You know the picture well I am sure. A young pastor has met with the evangelism committee and plans have been made for the upcoming series. The proposal for funds is submitted to the conference, color press has been contacted, the proof for the handbill has been approved. The young pastor’s face is now in all of the 30,000 plus mail boxes across the county and now we wait.Well wait…not really for me. A lot of this setting does follow the pattern that we followed as I preached my first evangelistic series just a few weeks ago, but there wasn’t really any waiting involved. We made the decision at Pleasant Valley Church to do a follow up series to the Revelation Speaks Peace series with Shawn Boonstra here in Portland, OR. We wanted the people in our area, who had been to the meetings to have a chance to hear the messages again and gather the valuable biblical information that they had missed the first time around. These meetings were just one of the many ways that we were doing follow-up for the big meetings. There was a bible marking class, financial peace university, footsteps to Paul, and other small groups and studies available. We also wanted to make this series an opportunity for the community to come, to a series that was a little closer for them then the convention center down town. We sent out letters to our interests from the Boonstra meetings, made phone calls, and send out over 30,000 handbills into the community. Meanwhile, I was planning and running a mission trip here in the Portland area a week before the meetings. So as you can see there was no waiting going on, instead much preparation and planning.
I decided to use the Share Him resources for the messages, since I had never presented the full Adventist message before. I rehearsed the sermons. I took Thursday before the meetings as a spiritual retreat to go over the messages and prepare my heart with God before the meetings began, a great experience by the way I highly recommend it. And the series began with 30 people in attendance. OK so that’s 0.1% of the flyers that we sent out, but 12 people in that first weekend were non-adventist and they were coming. It was good it was exciting.
I was presented two topics a night. I would arrive at 5:00pm and rehearse the messages and then at 7:00pm we would start promptly on time with announcements, giveaways, then strait into the messages with a special music in between and at the end. It was a great format and it ran smoothly. I used my field school training and when some of the folks that came on Friday didn’t show up on Saturday night I gave them a call and most of them, plus some other’s showed up on Sunday night. We even had a couple from the Baptist church coming solid right on through until I presented the Sabbath and then they disappeared not to be heard from again even with my efforts to contact them.
The momentum slowed as the week went on. The crowd of 30 dropped to 20 then 15 then 10 then 5 and by the final night there was one man there besides dedicated helpers.
So I approached the front of the church and began the meeting at 7:00pm sharp. Half way through the message a family walked into the church. A mother and her three teenage sons, at the end of the first message, which was the mark of the beast, the boys came out and began to pepper me with questions. These students were so interested to know what the Bible said about this and about that, the same at the end of the second presentation. I spent a good 30 minutes answering the questions of these teens, which as many of you know is a pretty long conversation with a teenage boy.
So I came to the end of the series with many new contacts for the church and interests to follow-up with, a Bible study requested and being given now by a couple of elders in our church, and a reaffirmation of my call to youth ministry.
I continue to desire to do another series targeted at high school students, on their turf – a high school auditorium, in their language – comic art, with their peers sharing this message with them. There are questions that our students are asking, that we as an Adventist church have studied ourselves and found some answers to in the pages of the Bible. We have a message to take to future generations. I also recognized that I actually had presented the full Adventist message before, in the many baptismal classes that I have taught at our schools. Just as these Adventist students had questions, so do the rest of our students and every time we prepare a student for baptism, every time I teach a baptismal class to 40 students at Portland Adventist Elementary School I am preaching another series.
I received the decision of one man for rebaptism, yes the one man that was there for the beginning of the last meeting. He told me that God had been drawing him back and these meetings were the next step for him to say yes to God. If Christ would have died for only Eve, which I believe he would have, then I would send out all the flyers and preach all 20 of the sermons all over again for one man to give his life to Christ.
The truth is it wasn’t only one man who was touched, there were at least two of us. Because the sharing of this message it an assurance and a confirmation for me as a young minister that there is a good news that the Bible has to share. As we seek not only the truth that lies in these pages, but the person of Jesus Christ that these scriptures testify of we are drawn to him ourselves even as we share.
I claim the promise that God’s word will not return to him void and pray that there are others who maybe only came one night, but they will respond even to what they heard in that one night. May the gospel presented here on that one night ring on through the life of those who heard it, including my own.