Pastors' Blog

By Pioneer Pastors

October 4, 2023


I love mountains. The one thing I miss since living in Michigan is mountains. They are majestic and grand; they present challenges and excitement. I feel close to God when I am breathing the fresh mountain air. When you are hiking in mountains there are these high elevation lakes. The most beautiful lakes I have ever seen just wedged between cliffs, crystal clear and freezing cold water. These lakes are stunning.

Some time ago, I was backpacking in the Sierra Nevada’s, and we hiked a few days to one of these high elevation lakes. The walls of the majestic peaks protected the lake, so no wind touched the water. The water was perfectly still reflecting all the surroundings with precision. I stepped up to the water’s edge and peered in. I saw myself in the water.  I picked up a very small pebble, and I tossed it into the middle of the lake. Immediately there were ripples that started in the middle and went all the way across in every direction. The ripples bounced off the edges and continued making more and more ripples. The effect of this tiny stone was great indeed. No more could you see the huge peaks reflected in the lake, the clouds and sky were blurred, and my reflection was almost erased.

I believe that just like this little stone, young people can have huge effects on those around them. Look at Jesus’s disciples, some may even have been as young as thirteen years old when they were called by Jesus. They were teenagers and young adults in their twenties when they were called and responded to Jesus. He picked these young men to be his leaders. Jesus called them, and so can we.

At Pioneer we have a lot of great opportunities for our youth to make a difference. We have Pathfinders, Sabbath School, Bible Studies, Mission Trips, Andrews Academy and more. These are all places where our youth can actively participate in becoming leaders for God, and continuing learning how to journey with Jesus for themselves.

Our young people have so much potential, they just need to continue to be equipped to share the Good News of Jesus. The quote in Education by Ellen White, is a continuous reminder and encouragement to us as we work with youth people.

“With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world! How soon might the end come—the end of suffering and sorrow and sin! How soon, in place of a possession here, with its blight of sin and pain, our children might receive their inheritance where “the righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever.” Where “the inhabitant shall not say. I am sick.” And “the voice of weeping shall be no more heard.” Education 271.2

Remember the lake, when one pebble is thrown in it can make lots of ripples. Our young people can create similar ripples of positive change in the world when they are encouraged to recognize their worth in Christ and channel their energy and talents in reaching others for the kingdom of God.

September 13, 2023


Off script in the middle of a worship service is usually a scary moment for a chaplain. We make plans and run sheets to ensure the media team, speakers, the worship team and all other participants are on the same page.  Yet, Tuesday morning at Week of Prayer was the type of off script moment for which chaplains and pastors alike pray. The moment was the off script that provides the “why” behind every long hour, planning meeting, and ministry function. This was the moment where God showed up to embrace his people when they reached out for Him.

We often pray for the Holy Spirit to be in our midst when we gather. It is the well-intentioned prayer that seeks God’s blessing for make the solemn gathering a sacred assembly. Yet, I’ve recently learned to pray for God to open my eyes for where He is already at work. The reality is that God has been long at work in places, in hearts, in lives, and situations long before you or I ever arrived. Like Gehazi, in 2 Kings 6, the prayer that we often need to pray is, “God open our eyes to where you are already at work.”

This Tuesday, the prayer was answered with “I’m here look around and follow my leading.”

Pioneer’s very own Pastor Taurus Montgomery, our week of prayer speaker, had been praying for his eyes to be opened and so when God said, “Look around.” Pastor Taurus did.

No pretense. No planned actions. The moment he came to the front, you could see the spiritual wrestling happening in his heart as we felt the weight of God’s presence calling to do something different. There would be no Week of Prayer sermon, only a call to repentance.

Pastor Taurus spoke and the words came out, “If you’re not living the life that you know you should, come forward to surrender to Jesus.”

The students came down. At first in small groups then, in large groups. The mass of individuals all moved by conviction that this was their moment to listen to God’s leading.

