May 29, 2009

15CN: Evangelistic Efforts Hits Hollywood Hot Spot

Evangelistic Effort Hits
Hollywood Hot Spot
Famed Shrine Auditorium is venue for It Is Written’s series
BY It Is Written staff with Adventist Review staff
capThousands of residents of one of America’s largest cities flooded an historic Los Angeles venue to hear a Bible-based message during the series opening weekend.
An average of 2,400 people filled the Shrine Auditorium – host to numerous Academy Award and other entertainment industry events – to hear the beginning lectures of Revelation Speaks Peace, feature It Is Written’s speaker/director Shawn Boonstra, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor. The Adventist-owned television ministry and the church’s Southern California Conference united for the event, which is part of the “cLAim LA” outreach.


SPEAKING PEACE: Shawn Boonstra, speaker/director of It Is Written, a Seventh-day Adventist media ministry, speaks during the opening weekend of Revelation Speaks Peace, held at the famous Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. [Photo: IIW]

The series is expected to continue nightly (except Mondays and Thursdays) through May 30.

"If something like this were left up to human designs, there is no question that it would fail,” Pastor Boonstra said. “But we serve a God who can make the impossible possible, and that is exactly what we’ve witnessed in Los Angeles thus far.”
Amid the current economic situation, hearts that were once closed to the church’s message are now looking for hope, leaders say. “The timing for the Revelation Speaks Peace meetings is clearly providential,” said Larry Caviness, Southern California Conference president. “People everywhere are asking, ‘What’s going on?’ To be here in Los Angeles at this time is an astounding privilege.”
Organizers note that what makes Los Angeles especially noteworthy is its sheer size. It is the second largest city in America, with an estimated 17 million people living in the greater Los Angeles area. Its population is also one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse on Earth.
“The It Is Written offices are based just outside of Los Angeles, so we have a true mission field right in our own backyard,” said Boonstra. “Bible prophecy tells us that things are likely to get worse before they get better, which means that we have to move quickly if we want to bring hope to this great American city.”
Preparations for “cLAim LA” have been more than a year in the making. Dozens of churches are actively participating in the series, and hundreds of Bible workers have been giving Bible studies and visiting homes. For many of them, this is the first time they have ever given a Bible study, but through “Bible Worker Boot Camps” and other training sessions, they have been embracing the challenge.
In the months leading up to this main series, 2,800 people requested Bible studies in response to an It Is Written mailing. Dedicated pastors and church members met every Tuesday evening to keep up with the influx of new names. This weekly meeting, called “Soup & Salvation”—where a simple supper was served while the team discussed how to bring salvation to the lost—became a lifeline to the Bible workers and volunteers.


CROWD OF WITNESSES: Packed auditorium audience in Los Angeles listens to Boonstra. [Photo: IIW]

Muriel Hrbek, It Is Written’s volunteer Bible study coordinator, said it best when describing the spirit that permeated these meetings: “The names flooded in...and the Bible workers were so excited that they couldn’t wait to get their hands on the names!”

The 58 Hispanic churches in Los Angeles have more than 300 small groups studying the Bible, with more than 2,000 active Bible studies!
Each Hispanic church has held at least one evangelistic series, and many of the meetings took place around the time of Easter—a very significant time in the Hispanic culture when people are especially receptive to spiritual things.
Local churches will hold a total of 65 Hispanic evangelistic meetings, with 45 guest evangelists and pastors flying in for the event. Robert Costa, It Is Written’s Hispanic speaker and evangelist, is holding 10 of these meetings. Each small group will attend the meetings with its Bible study group.
“To be able to share with Los Angeles the hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ is both a challenge and a sacred privilege,” said James Lee, conference vice-president. “Again and again, we have heard pastors and members expressing their gratitude for the opportunity to work together across regions to win souls for Christ.”
In the weeks leading up to the series, a flurry of events took place as pastors and church members made a final push to invite others to the meetings. On March 28, Pastor Ron Halvorsen held a “Prayer Warriors” seminar at the Berean Church in Los Angeles. He spoke to a packed audience about the importance of a thriving prayer life and the effectiveness of “prayer walking.” After his talk, church members and pastors chose territories to pray for prior to the meetings.
During the three weeks prior to the series, It Is Written hit the radio and television airwaves with advertising. For nearly 20 years, the ministry’s program has aired weekly on KCAL Channel 9, the largest independent television station in the United States. In an effort to reach longtime viewers, the ministry created a special 30-minute program inviting LA residents to the series. This gave It Is Written’s many loyal viewers an invitation to interact with the ministry in person! In addition, radio ads, targeted Google ads and a handbill mailing reached those who might not have otherwise heard of the event.


PAYING ATTENTION: Audience members devote their attention to a Revelation Speaks Peace message from It Is Written's Shawn Boonstra. [Photo: IIS]

From April 25-29, Pastor Tony Moore held an archeology seminar on behalf of It Is Written at USC’s Davidson Center, which is just one block from the Shrine Expo Center. During the final program, Pastor Boonstra joined Pastor Moore on stage to give attendees an invitation and a taste of what they could learn during the Revelation Speaks Peace series.

“Preparations were done with prayer, fasting, dedication, sacrifice and the desire to please our soon-coming King of Kings,” said It Is Written Evangelism Coordinator Lawrence Dorsey. “During this series, we look forward to seeing the mighty hand of God work on behalf of His children!”
Five nights a week, Boonstra is walking attendees through the book of Revelation to show them that Revelation does, indeed, speak peace. The nightly messages are available in English (spoken and sign language), Spanish and Vietnamese, and there is also a special program just for kids.
“I can’t help but be amazed at how God is working in ways we couldn’t even have imagined just a few months ago,” said Boonstra. “This is especially meaningful to the evangelistic team that has been working so hard to make it happen. Truly there has been weeping among those carrying the seed to sow, but now there is rejoicing as the sheaves are coming in!”
Once the meetings conclude on May 30, the follow-up work will begin. The Bible lessons will continue and churches will nurture their new visitors and church members. But it doesn’t end there! It Is Written Canada’s speaker, Pastor Bill Santos, is slated to present an evangelistic series from July 11 through August 1 in the Antelope Valley Performing Arts Center as part of the continuing cLAim LA activities.