Category Archives: SPIRITUALITY


From May 28-30 I participated in the My Church Summit at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Canada.

The purpose of the summit was to bring together Adventist students on non-Adventist campuses and church leadership in the North American Division.  More than 150 young people attended, including delegates representing each union.

Special guests from the church in North America included: Dan Jackson, president; Deborah Brill, vice president; James Black, youth director.  Representing the world church: Gilbert Cangy, youth director; Jiwan Moon, public campus ministries director.

The event was primarily organized by Ron Pickell, public campus ministry coordinator for the NAD.  The summit was the result of a similar one which took place last year at Union College for students attending Adventist schools.

Three questions were addressed:

1.  Why are young adults leaving the church?

2.  Why are they staying?

3.  What can the church do for young people?

Both summits, the one in Canada and the one at Union College referenced a recent study commissioned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church addressing the relationship between the Adventist Church and its millennial population (and potential population).

Delegates were broken up into groups of eight to discuss the topics.  Speakers were invited to give presentations addressing each question.  I was invited to address the topic of why Adventist young people choose to stay based on my experience with GYC and CAMPUS.

From experience with GYC, my observation is that three important components are critical when it comes to young adult retention in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Young people who stay (and dedicate their talents to the church) usually do so because:

They were empowered by leadership during critical times in their spiritual and/or academic/professional development;

A church leader or mentor placed high expectations on them, propelling them to aim and reach high standards in their professional, intellectual, and spiritual lives;

At key moments in their spiritual walk they bought into an ideology of Adventism that made the message of the Bible more important than anything else in their lives.

The truer the above statements are in the lives of young adults, the more likely it is that they will remain engaged in the church and participate in its mission.  It also seems that when high expectations, empowerment, and message are present simultaneously at critical times, the chances of retention and engagement increase in quality and quantity.

Although I have come to appreciate Barna for its research throughout the years, I feel that there are several weak points in their report that diminish its usefulness for the Adventist Church today.

1.  To define “engaged young adults” as people who come to church once/month is less than ideal.  Yet this sample group is placed at the center of the study.  If the difference between an engaged individual and a disengaged individual ultimately results in having an increase of attendance from zero to one Sabbath each month, the value of the study must be questioned.

2.  Boxing young adults into socially constructed categories also brings limitation to the study.  We have to ask the question: Are we really allowing young people to speak for themselves or is the church guilty of telling young people who they are?  Are the sample groups used in this study really representative of young adult Adventism?  I have doubts.

3.  The dramatic conclusion of the study also has a major shortcoming.  It presents the church with the choice: do we value traditions more than our children?  However, it fails to adequately show tension between the two.

Young people are not at war with what the Seventh-day Adventist Church believes and stands for.  They may be at war with how some present our truths.  They may be at war with how some use our message, portraying it to be what it is not.  But in speaking with thousands of youth around the world, I’ve seen that they are not really at war with our message.

In many cases, our “traditions” are a victim just like Jesus was a victim of misrepresentation.  Can it be that dissonance exists, not between message and young people?  But instead, perhaps, the battle that exists is between young adults and those who abuse and misuse the beautiful truths that provide everything we ever wanted?  Jesus loves His church.  He died for it.  He invested Himself in it.  He died for it because it’s beautiful.  In fact, its only flaw is me and you.

If you’re interested in the presentation, here’s the prezi.  It also shares stories of University of Michigan graduates as genuinely engaged young adults:



Touching up Bonnie with some Ramos artwork before heading out to camp pitch
Pastors Rodlie and Ilko during one of our morning worships
Manu came to pitch with Daddy — took a picture of his handy work. He helped Uncle Steve and others build beds for the new cabins
Manu takes a picture of his friend Israel while they work together with Uncle Steve
Teaching Micah and bros how to be a man
Father’s Day
Manu’s class memorizing Bible passages. No one can beat this primary class. No one.
This is how we roll
Loved our set-up. Judy cooking Korean Ramen
During a conversation with Mark Finley, Assistant to the President of the General Conference — check out how he rolls!




I was staring up at the drop ceiling lights for some time.  “Don’t worry,” she reassured me, “sometimes it takes a while to find it”.  I knew that wasn’t true.  At least it wasn’t true for me.  I had gone through this exact same routine at least 20 times over the years.  It doesn’t take this long to find a baby’s heartbeat.  I lay there on my back for several minutes as the nurse slowly and systematically moved the doppler across my lower abdomen a few times.  Then she called in another nurse who did the exact same thing.  I continued staring up at the outdated ceiling tiles as the thought kept going through my head, “This can’t be happening.  This isn’t happening.”  I tried to hold on to any glimmer of hope that was within me.

I was ushered to the dark ultrasound room.  I laid down and immediately fixed my eyes on the screen.  My neck was craned in an awkward position but I couldn’t take my eyes off my baby.  I just remember the tech honing in the baby’s heart and clicking on it.  A flat line ran across the screen and no sound of the heart beat.  She repositioned the doppler and tried again.  Nothing.  She did it one last time.  She took the final measurements and she was done.  She wiped off the gel and helped me sit up.  The frantic part of me wanted her to try one more time.  The rational part of me slapped myself across the face and I was overcome with emotion.  My baby was dead, all hope was gone, and my heart broke in pieces.

