by César De León Ph.D LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference
Last Sabbath, my wife and I concluded a very exciting series of evangelistic meetings. These meetings did not take place in one church only, they took place in 11 churches over a period of 9 days. The event was called Caravana, just like the caravans of camels in the desert where one camel follows another. During our spiritual caravans, 1 church celebrated 1 night of evangelistic meetings filled with music, food and baptisms. This event was followed by another just like it in a different church and repeated for 9 days. It’s like a spiritual fiesta, where the church makes banquet-like dinner preparations with the idea of ending that special night with baptisms.
Our theme was grounded in the words of 1 John 3:8; “For this purpose was the son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” We addressed the fact that every one of us has a story, growing up within our family systems formed us or destroyed us. We first experienced ourselves within the eyes of our caretakers. The first experiences of love and acceptance came from the person that provided physical and emotional nourishment. Satan is fully aware that brain development takes place at enormous steps during the first years of life. A baby’s brain grows three times within the first 2 years of life, from 33 grams to 999 grams. By the time we are 3, we have formed 88% of our synaptic connections. Scientist say that we are most impressionable in our first 3 years of life. The enemy moves swiftly and smartly to disrupt our emotional, mental and spiritual development during these vulnerable years. By the time we are teenagers, we have developed strong mental, emotional and spiritual values. In the mental health area, some diagnoses are officially given at the age of 16. At this age, patterns of functioning and thinking have already hardened and are more difficult to change.
Paul proclaims in the New Testament manuscripts: “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the Salvation of everyone who believes . . .” (Romans 1:16 NIV.) When the gospel is assimilated and the person experiences the full impact of the redeeming love of God, they are made new. This is not a case where the person receives a make-over, or where the heart receives a tune up or the thought process is redirected and retrained through seminars and books. This is a case where the person is made new. New orientation, new philosophy, new interests, new vocabulary, new behaviors, new passion for spiritual things.
Night after night, as my wife preached the first part of the message and I concluded, we presented an invitation for people to receive this gift of life. One evening I was asked, “The Bible said that ‘Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come to give you abundant life.’ What is this abundant life? I don’t think I have experienced it.” I told him that the abundant life refers to those things that only Jesus can give, such as love, peace and joy. I asked him, where do you go when you don’t have these three gifts? Can you go to Nordstrom’s, or Macys or Target? Can you travel through Europe or Asia to acquire them? You can have everything that all the stores in the world offer, but you can’t ever have Love, Peace and Joy, unless they are giving to you from above. Ellen Write once wrote; “There are homes for the pilgrims of earth. There are robes for the righteousness, with crowns of glory and palms of victory. All that has perplexed us in the providences of God will, in the world to come, be made plain. The things hard to be understood will then find explanations. The mysteries of grace will unfold before us. Where our finite minds discovered only confusion and broken promises, we shall see the most perfect and beautiful harmony. We shall know that infinite love ordered the experiences that seemed most trying. As we realized the tender care of Him who makes all things work together for our good, we shall rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” White, T9, 286.
What good news we have!!! Those things that have troubled us a lifetime will receive explanations. The moments in our lives where we have faced confusion and darkness will someday be placed within the divine context and we will see a beautiful harmony of human experiences. We will understand that the most trying moments in our lives, had been ordered by a divine and invisible hand to bring us blessings.
We finished our visit to eleven churches with almost one-hundred baptisms. Churches, members and pastors worked and rejoiced in the harvest yield by the works of the Spirit. We praise the Lord for the opportunity to remind people that “the Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Yes indeed, at the end Jesus wins and the enemy loses!