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Moving To Expand God’s Mission

posted on January 17, 2014, under Conference, Relocation, Video Report by

Gods Next Stepping Stone

by Mike Cauley, Florida Conference President

We are amazed how God is leading us through our office relocation.

It started when Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) approached us with plans to use our back parking lot in their Interstate 4 expansion project.

The plan included a 20-foot sound wall to be built just a few feet from the west side of the building. This would not only have removed the visibility of the Conference from the Interstate but also eliminate nearly half of the building’s parking spaces. There would no longer be adequate parking for the Conference office and the Adventist Book Center.

We earnestly prayed about this challenge. However, by God’s grace, FDOT eventually offered to instead purchase the entire building. This enabled us to go forward with finding another facility and a better way to accomplish God’s mission.

After months of prayerful searching, God led us to a prime location. He worked everything out so we could purchase the existing building, including changing the developer’s original plans for the property. This new location will allow the Adventist Book Center to grow, to better serve the surrounding community, and to reach out with our health message. The building also has enough space so that we will no longer be required to rent off-site storage.

Our new home is well on its way to completion, and we look forward to all that God has in store for us. We trust God will lead us as we go forward to accomplish His will in Florida Conference.

This video is also available with Spanish subtitles.

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Treading Urban Ground Like Jesus

posted on January 17, 2014, under Conference by

by Gary Krause, MJ, Director of Adventist Mission, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland

Reprinted by permission, Ministry Magazine, May 2013

Sandal Feet

Nineteen hundred and one. The first year of the twentieth century. In New York City, the Tenement House Law of 1901 culminated years of effort by reformers to turn squalid and dangerous housing to be safer and healthier. The panic of 1901 started the first-ever crash on the New York Stock Exchange—and thousands of small investors limped away bankrupt. And in the summer of 1901, New York City withered under the deadliest heat wave in its history. In a one-week period, at least 989 people died in weather that Cole Thompson describes as “so hot it melted asphalt and drove scores of New Yorkers insane.”1

He noted: “For a solid week New Yorkers cursed, collapsed, threw themselves into wells, leaped to their deaths from bridges, overwhelmed morgues, and stretched police and hospital workloads beyond their limit…. Hundreds of horses lay dead and bloated in the street, preventing ambulance service and removal of the dead.”2 If you were planning to flee the city to find rural bliss, 1901 was as good a time as any.

Still, in 1901, a senior Adventist evangelist and leader, Stephen Haskell, then in his sixties, and his wife, Hetty, moved into—not out of—New York City. Some may wonder if they were ignoring advice from Adventist prophet Ellen White. On the contrary, she told the Haskells that God “was in your going.”3

After four days of house hunting, they found an apartment. On the periphery of the city? In a rural outpost with an acre of green grass, docile cows, and a vegetable garden? No. In the heart of the city, a couple of blocks from the southeast corner of Central Park. “Do not let our brethren forget to pray for us,” wrote Haskell. “Do not forget the address: 400 West 57th St., New York City.”4

Haskell marveled at the urban jungle his wife and he now called home. “In this city there are some buildings over thirty stories high,” he wrote. “In the building where we live there are fifty-three families. The building is seven stories high, and two elevators run night and day.”5

The Haskells were following Ellen White’s counsel that, instead of just preaching to people, Christ’s followers should follow His incarnational ministry—living and ministering among the community. “It is through the social relations that Christianity comes in contact with the world,” she wrote.6 And further: “Our experienced workers should strive to place themselves where they will come in direct contact with those needing help.”7 So it was that in November 1901, Haskell wrote from the heart of New York City: “[We] work among all classes of people.”8

Treading the Ground
Some years ago, a young Global Mission pioneer taught me some valuable lessons about mission. Like the Haskells, Budiman Soreng and his family moved to live among the people to whom they would minister. Church planting at any time is tough work. But when Budiman arrived at his assigned location to plant a church, there was bloody tribal fighting in the streets—complete with beheadings and cannibalism.

When I visited that place, it was some time later (I’m happy to say). By this time, Budiman had established three groups of believers. I asked him how he did it. How did he go about contacting people, touching their lives, and leading them to Jesus?

