by Dustin Serns, Pastor of the Port Orchard Adventist Church
When Wanda was asked to serve as a virtual Bible worker for the Hope Awakens Online Bible Series, she felt a strong conviction God was calling her to do it. She had never done anything like it before. As a recently retired accountant, she felt far more comfortable working with numbers than people, but she felt God calling her out of her comfort zone to reach out to people. When it came time to call the people on her list, she was nervous. When she came to Star’s name, she thought she recognized it from many years ago. When they connected on the phone, Wanda asked, “Are you the same Star that used to attend the Bremerton Church many years ago?” She was. Then Star recognized Wanda as well.
Star joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church by profession of faith in 1996. After several years, she became disconnected from the church. Although she still believed in the Sabbath, she was spiritually drifting and isolated. When the COVID-19 pandemic came, she sensed a call from God to get more serious about her faith. She found the Hope Awakens series online and began watching. Then she got the phone call from Wanda.
Star and Wanda immediately became friends. Wanda invited Star to attend the worship gathering at Port Orchard Seventh-day Adventist Church when it reopened. Star came and found a few others she knew from before as well.
At her baptism celebration, Wanda and Star shared how God had led them together in a powerful way. God had reignited a fire in Star’s life for Him. After years of being disconnected, Star had found a church family again.
Dylan first connected with the Port Orchard Seventh-day Adventist Church when he and his wife Helen had their new baby daughter dedicated. Helen had grown up Seventh-day Adventist in Kenya before moving to Washington several years ago and wanted to pass on her faith to her daughter. Dylan began attending worship gatherings with Helen and his daughter Leila, with no intention of joining the church. Although Dylan had little connection with any church growing up, he had been taught about God at home. For the past several years, Dylan had been struggling spiritually and now felt God was calling him back. When the church hosted a weekend seminar called Final Empire, Dylan came and started going deeper. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Everything shut down. When Port Orchard Church participated in a national online series by It Is Written called Hope Awakens, Dylan received a personal invitation and began watching the series.
One of the virtual Bible workers on the team at Port Orchard was Tatum. Tatum had recently finished studying engineering at Walla Walla University and had gotten a job at the Naval Shipyard in Bremerton. After their first visit to the church, the pastor took Tatum and his wife out to eat and discovered their heart for ministry. A few weeks later, when the pandemic hit, Tatum accepted an invitation to serve on the Hope Awakens team. As an introvert, he was nervous about reaching out to people he didn’t know, but prayed for strength and courage. When it came time to call the people on his list to see how they were connecting with the presentations, one of the first people he called was Dylan. They had a great conversation. As they continued connecting over the course of the seminar. Tatum and Dylan became friends. The Holy Spirit was working in Dylan’s life, and Dylan wanted to give his heart to Christ in baptism. Dylan wanted to overcome his addictions to alcohol and smoking before his celebration of new life, but he wasn’t sure if he could. He had tried to quit before but had fallen back into them. Tatum and the pastor encouraged Dylan. They prayed for him. Dylan claimed victory through Jesus’ promises. He began doing some practical things to fight against temptation through his lifestyle. Tatum committed to calling Dylan every day to check in and pray with him as he worked to overcome the addictions. It was a powerful experience for both of them as Jesus gave the victory.
At Dylan’s baptism a couple weeks later, both Dylan and Tatum shared powerful testimonies about how God had been working to bring victory and transformation. Both lives have been changed, and they continue a spiritual mentorship that will help both of them continue growing with Jesus.