It was a beautiful sight to behold. The Center for Faith Engagement team, Pioneer Pastors, Department of Religion Professors and other spiritual leaders were called forward to lay hands on the large group in the front. And, for the next twenty minutes, we prayed. We prayed as a packed sanctuary pressed in together by the presence of God. We prayed as a group of people recognizing that when God shows up our only response is to worship. We prayed because God had reminded us, “Here I am. Open your eyes to see what I have already been doing in these students’ lives.”

God is active in places, in lives, in ministries, in plans long before you or I are ever involved. In the moment of prayer, I thought of the words of Amos in Amos 5:

21 “I hate all your show and pretense—
    the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
22 I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
    I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
23 Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
    an endless river of righteous living. (Amos 5:21-24 NLT)

God has been seeking the hearts of his people. He’s been seeking to transform lives to live out justice and righteousness. We hold worship services, we plan programs and, make no mistake, these are good things. They are the avenues and venues in which we collectively praise and worship our Creator. Yet, even these programs are worthless if hearts and lives never experience life altering transformation. God has always cared more for how people live and worship after the sacred assembly than the songs sung, or praises given during the service. Life altering transformation as described in Amos’ context was societal transformation in which the oppression was eliminated, truth was spoken openly, exploitation was condemned, and God was lifted high in every circle.

If repentance remains at the level of public proclamations and never reaches our lives – it becomes the very showy pretense and hypocritic religious festival that God detests. So, today, as God calls you to a greater sense of repentance, how are you being led to affect God-inspired difference in your community? What business practices are you being called to change? What lifestyle are you called to give up? What longstanding wrongs are you called to make right with the ones you’ve mistreated? What mighty flood of justice and endless river of righteous living is God looking to see in your life?

September 6, 2023


Each and every day decisions are made. In fact, life is a series of choices--some big, but mostly small choices that make up everything from the foods that we eat to the clothes that we wear. Some of the decisions along the way, however, are significantly larger. Some of the biggest decisions that we have in life are: who to marry, what career to pursue, where to live and choosing whether or not to believe in God. As parents it is our goal to raise children who make good decisions.

One of these decisions is, arguably, larger because it has the potential to inform all of the other decisions. This single decision will affect each of our relationships. It might also steer someone into another career choice. This truly is a huge decision, and there is a window for it. George Barna, in his research, discovered that the probability of a child making a decision to follow God drastically declines beginning at the age of 13.[1]

Unfortunately, we are not able to make choices for our children--at least not these big decisions. Honestly though, we do not want to make this choice for our children. After all, our ultimate desire for them would be that each of them has a personal relationship with God. So, in order that to happen, we need to equip our kids to make good choices on their own. We need to model good choices and, at the same time, be honest about our mistakes.

We also want our children’s decisions to be authentic, especially their choice to have a relationship with Jesus. Parents often fear that this decision, although good, may be made for the wrong reasons. We are afraid when all of their classmates are choosing to be baptized, that they are following the crowd. We are afraid to talk to them about it because they might just choose baptism to please us.

So then, how can parents facilitate this decision? Step one: share your story. Talk to your kids about your own decision to choose Jesus. Tell them about your relationship with Him. Step two: study. Let your children see you studying the Bible. Study with your children. Model to them what a healthy, growing relationship with God looks like. Step three: integrate your relationship with every aspect of your life. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 gives us a blueprint for leading our children to Jesus. It makes it clear that passing on our beliefs is something that happens all the time and everywhere. Talk to your kids about the good and the bad. Talk to them in the car and at the dinner table. Let them witness your relationship in action. Let them see how your beliefs in God impact the way that you care for the people around you.

I wish that I could tell you that if you follow these steps, it would guarantee that all of our children would only make good choices, and that each and every one of them would make a decision for a lifelong relationship with Jesus. I cannot tell you that. Life is not formulaic. Each one of us is on a journey, and we are each trying our best to raise children with the tools they need to make the right decisions, especially the greatest decision of all—Christ! There is good news, however: We are not in this alone. The God of the universe, the One who can speak things into existence, He is partnering with us. God has done and is doing everything in His power to have a saving relationship with each of our children.