He smiled and told me, through a translator, that he did not start by preaching at the people. First, he prayed. “At midnight I prayed, ‘Lord, first work in my heart,'” he said. “‘Then I can work with the people. Let me say what Jesus would say.'”

He also “studied the situation”—the place and the people. He wanted to understand the local culture. He then started making friends with Animists, Muslims, Chinese Buddhists, as well as other Christians. “I played football with the people, went jogging in the mornings, and worked with them in the rice fields,” he said.

Budiman soon began visiting in homes, opening the Bible, and sharing with people in their local dialect. At last report, several years ago, more than 200 people had been baptized and, with the help of four other pioneers, five new areas opened up to Adventist work.

The key for successful outreach, Budiman told me, is to be humble. And then he said something I have never forgotten: “We have an expression here—‘we tread the ground.’ That means ‘we come here, we become like the people here.'” That, I thought, is one of the best descriptions of the Incarnation I’ve heard.

The huge mission challenge of rapidly growing urban areas—where most of the world now lives—is daunting. We are like David facing a multitude of Goliaths. How do we best use our limited resources to reach these people? What methodologies should we try? How do we even begin to try to engage the different people groups, cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, nonreligious beliefs?

Budiman reminds us of the fundamental mission principles. As followers of Jesus, we cannot be content with just remote-control, from-a-distance, drive-by, short-term mission. We must pray, be humble, and analyze the needs. And we must tread the ground.

Christ’s Method…Alone
Of course, Budiman was just following the example of Jesus, who was not content to stay in heaven and minister from a distance. He came down and “trod the ground” with us. He became one with us, pitched His tent among us, drank the same water, ate the same food, shed human tears. He broke down any social, cultural, or religious walls between Him and us (Ephesians 2).

Ellen White beautifully summarizes Jesus’ approach, which she says is the only method that “will bring true success.” The Savior:

  1. Mingled with people, desiring their good.
  2. Showed sympathy.
  3. Ministered to needs.
  4. Won confidence.
  5. Invited people to follow Him.9

Ellen White envisioned wholistic ministry centers, which she called centers of influence, being established in every city around the world.10 These urban centers were to take church members out of the pews and into their communities. They were to be based 100 percent on Jesus’ method of ministry.

According to White, centers of influence could include such centers as vegetarian restaurants, treatment rooms, lifestyle education, small group meetings, literature, public meetings, and “reaping” ministries—anything to connect to the community.11

She commended the work of the fledgling Adventist church in San Francisco, which she called a “beehive.” Church members visited “the sick and destitute,” found homes for orphans, and jobs for the unemployed. They visited from house to house, conducted classes on healthful living, and distributed literature. They started a school for children in inner-city Laguna Street, and maintained a medical mission and a “working men’s home.”

Right next to city hall, on Market Street, they operated treatment rooms as a branch of what is today St. Helena Hospital. At the same location they ran a health food store. Even closer to the heart of the city, a vegetarian café served healthful food six days a week. On the San Francisco Bay waterfront, Adventists ministered to sailors. And just in case they did not have enough to do already, they also held public meetings in city halls.12 They mingled, showed sympathy, ministered to needs, won confidence, and invited people to follow Jesus.

Adventist urban mission cannot focus exclusively on trying to attract people, like a spiritual magnet, from the streets into church buildings. Of course, our churches should be attractive and friendly. Of course, we should have captivating preaching and music. Of course, we should run interesting programs and activities. But the major role of the church should be to inspire, train, and launch members out of the pews into the community.

But too often our focus, as Christians, has been inward rather than outward. And too often others have gone ahead of us. Michael Baer writes: “I once asked an Indonesian Christian why the country had become so predominantly Muslim…. She said that when the Western Christians came…they built missionary compounds and missionary churches and expected the Indonesian people to come to them. The Muslims, on the other hand, came as traders, farmers, merchants, and businesspeople and simply lived among the natives. Today, Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation. I wonder how different it could have been?”13

Ah, by the way, we’re also a church.

Each step in Jesus’ method is vital. Skip bidding people to follow Him, and we short-change and short-circuit our ministry. Overlook mingling, sympathy, ministering, winning confidence, and we neuter our effectiveness, undermine our credibility, and fail in making true disciples.

