Before community day I prayed that all who were invited would feel compelled to come.  I longed to fellowship and worship together with them because so many of the friends I have made in the neighborhood already feel like part of my community and my church.  They may not know it yet but each has played a role in my life.   Many serve along side me, as the hands and feet of Christ, challenge me with their Bible questions, and connect heart to heart with me through prayer.  Community day to me was just a small sample of what Heaven will  be like – where we will come together and worship as one body and family from Sabbath to Sabbath.  There we will all understand each other speaking one language.  For now we pray for the gift of tongues and the Holy Spirit to come upon our humble meetings as we seek to reflect him to our neighborhood in Spirit and in truth.

– Miriam Bernstein


Simplicity worker Andrew Carroll with one of the neighborhood kids

For most of my adult life I’ve admired the way that good fathers have been able to care for their families — providing for them, paying attention to their needs, all while being firm and decisive, yet gentle. This in turn put a desire in me to be a good father, too. As God has grown me, He has shown me the particular areas of my life that needed to be healed, one being the relationship with my own father.

I have recently been studying childhood development and how my early experiences have affected my adult life. I’d like to say my childhood was generally good but there were many times I felt unsafe, rejected and emotionally abused. My father was emotionally distant, and I’ve seen him struggle with so many different issues. For years I struggled with overcoming my own sense of rejection.

When I first became a Christian, I thought, How can I tell other people about Jesus when I still have lingering feelings of doubt? I believed in the promise of new life but I couldn’t see how God was going to overcome the deeper conflicts in my life, the difficulties that I inherited from my own family history.

One of the things that God has resolved for me is forgiveness. So often in our culture we’ll hear the phrase “forgive and forget.” Maybe you’ve heard people elaborate on this idea by saying things like “Just move on,” or “They’re no good, you don’t need them in your life.” Even though we may push people out of our lives, there may still be the longing to reconcile with them and have peace. We’ve all faced rejection and abuse of some type and we desire to be better off in some capacity.

I’ve recently seen the 10 Commandments in a new light. Some may think of them as arbitrary rules but I’ve heard more noble minds consider them as blessings, and how when we become God’s children they help us resolve the ongoing complications of having a selfish heart.

Throughout God’s Word He asks us to remember His commands and how He has delivered us:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

—Exodus 20:8


“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt,
and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”
—Deuteronomy 5:15


“Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered.”
—1 Chronicles 16:12


“Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
—Isaiah 44:21


“Remember the word that I said to you.”
—John 15:20

God desires us to put His law in our minds so that it would become permanently fixed in our memory banks to constantly remind us who He is. Our brains are the most complicated, delicate piece of machinery ever conceived. They are finely tuned to record and categorize the information that we absorb through our five senses. As a defense mechanism our minds partition abusive memories and black them out that we might process them appropriately at another time. For years we may have been trying to push things out of our minds when that is the exact opposite of what they were created for.

James writes a powerful metaphor about the law and its power to reveal sin and abuse:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
— James 1:22-25

The law is like a mirror that shows us the sin in our lives and helps us realize our need of the cleansing power of our Savior. The 10 Commandments, God’s love codified, reveals that we have suffered abuse. Rather than pushing it out of our minds and burying it, God longs to nudge our conscience into recognizing our need for His healing touch. For example, we read, “Honor your mother and father.” How can some individuals honor their parents when they may be so dishonorable? Some do not even know one or both parents! Not everyone has a great relationship with their family and that’s the point that God is trying to make. Jesus desires to bring peace and a sense of completion to our lives. Sin has separated us from each other but Christ can make our relationships whole.

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself
and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
—2 Corinthians 5:18

The concept of salvation is more than just living with Jesus in an earth made new for eternity. It is about a better life here and now. It’s amazing that the Greek word for salvation also means healing — not just physical, but mental, emotional, social and spiritual. Reconciliation is what God gives us to be at peace with one another. Others may not be able to forgive us but we can know in our own hearts that we have been made whole.

