(An abbreviated form of this article is the Evangelism & Sabbath School Report to the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Mid-term Constituency in May 2021.)
Jesus is transforming people’s lives all over Texas, but how do you baptize them during a pandemic?
Verna was cutting a young man’s hair in the salon where she worked when they started talking about Jesus and the Bible. At the end of the conversation the young man, Pastor Jacob Serns, asked if she would like Bible studies and she agreed. As she learned Bible truths she put them into practice. Then she went through a testing time when her boss fired her for not working on the Sabbath any more. But she was determined to follow Jesus in every part of her life, including keeping His Sabbath holy. In August 2020, Pastor Jacob baptized her in the back of a pick up truck because there was no baptistry in the church the newly planted Benbrook Seventh-day Adventist church was renting.
The Lerma family had been receiving Bible studies from Pastor Marlon Wallace ever since they attended a public evangelistic meeting in Brownsville. They were now ready for baptism but what could they do with church buildings closed? They headed out to the Gulf of Mexico where the four of them were baptized in September 2020. Melissa, the mom, is now preparing to be one of the 100+ Volunteer Evangelists who will have their own evangelist meetings this spring.
Emir and Destiney didn’t want to wait any longer to publicly unite with Jesus and the Seventh-day Adventist movement in spite of COVID concerns. So in October 2020, with Destiny nine months pregnant, they were baptized by Pastor Enoc Garcia in the swimming pool of a member of the Magnolia Park Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Jaqui, as a student at Southwestern Adventist University, was surrounded by teachers and students who were praying for her, including Religion Professor Michael Campbell. In November 2020 she was baptized and united with the Seventh-day Adventist movement to show she belongs fully to Jesus and wants to use the talents He has given her to help others be ready for His return.
This fall the Longview English Seventh-day Adventist Church hosted two online Bible seminars – Unlocking Bible Prophecies by Cami Oetman and Revelation NOW by Doug Batchelor. Those who were comfortable could watch on the screen in the sanctuary with social distancing and those who weren’t comfortable could watch online and have the Bible lessons delivered to their homes. In December 2020 Pastor Omar Rodriguez baptized 17 precious people, including one who had been watching online 300 hundred miles away and drove all the way there because he didn’t want to miss out. Church member Patricia Lohman, who organized much of the series, is preparing to be a Volunteer Evangelist this spring.
There is a new church group growing up among Cambodians and Laotians south of Houston in Rosharon, Texas. Two new members were baptized by Pastor Scott Griswold in January 2021, both from Buddhist backgrounds. After Hurricane Harvey in 2017 a team from Reach the World Next Door, a ministry to reach the least reached in the Houston area and beyond, began working in the community to meet needs and share Jesus. This baptism and group are a result of building relationships with this refugee community.
A pandemic may force us to use different methods but it will never stop Jesus’ message and mission!
What can you do to take the Adventist message to all your world? Here are a few simple ideas.
You can use your…
- Eyes – to watch for Divine appointments.
- Mouth – to say something good about Jesus each day and be a prayer warrior.
- Hands – to give out GLOW tracts and feed the hungry.
- Smart Phone – to send notes of encouragement and be a cell phone evangelist.
- Computer – to be a Zoom Group Leader to build a sense of community, meet needs and give Bible studies.
- Home – to show hospitality and host a small group.
- Friendships – to get together for planning and prayer then be Volunteer Evangelists in your neighborhood or place of work/study.
- Mind – to come up with other ways to let the whole world know that Jesus loves them and He’s coming again soon!
2019-2020 Texas Evangelism Activities
- Baptisms & Professions of Faith – 2019 – 2,451; 2020 (Covid) – 1,435
- About 3,000 members participated in Total Member Involvement Area Trainings
- 650 zoom groups initiated (500 Spanish, 150 English)
- About 12 Southwestern Adventist University students participated in the SWORD (Soul Winning, Outreach, Discipleship) program each semester
- Reach the World Next Door trained dozens of members in how to share their faith with refugees, immigrants and international students
- God’s Final Message small group materials produced for Texas and beyond
- Many churches participated in online and in-person evangelism and interest follow up with series such as Hope Awakens by John Bradshaw, Unlocking Bible Prophecies by Cami Oetman, Revelation NOW by Doug Batchelor and the Conectados series in Spanish churches
- Completed Multiply Tarrant County Church Planting Project; Began Multiply Cameron County
- Texas Waldenses Project (2015-2020) to assist Middle East North Africa
- 13 Short term trips involving 39 people
- 7 Medium and long term volunteers/workers
- Training for 45 people in English conversation ministry
- Provide materials, mentoring and money to Pastoral Districts to take the Adventist message to new people, new communities and new parts of the world
- In partnership with Adventist World Radio, Southwestern Union, Southwest Region
- Spring (May 1-15) – Volunteer Evangelists
- Fall (September 11-18) – Guest Evangelists in every DFW & Houston/Bay Area church and company
- In partnership with Communications Department
- Produce “28 Pictures of Jesus” video clips (3-5 minutes) on each of the 28 Fundamental Beliefs in a Jesus-centered way
- Produce “Let’s Go Adventist Podcast” on how to share your faith in Jesus with others
- In partnership with Hispanic Ministries & Church Planting
- Multiply Cameron County – continue church planting efforts
- In partnership with Literature Ministries and Young Adults Campus Ministries
- Continue SWORD program to establish Adventist work in the TCU area
- In partnership with Stewardship and Trust Ministries
- Develop a Donor Menu for special gifts for Evangelism in Texas
- Training provided at Total Member Involvement area trainings
- Subsidized zoom accounts provided for all Sabbath School groups if desired
- Sabbath School Quarterly app by Adventech available free in app stores
- Mission offerings given in 2019 and 2020 help support global mission