[1] George Barna, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2003)pp. 34

August 30, 2023


Have you ever said something that later you kicked yourself all over about saying? The interesting thing about words is once they’re out, they’re out; we can’t get them back. Of course, we can always apologize, but how much better if we thought things through before we let them out, right? You could almost say we’ve got a problem with what cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, deer (& probably all ruminants) get: hoof and mouth disease. For people it used to be called “putting your foot IN your mouth.”  

Several months ago I ran across a very interesting comment that is perfect for those of us who do have a challenge of watching what comes out of our mouths. It’s from the book Christ’s Object Lessons. The discussion in that part of the chapter has to do with influence, particularly of our words. That paragraph points out that there’s not much of anything we can do to influence others for good. If we realize how helpless we are, and how much we need God’s assistance and His divine power we’ll end up far from depending on ourselves—and probably blowing it if we do.  

One of the points the paragraph makes is that we would be far better off by beginning the day by committing our ways to our heavenly Father. It then says, “His angels are appointed to watch over us, and if we put ourselves under their guardianship, then in every time of danger they will be at our right hand. When unconsciously we are in danger of exerting a wrong influence the angels will be by our side prompting us to a better course, choosing our words for us, and influencing our actions.” Now, I’m not smart enough to know just what I ought to be saying, but I think my angel knows—yours does, too. The paragraph concludes with, “Thus our influence may be a silent, unconscious, but mighty power in drawing others to Christ and the heavenly world.”

If an angel is the one worrying about what I’m about to say—and picking my words for me, then all I really need to think about is whether or not I’m submitted to the guardianship of my angel, and to make sure I am.  

So, from COL pg. 341, here we go: a fail-safe way of avoiding “hoof in mouth disease”. Just make sure that mañana starts the right way: asking for an angel guardian. During the rest of the day be blessed!  

But just before I let you go, a quick story. Some years back a church I had served and had moved from was getting smaller by the week. Several of the older ladies in the church decided they would begin praying for God to build their church. They did—and He did. Today the church doesn’t have much room for anyone else: it’s packed. Out in central Wyoming is the Riverton SDA Church. Three members, one of whom is blind, and all of whom are advanced in age. They only see their pastor once a month. I felt impressed to begin praying for God to bring people to the Riverton Church as He did the Pipestone Church. So, I’m praying, and I’m inviting you to pray with me. I don’t want to see that church become a memory.  

Thank you.

August 23, 2023


Every year at the end of August, the humidity arrives with the gentle weight of a cozy blanket, albeit a damp one that hasn’t quite dried out. It has always been my subtle reminder that summer will be over in just a few weeks. The end of summer is a ubiquitous time mourned and celebrated by students and parents respectively. On on hand the last week before returning to school means cramming as many hours at the water park, local ice-cream shop, or friends’ house as possible. And, on the other, it means packing backpacks, prepping school lunches and planning kid drop-off and pick-up routines. 

This past Sunday and Monday I had the privilege of working alongside my colleagues here, at Pioneer, as we busily cleaned the church grounds, welcomed new college Freshmen and high-fived parents and Ruth Murdoch Elementary students alike. All weekend, the energy was palpable. The hurried rush to experience the last bit of the carefree summer “vibes” reverberated alongside the frenetic pace of preparation. And, on the welcome days, an air of optimistic trepidation and adventure could be felt as our students walked into their new dorm rooms or 2nd grade classrooms for the first time. 

The Summer is truly over.

The very nature of time is that it moves quickly and we truly do not know how much of it we have. My wife bought me an antique hourglass that was once used by Sir Ernest Shackelton on his 1914 Antarctic expedition. (Ok, it is actually from a Hobby Lobby department store in South Bend but it looks “antique-y”) I know the hourglass holds enough sand for somewhere under 20 minutes but, aside from that I stubbornly refuse to time the slithering sand as it is suctioned downward in the most dramatic visual representation of time slipping away. The Latin poet, Virgil, once coined the phrase fugit inreparabile tempus or, time flies, irretrievable.

