Presidential Blessing: March 4, 2017

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Presidential Blessing: March 4, 2017
Greetings from Oshawa, ON! During the first part of this week I attended the NAD Evangelism Council in Orlando, FL and since Wednesday evening I have been here in Oshawa for the SDACC Presidents’ Council and Board of Directors (BOD), which will begin this evening. Please pray for the meetings and decisions of the SDACC BOD.
One of the highlights of the Evangelism Council was the testimony of a lady who is serving as a lay pastor in one of our churches in the USA. She started to attend that church after moving from another location, thousands of kms away. The church had a large building for than 100 members who used to attend, but there were only 12 remaining members when she arrived there. Worse, those did not get along among themselves, either. Unfortunately, the church did not have a good reputation in that community and it was perceived as an unfriendly place. It had been the arena for many fights and those remaining members used a “measuring tape” with a holier than thou attitude toward people who would visit them, mostly those who were travelling and stopped by to worship there during the Sabbath hours. Simply put, the church was literally dead and there were talks in the Conference office to close it down, as it was not representing the Seventh-day Adventist Church well. Of course, they were also facing financial issues.
After much prayer, that lady accepted the invitation to humanly lead that church as a volunteer. Her heart was in the right place. As the building needed some serious maintenance, she received enough support from the majority of those 12 members and the Conference office to sell the property and find another place in the community. Consequently, not everyone was in agreement and the group was reduced to 8 people.
What did they do? She led them in prayer and a full re-dedication of their lives to Jesus. Unity was achieved by prayer, fasting, Bible study, praises to God, and… forgiveness... All of these resulted in new and re-energized lives for Jesus. They became a house church and the neighbors and friends noticed the positive change and the contributions they were making in that small community of 8,000 people. They baked bread and prepared soup for those in need, collected clothes (including theirs) to help the homeless and a marginalized group of people in society, cleaned the local park in town, helped the widows and orphans, visited people in the hospital, and volunteered to any activity to benefit their community. People started to join them in those endeavours and stayed back for Bible studies, prayer groups, and sharing of God’s Word (worship) and works of service with them (Matt. 5:16). The group grew over the months! Some of those who had left the previous negative environment returned to be part of/in a safe place. Some of the last 12 also returned, apologised, and were inserted in a vibrant, loving, caring, accepting, active, and forgiving faith community. Eventually, God provided a lot at a reasonable price in another part of town and they decided to build a new church. They volunteered their time, the community donated a good portion of the building materials, Maranatha also came and helped… and in less than 4 months after they started that project a new and beautiful building was erected. Today, over 50 active members worship the Lord regularly and sometimes there are more than 100 people in attendance during special events to praise God in that town.
The difference? The same community that once was scared of the old holy church (members’ attitude), was now seeing the value of that new church (renewed members). They embraced, assisted, and asked the members to continue the works of faith among them (Eph. 4:12-13, James 2:17-18). What caused the change? First, the Holy Spirit working through one consecrated and visionary person and then in the hearts of those who re-committed their lives to Jesus. (John 3:6-8; II Cor. 5:16-18)
One question: If one of our churches “disappeared” from their community, would its neighbors and other people around notice it?

My prayer today is for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives to transform us and instill in our hearts the passion for souls for the God’s Kingdom.

Happy Sabbath!
In His Service, 
Wesley Torres, D.Min.