When the Holy Spirit gives us a gift, that's all the permission we need to use our gift for God... work...
Called to Care
General Conference president Ted Wilson summed up the concept of Total Member Involvement in a Facebook post not long ago. “Every follower of Christ is given the responsibility of reaching out to people—individually—with the hope that we ourselves have found in a soon-coming Savior.” That is indeed the crux of Total Member Involvement: the idea that all of us, no matter our calling in life, can do something to reach the world for Christ. Our efforts need not be grand to be effective, but with the Lord’s help, we can be His hands and feet in the world. The following stories offer a glimpse into the many ways ordinary Adventists in different parts of the world are doing exactly that.—Editors.
Fleur Duke (Australia)
Though I hadn’t had any connection with the difficulties confronting girls in the sex industry, I felt the call to reach into my area on the New South Wales Central Coast with God’s love,” says Fleur Duke.
“Lord,” I said, “I have little experience and minimal education to qualify me, but I am willing to answer Your call. Use me.” Duke’s first step to becoming involved in this ministry was to join those who were already ministering to the prostitutes in Kings Cross, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
“We started Rahab Ministries Outreach in February 2012, partnering with Rahab South Australia (a nondenominational Christian organization). The team of about 30 meets together and prays before and during our visits,” Duke says. “Once a month each brothel is visited by a group of two or three of the girls on our team. We explain that we are Christians and there to offer support through prayer and conversation, building relationships, offering Bible studies and English classes, and leaving a contact card.”
“Each girl could be your sister, daughter, friend, aunty, or mother,” she adds. Many of the girls have shared their longing for their homes and families in China or Thailand. God’s Holy Spirit speaks through language barriers, and His love reaches each one in their darkness.
All visits are topped off with hugs and prayers showing that God has not forgotten them.
“At first I thought our aim was to take God into these places, but it was not long before I realized that He was already there. My part in this journey is to meet Him in the women who have struggles just as I do,” says Duke.
—Adapted with permission of the South Pacific Division Record
The Navales Family (Philippines)
Two years ago 3-year-old Vincent befriended five children from his neighborhood and invited them to his home. Vince’s mother, Aireen, didn’t know what to do with them, but with prodding from her son, she offered what food they had, taught them a song, and told them a story.
Aireen saw how some of the kids treated each other roughly and realized they did not have the most positive home environment.
“I decided to set a few rules,” she recalls. These rules were simple: everyone would use gentle hands and soft voices. “Because these rules were easy to follow, the children obeyed, but it also created a big difference, because we were able to get rid of the grabbing, shouting, and all the unacceptable street words and other behaviors.”
The following Sunday Aireen and Vincent found a larger group of children on their doorstep and realized God was giving their family a unique opportunity. From her little son’s desire to offer underprivileged children a safe place to be kids, Play, Learn, and Serve (PLS) was born.
After one month, the group had outgrown the family’s living room. Vincent’s father, Rey, transformed the sound and lights showroom on their property into a classroom.
A typical PLS Sunday gathering consists of singing, discussion of the week’s theme, prayer, a values lesson, an art activity, and snacktime.
Over time, PLS earned a reputation that has attracted schools and non-profit organizations whose leaders want to learn how to use the program in their own fields. As the number of children increased, the family had to register their program as a charitable organization.
While they may not know how God will continue to expand their involvement in the future, the Navales family trusts in how He has worked through one child’s dream to empower the dreams of the many children around them.
—Adapted from original written by Gay Deles
Paolo Giametta (Italy)
It began in 2008 in a Sabbath School Action Unit in Bergamo, Italy. A young elder named Paolo Giametta had a dream to start a family group, and submitted a list of people in the municipality of Merate for whom to pray.
After a few weeks Judith, a young woman from Merate, decided to open her house to the family group to study the Bible. The number of people attending Bible studies increased week after week. Soon, a second family group was formed in the nearby town of Olgiate. In 2012 Judith was baptized. The following year the group began Sabbath worship services in her home, and by 2013 the group was officially organized.
Each Sabbath morning, before the program begins at 9:00, church members and guests have breakfast together. The worship service is followed by potluck and fellowship, with friends from the community also invited. On Sundays the group often hikes and picnics together in the countryside. Often close to 80 people gather, and it’s proved to be a great opportunity to make new friends.
Individuals studying the Bible are taught by six church members from the group, which is the result of person-to-person evangelism. Recently, because of the arrival of refugees from Syria to the region, church members have assisted local authorities by caring for about 40 refugees.
But Giametta hasn’t stopped there. He and a coworker named Savino became friends and started studying the Bible together after work. As a result, Savino decided to become an Adventist. Two months before his baptism he began studying the Bible with a friend he met at the gym. Now Savino also leads a midweek family group. Savino also has a list of people for whom he is praying, including his wife and their son.