Long before the Poet Virgil, another Poet, nicknamed, the “Preacher” in the book of Ecclesiastes shared a similar sentiment in Ecclesiastes chapter 3. 

1 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2  a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,

4  a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6  a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8  a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

And, in verse 11, the Preacher surmises 

 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 

Regardless of where you are at the end of the summer, whether you are celebrating or mourning; building toward you future or reflecting on your past - every day, every hour, every moment is a gift from God. And, God has made each of those moments beautiful because He will meet you in them if you let Him. Time, like the sand in my hourglass, rushes on so quickly. But, even the mundane everyday can be an incredible moment when you spend it in connection with God. 

So, Yes. The summer is over. And, a new season begins and God is just waiting for you to spend it with Him in this new season.

July 19, 2023


One of the things that a pastor does is visit people; that is a prime responsibility of my work as Pastor for Pastoral Care.

There are limitations, however. How do you ever get to everyone? I think the answer to that is you don’t. Here is where a member like you can be such a blessing to someone who is home bound, recovering in a hospital, or living in an adult care facility. You can multiply the number of people who are visited, that I just might not be able to reach for a while.

My wife, Teresa, used to visit an older lady who had pretty much lost her memory. Each time she visited her it was like the first time. While she was there the lady was ecstatically happy being visited. Just before she left the lady always said, “Come see me again, won’t you?” Of course, she always did. She knew she wouldn’t remember, but she also knew the joy her visit brought. Know anyone like that?

Visits can include phone calls. One of my high school classmates became a friend. I went into ministry and he went into dentistry. Some years after graduating he started coming to mind one day. After about a week of that I decided the “still small Voice” must be trying to get me to call Bud, so I finally did. He was happy to hear from me, but asked how it was that after all that time, out of the blue I called him? I told him it was the still small Voice prompting me. “I don’t think you would know,” he said, “but my Dad just passed.” Would you believe, it happened a second time—only that time it was his sister who had passed. Now, there is no way I would have ever known what was happening to Bud’s family, but God knew, and He let me know, and my call was a blessing.

Picking up from that, is there anyone you know who keeps coming to mind? Do you suppose the still small Voice of the Holy Spirit is the One prompting you to connect with them? Besides being a blessing to me by your multiplying the individuals who are visited, your contact/visit just might be the event that makes all the difference in their life.

If you’re interested in being more involved in visiting you should maybe take a look at Pioneer’s Homebound Ministry. Why sit in front of the “tube” when you could be making a real difference in the life of a lonely individual?

But as I said earlier, if the Spirit is reminding you of someone you know, it just might be that they need a contact from you. Go ahead: pick up the phone…or get in the car and go. You’ll be glad you did.

May 17, 2023

If the best is yet to come—and with all my heart I believe it is—then there are certain values, both human and spiritual, that must be essential in our journey toward that “best.” As I have reflected over the forty years we have been privileged to pastor this beloved Pioneer parish, here are ten such values I choose to embrace.

#1—The Maker of all things loves and wants me. This truth about God and His character may be the most contested truth in the universe (given the rebel angel’s assault against God’s Kingdom). But what truth so compellingly defines God’s reign of love throughout the cosmos than this single line? If we re-embraced this maxim each morning, would we not flourish with daily peace and quiet assurance that all is well between our Savior and us? Is there a greater value?

#2—Be a voice for the voiceless. The marginalized of earth, the alienated, the disenfranchised desperately need men and women to speak up and act up in their defense. In a culture that mocks the weak and disdains the powerless (from the unborn to women to the poor and immigrants), let the Spirit of God raise up brave souls who find new courage to speak out against injustice, who will call the majority to recommit to and recalibrate the priceless value of human life. Should we not be that voice? 

#3—Embrace loyalty. Or has loyalty become old-fashioned, blasé? What ever happened to a personal loyalty to those who lead you, a personal loyalty to those who follow you? Where is that I-got-your-back fidelity to others that means you can be counted on to be the defender rather than the prosecutor of those you know when they are not around? Jesus was One who was loyal to a fault. And while He paid the price, He also modeled the way, the best way.

