Getting Off Their Knees
By Cheri Corder
|Sam and Dan pose for a playful photo with ASC DR leaders.
Front row (L to R): Jeannie Reed, Colette Newer; Byron Dulan; Sam Pellecer.
Back row: Cheri Corder; Dan Patchin; Rod Tachenko; Patty Marsh; Joe Watts;
and Doug Venn.
Sam Pellecer has been a rock solid Seventh-day Adventist his whole life. He’s been active in his local church, worked in the hospital system, and gone on numerous mission trips. However, his spiritual life and his service for the Lord have recently expanded in two major ways – and he says it has all come about through an area he would have never expected: Disaster Response, a major aspect of Adventist Community Services (ACS DR).
“I really like to help people,” grins Sam, “I’ve helped build a lot of churches, and that’s great, but I prefer helping people in a more personal way, when they really need you. It changed me quite a bit when I went to Beaumont, Texas, to help in the recovery from Hurricane Ike. There were miles of devastation, hundreds of homes that had just collapsed… I still remember seeing a guy hugging some elderly lady he’d helped who was crying because she felt somebody finally cared about her. He was crying because he felt he was finally doing what God wanted him to do. I could relate to him.”
In addition to volunteering at other disaster sites, Sam started teaching how to be prepared for disaster, as well as leading training sessions for people who would like to respond to disasters through ACS DR. As a volunteer, Sam now serves as the Disaster Response Coordinator for the Oregon Conference. This is what brought about the second area of personal growth.
“I now go to a lot of meetings with other organizations active in disasters. This is a new experience for me, because I am a reserved person. The first time I went to one, they all looked at me and asked, ‘Who are you?’ When I told them, they said, ‘Oh! The Adventists are back!’ as if they were amazed or as if to mean, ‘It’s about time!’ It really made an impression on me! I don’t want the Adventists to ever be missing from those tables again."
“As Adventists, we can live in such a closed circle, and this is a chance to get out of that circle. As I’ve gotten to know people, in the various faith-based organizations especially, I’ve found out that many of them love the Lord just as much as we do. It’s really been a blessing for me to experience that. Now I’m comfortable outside of the circle, just talking to anybody.”
Dan Patchin works closely with Sam. He has also served the church in a wide variety of ways over his lifetime, including as a missionary overseas on three long-term assignments and numerous short-term projects. The passion and conviction that motivate Dan run deep. He loves to discuss these, but even more, he loves to act them out.
“Too often,” says Dan, “we take our requests before the Lord on Sabbath morning, but forget all about them as we leave the church. We forget that to a very large degree, He is depending on us to fulfill those requests! We can pray for Mrs. Jones at church on Sabbath morning, but on Sabbath afternoon, He needs me to get off my knees and go visit Mrs. Jones!"
Dan has been “getting off his knees” for many years. He was with Sam in Beaumont, TX, and now works with Sam in ACS DR. He is also involved with the American Red Cross, specifically in the sheltering aspect of emergency services, and with the warming shelters in the city of Portland.
“These are opportunities to reach out and make available to people life-changing experiences. If I’ve been flooded out of my home but there’s a Red Cross shelter and I receive food and a warm place to sleep, that changes my life in a pretty profound way. At Lents SDA Church, we’re working with the Red Cross and we are an official shelter. If Johnson Creek floods, come on in. It’s not the Hilton, but it works. This is a viable, meaningful way to reach out to our neighbors.
“To think – I did nothing to deserve to be born in America with liberty and abundance and antibiotics. This is not an award I earned, but a gift I received. I give my Father in Heaven glory for that opportunity, and then I ask myself, ‘Dan, what are you doing to make lives better for those who were not born in these circumstances?’ I think God expects us to get out there and make a difference.”