You can never be prepared for sudden tragedy.  It was supposed to be a routine OB visit.  One that I’m usually in and out within 20 minutes.  As I sat there in the little side room, I went into emotional shock. My body turned numb and my vision was foggy. I felt like I was going in and out of a dream. As my mind came back to focus, we were still there and the doctor was still talking to us and explaining our options. This was really happening. I held my belly that carried our lifeless son and wept.

That was Friday, February 21, 2014. We decided to have our son delivered on the following Monday. We could have scheduled it earlier, but we decided to wait. I needed time. I wanted these last few days, this last Sabbath, this last weekend with him. I wanted to carry him a little longer as I sorted through everything that was happening. I spent a lot of time in prayer and claiming promises in God’s Word. That dark weekend, I found renewed hope and courage in God. I knew He understood my heart and He gave me hope that this wouldn’t be the last time I’d be near my son. As I carried him for the final time, I asked our Almighty God to carry me. He drew very close. In my moment of deepest despair, I put my trust in Him and I found peace.

Our fourth son, Seth Aaron Ramos, was born on Monday, February 24, 2014.  I carried him 19 weeks and he quietly passed away a few weeks prior.  As a memorial, we made a small memory book for baby Seth.  We included his ultrasound pictures from when he was alive among other things.  Each of the boys made a special card for him.  It is a little book that we, as a family, treasure.

By faith, I know I will get to hold our youngest son again. However, I recognize that getting there won’t be an easy road. It hasn’t been easy. Grief comes and goes. This life is filled with a myriad of trials and temptations. As we are nearing the end of time, Satan is attacking with full force and he will use anyone and anything to bring us down. But through this experience, I get a taste of God’s undying love, because He created us and we are His own. I understand a glimpse His desire to carry and protect us until we are made whole. And by faith I know Christ longs to be reunited with His children. It is a Love worth trading our selfish, sin-sickened lives for.

So, as I go on life’s sometimes difficult journey, it is my desire to ask God to carry me each step of the way.  No matter what I lay at His feet, I know I will never be a burden to Him and I am confident He will never let me go.  I believe His love is enough to take each of us through even the roughest, most painful trials of this life.  In the end, it will be worth the wait.

IMG_6096“…I have made you and I will carry you: I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4



Manu & Micah’s First Mission Race

On July 14, 2013 in Muncie, Indiana, Manu and Micah ran their first Team Revolution Mission Race of the season.  A Mission Race is one that is specifically designated to raising funds for team members to go to the Amazon mission trip by our Mission Sponsor: Amazon Lifesavers.

More than 75 kids participated in Manu and Micah’s age division of the Muncie ToughKids Triathlon. Mom and Dad drove the athletes three hours from Lansing to Muncie accompanied by Auntie Sikhu and Bentley! We arrived to the hotel on Saturday night and work up early the nextmorning to register for the event.  After being misdirected by the GPS, we finally found the event’s location.

Micah was assigned lucky #7 and Manu was given #102.  After picking up their packets, getting their body markings, and setting up transitions, the boys got a brief rundown of agood race strategy: Micah was going to do it all by himself even though his age category allowed for parental assistance, and Manu was going to push hard on the difficult swim, recover on the bike’s second of three laps (the bike is his strongest element), and go all out on the run.

Micah was first.  Even though most of the kids were assisted in some capacity by the parents, Micah completed the whole race by himself.  He was as happy as ever.  At the end of therace, he caught up to the girl in front of him, but refused to pass her – I was a proud parent!  In the end, Micah completed the 25-meter swim (2:06), ½ Mile bike ride (3:02), and 100yd run(0:50) with a 2:04 Transition 1 and a 0:27 Transition 2.  His total race time was  8:27.

By far, Manu’s greatest accomplishment was his ability to swim 100 meters – that’s like swimming back and forth on a pool at the Olympics!  After finishing the swim, Manu rode his bike averaging nearly 10 mph, finishing his race by running well under a 10-minute mile pace.  Unfortunately,the race directors misjudged the running portion of his race and led him to finish the run before completing the necessary distance.  After discovering that the race directors had made a mistake, Manu ran the course again, but without the timing chip.  We were thus unable to get an accurate finish time, but suspect that he finished in about 19:25.  His split times were as follow:

  • Swim: 4:1
  • T1: 1:28
  • Bike: 9:54
  • T2: 0:36
  • Run: Finished, time unknown

The boys showed true sportsmanship and bravery.  Although Manu was fairly nervous about swimming such a long distance, he pressed through with mental toughness and determination.  He also ran more than the necessary distance due to someone else’s error. Micah was able to do the entire race all by himself with Dad encouraging him as he raced.

We could not be prouder of our boys!  They sported the best kits in the race and proudly represented Team Revolution – racing for a cause greater than themselves.  We especially want to give a big “thank you” to all the sponsors who supported these boys.  You are making their dreams come true and we could not be more excited to know that our sons desire to be missionaries.  Thank you for your love and support!

If you would like to learn more about their mission and how you can support, here is a LINK to their TR website.

Here is a VIDEO that we made of race day!  Enjoy.