So many in the Church are suffering because they are still stuck in the old way of thinking: if something is too painful, I’ll just ignore it. It has even caused some physical pain! God can overcome the hurt we’ve suffered. When we look at the course of our lives we may think that because we have so much baggage, how can God work this all out? As we let Christ into our lives and hearts, He promises us that when we constantly remember His ways and His laws, that He will work miracles. There are deep, dark things that are hidden in our minds that may never come to the surface on this side of eternity, but God says He’ll even heal those in time.

As Paul puts it:

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
—1 Corinthians 13:12

God desires to uncover all the abuse and rejection so that there may be no shadow of sin in our lives, that we may fully know ourselves as we are accepted in Christ. When Jesus returns, He will show us how He has healed every single doubt in our minds concerning the lie we once believed — that we were rejected and abandoned by Him, when in reality it was He who took our place that we might be set free.

“…He was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.”
—Isaiah 53:3-5

Our minds will be totally healed from the stain of sin. The pain that the memories caused will be banished and overcome by the realization that Christ has gained the victory over the things that once caused us so much grief.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
—Revelation 21:4

Now back to the beginning of my story. After ruminating on these things, it hit me: the reason I wanted to be a good father was not entirely from goodwill, but because I, out of frustration, wanted to show my dad how I could be a better father than he. I was angry and confused. God has shown me that if I had that attitude when raising children they wouldn’t turn out any better than I. God is the best father in the world and now with Him living in me, I don’t need to rely on my past experiences, ones of neglect and self-doubt. Now I can be the best that He longs for me to be because He has reconciled me to my father through Christ, and I can rely on His goodness and not my own. Now I can tell others about His grace and the healing power of the Gospel.

– Andrew Carroll

Scripture taken from the English Standard Version

Kathalena, 11 years old,  has been coming to the Simplicity Outreach center for almost two years.  During this time she attended many programs.  In the past few months a deeper spiritual interest has awakened in her heart.

Coco, her brother, had a special awards ceremony that we were unable to drive her to, which led Kathalena to harbor unforgiveness in her heart for Bekah, a Simplicity staff member.  After three weeks of not speaking to her, Bekah and another staff member prayed with Kathalena that God would implant a seed of forgiveness in her heart toward Bekah.  The following Sabbath, Kathalena came to Bekah and said, “God put the seed in my heart.  I forgive you.”

One day, Miriam, another Simplicity Outreach team member, was heading out to a Bible study, when Kathalena stopped her to ask if she could attend.  Both Kathalena and Linda, a community member and neighbor of Kathalena, enjoyed meeting each other and studying together that afternoon.  Kathalena asked if she could come back every week.  As a result, Miriam began helping Kathalena read and understand the Amazing Facts study guide before they went to see Linda each week.

Studying with Linda

Studying with Linda

During this time, Bekah began studying children’s Bible study lessons with Kathalena and her sister.  While studying together with Bekah, Kathalena shared that she had asked her teacher if she could tell her what she was learning at church.  Her teacher was very interested in hearing more.  Kathalena opened her children’s Bible and study guide on the devil and shared what she had been learning with Miriam from the Amazing Facts guides about the origin of Satan.  After she finished, the teacher flipped to the back of the study guide and saw all the topics available and wanted the lesson on marriage.  After sharing this story with Bekah, Kathalena then asked her if she could have the marriage study guide to give to her teacher.  Bekah gladly gave her the study.  Subsequently, the teacher requested a Bible and further studies on what happens when you die, salvation, the origin of the devil, and other studies.  It’s amazing how God can use a little child as a missionary once she simply accepts Jesus into her heart.  Please pray for Kathalena, her family, and her teacher as they continue to draw close to Jesus. And let us all pray that we too can have the missionary spirit of a little child.

JoshOnLeftBy 12:45 chattering and laughter begin to fill the Simplicity Outreach center in Allentown, PA, as a volunteer welcomes and registers the children arriving for the Sabbath afternoon Kidz Church program. More volunteers and Simplicity staff sit at tables ready to great their “tribe” and encourage them to color and memorize the week’s bible verse. After a healthy lunch, everyone joins together to sing and then goes station to station – playing games, making crafts, hearing stories, and learning about Jesus’ love.


