HAT AM I GETTING INTO? I wondered as I stood on the platform of the main auditorium at the Hope, British Columbia, camp meeting. Happening upon a church history lesson, my husband and I learned that 100 percent of early Adventist church members were active in spreading the gospel. Then, as time went by, and “professionals” took over, lay members nearly forgot their personal responsibility in the Matthew 28 gospel commission. Reaching souls was still important; it just seemed most efficient to have the “professionals” do it.
So there we stood, personally committing to get in touch with our ecclesiastical roots. Lay preaching was mentioned as a key element, but I missed it entirely. I pictured helping in little, behind-the-scenes ways such as opening doors and greeting newcomers. Even I can do that, I thought.
Sunday morning, when the representative for ShareHim called volunteers up front to practice preaching, reality hit. What? Then I relaxed, assuring myself they’d want only men for that part. My husband, Walter, would brave the masses, and I would support him faithfully in the background.
The first volunteer was a woman. Instead of correcting her mistake, our speaker smiled and shared that many women have already preached countless well-received campaigns. Oh, help!
I thought. How can I disqualify myself?
One after another, the man up front took away my excuses while the man beside me took eager notes. OK, don’t panic. We’ll do Africa. That’s it! Far away, and years from now! I smiled as I envisioned hiding behind a translator.
Then they called for volunteers to speak in Victoria in less than two months. A little voice inside me said, “This is it; this one’s yours.”
I’ve learned that when it comes to the call of the Holy Spirit, indecision only brings needless struggle; joy comes with surrender. So I seized the love of my life, and said, “Let’s do Victoria.” With growing hope, I added, “We won’t even have time to get cold feet.”
When my feet froze solid, my gallant partner encouraged me all the way: through orientation, where I thought I’d be sick speaking in front of my few fellow trainees, and on through the door of the Victoria Filipino-Canadian church.
We had one last conference on site with coaches Larry Hall and Stan Jensen. Then the eager faces of the Fil-Can church members arriving for prayer meeting took their place. These dear members excitedly reported that they’d been inviting everyone they saw to come to see their two dynamic, young speakers. Dynamic! ShareHim never promised dynamic, did they? Just smile and nod, I thought. And breathe.
We were promised we would realize it wasn’t about us and relax by the third meeting. So I honored my husband by giving him the responsibility of speaking at the first two meetings, while I opted for the third. My turn came soon enough.
Surprisingly, when I got up to address the small sea of faces, I was only a little nervous. The orientations, mentoring, and practicing have their reward. But more than that, God was with me and I knew it. With all my heart’s passion I delivered the message and received tremendous feedback. It was thrilling. Unfortunately, I began worrying they wouldn’t be as impressed the following night. “Lord, make me humble before I hurt myself,” I prayed.
The Long Haul
For the next two weeks Walter and I had good nights, great nights, and nights we took comfort in taking “the long view.” All the time God was working. I found myself focusing more on Him and less on me. I was actually having fun! It seemed we’d always been practicing sermons, running to the beach for breaks, praying fervently, meeting with people, and—because of the emotional output—napping in the afternoons.
The daily mentoring meetings for the speakers of the three participating churches were especially cheering. Wayne, Pastor Jeff, Walter, and I shared ups and downs, and then watched our daily pep talk on DVD. As we prayed for God to reach souls—real people we now knew and cared about—I felt part of something bigger than life.
Our last night arrived. Frankly, we hadn’t expected too much. We just hoped to get the evangelistic ball rolling. But when God promises that His Word will not return empty, He means business.
After the opening song, the dear people of the Fil-Can church overwhelmed us with heartfelt gifts and hugs. Then, two members announced they’d decided to be rebaptized. Seeing the bright faces before me as I delivered the last message, I couldn’t help crying my way through the first few minutes. Something within these people had changed—and something in us, too. We had awakened to a vivid awareness of God’s powerful love.
Questions for Reflection
1. When have you been impressed to engage in some kind of outreach activiity you felt ill-equipped for? What di dyou learn from that event?
2. Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? How are you using them to communicate God's love to others?
3. How important is it to "work in your own armor"? How do you know when God is using you to build up His kingdom?
4. If you felt God calling you to do more for His kingdom, how would you proceed? What would you do first? second? third?
Along with declarations of renewed faith and commitment to Jesus, God blessed the three small churches with seven precious souls deciding for baptism.
Now You’re Up
God’s calling regular people, like you and me, to spread His love message. And ShareHim has put together an incredible Christ-centered series all ready to go.
If you sweat buckets at the thought of going up front just for announcements, this is for you. If you lose your tongue when opportunities arise to share Christ with neighbors, you qualify too. Answering Jesus’ call to “Go and tell,” you’ll be empowered. Your love for God and others will flourish.
A side point: when your church does a series of any kind, show up. The smiling faces and encouraging words of members who came night after night ministered to us. And the attendees were spiritually revitalized. So if those you invite refuse to be brought, bring yourself. God may have something planned for you.
You’ll Have Company
Show up in faith, and God will bless your efforts. One day in heaven you’ll be rewarded by countless friends radiant with gratitude for the love God shared through you.
God says, “Go!” Forget your excuses. Remember, God promised to be with you always.
Suvi Anderson writes from Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, where she delights in sharing God’s adventures with her family.