Talking and living the church’s mission is never far from a Seventh-day Adventist gathering. It was not the exception for the more than 300 Adventist laypeople, church leaders, and government officials who met on the opening session of the Inter-American Division (IAD) Adventist-laymen Services and Industries (ASi) convention in Nassau, The Bahamas, on August 21. The annual event, taking place this year at the Atlantis Convention Center under the theme “Reviving the Spirit of Service,” drew Adventist professionals, entrepreneurs, and others in ministry to worship, network, get training, and gain inspiration to better share Christ in the marketplace.
This gathering is not by chance, said James F. Daniel, an IAD vice-president and ASi-IAD secretary at the conference’s opening meeting.
“You have traveled from far and wide to be here, for a purpose that is pregnant with design,” he told attendees. “In the following few days, we will listen to plenaries and workshop presentations, but we will also spend valuable time one on one so that not only everyone is heard but valued. Because without you, there would not be ASi,” Daniel emphasized.
Leonard Johnson, IAD executive secretary, concurred.
“The Inter-American Division is all about mission, but to accomplish it, we need people,” he said as he welcomed attendees. “We value each one of you as business professionals, and as we come together, we recognize that we need you to help us reach the secular world,” he said. “May this event help us to revive our spirit of service.”
ASi-IAD president Marston Thomas reminded the audience that the Adventist lay ministry convention is not an end in itself. There is an ultimate purpose in these exchanges, he said.
“This is a place where we meet to share ideas that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, will enhance God’s mission,” Thomas said. “It’s all about mission.”
As part of his welcoming remarks, ASi-Bahamas president Ian Greene shared that just before the event, mission-minded volunteers had supported an ASi-led initiative in the Nassau community and also that recent ASi missionary activities in Guyana had resulted in at least 85 baptisms.
“When we join hands together, we are going to accomplish great things,” Greene said.
On behalf of the Bahamas government, the Honorable K. Peter Turnquest, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, attended the opening ceremony and addressed the audience. While he transmitted the greetings of the Bahamas prime minister, Hubert Minnis, Turnquest said that for him personally, it was “a tremendous pleasure” to be present.
“My relationship with the Seventh-day Adventist Church goes very far back; I have always appreciated your support, prayers, and encouragement,” he said.
Turnquest added that it is something he would like see go on, as he requested Adventist church members to have him and his fellow officers in their thoughts and prayers. “Please pray for us and pray for our government,” he said. “And I hope this [convention] can be an experience for you to be renewed personally, professionally, and spiritually.”
A Place for Every Worker
The keynote speaker for the night was IAD president Elie Henry. Henry said he could see in ASi-IAD members people who are thankful for what the Lord has done in their lives.
“You have come from different ASi chapters across the IAD, and you have come, I believe, with a lot of gratitude in your hearts. God has been very good to me, and to you too. If you can be here, it is just because you are enjoying many things the Lord has given you,” Henry said.
Now the challenge is, he said, how to answer to all that the Lord has done on our behalf. Quoting Psalm 116:12, Henry asked, “What I shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” And he explained, “Where we talk about reviving the spirit of service we must start with God. When we see how good the Lord is with us, we must decide to witness everywhere, to do mission as an answer to all the Lord has done for us.”
Quoting again Psalm 116, Henry invited ASi members to “take the cup of salvation,” “call upon the name of the Lord,” and “pay vows unto the Lord … in the presence of all his people” (vv. 13, 14). He reminded them, “Everything we have comes from God, and God does not need anything, but He wants to be our partner in our business, the One who will guide us through.”
Henry explained that what God has done should be our motivation to serve. Each one of us has to tell himself or herself, “I will be compassionate; I will be like Jesus, so wherever I am, everyone can see that I am serving God.”
This is a life-changer, Henry explained, as we are living in a time for Christians to be bold and share who they are. “Seventh-day Adventists must share that they are believers, and strong believers that Jesus is coming soon,” Henry said. “The Lord is interested in what I am doing now, in how I prosper now, how I can be the best citizen, the best person possible, so I can serve others as Jesus did.”
The 2019 ASi-IAD convention continues until August 24.