Planting Seeds in Our Neighborhood
by Rebecca Barnhurst and Dr. Andi Hunsaker
MEN members Drs. Andi & Bob Hunsaker decided to turn the Coronavirus scare into an opportunity to witness to their neighbors. Without missing a beat, they took materials AMEN was working on (before they were even designed and ready!) and created a handout with a personal message and distributed them to their neighbors.
Dr. Andi says, “Our ultimate goal is to gain Bible studies with our neighbors. My approach was to exclude any religion at this point to get them on board with plant-based cooking classes at our home when this pandemic is all done. At that time, we will give them the option of Bible studies.”
The Hunsakers chose to use health evangelism as the entering wedge to reach their neighbors who may not have been interested if traditional evangelism methods were tried first. Within a day of distributing the materials, Dr. Andi received two positive responses.
AMEN has a number of resources that can offer encouragement and witnessing opportunities during this time. These resources include health principles that can easily be shared with friends, family, and strangers! This simple handout can be personalized or given out ‘as is’ to patients, colleagues, and others.
Witnessing in our immediate sphere of influence can be difficult, but we believe God is calling us to step out of our comfort zones and trust that He will take the seeds that we plant and nurture them as they grow.
Below is a sample of the letter that Drs. Hunsaker wrote to their neighbors to give you witnessing ideas.
Hello Neighbors, Friends,
No doubt many of you realize that the world is in a crisis of pandemic proportions. A fast-moving virus is raging through countries at break-neck speed. Reports of the Coronavirus are dominating the news and creating fear in the hearts of tens of thousands of people. However, we, as physicians and your neighbors, want to reach out and give you some hope and practical steps you can take to improve your chances of prevention or shortening the symptomatic course, should you become infected.
Life just two months ago, and in fact one month ago, was relatively normal. It is amazing how quickly life as we know it in this nation has changed. Schools suspended, business people working from home, hospitals ramping down elective procedures and surgeries, restaurants and some stores temporarily closed, churches and synagogues closed, to name a few. “Social distancing” has become the new norm. There are new reports just surfacing that younger people (20-40 years of age) are not immune. Anyone with lungs is susceptible to the disease. Reports coming out of Italy indicate that a significant number of millennials have become extremely ill with the disease. Our intent is to offer simple tips for maintaining good health and preventing infection or shortening the symptoms should you contract Coronavirus.
We hope that these tips help and if any of you are interested in how to implement a plant-based diet, we would like to have you over when this is all over for plant-based cooking classes. Sample Recipe on the attached page.
With Kindest Regards, your friends and neighbors
Drs. Bob and Andi Hunsaker
– The Traveling Team
Sharing the Gospel While Stuck at Home
by Center for Online Evangelism
ommunities of faith are not immune to the disruptions caused by the global COVID-19 crisis. Most forms of traditional evangelism are now difficult or outright prohibited.
When governments restricted gatherings of more than a specified amount of people, the physical doors of most churches had to close. The virtual doors, however, remain wide open.
While the world lacked preparation for such a devastating pandemic, God’s plans will always persevere. He has provided avenues that allow us to continue our work of ministering to the needs of others. Even during a time when everyone is isolated, digital evangelism can carry on the work of spreading the Gospel truth and reaching out to those who are hurting.
Now, as churches race to adjust to online worship services and video conference board meetings and prayer meetings, The Center for Online Evangelism (COE) is here to help the ministries of the Adventist church adapt to these new conditions by providing resources and training for several methods of digital evangelism.
When we can’t meet together physically, we can meet together online to discuss important topics and learn from one another. Using online video conferencing software such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, or Google Hangouts, has become the primary method used during this time to assist churches, schools and conferences as they transition to a digital space.
For example, administrators of the Grenada Conference connected with COE to organize a webinar that helped pastors and church leaders learn how to utilize online platforms to continue their ministries. As a result, the conference launched a successful virtual Sabbath program.
Several other recorded webinars, which are now available on the COE website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page, have spurred fruitful conversations among the attendees. They have been sharing their experiences in online mission work after implementing the digital methods discussed in the webinars.
Working with ASI Ministries
As the global situation developed, ASI Ministries noticed the immediate need to expand digital efforts. To help equip their constituency, they partnered with COE to provide a series of training seminars for churches, conferences, and other ministries.
Driven by their mission to empower people to “share Christ in the marketplace,” it made sense to train members on how to share Christ online through webinars that can become shareable videos. The more we can empower our laypeople, the more opportunities there are to reach individuals we may otherwise never meet.
So far, nearly 1,000 individuals from around the world have registered for these webinars, and there’s more to come. Members from countries such as the Philippines, Mongolia, South Africa, and the Bahamas are participating in these training sessions and have begun implementing the methods they learned.
Collaborating with Digital Missionaries
In response to this global crisis, COE sought to connect with individual digital missionaries. Online workers like Matthew Lucio and Dustin Pestlin shared their experience working in the digital field (these videos are posted on the COE YouTube channel). As a result, viewers were able to quickly put these strategies into action, which also inspired others to become part of the conversation.
COE also partners with the North American Division’s Social Media and Big Data Services department, collaborating on webinars and resource distribution. You can find several of these articles and recorded webinars on the COE Facebook page as well as by visiting sdadata.org/goingdigitalcovid19.html.
There are several small groups and individuals out on the front lines of digital ministry for the Adventist church, and we can learn so much through the sharing of how God has worked in the ministries of others. COE works to curate these resources from established digital missionaries so even more can learn from their ideas and inspiration.
(If you’re a digital missionary and are interested in collaborating with COE, contact email@example.com)
Video Conferencing Assistance
One very specific need for churches, schools, and ministries during this time is a reliable method of staying in touch and keeping conversations going. Video conferencing is the next best thing to meeting in person, but there is a learning curve involved for those who have never had to use these types of tools before.
