When Judith Miranda and her husband, Job, drove to Malibu one Sabbath in 2001, they looked for the local Adventist church, to no avail. She called the Southern California Conference office only to discover there was no church there. “What? No Seventh-day Adventist church in Malibu?” she exclaimed. It became Miranda’s personal mission to plant a church in the beautiful, wealthy beachside community. It took seven years of dedicated door-knocking before a congregation was planted in Malibu in 2008.
Fast forward 10 years. On Sabbath, Dec. 8, 2018, the Malibu group celebrated its 10th anniversary. The congregation meets at Webster Elementary School, with a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean. As the group gathered in their school “sanctuary” for the first time since the devastating Woolsey Fire of early November, Miranda asked all the first-time attendees to stand. “What a blessing you’ve chosen to come today,” she said. “May the warmness and sweetness of the Spirit of God here draw you back. I pray next Sabbath you say, ‘I’ve got to go to the Malibu church!’”
The welcoming spirit, beautiful music, Mission Spotlight, Sabbath School classes in English and Spanish, inspiring messages, and moving recognition of Malibu firefighters and law enforcement personnel made the 10th anniversary a stirring celebration of God’s faithfulness.
Velino A. Salazar, SCC president, presented a plaque to two representatives from the Malibu Fire Department. “We’d like to express special gratitude to our fire department in this area and also to the police department,” he said. “We want to recognize the great job you did and the sacrifices you made to save lives. Sometimes we are concerned about saving our homes, but the concern is about saving lives first. All around was great destruction—but we are pleased that so many lives were saved.”
Jeffrey O. Brown, associate secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association, brought greetings from the world church. “When one rejoices, we all rejoice together,” he said. “So all 21 million Seventh-day Adventists worldwide are rejoicing with the Malibu church today. Our world church president, Elder Wilson, sends his regards and remarks about this area. He said, ‘We want to send our sincere condolences and Christian love to the many people who are facing great loss from the horrific fires in California,’” Brown read from a statement.
Lonnie Melashenko, former Voice of Prophecy speaker/director, charged the audience to become “fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium.” Taking his sermon from John 17, Melashenko said, “The key to a greater impact in the world is found in Christ’s cosmic commission: ‘As you have sent Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.’ That’s evangelization,” he said. “Let’s be Jesus Christ in the world!”
And all the people said, “Amen!”