Stan Hudson is a man on a mission — and it’s not sitting at a desk. You’ll frequently find him at a local church for a weekend seminar or presenting a week of prayer at an elementary school or academy in the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC), based in Ridgefield, Washington, United States. It’s a role he’s passionate about as director of the new regional Creation Study Center. For him, origins matter. The question of where we came from connects directly to the question of where we're going.
It’s not where he would have envisioned himself in his early 20s. And it’s not where he’d be, if it hadn’t been for his co-worker and friend, appropriately named David Friend.
“David’s the biggest single reason I am a Christian,” says Stan.
They’d become friends at Lynwood Academy in Southern California. Stan loved science, David preferred to dabble in art. But after their high school years, both of them floundered. One evening, while Stan and David were hanging out, a sense of their dead-end journey hit hard. David suddenly exclaimed, “Let’s see if we can find God.” It was not the normal line of conversation for two young men with no eternal purpose in life. But something suddenly clicked.
A moment later, Stan prayed his first prayer in years: “Lord, it looks like we’re trying to find You. Can You help us? Amen.”
That simple prayer was answered. With a renewed purpose, Stan went to school, and he eventually became a minister, pastoring churches in northwest United States.
As a boy, Stan had always loved earth sciences and rockhounding adventures. That passion led to a radio program that he and John Kurlinski continue to produce for LifeTalk Radio, called Sink the Beagle, an obvious allusion to Charles Darwin’s fabled ship. In 2007, he co-produced a series for Hope Channel called In the Beginning. That material was adapted for a weeklong origins seminar by the same name he presented in Moscow, Idaho, United States near the University of Idaho. More than 200 people, some of them university personnel and students, attended all seven nights. It was recorded on video and can still be seen replayed on the 3ABN television network.
So when Max Torkelsen, then NPUC president, called in 2015 to propose a new full-time role establishing a new creation study focus for the region, Stan was ready and willing. “As I recall,” he says with a smile, “my response was, ‘well, let me pray about this — OK!’”
He was handed an empty room at the NPUC office. After considering the blank walls, Stan thought once again of his friend, David, who had recently decided to pick his artist brushes back up and become proficient at painting. When Stan called him up and said, “Have I got a project for you!” David was eager to start.
“Stan and I knelt down and prayed over the project on day one,” says David. “And each day, each time I started on another portion of the work, I prayed that God would guide my hand.” David finished two large murals for the Creation Study Center—one of Mount St. Helens erupting and another of a large dinosaur being overwhelmed by the flood.
“I cannot imagine anything better than what David has done,” says Stan.
So there are already miracles associated with this new creation emphasis. Stan’s connection with a former academy friend who was willing and able to drop everything and spend weeks painting murals. That’s one.
Here’s another. To find an affordable large dinosaur bone in good condition is rare. Stan found a 5-foot femur bone from a camarasaurus—the one represented by David’s mural in the study center—and was able to have it shipped at no extra cost across the continent. But to mount and display such an object weighing hundreds of pounds created a challenge. Stan was directed to a world-class bone expert who had done mountings for museums around the globe and just happened to live and work a few miles down the road from the NPUC office. The expert was further intrigued by the project since he attended Adventist schools as a child—another miraculous blessing.
Indeed, Stan’s mission with the Creation Study Center is embedded with the miracles in his own life that have led him to this role — the culmination of a lifelong passion about Scripture and science. It’s centered on his love for the Creator and His creation.
The study of origins, Stan believes, is central to an Adventist understanding of the Three Angels’ Messages. Messages like “worship him who made heaven and earth” and “the hour of his judgment is come” are words meant to be taken as seriously as any God has given. We are to take seriously the God who created and who judges. It’s central to how big God is. We too often assume things about God without truly knowing Him or His ways.
Anything is possible when the Creator is allowed to work.
“That’s what I hope we can help accomplish with our creation study efforts,” says Stan. “We don’t have all the answers, but we hope to inspire our members to dig a bit deeper about how and why they believe in a Creator God. I love scientists who are willing to say ‘we don’t know everything.’ It doesn’t matter if you’re a creationist or a secular scientist—if you claim to know everything, you are most certainly underestimating the complexity of what you claim.
Jim Gibson, Geoscience Research Institute director in Loma Linda, California, is famous for comparing that thought as a creationist to those of evolutionists. ‘As a trained scientist,’ he says, ‘I can live with unanswered questions. I can just live with ours better than theirs.’”
But realizing some things are beyond current understanding is no excuse for settling for false data. Adventist members often struggle with finding solid material about creation. Plenty of bad information with radical or sensational “alternative facts” freely circulates that presents Christians or Adventists as ill-informed on evidence or science. Even among thoughtful Adventists, there are differing perspectives on the creation story. The NPUC Creation Study Center, along with Stan Hudson’s efforts with churches and schools, aims to help add credible information to the menu so members can confidently study the issues for themselves.
The study center, located at the NPUC headquarters, is now open for arranged visits by school and church groups. There’s plenty for young and old, with graphic murals and fascinating hands-on exhibits, including a large cutaway concept HO-scale (model railroad size) model of Noah’s ark. Younger children will especially enjoy a chance to search for real fossils they can keep. Associated with the center, a very helpful resource library includes journals, books, DVDs and other materials on issues involving origins.
Origins do matter. Scripture says, “In the beginning God created … .” Anything is possible when the Creator is allowed to work, a core thought to Stan's favorite Bible verse from Jeremiah 32:27. “Behold! I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for Me?”
A longer version of this story appeared in the April 2017 issue of the North Pacific Union Conference Gleaner.