This year we held an evangelistic series that taught our church an important lesson, the fact that we never know the impact and influence our choices make to those around us.
Two brothers began attending our church
for several months and had decided to take their next step and get baptized in
this series. As they were getting up to get prepared for baptisms, they walked
down the hall and saw a friend who was visiting our church for the first time.
His name is Carlos. Carlos was going through some rough moments in his life and
was looking for God that day. He recognized these two brothers and was
surprised to see them in blue robes getting ready to take an important step.
He saw something different in them. Last time they saw each other they were under the influence of alcohol. But now they were sober and had accepted Jesus as their personal Savior. Their faces reflected peace, joy, and happiness. He was touched by these brother’s testimony so much that he too decided to receive Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit through baptism that day. God surprises us every time. He is good all the time. They are currently being equipped and trained to become servant leaders.
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The road to giving my life to Christ was not exactly easy as some may think. Big and hard choices had to be made in my life first.
In the year 2012, do l retire? Do I continue with my teaching career of thirty-two years? Do I take care of my husband after his neck surgery? Do I continue taking care of my mother, who is showing signs of dementia? How do I finish my remodeling project? These questions are eating at me.
It became too much to handle. I finally hit rock bottom and felt beyond broken. I was physically and emotionally drained.
While driving from one place to another, I kept hearing “Go to a sanctuary and talk with someone.” In 2017, my husband visited the Seventh-day Adventist Church down the road from our house. He found solace there. One year later, he was baptized.
On July of 2018, I lost my mother. My father and a sister are both gone. I started to visit the church on and off. I kept hearing “Visit the sanctuary.” That’s where I met Pastor David Morgan and the family of the Selah Seventh-day Adventist Church. They welcomed me with open arms and lots of hugs. They have become very good friends. Their friendship helped me with my losses, troubles and gave to me time to heal.
On May 4, 2019, I was baptized. God has lightened my load of burdens. I’m active in the church, helping with the community services. I am now a member of the family of God!
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I was privileged to share the three angels’ messages in the Tacoma community at four different locations. Our budget was around $10,000. I have heard recently that people no longer come to meetings from brochures. Well opening night in the four different locations we were blessed to have around 35 pre-Adventist come to the meetings. Five of those who attended had either Master of divinity degrees or masters degrees in theology. After the 10-week seminar, almost all these people went through the entire series of meetings on the book of Daniel.
As follow up to this prophecy seminar, we invited Brian McMahon to be a part of the reaping process. Opening night, we again had approximately 35 pre-Adventist. 15 to 19 came directly or indirectly from the prophecy classes that I had been teaching. So far, we had 7 become part of God’s last day church and we have 10 “A” interests that will be baptized in the very near future. We also have formed 3 small groups for continued studies with these interests.
We have another person who attended my Seminar who now is studying with 10 different people using the prophecy series that I had been using. Out of this group, 30 to 35 are now starting to keep the Sabbath. We are hoping this will be a part of our new church plant in the very near future.
Everyone who gives their life to Christ has a story and I would like to share a very quick story from one who attended Brian McMahon’s series. His name is Mo. He is an overnight truck driver. One evening around midnight he was in western Washington channel surfing and came across a radio broadcast on 3ABN. He was so impressed with the program that he listened night after night. He could not believe what he was hearing so he shared it with his mother. The mother was so impressed that she decided to call about the speaker, Brian McMahon. Brian told Mo’s mother that he was coming to Tacoma to do a live series in the spring. They both looked at this as providential and God’s leading. In May, both Mo and his mother are now part of God’s worldwide church family.
Don’t let anybody tell you public evangelism doesn’t work!
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Two more churches to check out and I am done searching. That was my feeling toward churches until, a cheerful woman rang my doorbell. She had a wonderful smile and shared Amazing Facts Bible Study guides with me. I had no intentions of reading them until I saw the questions on the back. I became interested in them and looked forward to her returning and getting the next lesson. One day she did not return. I thought, “What did I do to keep her away?”
I did not have any interest in attending another church. I did have a different interest in one church that was across the street. It was down the hill behind my house and I could watch from my porch what was happening there. I would watch them arrive every Saturday all dressed up to worship and would wonder, “What are those crazy people doing going to church every Saturday? Don’t they know that you’re supposed to go to church on Sunday?” Why do those people attend church on Saturdays and not Sundays? What’s wrong with them? Each Saturday I would watch these people attend church and wonder why?
