This week on the Adventist Voices podcast, we continue a series about community engagement. I talk with Will James, a pastor of 43 years who is now retired from leading the Paradise Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church in National City, California.
During the Great Recession, James saw an increasing need for food assistance in the local community, and that ministry soon led to working with the large refugee population in the San Diego area. In making service a focus for his church, James says that the congregation found a new identity and purpose. Since retiring, he has continued the work by leading Friendships for Hope, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that developed out of the church’s ministry. In addition to giving away 20,000 pounds of food each week, the organization runs a multifaceted ministry that includes language training and direct employment for people in need.
“Our focus has never been on trying to convert or trying to baptize people,” he says. “It has been on just loving people and sharing God’s love with them.”
Alexander Carpenter is executive editor of Spectrum
Title image: Friendships for Hope / Spectrum
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