Church or Social Agency?
Over the past several decades, most Australians—religious and nonreligious—have looked fondly on the Salvation Army. It is one of Australia’s best-known and most-loved institutions. As a kid, I would sometimes go door-to-door collecting money for the annual Salvation Army’s Red Shield appeal. This was easy work, and I do not remember a negative response or a closed door.

Referred to affectionately as “the Salvos,” or “the Sallies,” this church is widely recognized for their work to help the poor and needy. “The Salvation Army in Australia occupies an unprecedented position in terms of public acceptance and popularity for a Christian church, indeed for any organization,” writes Salvation Army Major Gregory Morgan.14 The challenge for this church, however, is to be recognized as a church—not just as a social agency—a church that eagerly wants to reverse its decline in membership.

“Public surveys reveal that 96 per cent of Australians are favorably inclined toward it,” says Morgan. “But alongside this is the stark reality that the church aspects of our Movement have been in decline for many years. Attendance and membership figures are dropping. Everyone loves us, but fewer and fewer want to join us.”15

He adds: “Some fear that the evangelical side of the mission will be lost, that the Salvation Army will go the way of other venerable social agencies initially founded as spiritual missions, and lose its evangelical character.”16

For some years the Salvation Army has been trying to address this challenge. I remember an advertising campaign they ran some years ago—complete with ads and billboards—reminding the Australian public that the Salvation Army is a church where they would be welcome.

Why has it been such a challenge for them to build the bridge from social care to church pew? Morgan suggests one reason might be that “our social welfare expression has become large, professional, and program based. This is a far cry from the early Salvation Army, which passionately believed in, and practiced, incarnational mission.”

At times the Salvation Army may have seemed to work more “for” the community than “with” the community. It is difficult to get someone to come and sit next to you in the pew if they feel you only see them as a charity case.

Our urban mission must be long-term, on-the-ground, and incarnational. We must take care that we minister “with” people not “for” or “at” them. Where possible, we join existing community organizations, programs, and activities. We enlist believers and unbelievers to work with us on good causes. And we look for every opportunity to empower people to take ownership and more effectively deal with their own problems, challenges, and needs.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is not called to become just another social welfare agency—as important as such agencies are. The spiritual framework and motivation of our ministry must underscore and inform everything we do—every bowl of soup we share, every coping-with-stress seminar we run, every vegetarian restaurant meal we serve. Certainly, it is wrong to even hint that someone must accept our message before we give him or her physical care. Our community work should show no-strings-attached compassion. But that does not mean we should separate humanitarian care and Christian witness.17

We cannot be content to just mingle, show sympathy, minister to needs, and win confidence. We must pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the final and vital step—leading people to Jesus. This is not some sort of artificial construct that we place on top of everything else. It naturally flows from the other dimensions of Christ’s method.

For many post-moderns and believers from other world religions, the idea of walking through the doors of a Christian church building is a formidable obstacle. Many just cannot do it. That’s OK. We go where we are supposed to go—to meet them in their context. Small groups to study spiritual things will spring naturally from the centers of influence, and they can meet in homes, public places, even in the centers.

But what if someone does not accept Jesus? Do we dismiss them, and move on to more “fruitful fields”? Certainly not. We follow Christ’s method because this constitutes Christ’s method. We mingle with people because He mingled. We show sympathy because He did. We minister to needs because He did. This ministry cannot be conditional on people accepting Jesus. When people ignored Jesus’ bidding, He did not discard them. He kept loving them.

Dr. David Paulson who, along with Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, helped pioneer Adventist wholistic urban mission in the late 1800s, wrote: “The man who is interested in only those who he thinks can become church members as a result of his ministrations, will find fewer and fewer openings for missionary work; for he gradually develops in others a spirit of distrust and suspicion, which closes more and more doors against him; while, on the other hand, the worker who has allowed the needs of humanity to touch his heart, will try to benefit the “nine lepers” even if he knows perfectly well that they will never join his church.”18

Are we content when people do not respond to the call of Jesus? No. Do we stop loving and caring when they do not respond? Of course not.