Like a domino effect, individuals have been won to Christ in this Italian community, all because Giametta, a young elder with a burden on his heart to plant a church, actually did something about it.
—Adapted from original written by Paolo Benini
New Jacob (St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands)
New Jacob was baptized as a result of an open-air meeting. From then on he has been stirred with a thirst to share God’s love.
Beginning with his parents, Jacob invited his family to attend an evangelistic effort in their neighborhood. This resulted in the baptism of his stepfather and sister. “It was a thrilling moment for me; the experience was great. I felt joy knowing that God used me,” Jacob recalls.
He soon joined his church’s prayer band and for three decades saw God open doors of opportunity to reach others. To encourage the ailing, he joined his congregation’s hospital visitation team. “I am like any Christian who would like to do God’s will,” he said. Feeling the need to accomplish more, Jacob joined the church’s prison ministry. “Through the prison ministry I serve those often forgotten by society,” he reflected.
At first Jacob spent about four days each week doing missionary work while still managing his business. But he felt that God required more of him. “I was thrilled when I received an invitation to join ShareHim International and did not hesitate,” he said. This ministry is affiliated with the North American Division, and members travel internationally to share the message of life in Jesus.
Jacob remains involved in church ministries and serves as an ordained elder. He sacrifices to travel annually and share hope, using his own resources. With more than 300 persons baptized through his efforts, Jacob often places his life and his business at risk to meet people’s needs. At a time when many people are self-absorbed, he reflects Christ’s love around the world. “I encourage any member, if they are going to make any choices, [to] err on the side of the Lord. It’s so rewarding serving the Lord; it completely alters your path.”
—Adapted from original written by Royston Philbert
Cindy Tutsch (United States)
When I retired, I looked forward to ‘warming a pew’ at church,” says former Ellen G. White Estate associate director and pastor Cindy Tutsch. Now, two and a half years after retirement, I’ve definitely enjoyed some travel and absolutely enjoy playing with our grandkids. But to my surprise, I’ve also enjoyed participating heartily in the life of our local church!”
Tutsch was first asked to shepherd the youth Sabbath School. “I’ve loved getting to know the youth in our church,” she says. We’ve hosted the youth at our house for a party or planning session. A couple teens come to our house weekly for Bible studies.”
Soon Tutsch was asked to serve as an elder. “I’ve pastored a couple churches, and I know that a ‘good’ elder does a lot more than just be the presiding platform leader. In the end, though, God nudged me to agree,” she recalls.
Recently Tutsch was driving to a local retirement center where she gives Bible studies to a handful of elderly people. “I remonstrated with God about this particular assignment,” she says. “God,” I complained, “I really don’t want to do this anymore.”
Almost immediately God impressed a text on her heart. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these . . . , ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40, KJV).
“In that moment God gave me a heart transplant regarding those precious elderly people. Now when I go to teach them, I see Jesus. And when they hug me and tell me how happy they are that I come to pray and sing with them every week, I can answer honestly, ‘I’m glad, too!’?” she says.
Tutsch knows she can’t meet every need in her community, but she can do something. “By God’s grace, when He asks me to serve, I will continue to say, ‘Here am I, Lord. Send me!’?”
Matilda Radge (Malaysia)
Being in the entertainment industry has helped me spread the gospel,” says Matilda Radge. “My first priority in life is to spread the gospel; the second is my music.”
As a producer and songwriter Radge composes positive songs that speak of love for others, nature, and love in its purest form. “When clients come to us,” Radge says, “they trust us because they know we fear God. They know we will give them more than they ask for. We bring out the best in their voices. Our integrity is our testament of the God we worship, and we make sure they learn that from our character and work ethic.”
“Malaysia is a Muslim country, but because of the principles we hold, radio staff, clients, and even our fans/listeners who follow us on social media know about the Sabbath,” adds Radge. “When my husband and I did a Valentine’s Day interview for a top radio station, we used that opportunity to speak about the biblical principles we practice in our marriage. Every time we are called for TV or radio interviews, we give credit to God.”
“We have fans and listeners who follow us [on social media] and want to know more about us,” Radge says. “I use this to share the gospel. I post statuses and testimonies that glorify God. Many who comment and ‘like’ my posts are not Christians. But when they go through tough times, they message me and ask me to pray for them.”
Before starting production on new projects, Radge prays that they write and produce songs that honor God. “We ask Him to bless our work. From beginning to end, we pray, pray, pray. We seal the production with a dedication prayer. What usually happens is a hit song! We make sure our clients know that the song’s success belongs to God.”