April 17, 2020 COVID-19 Update
Evangelism Changing Lives
“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20 NKJV)
Many of us are familiar with Joseph’s story, of God’s rescue and family reunion. How God took what looked like crisis and pain and redeemed it. Saving Joseph’s family and God’s people from famine. God is doing the same thing through this pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic may have closed the doors to church buildings, but it did not stop evangelism or mission—instead it spread the message to people and parts of the world it would not have reached otherwise.
Here are several examples:
The COVID-19 pandemic may have closed the doors to church buildings, but it did not stop evangelism or mission. Hispanic churches had planned a week-long evangelistic series for April 4-11, 2020. They were no longer able to invite people to their churches, but they did not give up. Instead, they committed to being digital missionaries, using their personal social media pages to promote and invite people to attend meetings offered live on Facebook. Hispanic pastors from across the Pennsylvania Conference united together as a team behind the scenes and took turns preaching.
Their series received more than 19,000 views and was shared 678 times, with an average attendance of 191 people during the live sessions. One woman watching faithfully online was from a Pentecostal church. The messages and truths moved on her heart and she decided to start returning her tithe to the Seventh-day Adventist Church as she continues to study.
Pastor Saud Elias, Pennsylvania Conference Hispanic Ministries Coordinator, left his hometown in La Concepción, Junín, Peru thirty-five years ago. During the Holy Week meetings, people in La Concepción joined the live stream and listened to the service. As Pastor Elias preached on Sabbath, the Holy Spirit moved on the heart of his uncle who made the decision to be baptized.
“It was a total surprise when my cousin sent the photo of my uncle watching me preach,” shares Elias. “I never imagined a video could impact people that far away. I am so thankful that God used my preaching to reach my uncle.”
As the week-long meetings came to a close, Hispanic pastors discussed how to follow up and continue Bible studies in person during the pandemic and stay-at-home orders. They posted the phone number of
Braulio Jiminez during the meetings and invited those interested in a free Bible or free Bible studies to contact Jiminez who would drop them off at their doorstep. Twenty-six requests for Bible studies and thirteen requests for Bibles were received. Jiminez dropped them at each door, making connections and encouraging people to share the Bibles and studies with a friend or neighbor.
“Reaching everyone, everywhere takes all of us united together to fulfill the mission,” states Gary Gibbs, Pennsylvania Conference president. “Our Hispanic pastors showed us what that looks like lived out. They didn’t let the pandemic interrupt their plans to share the gospel. They united together as a team and reached their communities—and communities in other parts of the world. This is what it will take to finish the work.”
Reach & Connect
One of our strategic mission initiatives recognizes that over 95 percent of Americans are online. We have recognized that social media is the new front line of evangelism, based on Christ’s method to mingle with people where they are, sympathize with them, meet their needs, invite them to follow Jesus, and connect them with a local church family in their community. Last fall we launched a Facebook page and digital media plan to intentionally connect with people, engage them in conversations, invite them to do Bible studies, and connect them with a local Bible instructor. It’s been exciting to watch people request Bible studies—and then another lesson and another.
Two weeks ago, Pastor Dustin Hall, our church planting director, began a three-week evangelistic series on this Facebook page. Every evening, seven nights a week, a group has gathered to watch his live presentations and then join the Facebook group connected with the series to download the study guide and engage in conversation. Several have been faithfully watching each night and participating in conversation. Hall will connect those interested in Bible instructors in their area to continuing studying and welcome them to a church in their community.
It Is Written
Beginning tonight, Friday, April 17, 2020, It Is Written will conduct a virtual, online evangelistic event presented by Pastor John Bradshaw, It Is Written speaker/director. The month-long series, entitled Revelation Today: Hope Awakens, will present the prophetic message of the Bible while speaking to hearts burdened by anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. Pennsylvania Conference churches and pastors will be a part of this series—It Is Written’s largest evangelistic event ever. As people across Pennsylvania “attend” this month-long series, our pastors and members will connect with those interested, sharing Bible studies and building relationships. Register to be a part of this series and invite your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers to register and find hope even in the midst of crisis. Register at https://www.learnhopeawakens.com/webinar-registration.
When you receive your confirmation email or response from It Is Written, please respond and let them know you are a church member and you do not need them to follow up with you.
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We are excited that about 90% of our churches are meeting for worship, Sabbath School classes, prayer meeting, vespers, seminars, and even “church socials” through conference calls, Zoom meetings, and through live streamed services. For those whose churches are not able to offer worship services, our conference leadership team invites you to worship with us:
Note you do not need to have a Facebook page in order to view our online worship service. Just click to proceed to the page without creating your own profile.
The worship services will be archived on both Facebook and YouTube for those who would like to enjoy the service later in the day, after your church service is over.
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Sabbath School Classes
We are also providing Sabbath School classes for children and adults. Please contact your pastor or the Conference office for the Zoom links:
- Kindergarten Sabbath School Class at 9:30 am each Sabbath morning with Schwanda Morgan
- Primary Sabbath School Class at 10:00 am each Sabbath morning with Julissa Boyce
- Junior Sabbath School Class at 10:00 am each Sabbath morning with Priscilla Gonzalez
- Youth Sabbath School Class at 2:00 pm each Sabbath afternoon with Todd Casey, Youth Director
- Adult Sabbath School Class at 10:00 am each Sabbath morning
- Pathfinder Teen Leadership Training at 1:00 pm each Sabbath afternoon with Doug Miller
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By My Spirit – Prayer
Prayer for the Holy Spirit is the foundation of success in God’s work and one of our strategic mission initiatives. As church members pray daily for the outpouring of the Spirit, we will see the promised blessing come. “To those who wait humbly upon God…is the Spirit given. The power of God awaits their demand and reception. This promised blessing, claimed by faith, brings all other blessings in its train.” (The Desire of Ages, p. 672) We invite you to join with us in prayer through a variety of ways:
Share your prayer requests with us:
Unite with us in prayer:
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Connect with Us
We know that connecting with others is important, especially while we all stay safely home. It’s important to stay healthy. And those who have children at home may have bored kids at home. We want to be here for you, so we’ve started several new Facebook groups and invite you to join:
- Staying Healthy – Join this Facebook group on our Pennsylvania Conference Facebook page and enjoy exercise videos, resources, recipes and more. Direct link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PaStayingHealthy/
- Families United Together – A place for families to connect, find resources and activities to build strong families who love and serve God, use their gifts to serve their communities, and build strong relationships. https://www.facebook.com/groups/FamiliesUnitedTogether/
- United in Worship – Miss our Sabbath morning worship service or during the week devotionals? We’ll archive them all in this group for easy access so that you don’t need to scroll through our page finding the video you’d like. https://www.facebook.com/groups/UnitedinWorship/
- United in Prayer – Unite with us in prayer for each other, for the ministries and needs of the conference, for the requests that come in from our website or prayer line. Currently, we’re spending two weeks praying for a different aspect of the pandemic or group of people impacted by it. https://www.facebook.com/groups/PaUnitedTogetherinPrayer/
- Youth Ministries – If you are between the ages of 13-18 or have teens, this page is dedicated to keeping you informed of events happening across the Conference. https://www.facebook.com/groups/PAYouthMinistries/
- Young Adult Ministries – This group is for those over 18 and will include resources and events connecting young adults to each other, to Christ and to the Church. https://www.facebook.com/groups/PAYoungAdults/
- Women United Together – A place for women to come together for encouragement, resources, and more. Watch for Bible studies, video devotionals, and live events. https://www.facebook.com/groups/PAWomenUnitedTogether/