It is the nightmare of every church leader with a heart for mission.
You organize an event to the tiniest detail. You secure the venue. You train the team of volunteers. You work on the logistics. But then, somehow, your advertising campaign is not effective enough, and people just don’t find out about the meetings, and in turn, do not show up.
“Throughout the program, the number of visitors kept only increasing”
Seventh-day Adventists in the city of Enerhodar, the “Energy Capital” of Ukraine, made sure this would not happen in their case. Ever ready to innovate, they erected a 26-foot (8-meter) replica statue to attract people to the meetings held at “My Family Health,” a health-centered outreach ministry for people who might not yet be ready to come to church but wish to get acquainted with the teachings of the church. The replica, an inflatable structure featuring the Babylonian statue that, according to Daniel 2 in the Bible, King Nebuchadnezzar saw in a God-given dream, was placed in a downtown corner of the city—population 55,000—located in the southern region of the Eastern Europe nation.
The significance of the statue, beyond its imposing nature, is that, according to the Bible, the Babylonian king’s dream symbolically represented the future, which God opened for him to understand. Seventh-day Adventists in Ukraine wish to infuse a similar enlightenment to the residents of Enorhodar and nearby towns.
The free meetings, which ran from February 4-18, were part of a comprehensive spiritual and educational program called “Against the Current.” Church members were invited to attend, but the event was catered to reach out to the community. As the first fruits of the meetings, five people asked for baptism.
Besides the spiritual component of the sessions, several talks and lectures featured health, family relationships, and motivational topics, wrote Alexander Kozlov in his report of the meetings. “Visitors were encouraged to take part in a free health check-up which tried to determine, among several health metrics, their risk of suffering atherosclerosis.” Kozlov also reported that at the end of each meeting, they were invited to try free samples of vegetarian dishes provided by “My Family Health.”
The end of the daily sessions did not mark an end to the meetings, that will continue twice a week, as the small Adventist community of this “energy town” rallies to share a different kind of power.
Health and Prophecy
A few hours north, in the city of Nikolaev, “Hope for Everyone” meetings, which ran from Feb 5-18 and were intended for the the general community, showed once more the power of combining health education with God’s biblical truths. While health expert Olga Ivannikova shared healthy living tips and easy-to-follow treatments by using natural remedies, a group of young people preached the Gospel and the prophetic word of God to their audience.
“One major goal of the program was to discuss biblical prophecies and show how they have been fulfilled over the course of history,” wrote María Saenko in her report of the meetings. Throughout the meetings, she said, a special effort was made to base every teaching in the Word of God. “This is the reason the informal motto of our meetings came to be, ‘If it is in the Bible, I believe it; if it’s at odds with the Bible, it’s not for me,” wrote Saenko.
Unlike what sometimes happens in other public meetings, the visitors who attended the first night not only came back but also brought new friends with them. “Throughout the program, the number of visitors kept only increasing,” shared Saenko.
On the last day, visitors were invited to sign-up for biblical courses, scheduled for every Sunday.