Who Will Go?
It has been more than a century since the Haskells moved to 400 West 57th Street to “tread the ground” in New York City. During all this time the challenge of urban mission has not disappeared and certainly has not diminished. Today there may be many new and creative methods to urban mission. But if they are to have any success, they must be firmly based on Christ’s method and Christ’s method alone.

  1. Cole Thompson, “Tornado on the Hudson,” (nd) accessed October 20, 2012.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Letter 132. 1901. Quoted in Ella M. Robinson, S.N. Haskell: Man of Action (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1967), 194.
  4. Stephen Haskell, Adventist Review and Sabbath Herald, July 9, 1901, 448.
  5. Haskell, “The Bible Training School,” Adventist Review and Sabbath Herald, November 12, 1901, 739.
  6. Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2005), 480.
  7. —————, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8. (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn. 1948), 76.
  8. Haskell, November 12, 1901.
  9. Ellen G. White, Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1942), 143.
  10. —————, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7. (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), 115.
  11. The Office of Adventist Mission is working to resurrect, for the twenty-first century, Ellen White’s concept of centers of influence. For more information about Life Hope Centers visit or
  12. Ellen G. White, “Notes of Travel—No. 3: The Judgments of God on Our Cities,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, July 5, 1906, 8.
  13. Michael R. Baer, Business as Mission (YWAM Publishing, September 1, 2006), 81.
  14. “Great Aunt Sally,” by Major Gregory Morgan, (nd) accessed November 3, 2012.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. For a more in-depth discussion of this issue, see Gary Krause, God’s Great Missionaries (Boise, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2008), 78.
  18. David Paulson, “The True Motive of Christian Service,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, November 5, 1901, 5.

Urban Walk

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Mission To the Cities: Impacting Miami In 2014

posted on January 17, 2014, under Conference by

by Allan Machado, Florida Conference Vice President for Spanish-language Ministries

The 21st-century Adventist Church needs to reflect on the reality that we live in a world where more than half of the population resides in urban areas. Every day, approximately 200,000 people leave rural areas to settle in large cities around the world. This means about 70 million people move every year, seeking a better life in large urban centers.

For many years, the Church has tried to define the mission that must be accomplished in these urban areas. Although these large concentrations of people have been regarded as mission fields, in many cases, for some inexplicable reason, the Church has neglected to consider that God has called us to impact these communities of millions.

We must remember that Jesus has called us to bring the message of salvation where people are. Jesus went where the people were. The Word tells us, “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:35-36 NKJV)

Jesus’ strategy was simple. Ellen White describes it as follows: “The Saviour 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.'” (Christian Service 119.3) These words define the way in which the Church can impact people everywhere.

The Holy Spirit repeatedly revealed to Ellen White about the urgent need for developing visionary plans to reach the multitudes living in large cities. She said, “The importance of making our way in the great cities is still kept before me. For many years the Lord has been urging upon us this duty, and yet we see but comparatively little accomplished in our great centers of population. …We are far behind in doing the work that should have been done in these long-neglected cities. The work will now be more difficult than it would have been a few years ago. But if we take up the work in the name of the Lord, barriers will be broken down, and decided victories will be ours.” (A Call To Medical Evangelism and Health Education 14.1 – emphasis added)

Undoubtedly, the Lord is calling us to impact urban areas with the message of hope with which God entrusted Adventists. Consider that more than 80% of Florida’s population lives in large cities. With this in mind, pastors from Florida and Southeastern Conferences have joined together in South Florida to perform a great work. The goal is to impact the Greater Miami area. From February 1-8, an extraordinary event will be hosted in the city of Miami that will aim to glorify the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim His glorious plan of salvation in a comprehensive way—treating the health of the body and soul of community residents in Dade and Broward Counties.

This unforgettable week kicks off at Miami International Airport Convention Center at 711 N.W. 72nd Avenue. It begins at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, February 1, with a musical worship service, followed by a message from renowned international evangelist Alejandro Bullón.

Total Health Expo 2014Resuming at 3:00 p.m., seminars will be available on topics that will answer important questions regarding family, youth, health, and finances, among others. At 5:00 p.m., the audience will enjoy a concert by well-known Christian singer Steve Green, followed by Pastor Bullón with the final message.

