The Friday evening service was a special welcome to the Sabbath at the 2023 Adventist Laymen’s Services and Industries (ASi) Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, United States. ASi members, advocates and their families filled the main hall of the convention center for moments of congregational singing, reflection, and study of God’s Word.
The keynote speaker was Dwain Esmond, associate director of the White Estate at the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. For years, ASi has partnered with the White Estate, which is in charge of keeping, compiling, translating, and distributing the writings of Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White.
Based on the message of Isaiah 57:15, where the prophet shares God’s plan to heal and restore the backsliders, Esmond called convention attendees to reflect on God’s grace on our behalf. “Grace is the single best thing that has been given to us,” he said. “And this is not ordinary grace.… It’s grace for the mixed up, grace for the messed up, and grace for the mashed up,” Esmond emphasized. “God’s grace is so good that it heals our broken spirits and reforms our habits and fills us with power. It’s so good that God put it in human flesh — Jesus, the Chief Grace Officer of the universe.”
Songs and Inspiration
The service began with a half hour of congregational singing. In a traditional family-room setup, three generations of Adventist members led hundreds of people in singing hymns on the Sabbath, faith, and salvation.
A special presentation featured Justin Kim, Adventist Review and Adventist World editor. Kim reminded his audience of the historical role of Present Truth and later Advent Review & Sabbath Herald, as Adventist Review was called in earlier years. After 174 years of publication, that same longing to encourage, nurture, and inspire Adventist members around the world keeps driving the mission of the Review, as it is commonly known, to help prepare a people for Jesus’ second coming, Kim said.
The ASi convention included a robust youth program from children and young people. Experienced coordinators led activities for groups from Nursery to Youth. As part of the August 4 evening program, every group shared with the audience in the hall what they had been working on during the week. Children and teens sang and shared Bible verses learned and relearned during the week.
“Always remember that ‘Gospel begins with GO!’ ” Christian Martin said. Martin and his wife, Heidi, coordinated the Juniors group during the convention. From crafts to team-based challenges, Juniors discovered the power of the gospel and how to share it, according to Martin, a pastor in Virginia, United States. “Students learned how to give a gospel presentation and share good news with others, as they also learned inspiring lessons from guest speakers and real-life missionaries.”
Loving People Like Jesus
At the close of his Friday evening message, Esmond reminded his audience that as followers of God we have a “toolbox” with tools we can use to reach others in the end time of this world. “We have love, and we have joy,” he said, adding the rest of the characteristics that make up what is known as the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22). “God has given us mighty tools to use in the end of time to bring men and women to him,” Esmond said. “And we need to have more than one tool in our toolbox.”
To explain his point, Esmond emphasized that while we must tell people where they are wrong, it is key that we love people as Jesus did. “Tonight, God is telling us, ‘I’m with this church, but if I’m going to be with this church, this church has to love the lost,” he said. “This church must be My hands and My feet, and the love of Jesus must encircle the lost. This church must get messy with people’s lives and love them back to Jesus.”