One day I needed help putting together a gazebo. I decided to ask for help from the members of that church. I found out the name of the church was Selah Seventh-day Adventist Church. I decided to go to the church and walk in and I met Pastor David Morgan. I was expecting to meet an over-weight, pushy, non-caring and womanizing person. I was wrong. He gave me an overview and tour of the church. To my surprise, there was the woman who used to come to my door and drop off those lessons. It was the Pastor’s wife – Annie Morgan. My shaking knees were no longer shaking and I started to feel better.
A few days later, Pastor David Morgan and a few members came to my house ready to work. Pastor prayed and we worked together to install the gazebo. They were as one, treating me as family, even though they did not know me. We had a great time. I decided to attend their church to see why they were as one. They were friendly, caring, and helpful. The Pastor encouraged us to read from our Bibles and not take his word. He read from the Bible often. I have been waiting for this type of message rather than others who do not use the Bible. One Sabbath I approached the head elder and asked what it took to be baptized and become a member of this church. Pastor Morgan studied with me until I was baptized. My question about the Sabbath was solved. I now serve as a greeter and in the Selah Adventist Community Services ministry. Now my wife, Guadalupe, is preparing to be baptized.
God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ Romans 5:20-21
Modern evangelistic efforts come with a new set of opportunities, but also a new set of challenges. Today, people are not as familiar with Biblical themes and stories as they have in times past. Biblical illiteracy is on the rise, and regardless if people attend church or listen to sermons, the practice of studying Scripture is largely underdeveloped in most believers. The challenge is, presenting messages with heavy theological themes makes it difficult to creatively set the context for some topics that require a much more comprehensive understanding of the Bible.
However, this new reality is also creating new opportunities that are exciting. Little to no biblical knowledge gifts learners with the beauty of starting from scratch, often without many of the harmful preconceived interpretations that can create barriers to growing faith. The opportunity to approach Scripture from a “childlike” posture, leaves the reader more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in revealing what is necessary and every foundation to the Christian faith. We have found this year that we are attracting a growing demographic of new believers which are changing the way we reach our community. We are embracing what is new with hopeful anticipation of making new disciples in Christ.
Living Free was the title of the series we chose to offer, and it was all about finding freedom through God sent relationships. This topic proved to be a powerful evangelistic tool in that it was so practical, it was able to translate well in all major issues of life. In this series, we explored the idea of freedom of being what God wants for us and how he uses people to do it. Instead of focusing on what tends to have us bound, we focused on seeing the help God has constantly offered us, even in our darkest moments.
This approach allowed us to connect the mission of Christ with the mission of the church in the incarnational method God uses to send salvation through people. Overall, we found these topics to hit home for many people, which raised awareness of people needing people to get through hard times, which voiced the need for having a family (church) to journey with.
One younger member of our church had been off and on with God for about two years before eventually he started attending more frequently, about three months before our series begun. He had just started a new relationship with someone who had no religious background, but he invited her to church. It was clear that she had no idea what was happening and, for the most part, was just there because she had been invited. But then, something amazing happened.
Our people embraced them, and loved them, and began to become friends. The real shocker was the first day they came to church by themselves. We were all amazed and grateful to God. After a few months, they began to help with the social media team, and I began to notice our posts getting better and receiving more traffic. One post I will never forget, was when I read the caption, “Saturdays are for second chances!” I was moved with joy and praise because I know who had created this post and I knew their faith was growing.
The only thing I didn’t know was how. No one was studying the Bible with them and they were only coming to church. I couldn’t figure it out. Finally, overwhelmed with curiosity, I had to ask, and their answer was shocking. In order to recap the message to create a social media post, they were listening to the message over and over again to find something to write. They were also paying close attention to the service and going back to read what Scripture was given. The day of their baptism, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Everyone knew that in some small way, they played a part in leading someone to Christ, and if we give God space, he can do amazing things.
We’ve decided as a leadership team to let grace be in charge, as referenced in the Scripture above. Christ needs to be the leader, both in our personal lives and in our church community. As we submit to his leading, we are praying that stories like this will become commonplace.
For most of my life, there
was an underlying darkness that seemed to accompany me. I grew up in an
environment where it did not matter what you felt like on the inside, as
long as the outside was put together. This way of handling “stuff”
nearly cost me my life.
