January 11, 2023

Class Takes Students to the Streets of San Francisco

Hands-on evangelism initiative ultimately resulted in personal growth, baptisms.

Laura Gang, Pacific Union College News
One of the baptismal ceremonies after Pacific Union College students practiced what they learned in class on the streets of San Francisco. [Photo: Pacific Union College News]

Three theology students from Pacific Union College (PUC), located in Angwin, California, United States, participated in an evangelism class in the Fall 2022 semester that allowed them to share their faith and the truth of the gospel with three church congregations and the surrounding community in the city of San Francisco. 

The hands-on class ultimately resulted in nine baptisms.

“The theology program at PUC is especially formulated to help students navigate our rapidly changing West Coast culture in biblically guided ways,” theology department chair Jim Wibberding said.

Wibberding contacted Dan Serns, president of Central California Conference (CCC), hoping to collaborate with him on an evangelism class to take students “from theory to practice.” Serns had an even bigger vision for the class.

Along with area pastors and staff from CCC, Serns “pulled the plans together” and gave the students a truly “dynamic experience,” Wibberding said.

For 12 hours a day on eight consecutive Saturdays in October and November 2022, PUC students and participating church members led out in Sabbath School and worship services at three San Francisco Seventh-day Adventist churches — Philadelphian, Central, and Tabernacle.

After lunch on each of the days, students and local members engaged in community outreach — from literature evangelism to Bible studies. 

Theology student Luiggi Loconi Cruz said his goal going into the class was to focus on youth ministry.

“But when I noticed there weren’t any youth in those churches, it really shocked me,” he said. “However, God helped me explore other skills that He has for me and challenged me to bring youth into His churches.”

For student Alexander Maceda, getting a “raw taste of ministry” was incredibly moving.

“I was able to practice the skills and talents that God has given me in the work that He wants me to do for Him.”

Ultimately, it was the personal connections that moved people.

In a November 20 Facebook post, Serns recounted how PUC student Thào Kristine Trán knocked on the door of a woman named Melinda.  They quickly connected and became friends. They had Bible studies together, and Trán introduced her to the Philadelphian Seventh-day Adventist Church just a few blocks away.

Two weeks later, Melinda joined Trán, going door-to-door to spread the gospel news.

After evangelism students returned to the church to share their experiences from the day, there was a teaching session by either a pastor or an experienced church leader.

On the last Saturday (Sabbath), nine people were baptized among the three churches. Trán, along with the Philadelphian church pastors, baptized Melinda.

Trán posted photos of that commemorative event on Facebook and said it was “one of the joys of life … to allow God to lead another soul to the kingdom of God.” 

Wibberding said PUC ministry students enjoy “biblically deep and practically profound religion classes.” These prepare students to contribute to Adventist mission well after graduation, he said.

The hands-on class is just one of those.

“This is one small window into the many ways that our PUC students learn to live their faith to shape their world,” Wibberding said. 

The original story was posted on the Pacific Union College news site.