On Sunday, February 2, the Miami International Airport Convention Center will open its doors from 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. for the Total Health Expo 2014. Free of charge to the entire community, this event is sponsored by Florida Conference and Florida Hospital’s CREATION Health, in collaboration with dozens of other health organizations in the city of Miami and the State of Florida.

This evangelistic project includes more than 25 preachers who will come to Miami from across the United States to present messages of faith and trust in God at this special time. At 7:30 p.m. every night, beginning February 2, these evangelists will preach in almost 30 different places in Dade and Broward Counties, lifting Jesus Christ and confirming our faith in Him.

Yes, we truly desire to impact the South Florida community. After all, this is the charge the Lord has entrusted to us. Pray that the Holy Spirit is poured out as we Impact Miami, and pray that many will come to know there is hope because we have a Savior, Christ our Lord.

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Urban Missionaries With a Passion To Impact Lives In Florida

posted on January 17, 2014, under Church, Florida Living by

What if a church translated Proverbs 18:24, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly…” into “a church that has friends must itself be friendly?”

When the Adventist Church becomes involved, members of the community begin to notice. Former prejudices are broken down and people become receptive to the gospel message.

Creativity abounds in outreach methods that members throughout Florida Conference are using to minister in their communities:

Lighthouse Mission Group member Emanuel Depina prays with a homeless man. (Photo: Angela Davies)

Lighthouse Mission Group member Emanuel Depina prays with a homeless man. (Photo: Angela Davies)

Friendship Without an Agenda
The Lighthouse Community Mission Group in Orlando targets the unchurched and the urban community. They have adopted 300 families living in an extended-stay hotel, and, three times a week, they are involved in mentoring the children and helping wherever needed.

One Sabbath a month, mission group members visit the homeless at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando to talk, listen, pray, and give a book to each person before handing them a lunch. Members have found that being friendly matters as much to the homeless as does the food they receive.

These new friendships often bring questions about the Lighthouse ministry and have led to Bible studies, church attendance, and baptisms.

West Palm Beach Spanish Church provides health fairs for the community twice each year. (Photo: Sandra Rivera)

West Palm Beach Spanish Church provides health fairs for the community twice each year. (Photo: Sandra Rivera)

Hispanics in Action for Community Education and Rehabilitation (H.A.C.E.R.)
Founded by individuals from West Palm Beach Spanish Church, this organization meets needs of people in the community in addition to their spiritual needs.

Besides reaching more than 300 families a month through a food pantry, H.A.C.E.R. provides biannual health fairs with a variety of free exams, vaccinations, tests, and ultrasounds. In order to help low-income families cope with the need for affordable housing, H.A.C.E.R. purchased and renovated a four-unit complex in Palm Beach County and named it Nehemiah House.

The Way and StandUp For Kids are headquartered at Jacksonville Mandarin Church’s downtown outreach center. (Photo: Rasa Truitt)

The Way and StandUp For Kids are headquartered at Jacksonville Mandarin Church’s downtown outreach center. (Photo: Rasa Truitt)

J.B. and Angel received help from Jacksonville Mandarin Church young adults. (Photo: David Fischer)

J.B. and Angel received help from Jacksonville Mandarin Church young adults. (Photo: David Fischer)

Jacksonville Outreach Center
Several years ago, Jacksonville Mandarin Church Pastor Juan Rodriguez became co-executive director of StandUp For Kids, a community program that rescues homeless young people. Soon, Mandarin Church young adults joined in searching for needy young people living on the streets.

In addition, leaders at Mandarin wanted to help the adult homeless community, so they opened an outreach center to house The Way, which is the church’s ministry for adults. It also headquarters the Jacksonville branch of the Atlanta-based nonprofit, StandUp For Kids.

One day while middle school students from Jacksonville Adventist Academy were involved in street ministry with Pastor Jonathan Peinado from Jacksonville First Church, they asked a man sitting on a bench eating his lunch if there was anything he would like to have them pray about. The man had just found out his wife had cancer, and he needed prayer at that moment. The young people believe God led them to this man just as He has led the volunteers to many other homeless individuals.

