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California Desert Adventists Shelter Unhoused from Scorching Heat—And More News

Joshua Lopez-Padilla and Blythe Seventh-day Adventist Church


Joshua Lopez-Padilla, pastor of the Blythe Central Seventh-day Adventist Church, and his parishioners are doing what they can to help some of the more than 100 unhoused people living locally. “Lopez-Padilla, 28, and volunteers from his congregation have been driving the streets—passing out food and water, sometimes ferrying people to an air-conditioned church,” write Ruben Vives and Akiya Dillon for the Los Angeles Times.

Blythe has no homeless shelters and few cooling centers. Most homeless live outdoors where the average high temperature for July was 113.7 degrees Fahrenheit. “Local resources are scarce, but townsfolk such as Lopez-Padilla pulling up in his silver Jeep to the Lost City encampment [feels], to some residents, like a miracle—like manna from heaven.”

Several unhoused people told The Times last week that there were few places they could go to keep cool. They said that there are no homeless shelters in Blythe and that the most accessible programs and other homeless services are in Indio, 100 miles away.

This summer, the Blythe Central Seventh-day Adventist Church has been opening its doors twice a month on Sundays as a cooling center for homeless people. “The first week we did it, we had 15 people; the next week after that we had 20 people,” Lopez-Padilla said.

For years, the church helped feed homeless people and used the building as a cooling center, but it was sporadic. But now, members hope to do it every month and have been spreading the word to homeless people, government officials, and other nonprofit organizations.

Lopez-Padilla hoped to open the cooling center for more days, with longer hours, but funding issues and the cost of electricity limit his ability to do so. He said that with just its regular services, the church spends about $3,000 a month in electricity—an amount that almost surely will be higher on the next bill, which will include the time as a cooling center. Lopez-Padilla said the cost is increasing even with the use of solar panels.

The church is no stranger to helping people in their most vulnerable moments. In 2019, it sheltered asylum seekers from Central America who were dropped off by immigration officials with nowhere to go.

—From the Los Angeles Times, “It Hit 120 Degrees in This California Town. For the Homeless, ‘It’s a Miserable Life Out Here.’” 

Palawan Adventist Church Joins Other Faith Groups to Support Government Recovery Program for Drug Users

Palawan Mission Seventh-day Adventist joined a multi-faith coalition in signing an agreement with the provincial government “to facilitate aftercare and reintegration activities within the framework of its reformation program to assist people who use drugs in Palawan,” writer Gerald Ticke for the Palawan News reports. The group includes the Adventist congregation, represented by Pastor Rayson Gatdula; the Life Church, represented by Pastor Sam Negosa, Pastor Resty Borja, and Pastor Joselito Nofoente; and the Muslim Association of Puerto Princesa, represented by Abner Sumpa and Arobi Baltao. 

Provincial Information Office (PIO) chief Atty. Christian Jay Cojamco emphasized that the partnership is specifically designed to assist in the recovery and transformation of persons who used drugs (PWUD). The main objective is to provide them with the necessary support for their successful reintegration into society.

He said Executive Assistant Albert Rama represented Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates in the signing of the memorandum of agreement which “seeks to provide guidance and support to PWUD, as well as to the affected families and community members who have fallen victim to illegal drugs with the help of the faith-based organizations particularly on addressing the victims spiritual well-being,” Cojamco said.

—From Palawan News, “Prov’l Gov’t Inks Pact with Church Leaders for Drug Rehab Program.”

U.S. News & World Report Names Loma Linda University Medical Center Among Best in Region

Loma Linda University Medical Center has been recognized in several categories by the latest evaluation of 4,500 hospitals nationwide, including fourteen procedures and treatments that were ranked as “high performing,” meaning the care is “significantly better than the national average,” according to a press release from Loma Linda University Health.

Loma Linda University Medical Center has been named among U.S. News and World Report’s Best Hospitals in the Riverside-San Bernardino Metro Area for 2023-2024.

The Medical Center was also nationally ranked in Pulmonology & Lung surgery and was recognized as “high performing” in four adult specialties: Gastroenterology & G.I. SurgeryGeriatricsOrthopedics, and Urology

Trevor G. Wright, FACHE, CEO of Loma Linda University Health Hospitals, said this achievement is only possible because of the staff’s unmatched dedication to providing compassionate, quality care for patients. 

“These rankings acknowledge Loma Linda University Medical Center as the exclusive academic medical center in the region where science, compassion, and clinical expertise intersect to achieve outstanding patient outcomes,” Wright said. “The accolades and honors we receive, such as this one, serve as a clear testament to our community that they do not need to leave the Inland Empire to receive world-class care.”