It was the beginning of October in 2001. I
had entered my last year of college in Texas. Two and a half years
earlier, I had gotten out of the Army to pursue a degree in Theology. I
had a supportive loving wife of ten years, three school aged children, a
house that had squirrels in the attic, a full course load, and a
marriage that was falling to pieces right in front of my face.
This particular season had been really tough on our relationship because like most men, I have a propensity Continue Reading…
Carrol lived in the Spokane area most of her life. She decided to move to the Walla Walla Valley and a friend invited her to church. At that point she was looking for something enduring in her life. Even though she grew up in the small town of Spangle, near an Adventist Academy and Church, she had very little interaction with Christianity. When Pastor Troy Fitzgerald heard about Carrol’s desire to learn and to follow God, he started studies and invited her to Sabbath class at the University Church. Every appointment and every experience at church deepened her love for Christ. Her commitment to health and peace in her life has grown and she is ready to testify about Christ’s saving power. She was baptized in the pool in her community with neighbors there watching scene.
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by Marella Rudebaugh, Administrative Assistant in Ministerial, Creation Ministries, Native Ministries, and Evangelism for the North Pacific Union Conference
My husband, Mark, was seven years old when he was molested, but not by the type of person the world has come to expect. Not by a priest or a coach or a father or an uncle….by his seven year old friend. Mark’s friend came to his house for a sleep over and they camped alone in a tent in his back yard. It was then that his friend suggested experimenting. That one experience led to several more with the same boy over the months which led to a lifelong sexual addiction.
When Mark reached the age of 13, he discovered pornography in a magazine at a friend’s house and realized that a sexual experience between a man and a woman (he hadn’t been taught what sex really was) looked much more appealing and his addiction to pornography and self pleasuring began.
Fast forward 12 years and he meets me, his future wife, who had a part in leading him, once again, to Christ. We were married and then he was rebaptized a few years later, all the while hiding his addiction from me. He wanted to lead a life for Christ, but didn’t know how to break the cycle. He didn’t know where to turn for help. The church body doesn’t really talk about this type of problem and there’s so much disgust and shaming involved that makes it very difficult to even broach the subject with anyone. When his problem was finally discovered, he was very remorseful and ashamed. He saw the hurt it caused in me and I began to feel as if I wasn’t good enough to keep his attention.
Over the next 10 years, the cycles became pretty consistent. Mark would make an effort to change, then I would find some reason to doubt (perhaps an image on his phone or a behavior) and the same conversation would ensue; deeply hurt, I would cry and ask him why he couldn’t just stop. He would apologize and promise to do better. On and on this went.
Then something changed. We both became fed up with the cycle and I found an inexpensive internet filter ($55 per year or $44 with coupon discount code QUST20) and put it on every device we had, with me being the only one with the passwords. This helped for a while. He suddenly lost access to pornography. Problem solved! Well, no. He still had problems with his fantasy world of imagination and self pleasuring. I started looking up resources (sadly there did not seem to be much out there if you were on a limited budget) and discovered the Recovered Man and Pornfree Radio. This website became a tremendous help to both of us. We both started listening to the podcasts by Matt Dobschuetz which allowed me to better understand what he was going through and why he couldn’t just stop. It also gave Mark practical tips on how to make changes. It helped him to know that he wasn’t the only one struggling with sinful behavior, I had a problem with being critical. We began to check in with each other every Friday to discuss the struggles each of us had the previous week.
It wasn’t until Mark opened up and became very honest with me that God really started changing him. He started reading his Bible everyday and praying that God would allow him to focus his attention and energy on me, rather than his fantasy world.
By me making the effort to understand what he was going through and him being very honest with his struggles, we began to feel closer to each other than we ever felt possible. The weekly talks have drawn us together. My attempts to understand made him want to be better, want to do more things for me, which led me to want to better meet his needs. Time with me became much more meaningful than his fantasy, which made him not want to enter that world anymore.
Mark is still tempted, but the pull is not as strong as it once was and the moment he feels that temptation, he calls me. He’s experienced sobriety from his sexual addiction for about a year now and although that doesn’t seem like very long, after 36 years of extremely harmful sexual habits, we’re both praising God for the progress God has made in him.
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The evangelistic series was outstanding in almost every way. From the very beginning, the Valley View Seventh-day Adventist Church (located in East Wenatchee, Washington) came together in a beautiful unified spirit. Virtually everyone was excited and inspired to be able to share the good news of Jesus to our community.
