Four Special People

April 20, 2015 | Max Torkelsen

What picture comes to your mind when you see the word "church"? For many, we see a picture of the local church building where we worship on a weekly basis. Or we may think of the office buildings where the various levels of church governance are located. But in fact what should come to mind is the members of the church — the people with whom we worship and others who are part of the larger fellowship of believers around the world.

The word “church” is the English translation of the word “ekklesia,” which literally means “called out ones.” We who are members of the church are the “called out ones” who faithfully love and serve our Master, Jesus Christ. Providentially, every one of us has been blessed with spiritual gifts that are given “… for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:12–13; see also I Cor. 12:1–31).

As I have opportunity to travel around the Pacific Northwest, I am always blessed to discover church members who are in unique and special ways exercising their spiritual gifts to the glory of God. I want to share with you briefly the story of four of these special people.

Rod and Brenda Rau have been serving the people of Alaska, for nearly 20 years. Rod is the principal/teacher of our church school in Dillingham. They have gained the confidence of this community, where it takes a kind of rugged individualism to survive the harsh climate and challenging living conditions. The school has prospered, with a current enrollment of 25, and everyone is rejoicing with the completion of a new gymnasium that is a welcome option for getting physical exercise during the many wintry days. Rod and Brenda are representative of the hundreds of denominational employees who faithfully serve the church across our union.

Tyli Wright is a young woman who grew up in a rural part of the Montana Conference. She had the opportunity to attend a series of meetings held by our North Pacific Union Conference evangelist, Brian McMahon. McMahon said, “No matter who we are, no matter what we are, the words of Scripture were given by God and written down for the purpose of finding a home in our hearts and minds.” Tyli has assembled a beautiful collection of Bible texts that will aid in fortifying the mind for the days in which we are living. It is a collection of 390 full-color Scripture memory cards that fit easily into pocket or purse. They can make it possible for you to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you” (I Peter 3:15). Her website is

David Ronk is a bivocational pastor working with the New Plymouth Church in Ontario, Ore., which is part of the Idaho Conference. For 20 years he has been doing prison ministry at the Snake River Correctional Facility (the largest prison in the state of Oregon, with more than 3,000 inmates) on Wednesday evenings and Sabbath afternoons. During this time he has seen more than 160 individuals baptized as a result of his efforts and to the glory of God.

What is your spiritual gift? Are you actively engaged in using those gifts to reach the world for Jesus? Thank you for your dedication to the ministry and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in these last days of Earth’s history.