, North American Division
Daniel R. Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, said church members serve an amazing God who invites them into partnership with Him to reveal His grace to a world in need.
Jackson, preaching a Sabbath sermon titled “The Collaborators,” challenged delegates, families, and guests attending the 2015 North American Division year-end meetings to rely upon God’s strength, not their own, to follow His calling and leading.
The sermon was preceded by a moving introduction by G. Alex Bryant, the division’s executive secretary, who reminded the audience how he had introduced Jackson, “friend, colleague, and brother,” exactly a year ago. Bryant said before Jackson’s sermon at the 2014 year-end meetings that he believed God still had more work for the division under the leadership Jackson.
Bryant said Sabbath, Oct. 31, that Jackson’s re-election at the General Conference Session in San Antonio, Texas, last July validated this.
“The Lord did have more work for Daniel Richard Jackson to do in the NAD,” Bryant said.
Following the introduction, Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, was invited onstage to offer a prayer of dedication for Jackson and his administrative team. Jackson’s wife, Donna, joined Bryant, division treasurer Tom Evans, and Jackson on stage along with the division vice presidents.
The sermon expanded on the theme of this year’s year-end meetings, “The Grand Collaboration.” Jackson explained that while a partnership between people was vital, the idea focused instead on collaboration between God and His children.
Jackson acknowledged that often God hears people reply to His call with excuses of inabilities and weakness, But Jackson, citing 2 Corinthians 12:9, said God still stoops down and reminds them, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
Jackson emphasized that God’s call for a “grand collaboration” was an invitation to rely upon His strength, not human efforts.
“God calls us to serve Him by witnessing for Him in whatever state we find ourselves,” Jackson told the more than 400 guests in attendance and a live television audience watching the live broadcast on the Adventist Church-run Hope Channel. “At our very weakest point, with all of our self-perceived deficiencies, when we are thriving or when we are diving, God says, ‘I want you!’ His message is that as we link our arms with His mighty arm, that we become the collaborators!”
Jackson set the tone for his sermon by sharing one of his favorite paintings, Emile Renouf’s “A Helping Hand.” In this painting, Renouf depicts a young girl and her grandfather in a small rowboat. The little girl, hands on the oars, believes she is rowing the boat. It is evident looking at the strong face of her grandfather that he is in fact rowing.
“You are not insignificant! Connected to the will, to the might of God, even our infirmities can become strengths,” Jackson said. “The weakest individual in the hands of God can become a mighty agent of His grace and salvation.”
Jackson, for the most part, illustrated his sermon with the story of Deborah, the only female judge mentioned in the Bible. Deborah also led the Israelites in a successful counterattack against the military forces of Canaanite King Jabin and his commander, Sisera.
Deborah stood up and led the military attack against the Canaanites when the male military leaders of Israel would not. Jackson noted that Deborah “saw what was happening to her people and was personally angered by it. She couldn’t just shrug it off.”
“If the church is in trouble today, then you and I have a problem,” Jackson said. “True leadership mandates full engagement with the issues that we face. There is no such thing as ducking out of the way from an issue.”
Jackson concluded his sermon by asking if the audience believed that God could use a 99-year-old person, a 29-year-old, or even a 9-year-old, to accomplish his work. He then welcomed Ariadna, a 9-year-old church member from Wheaton, Maryland. Her parents, Juan and Lerina Reyes, as well as their pastor, Willy Benzaquen, joined her onstage.
The Reyes family, originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, visited many denominations before attending the Wheaton Spanish Adventist Church. Adriadna was baptized last year at the age of 8.
She then told her parents that she wanted to start a home church in their home. Her small group grew to 30 people, mostly her neighborhood friends aged 8 to 10. Soon several of those friends joined the Adventurer Club with full support from their parents.
Adriadna told Jackson on Sabbath that her parents were baptized this past August. Jackson turned to the audience and asked: If God could use a child like Adriadna, couldn’t He certainly use everyone?