#4—Remember the Golden Rule. Or to put it another way, the process of Matthew 18 works when you work the process. Do you have a brother or sister who has hurt you or who has something against you? The red-letter admonition is clear: “‘Go and point out their fault, just between the two of you’” (Matthew 18:15). How much heartache in congregations and institutions and even families and friendship circles would be spared if we lived out that “just between the two of you” proviso. It’s the genius of Jesus’ Golden Rule—treat others the way you want to be treated.

#5—“Save them” is our priority mission. The only mission statement Jesus lived by is ours as well: “’The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost’” (Luke 19:10). Everything we do as church or school must ultimately incarnate His saving mission, from the youngest to the oldest. No congregation or school should have to choose between saving lost people and saving the institution. Calvary trumps institutional survival every time. Because if we do it Jesus’ way, He will find a way to keep us doing His way.

#6—Listen to the lady. Over my fifty years of pastoring, I have learned the veracity of this biblical injunction: “‘Have faith in the Lord your God, and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful’” (2 Chronicles 20:20). And so without apology I testify today that any success in my ministry is attributable to my decision to trust God’s ministry through the writings of Ellen White. To choose otherwise, I have observed, is to settle for less than the divine success God still promises. The greatest spiritual leaders I have known listened to the lady and followed.

#7—Leadership is servanthood. What I’ve learned from the church is that the man or woman or teen who volunteers to serve is usually the man or woman or teen who ends up leading. Why? Because followers see something eminently attractive about the person who chooses to serve, and they often make that volunteer servant their chosen leader. Like the Eleven who followed Jesus even more closely after He washed their feet.

#8—The young are what we do. I am always amazed to learn of campus congregations who “opt out” of ministry to students—“it’s not what we do.” Really? Jesus spent three years driving home the compelling truth the Kingdom of Heaven is all about the young—and not only are we to “do” the young, we are to emulate the young—or there’ll be no Kingdom for us. Period. Not to prioritize the young for the church’s mission is to prioritize the loss of that mission, the loss of that church. Period.

#9—Share the credit. Nothing does that faster or better than publicly thanking those who keep showing up to do the work, to fulfill the dream, to carry out the mission. Sharing the credit means acknowledging the significance each has contributed to the accomplishment. No task is disparaged, no contribution too small. Read the end of Paul’s letters celebrating those who kept showing up. “What hath God wrought!” When we share the credit, God gets the glory.

#10—“Even so come, Lord Jesus.” Whatever you do, never lose your Second Coming focus—and never apologize for confessing the imminence of Jesus’ return. “The end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter 4:7) has been the testimony of the church from the beginning. This confession is the fire that must continue to ignite the Seventh-day Adventist church. Those who would persuade you otherwise are battling with their own conscience. The soon return of Christ is not only our “blessed hope”—it is confirmation of the very Adventist truth—the best is yet to come—with Jesus.

April 19, 2023

Malcolm Gladwell, the celebrated young (at the time) writer whose first book, The Tipping Point, was a tour de force across the land, pushed his theory hard and well: social change behaves like an epidemic. “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do” (7). Think geometric progression—1 doubles to 2, 2 doubles to 4, 4 doubles to 8, and so on. “We need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that sometimes big changes follow from small events, and that sometimes these changes can happen very quickly” (11).

I am very concerned we may be rapidly escalating to one such tipping point. The stunning sequence now of innocent strangers being gunned down by jittery homeowners—a black young teen mistakenly shot on a doorstep in Kansas City, a white young coed in a driveway mistakenly killed in upstate New York—tragic as these two incidents within the week are, I wonder at what point does proliferation of gun violence snowball into copy-cat, virus-like multiplication . . . until it reaches epidemic proportions?

Add to these two stories the recent string of mass killings within days of each other across the country. The backlash from a public that eventually refuses to stomach this heartbreaking cycle of gun violence could be swift and severe. And it wouldn’t take politicians long to do the political calculus and join them—no matter which side of the 2nd Amendment debate they may be on.

