More than 2,300 Adventist Laymen’s Services and Industries (ASi) members and supporters — the highest number in years — received a clear-cut call to seek not success but faithfulness as their top priority in life, on the opening night of the organization’s 2023 annual convention.
“God has not called us to be successful,” international evangelist Mark Finley told the crowd gathered at the Kansas City Convention Center in Missouri, United States, on August 2. “He called us to be faithful.”
The 2023 convention centers around the theme, “Revived to Witness: United. Transformed. Sent.” ASi president Andi Hunsaker, whom members confirmed in her position for a 2023-2025 term, wrote in welcoming remarks to attendees, “Our prayer is that we will contemplate this theme and these words as we experience this convention and beyond. We are here … to hear from, cooperate with, and participate with God.… My prayer is that we will grow up into the full measure and stature of the grace of Christ so that we can be revived as witnesses for Him.”
The two-hour evening program on August 2 included moments of praise, worship, and prayer. It also featured reports from ministries and outreach initiatives from Seventh-day Adventist lay church members who are — as ASi’s motto proclaims — “sharing Christ in the marketplace.”
Convention Impact and Testimonies
“ASi’s conventions, which I have attended for many years, have impacted me and my family,” ASi general and membership vice president Curtis Letniak said. “I was able to connect with other people eager to minister and find ideas and inspiration.”
The traditional Members in Action segment, which includes testimonies of Adventist laypeople who have found ways of sharing the Bible message through their professions and mission endeavors, featured Carlos Japas, a physician who has planted a church where many members are former clients of his private practice. Japas discusses not only physical but also spiritual health with his clients, eventually inviting them to study the Bible and attend a local Adventist congregation.
“ ‘I am there on Saturdays from 9:30 to 12:00, and I’ll be available to answer any more questions you may have,’ ” Japas tells former patients when he perceives the person is interested. “ ‘And if you come to church, you are invited to come to my home for lunch after the service.’ They usually accept,” he added.
The opening-night Members in Action segment also featured, among others, Dustin Pestlin, who launched a YouTube video channel with messages about Bible prophecy five years ago. His Hope Through Prophecy ministry has resulted in interests and baptisms all around the world, and the ministry’s videos currently have more than 50 million views, he reported.
Faithfulness Is Key
After a musical item by the Sola Gratia choral group, which traveled from the Adventist University of the Philippines, Finley zeroed in on the convention’s theme. In his 40-minute message, he said faithfulness is key to every aspect of personal and corporate revival.
“The Word of God does not call us to a life of popularity, power, or prestige,” he said. “The Word of God calls us to faithfulness: faithfulness to Christ, faithfulness to the teachings of Christ, faithfulness to the church of Christ, and faithfulness to the mission of Christ.” He further elaborated, “There is a very close relationship between this theme of faithfulness, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and revival.”
Based on the Bible story of Daniel in Babylon (Daniel 1), Finley emphasized that young Daniel, while being pressured to conform to the reigning culture, made a conscious decision to stay faithful. “The challenge that Daniel faced is the challenge that we face in this generation,” Finley said. “The real battle just before the coming of Christ is the battle of faithfulness, it’s the battle for the mind.”
He added, “God’s call to faithfulness in a corrupt, immoral, godless world in the last stages of our history is a call to let His light shine in our lives. As time comes to a screeching halt, God’s call is once again to understand our identity in Christ … to be God’s men and women in this generation, … not to yield to the culture around us … [but] to be filled with the Holy Spirit,” Finley said.
Faithfulness to the Word Is Essential
Finley also emphasized that any potential revival must keep the Word of God and its teachings central. “Revival will not come to a church that downplays doctrinal truth, that compromises biblical teachings and lives in violation of scriptural standards,” he said. “God longs for a people totally committed to Jesus and totally committed to His Word.”
This is the key precondition to true revival, Finley emphasized. “Revival will come when the Christ of the world burns in our hearts through His Holy Spirit, making His teachings real in our lives,” he said. “Bible prophecy predicts an end-time people who love Jesus, who love His truth, and proclaims it to the ends of this earth. [Then,] the light of His Word will fill the world.”