Fourteen common procedures and conditions treated were also ranked as “high performing.” They are: aortic valve surgery, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, colon cancer surgery, diabetes, heart attack, heart bypass surgery, heart failure, hip fracture, kidney failure, leukemia, lymphoma & myeloma, pneumonia, prostate cancer surgery, stroke, and transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). 

—From Loma Linda University Health Press Release, by Molly Smith

Two Adventist Churches in Ohio Partner to Support Local Unhoused

Two Ohio Adventist congregations have joined up in an initiative to provide resources to the unhoused population in their neighboring communities, reports The Marietta Times.

The Team God Foundation under the leadership of Associate Pastor Israel Okyere from the Marietta Seventh-day Adventist Church joined with Pastor Stewart Pepper and the Parkersburg SDA Church to extend a helping hand to the homeless population. Team God distributed Blessing Bags of hygiene items, water bottles, first aid kits and other items, Patricia Baidoo, Team God spokeswoman, told the Marietta Times. More activities are being planned.

“We believe that by coming together and leveraging our collective resources, we can make a real difference in the lives of the homeless,” Okyere said. Our mission is to provide not just immediate relief, but also long-term solutions that empower individuals to regain stability and rebuild their lives.”

The effort aims to make a lasting impact on the lives of those in need. Recognizing the challenges faced by the homeless, the team has a common goal to provide essential support and to restore hope to those who have fallen on hard times.

The initiative encompasses activities supporting the homeless community, such as providing access to shelter, meals, clothing, and essential hygiene items. The team will closely work with local organizations and resources to facilitate job training, healthcare services, and educational opportunities, fostering a holistic approach to addressing homelessness.

—From The Marietta Times, “P-burg Groups Helping the Homeless.”

Kenyan Adventist Women Wins Sabbath-keeping Lawsuit

Kenyan Scoline Anyango Ojunga, a Seventh-day Adventist, won a legal case against her employer Nairobi Women Hospital, who she claims fired her over her objection to working on Sabbath, writes Dzuya Walter for Citizen Digital. As a result of her suit, “"the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nairobi has ruled that it is illegal for an employer to force an employee to work on his or her worship day.”

On February 23, 2018, [Ojung’a] asked to be excused from a meeting set for February 24, 2018, as the event coincided with her worship day and she had scheduled church activities on the same day. She also sent a text message to a member of her employers management team on the subject, but her request to be excused from the meeting was declined.

Ms. Ojunga told the court that she entered into an agreement with her employer allowing her to work the first Saturday of every month then commit the remaining Saturdays in the month to her worship. To compensate for the Saturdays that she was going to be off duty in any given month, the claimant indicated her availability to work on Sundays since the institution works seven days a week.

Ms. Ojunga hence argued that the refusal to allow her to attend to her worship day was in violation of her freedom of religion. The court further noted that the fact that Ms. Ojung’a’s employer terminated her employment for failure to attend the meeting that coincided with her prayer day was unfair.

—From Citizen Digital, “Nairobi Court Rules It Is Illegal To Force Employee To Work on Day of Worship.”

Australian Adventist TV Star Joins His Church Mission Trip

Seventh-day Adventist Al Perkins, an Australian TV star from the hit show “Married at First Sight,” has made headlines for going on a mission trip. He has, Lachlan Guertin writes for Yahoo Lifestyle, "decided to turn his back on red carpet events and influencer parties to use his spare time for good instead.”

“Ive come to East Timor on a volunteer mission trip to build a school here in one of the villages,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We do that during the day, and at night time we run a little program for all the little kids in the village to come play games and sing songs about Jesus. Im here with the Seventh-day Adventist Church where I go in Sydney.”

Al shares that the mission is something he has always wanted to do, especially because hes been able to put his carpentry skills to use. “I want to use my platform more wisely and give back by doing things like this and hopefully inspire other people to do the same,” he adds. “Being here makes me realize we cannot complain at all in Australia. These kids dont even have shoes, and theyre the happiest kids Ive ever met.”

—From Yahoo Lifestyle, “MAFS Star Al Perkins’ Surprise Career Move as He Gives Up Influencer Lifestyle.”


Pam Dietrich taught English at Loma Linda Academy for 26 years and served there eight more years as the 7–12 librarian. She lives in Yucaipa, California.

Title illustration by Spectrum. Source images: Joshua Lopez-Padilla, screengrab from “Dear Future Church,” Blythe Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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