Blessing Brings Blessings
by J. Rendon
The more you bless, the more you’re blessed! I believe this is a basic principle of God’s Word and has been my Adventist experience for the past 35 years in San Antonio, Texas. For about five years before that, I must confess, I had been living a morally degrading, worldly lifestyle; I was living the “vida loca.” But God took pity on me and changed the direction of my life.
It was the morning I sent my five year old daughter, who was temporarily staying with me at my “bachelor pad” apartment, downstairs by herself to get my cigarettes from my car. When my daughter didn’t return after a while, I went downstairs, only to find her talking with a young lady. I later found out that the woman was a social worker, working with Child Protective Services.
I apologized to the social worker who turned out to be my new neighbor who had recently moved into the apartment directly below mine. We soon began to see and greet each other on nearly a daily basis.
Being attracted to her, I tried to invite her to go dancing and drinking with me. To me, this was the way to start a friendly relationship with an attractive, single female. Little did I know, meeting her was God’s way of rescuing me from my worldly, self-destructive lifestyle. She is a third generation Adventist and demonstrated a tremendous testimony.
Instead of this new neighbor being another conquest for me, I became another conquest for God through her. She would not accept my invites to go drinking and dancing; instead, she would invite me to go to church with her. After a few of my failed invites, I finally accepted her invitation to go to church. When she told me her church meetings were on Saturday, I smiled and jokingly said, “Nobody goes to church on Saturday!” I didn’t realize it then, but I had just learned my first Bible truth since my childhood when my mother used to read the Bible to my brothers and me before she died.
The week after I accompanied my neighbor to her Seventh-day Adventist Church, I was invited to enroll in a Book of Revelations Bible Study. I accepted. I began to study the Word of God daily. By regularly studying the Bible, I came to the conclusion that God’s Holy Spirit teaches us and we must continually pray for His guiding each time we study. I learned that the Word of God transforms us from where we are to where God wants us to be.
I later married the beautiful social worker that witnessed to me. Together, we await the Second Coming. Together, we say to all: “Onward my beloved brethren; Jesús is coming soon, and we must prepare to meet Him!”
New Beginnings Brings New Life to Austin South
ASI Southwest | by Sean Carney
sermon title indelibly etched itself into my brain many years ago. While details have faded, the essence remains: “When Fishers Don’t Fish, They Fight.” Your church may not have fighting issues, but if it does, there is a tried and true remedy: evangelism. Evangelism brings life.
Our new pastor, Dr. Anthony Raybourne, noticing our church was “D E D Ded, no ‘A’ for alive,” quickly pointed out our lack of outreach and abundance of infighting. To remedy the situation, he encouraged us to get out of our comfort zones and get involved in active outreach and evangelism. It worked. Baptisms commenced.
The baptismal tank was filled and the pump engaged, but there was a problem. The water was red. We were embarrassed. It was caused by rust from the pipes. The rusty pipes were both a rebuke and a challenge. Fortunately, the water is clear again.
While some attrition occurred, church growth resumed. Our challenge? A lack of Total Member Involvement. How could we revitalize the church and excite and empower our members?
We began Bible study training with Bible-marking classes. We encouraged the congregation to give Bible studies to missing members and their unreached families. Baptisms did result, but the Bible-marking was time consuming and dependent upon a class schedule. In the vernacular of the 21st century tech sector, this didn’t scale. We needed another solution.
Pastor Raybourne discovered the New Beginnings Evangelism Resource from ASI, available online at asiministries.org/newbeginnings. ASI was called and a session was scheduled for our two district churches to come together for intensive training that would take place in two months. Praise the Lord, but…two months? Pastor Raybourne decided to train some of the elders immediately. A Spanish speaking group was established in the home of a newly-baptized member. The concept was proven, and we were hooked.
On July 13, 2019, Barbara Taylor, ASI’s National Coordinator of New Beginnings training, conducted a full day of training at the Austin South Seventh-day Adventist Church in Austin, Texas. We had a couple of problems: we ran out of parking and we ran out of seating in the sanctuary. Overflow seating was quickly set up in the church foyer.
Since that weekend, multiple New Beginnings groups have been established and baptisms are scheduled. Our youth are also being trained to give the New Beginnings presentations. Our refugee members are being encouraged to use the materials in their evangelism. The studies are available in many languages and more are coming.
If your church is needing some new life and renewed vigor, consider New Beginnings.
– Pew Research Center
Chapters with God
by Olivia Hale
ust hung in the morning light that danced across shelves stacked high with books. I peeked at the cover of one book, and not seeing what I wanted, continued digging deeper into the stack. Something familiar caught my eye, but the title was almost worn off. I gingerly opened the vintage cover and the hidden gem was revealed: The Great Controversy, printed in 1888. I couldn’t wait to call my customer back and tell them the good news.
When God moved me away from a career in the medical industry and into the book industry, I had conflicting emotions. I knew I was following His leading, and I knew there was ministry in books, but I felt it wasn’t as tangible as walking into a hospital room and getting a sick patient out of bed. Others I met who had similarly been called into new ministries understood and supported the transition, but it was those who questioned my move that sparked in me a desire to truly understand the importance of the publishing and writing ministry.
Working for TEACH Services was an immediate blessing and the perfect place to gain an appreciation for the reach of the written word. My main responsibility was as the Director of LNF (Lost and Found) used books, but when I began taking on other roles, I was inspired by what I saw. In a world where money is the focus for many, it was refreshing to start working for a place focused on responsible publishing.
It became clear to me what a precious responsibility we have as publishers, writers, and book sellers to present only materials which glorify God. I found myself on the phone or emailing with people from all around the world who were excited to pursue their writing ministry, or excited to find an out-of-print book with an important message they feared had been lost forever. I was exhilarated when I filled up my first box of books for the mission field, knowing many would use them to learn about their Creator while also learning English.
When I started writing and helping design for projects, I become even more aware that my work isn’t just a job or a paycheck—it’s an honor and a meaningful responsibility in the service of our King. When we call ourselves Christians, we are representatives of Christ, and what we put into digital or physical print may have a lasting impact of which we know nothing. I think of the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Jesus made it clear that those talents were to be multiplied faithfully in the service of the Master.
I used to think we had to choose one career path and work our way to the top, or that we all needed college degrees. I’ve learned from joining the book publishing ministry that God just wants us to follow Him wherever He leads, even if that means multiple career changes, or no career at all. Whether writers or publishers, doctors or physical therapists, truck drivers or mechanics, teachers or volunteers, we are to do whatever He gives us to do with all our might (see Ecc. 9:10).
When I followed God’s leading away from the health field to TEACH Services, I felt certain I wouldn’t be reaching as many souls. Yet God showed me instead that when you go where He wants you to go in ministry, even when it doesn’t make sense from a human perspective, you will reach more people and be used in more ways than you ever imagined. No matter where God places you, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6, NKJV).