What happens when members are trained to do evangelistic preaching? It is no surprise that God abundantly blesses—and miracles prove it.
Beginning in 2021 and continuing until 2024, the Central California Conference (CCC) has adopted Arise & Go as its theme for member mobilization and soul winning. Under the leadership of Dan Serns, CCC president, the vision of “the Adventist message to all of Central California Conference and the world in this generation” will support a variety of events now scheduled for the spring and fall of each year. They each will culminate with the “Fill Every Baptistry Sabbath” in every church and school. Taken mostly from the New Testament book of Acts, the themes began in 2021 with listening and prayer and will continue with sharing Jesus, family worship, starting groups, baptizing, sending missionaries, and entering new communities.
During the spring of this year, members were encouraged to make a habit of sharing Jesus every day. However, that outreach also included training members to hold evangelistic meetings. Therefore, the “Let’s Preach!” training seminars via Zoom were held in late March, and over 150 lay members and pastors attended an all-day workshop at the Clovis Church on April 3. Although there were breakout sessions, Louis Torres, Adventist World Radio evangelist, and Rodney Bowes, ASI evangelist, provided the basic training. Twenty-eight sites throughout the conference took up the challenge and planned “New Beginnings” evangelistic meetings—most of which occurred during the last week of April.
Amazing Truth Bible seminar at the Fresno All Nations church
God certainly blessed the “Let’s Preach” series held at the All Nations church from April 14 to 30. Justin Kim, senior pastor, and Bryan Bong, associate pastor, invited the members to come together every morning for two weeks before the beginning of these lay evangelistic meetings. They studied the book of Acts and prayed that God would bless their meetings and their lay evangelist, Dolores Jones.
While her husband had been the CCC evangelist for many years before he passed away, Jones, an administrative assistant at the CCC office, had never held a meeting in this country. We can expect that this was only the beginning of many more, as she is planning on doing training for other women in her area.
Before the meetings began, church members were encouraged to invite their neighbors. When Jones walked her neighborhood, she found two neighbors in hospice care and was so glad that she was able to pray with them. On opening night, four of her neighbors were among the 16 visitors. Two more of the guests were ladies she had also especially invited—and they attended every night. Another couple who had studied with her husband 15 years earlier faithfully attended, and they are now planning on being baptized.
There were eight decisions for baptism, one occurring on the “Fill the Baptistry Sabbath.” There are several more still deciding who are now attending regularly. Jones will continue to teach a “Growing Christian Life” class during Sabbath School time. Pastor Kim will conduct a Bible study class every Tuesday evening for those who will be baptized later.
“It is such an honor to serve God in this capacity,” said Jones. “I trust the Holy Spirit will do His part to convict hungry hearts to this everlasting gospel. I am totally helpless, even though I have done all I can do. I pray that my friends will make the decision, and I know that is one prayer that God wants to answer. Our church wants to continue teaching and cultivating the interest of the faithful visitors who have attended our meetings. We will continue to point them to the Savior of the Word, Jesus Christ.”
The God of the Ark is the God of miracles
When lay members want to plant a church and preach, it can produce some incredible results. A testimony of faithfulness and miracles comes out of the new church plant that was started in Visalia. The details of how one miracle after another allowed them to obtain a church building would amaze even the skeptic. You may get tired of seeing the word miracle, which they often claim and assert in their story, but there is no other way to describe the process they went through to have a church building of their own.
The first miracle is that a group in the Visalia church, eventually led by Joseph Castillo, a physical therapist, decided to do some outreach and plant a church in their local community. Surrounded by members who also felt the calling to become church planters, Castillo, a “tentmaker preacher” like the Apostle Paul, helped the group to go forth and make new believers in a new territory.
When a church building became available that perfectly fit their needs, the members assert that every dollar raised for its purchase was a miracle. It is a very long story that is positively remarkable. Perhaps we will be able to tell it in totality in the future. It was all finalized and they were able to move in on December 15, 2021. They now have members of the community coming to them asking for baptism.
The prayer is that their experience will be multiplied and repeated over several years. For CCC members, please read the Central ACTS newsletter inserted in this Recorder. There are definite plans to further the CCC’s mission of sharing “the Adventist message to all of Central California Conference and the world in this generation” by establishing a new department to focus on church planting. We are confident that God will bless as we seek to do His will.