The leadership of the church really rallied together and we began planning almost a year in advance—planning for outreach events, planning every detail of the evangelistic campaign—along with our Evangelism Committee. The leadership of our Evangelism Committee did an outstanding job in the finalization of all details, ordering resources, planning the children’s programing and all internet and media advertising.
The attendance of the church family was strong each night, averaging between 100 and 120 each night. We sent out 43,000 invitational brochures, and on opening night, 64 non-Adventists came to the meeting. Attendance for the non-members continued in the 54-60 range.
One of the families attending had previously visited our church and they were very excited about the meetings that were starting. There was, however, a major conflict because they were highly addicted to tobacco. The family members expressed the belief that they would certainly never be able to stop after smoking for 46 years with multiple failed attempts to quit the addiction.
Happily, during the evangelistic campaign, Pastor Korter did a stop-smoking training with this family. By God’s grace, they quit cold turkey, remained smoke-free until baptism, and praise God that His victory is still theirs. Similarly, another man was victorious who had smoked for years and years. He, too, did not believe he could quit smoking—especially due to the home atmosphere from his wife’s smoking habits. However, the pastor did a stop-smoking training with him. By God’s grace, he too quit cold turkey and remains smoke-free to this day. This man had previous baptisms into the Pentecostal church, the Methodist Church, a Nondenominational Church and even the Mormon Church because of his search for the truth. Now be was baptized into the Adventist Church and is thrilled to discover truth as it is found in Jesus Christ. The man’s wife has become interested in learning more about Jesus and is attending along with him. Evangelism still works!
Growing up, I had always belonged to a church family. Summer camp, pathfinders, SDA schools through high school. It was always easy to find friends with the same/similar beliefs. Not anymore. Only recently have I started to connect on a Christian level with a few of my friends.
Years ago, I moved back to Seattle from Spokane, and I never felt comfortable finding a new church. Especially because I’d be doing it on my own. I had saved the contact info from all the churches in the area in my phone, intending to visit them, but never did. I also went through quite a few life changing things (marriage/divorce/moving across the country twice, etc.), that made me question my relationship with God. I still had love for Him, but nothing felt right. Time passed so quickly, and before I knew it, I hadn’t been going to church for 12 years.
It took a breakup from my first official boyfriend since my last divorce, that made me finally realize that I had really lost myself and needed to make a change. I wanted a church.
I still had no desire to visit churches to find the right one. The whole idea of that gave me anxiety. So, I decided to use technology to my advantage. I checked online for all those churches that I had saved years before. A lot of them had links to sermons on YouTube. I watched a few, but nothing was getting me excited. Then finally, a sermon from a pastor from Volunteer Park Seventh-day Adventist Church (VCP) in Seattle impressed me. It was interesting. It was relevant.
So I decided to check out VPC. It was a big church with a small congregation. I could get in on the ground floor. Be a part of the establishment of this church. Everyone was kind, the sermon was great, and the music incredible. I then met Elton, who’s eyes lit up when he found out I could sing. I joined the praise team and was able to feel that powerful feeling of worship through music that I hadn’t felt since I graduated from Upper Columbia Academy.
My position at the church eventually grew into me becoming and elder… What?! It was really just the elder that made the church look pretty though… basically VPC’s own interior designer.
Shortly after I became an elder, I made a difficult decision and took a new job in New York City. So I moved across the country. A church was recommended to me, but ugh. A new congregation. Again. I forced myself to go. The music was great, the sermon was decent, but it was well established. I did not feel as welcome there as I did at VPC. the only people who said hello to me are the greeters. And it’s not like I hid in the back. I sat in the middle pew, in the dead center. I went a handful of times for almost a year. Tried to connect to their multiple social groups, but my schedule never permitted.
A year later, I decided to move back home to Seattle. I went straight to VPC. So happy to be home. But just a few Sabbath’s ago, I found out my pastor was leaving. I was actually in tears about it. I was excited about church again because of his sermons and how he had grown our church community. How was this going to affect me? Then I remembered, it wasn’t just him. We have an amazing congregation who are hungry to continue the vision for VPC. I’m scared but excited to see what is in store for us.
I struggle every day with what my relationship with God should be. With what kind of Christian I should be. What kind of woman I should be. Honesty, it’s never-ending. But I do my best, or at least I try to. I just need to remember that I’m not doing it alone.
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