-year olds who can love more purely than I can. I have seen pagans give the shirt off their backs while I clung to my coat. So I guess it’s time now for me to ask You to teach me what I should have asked a long time ago. In 2016, will You teach me to love, the way that You love?

Thank You, Jesus, for hearing my prayer.

Once Saved Always Saved?

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A married couple in West Texas had some sad news as they welcomed me in to our weekly Bible study. We sat down at the table and they told me their neighbor’s son had just been shot and killed in another city in a shoot-out with police, after being caught in an armed robbery. They explained he had been living a life of drugs and crime his entire adult life, and it finally caught up with him and cost him his life. The wife then paused in the middle of her tragic saga and, foldingher hands beneath her face, she looked towards heaven, and said, “But thank God when he was twelve, he was baptized. So we know we will see him in heaven!”

I was at a loss for words. I said nothing that night, because it just didn’t seem like the appropriate time for a sermon. Those who teach “once saved,” do not realize how legalistic that is. They were baptized – the legal paper work was completed – and so they are in. However doesn’t Wednesdays section of this week’s lesson tell us something? If once saved always saved were true, then how did Lucifer lose heaven?

I have also heard people say “Once a child of God, always a child of God.” But my Bible tells me,

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.Romans 8:14 NKJV

That would lead me to believe those who aren’t led by the Spirit are not the sons of God. Didn’t Jesus tell some Pharisees in John 8 that their father was the devil? Granted, I did not know the young man’s heart. I am not the judge. God alone will separate the wheat from the tares and His children from those who are not. However, I need to examine my life to be sure I am indeed still a child of God today.

There is another comforting passage that has misconstrued by those teaching once saved always saved:

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. John 10:27-28 NKJV

They say Jesus gives us eternal life, and we can never be snatched out of His hand. That is truly a wonderful promise! However, notice that He gives eternal life to those who are following Him. Furthermore, even though no one can snatch us out of His hand, we are still always free to go our own way. We were not created as robots, and we never will be robots. We will always have free choice. When we are sealed, we do not lose the power of choice, but rather, our choice seals our destiny. Those who suffer from the plagues in Revelation 16 are lost because they do not repent, and not because God is no longer forgiving. Free choice works both ways when the angel says,

He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. Revelation 22:11 NKJV

I was baptized when I was seven years old, but every morning I have a choice to make. I can follow Jesus or I can walk away. If I walk away it no longer matters that I was baptized when I was seven. As a matter of fact even though my baptism was way back in another century, if a ten-year-old was baptized yesterday and chooses to follow Jesus today, while I choose to do my own thing, then the ten-year-old becomes the more mature Christian between the two of us.

The story the couple shared with me that night was very sad. I do not want that story to be my story. I chose to follow Jesus was I was seven. I also choose to follow Him right now. I hope you choose Jesus too, each and every day!

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

Recent Baptism Pictures From the TAA Baptism Class

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Joraimy (left) and Jasmy have been two of the most loyal and faithful members of the after school Bible study and Tampa Adventist Academy baptism class. They love Jesus and studying His Word every chance they get. For the last three years they always ask when after school Bible study is, and when the baptism class is. They were baptized a few weeks ago at the Tampa Spanish SDA Church by Pastor Moreno.

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Allison (Left) and Kaina have been in my after school Bible study as well as baptism class. When we take prayer requests in our after school Bible study, Kaina always asks us to pray for her family members who do not know Jesus yet. She loves her family and Her God, and want them all to spend eternity together!

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William was baptized by his father in St.Petersburg. William is always quick to answer questions and help explain the Bible to others. He is also in my Bible chain referencing class, where I am teaching the kids how to give Bible studies and get decisions for Christ. When William got his baptism certificate He told me how proud he was to now be an official member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church!

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Daisy Heredia and her husband Carlos are huge blessings to Tampa Adventist Academy and the Tampa Bay Adventist Community. Daisy has also been helping me with our after school Bible studies and Baptism classes. Daisy Writes,

“Over the last 3 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Pastor William Earnhardt, by offering Bible classes to the elementary school aged children at Tampa Adventist Academy. The time spent with these children has been a blessing and spiritual growth not only for them but for me as well. To see their genuine desire to get to know Jesus is priceless. It fills us with a new rejoicing in the Lord. The most fulfilling part of this experience has been to see them come up from the waters in baptism and see their joy, as well as the joy on the parents faces. As a parent of two beautiful girls that will be baptized as a part of this ministry, I am very thankful for those who continue to support Pastor Earnhardt’s ministry so he is able to continue his faithful ministry for Christ.”

 I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Please don’t let the sun set on you before you make your decision to give your life to the One who gave His life for you. I would love to help you in your decision for Christ. You can contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net. You may also write or show your support for my ministry at the Plant City SDA Church, PO Box 5379 Plant City, FL 33563.