When I had the privilege of beginning my service as Vice President for Multilingual Ministries, in January of this year, I knew that God had great plans in store for the North American Division (NAD). One of the first initiatives I had to deal with, was how to continue to implement the vision that my predecessor, Elder Ernest Castillo had launched, to establish within the Hispanic community, 15,000 Small Groups (SG) across the North American Division by 2020. This was a daunting task, but an exciting one as I knew that this had the potential to become something great! Why was this a priority? Because Ellen G. White wrote the following, regarding SG:
The formation of small companies as a basis of Christian effort is a plan that has been presented before me by One who cannot err. If there is a large number in the church, let the members be formed into small companies, to work not only for the church members, but for unbelievers also. Australasian Union Record, August 15, 1902.
I met with the Union Hispanic Coordinators in January and shared with them a vision that God had placed on my heart, to have a Caravan of Training, all throughout the NAD, and to give resources to the Conference Coordinators, Pastors and Leaders of Small Groups so that they could be equipped to begin Small Group ministries or enhance what was already taking place. The Coordinators agreed with the plan and an itinerary was prepared. The Caravan would begin September 7, covering 30 cities, in 21 states, across 6 of the 9 Unions in the NAD. Training had already taken place in 2 of the Unions and the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada would participate via social media. In August, we sent out over 13,000 kits, that included 21 lessons and studies, all relating to SG to the 9 Unions across the NAD.
As the Caravan progressed, I listened to Elder Alejandro Bullon, the main presenter, emphasis three major themes over and over:
1. To have a healthy spiritual life, you must do three things:
a. Pray everyday
b. Read the Bible everyday
c. Bring at least one person to Jesus
2. There are three types of people in the world, concerning spiritual growth:
a. Those that are seeking truth on their own – small number
b. Those that seek the Lord because a catastrophic event has happened in their life – small number
c. Those that are not seeking to change and will most likely not set foot in a different Denominational Church – the majority are in this group
3. Bringing someone to Jesus is the easiest thing to do:
a. People may not want to visit your church, but they will follow you anywhere if they know you care and are a genuine friend.
b. Just love people! Show them compassion.
c. How is this accomplished:
“Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’” – Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 143.
Friends from the community will come to our homes if they know we genuinely care for them. That was the goal of the Caravan of Training, to equip pastors and leaders of Small Groups on how to establish, maintain and succeed with Healthy Small Groups ministry!
Our president, Elder Daniel Jackson, reminds us often that the NAD is about mission and to remain focused on bringing people to Jesus. I believe that SG, as Ellen G. White pointed out and has already been proven to be successful, will be the instrument that God will use in this important and historic time in earth’s history, to finish the work, so that Jesus can come, and we can go home. Do you want to see Jesus come again soon? Join the Movement and let get it done!
Tony Anobile serves as the Vice President for Multilingual Ministries of the North American Division.