We often speak in reference to the testimony of so many who have found their way to Christ through the ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I am most inspired and motivated when I hear the personal experiences of so many people’s journeys from former lives without Christ into a new life with Christ. Some of the most riveting and effective sermons are over-arched and under-girded by a personal testimony of discovering a meaningful relationship with Jesus for the first time. The experience of participating in a public evangelistic initiative provides an up-close-and-personal observation of the light bulb of true deliverance from darkness blinking on in the countenances of so many people. I can personally attest to the reality that there is nothing in this world more gratifying to me than seeing men, women, and younger people taking a victory walk down the aisle of an auditorium or other venue for Jesus.
In Athens, Georgia, during the month of January 2019, the experience of seeing 92 people accept Jesus Christ and join the Seventh-day Adventist Church through baptism was a miracle. The more meaningful dimension of this evangelistic initiative was the group of dedicated members and Bible workers who intentionally shared their personal testimonies with men and women in the Athens community where the University of Georgia is located. A battery of university students, community residents, and Adventist church members attended the “System for Survival” community initiative for three consecutive weeks of nightly meetings (except Tuesdays and Thursdays) at the Mount Olive Church in Athens. More significant than the nightly meetings was the daily “System for Survival Evangelism Field School,” also conducted on the premises of Mount Olive by the Southern Union officer group.
Amidst the myriad of evangelistic modalities afoot in our World Church and North American Church, we, during the daily two-hour field school emphasized, “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people,” Ministry of Healing, 143. More specifically, we sought to unpack this in our morning orientation meetings:
Jesus went where people were.
Wherever Jesus was, He sustained focus on eternal things.
The work of Jesus was mostly on a one-to-one basis.
Jesus spoke words of sympathy and kindness and encouragement, sharing people’s burdens.
Jesus passed by no human being as worthless or hopeless.
Jesus taught that all had talents to be used to God’s glory.
Jesus ministered to the poor and rich alike.
The humility and gentleness of Jesus’ use of power won hearts.
Jesus was adept at understanding social issues and was relational.
We enjoyed a substantive and meaningfully relevant orientation daily, followed by a delightful meal, before hitting the field of labor — the surrounding community of students, residents, and other people who had expressed an interest — for souls.
We sensed the most important element of our ministry to community people and other interested individuals was the construction and development of our personal testimonies. Each of us wrote, rehearsed, and prayed over our personal testimony before sharing it with the group. We followed this brief outline:
My life before I found Christ: What was it like? Lonely, guilt-ridden…
How I found Christ: Tell how it happened.
My life since I found Christ: Tell of the change.
The delivery of our two- to three-minute personal testimonies in Athens gave us the opportunity to allow our cheerful and encouraging words to show that we have certainly found the higher way.
I wish I possessed the tongue of many angels to convince you of the joys of public evangelism, and to invite you to experience the thrill of a lifetime by participating in or conducting a reaping meeting during 2019. Do not worry about the numbers, but go for the spiritual exercise of calling people to Jesus and Church membership through baptism.
Southern Union | April 2019