Going Home Again
In 1997 I left Tennessee in order to spend one year abroad as a missionary. I had joined an Adventist organization called the 1000 Missionary Movement and was sponsored to go and minister to the Japanese people in Chiba, a prefecture right outside of Tokyo. One year in Asia turned into ten as I found myself in places many Americans only read about in books. As I ministered there I eventually found myself "drifting" away from the Adventist Church.
In time, I became a part of a non-denominational church in Taipei, Taiwan, eventually going on staff there as the associate pastor. I was later ordained into gospel ministry in this church.
In 2007 I accepted a call to return to the States to be the senior pastor of Immanuel Christian Fellowship, a non-denominational church in Portland, Oregon.
However, God had other plans for me. During this period of time I had started watching Better Life Television and it was making an impact on me. God impressed me to contact them and ask for help in becoming healthier. I did. Through Better Life Television I became friends with several Seventh-day Adventist Church members in Portland who coached me and impressed me with their peaceful character and love for God.
I had also decided to attend a Seventh-day Church, at least sporadically, on Sabbath. I was impressed that the Sabbath was important and that God wanted us to keep it as a family. I definitely wanted my children to be in Sabbath school and pastoring a church on Sundays enabled me to do this. We attended the Mt. Tabor and Pleasant Valley SDA Churches, eventually coming to the point where we would join the Pleasant Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Although Biblical truths such as the Sabbath and the state of the dead were important for me and contributed significantly to my desire to return to the Adventist Church, it was the love of the people that finally drew me in. Church members surrounded me and loved me unconditionally to the place where we really couldn't do anything but return and rejoin the Church!
I found myself, through the love of so many people, being drawn to return home to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Little by little as we worshipped together on Sabbath, as I met people within the Adventist Church in Portland, I felt myself being drawn back.
This all took place during 2010 and so much happened during that year that I couldn't possibly record it here. Miracle after miracle as people surrounded me in love. In November of 2010 I began working with the Oregon Conference in pastoral ministry.
I want to thank everyone the Lord sent my way. Most of all I want to thank my gentle friend and wonderful Savior Jesus. People say you can't go home again, but Jesus showed me that yes, you can go home again!
- Charles Bivens