Serving as God's Hands
Adventists around the world are serving others in God’s name.
“Why should not the members of a church, or of several small churches, unite to sustain a missionary in foreign fields?” asked Adventist pioneer Ellen White (Gospel Workers, p. 466).
The Radoi family needed a helping hand. The husband and wife and their eight young children lived in a small Romanian village in one room of an old house, says Cristian Modan, Romania’s youth director and volunteer program assistant. Even worse, the house was unlivable. “There were no windows and the roof was leaking,” says Modan. “Because of this, two of the small children were already sick. The father, sick with tuberculosis, could not work, so the mother was left to find work every day wherever she could.”
Life continued like this for the Radoi family until a group of young Romanian volunteers banded together to help. Through fund-raising, says Modan, “the volunteers raised 6,000 euros and bought a house for the family.”
THE EXPANDING ADVENTIST WORLD: These new believers in Okoita, Nigeria, display their baptismal certificates and copies of Adventist World. They were baptized as part of the evangelistic meetings conducted by HisHands volunteers.Just who are these volunteers who were able to make such a big difference in the lives of one Romanian family? They are a small sample of people from all over the world who are currently taking part in HisHands, an Adventist Volunteer Service initiative that seeks to help volunteers serve as God’s hands in a world of need.
Born of Necessity
First implemented in late 2006, the HisHands program was inspired by the Holy Spirit and the acute need for Adventist volunteers throughout the world, but especially in places such as Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa, says Vernon Parmenter, General Conference director of the Adventist Volunteer Center. With the help of a special committee, Parmenter was able to develop it into a significant outreach tool.
The initial idea of HisHands was that churches or organizations in developed countries could sponsor volunteers to help with specific, long-term missionary projects overseas. All expenses would be paid by the sponsoring church or institution so that calling organizations could receive the volunteer missionaries at no cost. This would be ideal for all those organizations that needed the help of volunteers, but couldn’t afford the costs of hosting them.
When HisHands was presented in Nigeria, it caught on quickly, but with a twist. Gideon C. Nwaogwugwu, president of the Eastern Nigeria Union Mission (ENUM), says that because missionaries rarely came to Nigeria, “we decided that we didn’t necessarily need missionaries from overseas. We had missionaries right here already in our own churches.” With this in mind, ENUM started the program with Nigerian churches sponsoring Nigerian HisHands volunteers to help with projects in their own country.
As a result, Nigerian HisHands volunteers have made a substantial and ongoing contribution. N. John Enang, volunteer coordinator for the West-Central Africa Division (WAD), reports that a total of 177 people have been baptized there as a result of projects undertaken by HisHands volunteers.
One such project was an evangelistic series late last year in Okoita, Nigeria. The story starts, in actuality, long before the campaign. Bassey Udoh, executive secretary of ENUM, relates that months in advance of the series, eight HisHands volunteers had been sponsored to go to Okoita. “They went round the town giving Bible studies and interacting with people,” he says. By the time the meetings started, the town, which, according to Udoh had been “very resistant to the Adventist message,” seemed ready to hear what the speakers had to say. “Daily attendance was over 300 people,” exclaims Udoh. “This type of turnout has never been experienced before in this territory, even where we have [a] strong Adventist presence. Many are already indicating an interest in baptism.”
The Next Step
As Parmenter observed what was happening in Nigeria, he again felt impressed to rethink the strategy of the program. He realized that HisHands volunteers need not only go from developed countries to undeveloped countries; they could be sponsored by their home churches to help out with mission projects in their own countries or divisions. This is how it happens already—not only in Nigeria and Romania but in other countries as well.
A BETTER BUILDING: In a room ofthe old house where the Radoi family had been living, volunteers get ready to move them to a better, more hospitable home.HisHands is off to a good start in the Euro-Asia Division (ESD). According to Michael Kaminsky, volunteer coordinator and executive secretary of ESD, exciting reports from the HisHands program have come in from all over the division. HisHands volunteers in Belarus have introduced Seventh-day Adventism in 25 different locations, says Kaminsky, and as a result, 33 individuals have been baptized.
Kaminsky tells a story of a HisHands volunteer from Moldova: “In the village of Kishkaren in Moldova, Yeshanu Konstantin was invited by a Pentecostal family to come to their church. Konstantin soon became friends with the elder of the church and was asked to preach a sermon there. In his sermon, Konstantin used Revelation Seminar materials. The church members listened carefully and tried to write down every word he said. One woman was so interested in the message she asked Konstantin to conduct a Revelation Seminar for her family. Konstantin, of course, conducted the seminar, and, as a result, the entire family joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
Yeshanu Konstantin is only one. Yet through the HisHands program he is doing a mighty work—the work of God’s hands.
Around the world, others are also offering themselves and their talents to do the work of HisHands. Though the program is still relatively new, program leaders have already started HisHands-related activities in five divisions, and a rich harvest of believers is already being reaped as a result. After only a few months, at least 224 people have been baptized. And this is only the beginning. Other divisions, such as the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD), are still planning and gearing up for HisHands programs of their own.
Whether HisHands volunteers come from our own backyards, or from other divisions, the Holy Spirit will lead more of them to serve. Their work speaks for itself; one can only imagine what could happen when thousands more commit themselves to spreading the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit.
To learn more about the HisHands program, visit hishands.adventist.org. Here, divisions can learn how to advertise their needs, and churches/organizations can adopt a project.
Jill Walker Gonzalez is assistant volunteer coordinator at Adventist Volunteer Services at the General Conference.