My humble point is that America is fast becoming a tipping point on a myriad of seemingly disparate and disconnected points. But connect the dots (as somebody will) and sound a rallying cry (as they do)—it isn’t rocket science (or even political science) to foresee draconian measures—swift and liberty-crushing—instituted as a reaction.

Through the years my Fourth Watch blog (the Roman fourth watch being the darkest part of the night before daybreak) has tracked public trends and paradigm-shifting events for those who call themselves “Adventists.” Jesus’ unvarnished command to disciples living in a period of immense upheaval is stark: “‘Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen’” (Luke 21:36).

“We need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that sometimes big changes follow from small events, and that sometimes these changes can happen very quickly”—Malcolm Gladwell’s counsel almost seems prescient, doesn’t it?

The trick about geometric progression is that it always appears to go slowly. But give it enough time, the killer virus will explode into an epidemic humanity is ill-prepared to meet. (We barely survived the pandemic, after all.) So watch and pray. I’ll be doing so all the more after our last Sabbath together, May 20, comes and goes. And I will find a way to connect you with a new website and podcast that will enable my personal (unretiring) mission to continue. In the meantime, watch and pray.

Because as you and I well know—the best is yet to come. With Jesus.

March 29, 2023

While we are having a more formal Care for Cuba report during worship on April 15, I wanted dash this advance word to our Pioneer Family that God heard your many prayers and manifested His blessings in a mighty way. Truth is, over the years we’ve learned the power of Pioneer’s (your) collective praying—and this time was no exception. So—on behalf of the six Pioneer pastors and nearly 30 Andrews seminary students—please receive our heartfelt thanks for your intercessory partnership in this vital mission.

Our hosts for the ten days and nights of our mission—the faculty, staff and students of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary outside Havana—welcomed us with typical Cuban warmth and  hospitality. Add to them the many on-the-ground pastors, Bible workers and volunteers (who really did the heavy-lifting before our team even arrived), and factor in our fearless leader and gifted administrator—Fernando Ortiz, Director of the Master of Divinity program at our seminary here—it truly was a Spirit-anointed team of workers.

Oh yes, power outages and water stoppage are staples of Cuban life these days—but the people of that island (the largest in the Caribbean) resiliently live above such western annoyances. And we brought back a heart-full of memories and new Cuban friends.

It felt like a non-stop wall-to-wall full-court press (to mix similes). We left for Cuba 2AM on a Thursday, and we arrived home 4AM this Monday, exhausted but exhilarated (if you can combine those two realities) with Heaven’s abundant blessings during the ten days and nights of our mission.

And the numbers? Praise God—we’ll make sure to include the statistics, video and pictures in our April 15 report—but suffice it to say the numbers established a new benchmark for Care for Cuba’s evangelistic mission. Which leads me back to our gratitude to God and to you for your prayer partnership with Him and us. 

Yes, it’s true—the best is yet to come—but what has already come is proof of the veracity of Jesus’ promise to Paul regarding Corinth, another seaport city: “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid . . . because I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). Indeed He does in Havana, too. Amen.

February 22, 2023

Imagine the police in our small village/township parking their flashing-lighted squad cars at every main entry point to Berrien Springs, stopping all traffic, and only allowing residents to proceed into our village limits. Hard to believe? Yet that’s what transpired earlier this week in the small town of Wilmore, Kentucky (population 6,461). All because in that small town is a small Christian university called Asbury, on whose campus a revival broke out at the end of the Wednesday morning chapel two weeks ago right now—a revival of worship and praise, confessions and repentances, singing and praying, with the name of Jesus on the lips of nearly everyone coming and going in that packed auditorium—a non-stop student-led revival that is still continuing around the clock to this very moment.

The Christian world and much of this non-Christian nation have now heard of the Asbury University revival, thanks to the headlines of major news outlets. Twenty thousand visitors showed up this last Sunday, leading to the town’s decision to bar any further outside traffic, so congested has the town become over flocking visitors (from all points on the compass) who want to experience or at least witness this much-heralded revival.

