Back when the world seemed young and new, I became an Optimist.
Urged by a senior administrator in the university town where I then lived, I signed up as a member of Optimist International, a service club focused on improving the lives of children and youth. At pre-dawn meetings, we gathered in a small restaurant to listen to news about local efforts to engage teenagers in town events, sponsor summer athletic leagues, and prevent drug use.
For all its obvious high-mindedness, being an Optimist required little of my life. A pair of ears, attendance at a monthly 60-minute breakfast, and occasional assistance with some civic project kept me a member in good and regular standing. I remember muttering to my wife that one portion of the Optimist Creed—”to look at the sunny side of everything”—would have been easier to achieve if we met—even once—in daylight.
Faith invites change. Change requires support. Support is a gift you can offer.
But becoming a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is nothing like joining a service club, even one with a cheerful name. The expectations of membership touch almost every aspect of a new believer’s life. We do well to remind ourselves of what we’re asking when we invite a person to become a member of God’s remnant people. Consider just three areas:
Day of Worship. In almost every case, the calendar dramatically shifts for a newly baptized believer. Learning to keep Sabbath after decades of spending Saturdays on shopping, sporting events, entertainment, or work is a monumental change—and largely lost on those of us who have never made that adjustment. All the weekly patterns are disrupted; all the friendship networks vibrate when the new Adventist no longer chooses to participate in some activities around which groups once bonded.
Diet and Health. For most new believers, implementing the biblical counsel to treat our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit brings about significant changes in what they eat and what beverages they consume. It also launches them into the brave new world of Adventist potlucks. Three times a day, seven days a week, new believers are reminded that their new faith touches almost everything on their plate and in their refrigerator.
Finances. Learning to return a faithful tithe is one of the most challenging experiences new believers face. Those who have been members of other faiths sometimes supported local congregations with weekly offerings: those new to Christian faith find it initially almost incomprehensible to imagine dedicating 10 percent of income—and more—because God asks it of them.
The first year of membership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church is frequently a time of enormous personal and professional stress as those convicted about Bible truths wrestle to integrate their new beliefs with their daily lives. High stress—even accompanied by optimism—requires high support if the changes made are going to be sustainable.
For 20 years—since the worldwide satellite evangelism event known as Net ‘98—the Adventist Review has been inviting its readers to rally around tens of thousands of new believers during the vulnerable first year after their baptism. Your support has strengthened and encouraged hundreds of thousands of newly baptized members—just when they needed it most.
Because of the faithful participation of your local conference, for just $10 you can guarantee that a newly baptized Adventist gets a full year’s subscription—12 beautiful editions—of the print magazine, with all of its eye-catching, relevant news, doctrine, and inspiration, as well as full access to all our digital content. New podcasts and videos such as our current “Digging Deeper” series help make Adventist faith and life understandable to those in this transition year.
Ten dollars will bless one new believer; $50 will bless five; and $100 will give 10 new believers full access to all our content for an entire year. There’s no better way to tell a new believer you care about them and the remarkable adjustments they are making than to support them through the New Believer program.
Send your tax-deductible gift this week to:
ATTN: New Believer program
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904
Or go online at www.adventistreview.org, and share your gift by credit card.