What’s more, aside from learning how to use these digital tools, there are necessary precautions to understand. Especially for business, education, and faith communities, it’s important to learn how to safeguard against uncooperative participants or online “trolls” that can interrupt group meetings.
In video conferencing, this is called “Zoombombing.” Some groups were subject to such “attacks” with interruptions during the live church program. To help churches and ministries prevent Zoombombing, COE is continually producing content on our YouTube channel and centerforonlineevangelism.org that teaches these preventive measures and will keep everyone updated as these digital processes progress.
(For information on how to safeguard Zoom video conference meetings, visit https://www.centerforonlineevangelism.org/how-to-prevent-zoombombing)
Staying Strong in a Time of Turmoil (and a Time of Opportunity)
While this worldwide crisis caused by COVID-19 has essentially put normal life on hold, COE has shifted into high gear to help Adventists thrive as much as possible while abiding by regulations to stay isolated. It’s difficult to tell how long these “shelter-in-place” mandates will continue, so our church has a responsibility to provide spiritual care for those who are online and need the hope found in Jesus.
However, even without the regulations to stay homebound, the evangelistic opportunities in the online mission field are abundant. Online content is consumed at an incredible rate as people across the age groups use their devices all throughout the day. This is where our young people are, and this is where spiritual seekers are. We’ve sifted through mounds of data that show people regularly googling for answers to questions about life, the Bible, God, Jesus, death, health, etc.
These are topics most Seventh-day Adventists are uniquely prepared to answer. By using digital methods and following best practices, we can embrace these countless opportunities that can provide hope and help to a demographic that desperately needs it—but otherwise may never cross paths with us. And with global circumstances as they are, what better time to begin or enhance our digital evangelism efforts?
We must also remember that we are competing with a myriad of online content. It’s important to produce quality work that well represents our commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and respects the culture of online communication. This is possible even without expensive equipment or a large budget.
The distinct message of hope Adventists can proclaim does not have to be silenced just because our buildings can’t be used right now. We can continue to embrace the Great Commission, using whatever tools and media we have available to us to share Christ in the marketplace and beyond.
To start or expand your digital evangelism efforts, find free resources at centerforonlineevangelism.org.
by Quiet Hour Ministries
wo Quiet Hour Ministries (QHM) mission teams were making their way to serve in Cuba just as scattered reports of COVID-19 were beginning to pop up around the United States. Little did they know what was coming in the days ahead. But God knew and He had a plan!
“We are praying for travel mercies for all of you,” Randy Bates, QHM president and CEO wrote the departing team. “I invite you to claim the promise in Proverbs 3:23,26: ‘Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble, for the Lord will be on your side.’”
Over the next few hours, QHM mission team members from around North America began to check in on the WhatsApp mission team group chat. “We are almost to Cuba!” reported team member Moraa, unaware of the incredible week that lay ahead of her.
The teams arrived safely on March 12. One team headed for the city of Pilón and the other to Niquero. Amazingly, all of their evangelism supplies made it through customs quickly. They weren’t even opened, which is uncommon for missions to Cuba. The teams were ready to focus all of their energy on their work.
First, each team tackled construction projects and held free clinics, sharing Jesus with hundreds of people along the way. In Pilón, team member Linda reported that attendance at the children’s program had jumped from 26 the first night to 54 the next. At the first clinic, the team served close to 200 people in four hours. In Niquero, they were also experiencing packed clinics and excellent progress on construction.
But back in the United States, Coronavirus was rapidly overwhelming the news as the seriousness of the situation started to mount. Back in the Quiet Hour Ministries office, prayers were going up for wisdom. Should the teams come home? Or should they continue the work?
Randy wrote the teams: “We are so excited as we hear how God is blessing your work in Cuba. We don’t want to bring you home early if we don’t have to.” The teams were relieved. They wanted to continue, praying they’d be able to finish what they started.
As the week went on, there were small challenges. In some places, there were whispers that the Americans were sent to spread the virus and warnings to not attend clinics. But people continued to flock to the clinics and the nightly meetings anyway.
However, by Thursday the virus situation had become more urgent and when the US State Department issued a level 4 travel advisory for US citizens, QHM knew it was time to bring the teams home, a few days early.
“As you have all heard,” Pastor Wes Peppers wrote, “it’s likely that we will need to leave for home as early as tomorrow. If you are planning to leave anything behind for the churches, do that tonight.”
At home, the QHM office team was scrambling to make arrangements on short notice to get the whole group safely home! The teams would take a bus 20 hours back to the airport in Havana, and then fly back to the US. The team was prepared, yet heartbroken to have to leave before the end of the mission.
But the miracle is this. The night before the teams left, they were incredibly blessed to witness baptisms from their work already! With even more to follow! While the final numbers are still coming in, this team knows they got to be part of something extra special.
Sunday evening, with everyone home safe and sound, Pastor Darryl Bentley shared with the group:
“The conference president in Cuba said that these two mission teams were the most impactful of any team from any group in his conference. Between the turn out from the clinics, the requests for Bible studies, and harvest of those ready for baptism, he said he was just overwhelmed by how the Lord worked.
“That affirms to me that we did the right thing by staying the course as long as possible and conducting our mission as the Lord directed us. I believe the timing to make it into the country and the timing to get everyone out was just as the Lord wanted. The enemy tried hard to derail us, but our teams stayed the course and the Lord got us through it all.”
God had a plan. A plan with perfect timing. And He used it all to His Glory.
Team member Janice shares, “Praise God! We came from Niquero where we were infused with love and peace through our experiences. May the peace we have stay with us as we come back to America during this chaotic time.”