And here we are a few hundred miles to the north, another small Christian university in another small town. What if we’re next on the Holy Spirit’s timetable?

“Oh, but we’re praying for a genuine revival at Andrews!” Who would dare suggest that the #AsburyRevival is anything less than the real deal? Jesus Himself was confronted with that challenge, when the Pharisees sallied up to Him on that Palm Sunday donkey ride through the jumping, whooping, and hollering, hosannaing praise-raisers who lined the palm-branch strewn road down Olivet and toward the Holy City: “‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ He replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out’” (Luke 19:39-40). And when some of the youth of that crowds apparently went overboard the very next morning when Jesus entered the temple, and the same grumpy clerics accosted Him over all this ruckus, Jesus’ terse reply is worth remembering: “‘Do you hear what these children are saying?’ they asked Him. ‘Yes,’ replied Jesus, ‘have you never read, “From the lips of children and infants You, Lord, have called forth your praise”?’” (Matthew 20:16). Apparently exuberant praise and loud exclamations of worship from the young are not antithetical to our Lord’s definition of revival, now are they?

A couple of Mondays ago I had five undergrad college students sitting in my office, earnestly appealing to me: “We are greatly concerned with the declining spiritual condition of the students at Andrews University.” That's the opening line of a three-page paper these young Adventist students articulately crafted and shared with me. An unfair charge? I don’t think so. Oh yes, there are many young disciples of Jesus who are unabashed in their public and private loyalty to Him on this campus. But over the recent months, I have sensed a deepening chasm between the sold-out-for-Jesus students and those who seem (at least to outward appearances) to be overtly detached from spiritual life on this campus. (The next time you attend chapel, note the decorum in the back half of the sanctuary—or drop by any spiritual gathering and wonder where the students are.)  

Shall we despair? Not at all! But we cannot sit by and assume a Christian Adventist campus is immune to bold, frontal efforts by the enemy of our souls to turn this safe haven for Jesus into a battleground for Satan’s dark offensive strategy, a deadly modus operandi crafted to snare an entire generation into his camp. Rather than wringing our hands or complaining to each other, we must unitedly join forces in what Timothy Keller calls “extraordinary prayer.” In a February 5, 2023, piece he wrote for Atlantic magazine, “American Christianity Is Due for a Revival,” Keller notes: “All religions promote and call for prayer. But historically, during times of fast growth and renewal, Christian movements have been marked by an extraordinary amount of communal prayer. . . . Unions of believers for prayer—both large and small gatherings—have an empowering effect. The renewed growth of the Church in the U.S. will not happen without it” ( 

Then is there no such thing as a “counterfeit revival?” Of course, counterfeits exist—but their very existence is proof enough of God’s abiding promise of the genuine Holy Spirit gift. My suggestion is simply that we refrain from attempting what only Almighty God can do—read the hearts of His children—and concentrate instead on what Almighty God can do on our own campuses if we will but call upon Him. “Ask the LORD for rain, in the time of the latter rain. . . . He will give [us] showers of rain . . . for everyone” (Zechariah 10:1 NKJV). God knows it surely is time for the “latter rain” outpouring of the Spirit of Christ upon us all! Look at the world we now inhabit, look at our own nation, look at our own church. No, it is truly the season of the “latter rain.”

So I hope you will join fellow believers across America tomorrow on the 200th anniversary of the Collegiate Day of Prayer (begun February 1823). Go to the website——and click on “Adopt a Campus” and (1) note that all 4,196 college campuses in this nation have been adopted for prayer this year, and (2) enter “Andrews University” and add your name to the growing list of people who will be praying for our campus tomorrow. 

It is the time at Andrews for this “extraordinary amount of communal prayer.” Keller is right—a revival will come to us in no other manner than through such earnest collective praying. Ellen White is also right: “A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work. . . . [For] there is nothing Satan fears so much as that the people of God shall clear the way by removing every hindrance, so that the Lord can pour out His Spirit upon a languishing church and an impenitent congregation” (1SM 121, 124).

So pray for revival—because the best is yet to come. Amen.