Mariely_1One family heard about the Simplicity Kidz programs from their grandmother, Josette, who a Simplicity team member began studying with about a year ago.  Since attending the Simplicity programs, the children’s behavior has improved greatly.  We have also seen the fruits of them coming to the center by their increased interest in learning about God.  Their mother has noted that they talk more to others and their family about God.  The older children have all begun taking Bible study lessons, as has their mother, who also recently made a huge step by accepting Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

BekahAmandaPlease pray for this ministry as we continue to build deeper relationships and share Christ with the families and children in Allentown.


Waiting to know God

Posted by on 06.10.2014 in Uncategorized

No one answered the door. We moved on to the next house and rang the doorbell. As we were waiting, a woman opened the previous door and poked her head out. I smiled, went over and handed her an invitation to the upcoming Simplicity evangelistic series. We talked a little about the Bible series, and then, when a little girl came to the door, we showed the woman the programs that the center offers for children and youth. She got very excited about these activities because she babysits and has two teenage daughters. She was especially interested in the teen activities because, in the past year, she had started attending a Seventh-day Adventist Church and wanted her daughters to go to church, too. They don’t usually go with their mother because they don’t speak Spanish.

At this point we told her we were Seventh-day Adventists. She got very excited. She had been praying for God to open a way for her daughters to come to church and to get answers to all of their questions about God. She has only been studying for a year and the girls ask a lot of questions about the Bible that she doesn’t know how to answer. They don’t believe in God, and she has been praying that her whole family would know God and go to church together. Before leaving, we had prayer with the mother and met her oldest daughter. The lady told us we were an answer to prayer.

There are so many people who are waiting and longing to know God. They are praying for a way to meet Him, and when we are faithful to God He will use us to meet those people. We are to play a part in sharing the gospel, and it is such a faith-building experience to see God use us to tell others about Jesus!

The Best Medicine

Posted by on 30.04.2014 in Testimonies
I have experienced new forms of evangelism during my time here at Simplicity. Having a center allows curious passersby to wander in, say hello and see what we’re all about.

Ryan seemed like a rough character, with his scraggly white beard and the heavy winter coat which he wore year-round. I had seen him walk by the center a few times, limping along with his cane. On one occasion he stopped to talk and ask if he could get money to buy some fast food for his mom. Although we couldn’t fulfill his request for cash, he did accept our offer to drive him home.

As time went on, he stopped by sporadically during the week to say hello. Then he came by one Sabbath afternoon. Our Sabbaths typically are spent in worship and Bible study at the center. Afterward, we all stick around for food and fellowship. It was in the midst of our meal that Ryan had poked his head in to greet us this particular Saturday afternoon.

At first he refused our offer to feed him, but then gladly accepted after we assured him it was no trouble. He hobbled over and took a seat in one of our donated sofa chairs. While some of us rushed around in the kitchen, others started pleasant conversation with him. We all came back together to resume our meal, and I could see that a smile had started to grow on Ryan’s face as he heard our laughter and happy conversation. Soon he was laughing right along with us. It was good to see that even the small talk gave him peace.

As his visit came to a close and with a bread donation in his hand, he made his way over to the door with me. I prayed with him for his mother’s health. I asked, “Ryan, is there anything else I can help you with?” His answer surprised me. “Yes. Can I have a hug?” I gladly complied. He sincerely thanked me for all we had done for him.

