December 1, 2020

Call Me Servant

Someone asked, "Steve, what are your hopes and dreams for the future?"

Stephen Chavez

One September morning in 1993 I came home from my run and my wife, Linda, said, “Someone named Manny Vasquez called from the NAD. He wants you to call him.”

I knew Vasquez when we were both members of the Pacific Union Conference executive committee, but I had no idea why he wanted to talk to me.

Long story short, there was an opening at Adventist Review. I had been published a few times in the Pacific Union Recorder, and Vasquez had pushed my name forward as a candidate for assistant editor. Within a few days I traveled from Reno, Nevada, to the General Conference in Silver Spring, Maryland, to interview. The rest, as they say, is history.

I’ll never forget walking into the General Conference building for the first time and meeting William Johnsson, editor (one of my former seminary professors), and associate editors Roy Adams and Myron Widmer (a seminary classmate). In the department’s conference room we chatted about this and that. Then someone asked, “Steve, what are your hopes and dreams for the future?”

Someone asked, “Steve, what are your hopes and dreams for the future?”

At the time I was lead pastor of the Adventist church in Reno, one of the two largest congregations in the conference. I had been there about two years and was just beginning to “hit my stride.” What are my hopes and dreams?

After a moment I said, “I’m a servant. I know that God can use me in pastoral ministry—He already has. If you think I can do something useful for God’s kingdom here, I’m willing to give it a try. (I had no experience as an editor.) I intend to serve God, whether here or in Reno.”

Later, over lunch in the building’s cafeteria, Johnsson said, “You better start planning your first editorial.”

My wife and kids weren’t crazy about moving across country and starting over where we didn’t have that many friends and contacts. I promised them that we’d stay at least four years, so our kids could get through high school in one place. That was 27 years ago.

By the time you read this I’ll have started another chapter in my life. For the first time in 45 years I won’t have a title next to my name. Many of the contacts I’ve cultivated during the past quarter century will be of little value. Thanks to the pandemic, the volunteer activities I’ve participated in over the years have dried up (except those on Zoom).

But I expect I’ll find plenty to do. As I read the Bible, I see that not many of the heroes in God’s Hall of Faith (Heb. 11) set out to change the world. More than one—Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Jeremiah, Jonah, Daniel, Paul—had to be “persuaded” by situations and circumstances beyond their control. Yet they each found themselves in situations in which God used their particular talents and gifts.

So when I hear a voice asking, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

I expect to respond like Isaiah: “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8).

It’s what servants do.

Stephen Chavez is an assistant editor of Adventist Review.