God has shown me that medical missionary work isn’t just about physical health; it involves the whole person. As we say here at Simplicity: “Building communities that are healthy and whole—mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.” How many of us have been discouraged thinking that we cannot help those in need because of our lack of medical knowledge? You don’t have to be a doctor or medical professional to share a smile. We could provide the best health information, but if we do not show love and have the willingness to share our joy of life in Christ with others, then it amounts to nothing, really. As Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV) says: “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”

— Andrew Carroll


Bread and Prayer

Posted by on 12.03.2014 in Testimonies

First there was a box of unexpected bread — well, about four boxes, actually. Then the question, What are we going to do with all this bread? We decided that we’d set up a table outside on the sidewalk that evening and offer the bread to people as they walked home. That evening around 4:30, a woman named Grisel was going to an interview at a restaurant down the street from the Simplicity Outreach Center. By 5 o’clock, she was out the door after the manager wound up refusing her interview. Discouraged and stressed, she was walking toward her home when she came upon our table full of bread. Miriam, one of our Simplicity missionary workers, greeted her and asked if she would like some. Noticing that she looked distressed, Miriam asked if everything was okay.


Grisel said of her experience, “After sharing my story of the rude manager with Miriam, she immediately asked if she could pray with me and then invited me into the center to warm up and talk.”

She said it made a huge impact on her. She and her son had just moved back to Allentown from Florida, and having no coats were not prepared for winter. Miriam was able to give coats and other warm clothes to her. Over the next few weeks Miriam and Grisel struck up a friendship and visited regularly. Grisel said she is a Muslim, but since she really appreciated praying with Miriam, they pray together often and talk about God and faith.
Grisel is also in recovery. She has a story that would be horribly sad if not for her generally upbeat disposition and positive attitude toward life. But having just moved to the area she didn’t have much of a support group around her. Now, whenever she feels like things are getting too much for her, she comes down to Simplicity and she feels at peace when she is there. She knows the whole team now and is comfortable with them and trusts them. She finds herself coming by the center several times a week to help out and just be around friends.

First there were some boxes of bread, then there was a friendship.

Part Two: Ministry

Posted by on 12.03.2014 in Philosophy

“When the cities are worked as God would have them it will be the setting in operation of a mighty movement…” – Ellen White

It has been 2000 years since Christ set the example for ministry and His disciples used it to turn the world on its head. Christ’s method of ministry is radical, and today He is calling His church to follow His example one last time, but do we really understand what that means?

What is ministry? It seems more and more that in practice we see ministry as something that the church does for itself. Men’s ministry, women’s ministry, children’s ministry, singles’ ministry, media ministry, and the list goes on. Most of these things are done primarily for church members. While it is not common, I have heard members speak against the idea of allowing nonmembers to participate in a church ministry. Most people, if asked, would say that they would love to have a visitor from the community join their group or ministry. But do we really want that? If that is our purpose for having ministries in the church, are the ministries being developed with nonmembers in mind?

Created by God

Posted by on 22.02.2014 in Testimonies

Can you remember a time in your life when you did not realize that you were created by a God who loved you? Many of us cannot, for me it is the only thing I ever have known, it has never entered into my mind that I was here due to a random accident. Because of that, initially it was hard for me to accept that here in America that people would not have at least a basic idea of creation even if they weren’t Christian. I think many people would say oh it shouldn’t be surprising that generations are being raised up here in America that have no idea that God exists but when you see it and hear it from a little child the first time it changes your life. Suddenly you are face to face with the reality that millions of people are being raised with no knowledge of a God who loves them. Is it any wonder that suicide and depression are an epidemic in this country? If we are only here by chance then what does it matter if I stop my life short? Why should I have any hope for the future?


This morning in our children’s program we told the kids the story of creation. How God created the world, and the animals, and even them. Time and time again we get to witness these moments when the kids we serve “get it” when suddenly they realize that God is real. Never the less it is always spectacular when they occur. This morning a little girl raised her hand after the story and said “Wait, so I was created by God?”

My mind is struggling to really appreciate the impact that revelation must have on a young mind. I cannot comprehend suddenly realizing for the first time that I was created and loved. I can only imagine the feelings of self worth and comfort that must come with that understanding. God has called us to reveal in word and in action the reality of his love and existence. That is what Simplicity is all about.

God needs men and women who will work in the simplicity of Christ to bring the knowledge of truth before those who need its converting power. But when a precise line is laid down which the workers must follow in their efforts to proclaim the message, a limit is set to the usefulness of a great number of workers.—Letter 404, 1907.