Following lunch, bikers rode for a local charity. (Photo: Olga Bryant)

Following lunch, bikers rode for a local charity. (Photo: Olga Bryant)

Biker Sabbath
“A real game changer in our service to the community came when we invited motorcyclists from the community and Central Florida,” says Dan Forbes, pastor of South Orlando Church. The church filled to capacity, and special provisions were made to accommodate the motorcycles that arrived in the parking lot. Gift bags were presented to each guest.

After the worship service, bikers joined members for a fellowship luncheon and a charity ride that raised $425 to benefit Harbor House in its efforts to end domestic violence.

Forest Lake Church in Apopka hosted two Feeding Children Everywhere events in the gymnasium at Forest Lake Academy. A combined total of 90,000 meals were packaged for hungry children and their families in Greater Orlando. (Photo: Delwin Finch)

Forest Lake Church in Apopka hosted two Feeding Children Everywhere events in the gymnasium at Forest Lake Academy. A combined total of 90,000 meals were packaged for hungry children and their families in Greater Orlando. (Photo: Delwin Finch)

Meals Packed With Love Feed Children In Orlando Area
In 2012, Forest Lake Church, Apopka, held the first of two Pack the Forest events to prepare meals for hungry families. In 50 minutes time, 190 members and friends packed 30,000 healthy meals, each with ingredients to serve a family of six. The bulk of the meals went to middle school students in Orlando to share with their families on the weekends. Needed funding of $7,500 was raised from small donations of children emptying their piggy banks to a larger anonymous gift of $1,000.

A second Pack the Forest event in November 2013 saw 300 volunteers pack 60,000 meals after $16,200 was raised in donations. The meals were given to Community Food and Outreach Center for distribution to families throughout Central Florida.

Robin Davis, left, and Schenelle Morrison gave food samples to health fair guests. (Photo: Jeffrey Thompson)

Robin Davis, left, and Schenelle Morrison gave food samples to health fair guests. (Photo: Jeffrey Thompson)

Health Fairs
Fort Lauderdale Church’s Healthy Lifestyle ~ Longer Life partnering event on the Stranahan High School campus is an example of health events held throughout Florida. Attendees take advantage of free medical screenings and handouts from local providers.

Margate Church volunteers team up with LifeNet4Families in feeding the homeless. (Photo: Julia Tedim)

Margate Church volunteers team up with LifeNet4Families in feeding the homeless. (Photo: Julia Tedim)

Ministry To the Elderly and Homeless
On the first and last Sabbath of each month, a team of Margate members and Pathfinders visit an assisted living center for ministry to the elderly through praise, prayer, and the spoken Word. Their reward has come when tearful residents have extended their arms for hugs.

Margate Church members also feed more than 230 homeless men and women on the second Wednesday of each month.

Putting the finishing touches on cupcakes bound for Good Samaritan Mission. (Photo: Allen Rogers)

Putting the finishing touches on cupcakes bound for Good Samaritan Mission. (Photo: Allen Rogers)

1,000 Cupcakes
“Let’s have our own Cupcake Wars and take 1,000 cupcakes to migrant workers,” suggested 13-year-old Allison Rogers from Brandon Church. Four mother/daughter teams met at the church to bake, fill, and frost cupcakes for a meal hosted at a community health services event sponsored by Good Samaritan Mission in Wimauma. Church teens also provided a puppet ministry while children and parents waited for free dental cleaning, immunizations, eye exams, back-to-school supplies, and tickets for food furnished by the Mission.

Florida Living residents donated all the items used to fill Bags of Love, including hand-made quilts, pillows with cases, towels and washcloths, an assortment of personal toiletry items, toys, story books, and stuffed animals. (Photo: Stephen Yost)

Florida Living residents donated all the items used to fill Bags of Love, including hand-made quilts, pillows with cases, towels and washcloths, an assortment of personal toiletry items, toys, story books, and stuffed animals. (Photo: Stephen Yost)

Bags of Love
Florida Living residents in Apopka assembled 15 Bags of Love for children removed from their homes because of abuse or a parent or guardian in trouble with the law. The children are given a bag as they are taken to a safe place by the County Child Protective Services.

Each bag carries the inscription, “It’s My Very Own.” Inside is a handmade quilt, pillow with case, towel and washcloth, a small bag with age-appropriate personal toiletry items, toys, puzzles, coloring books with crayons, story books, and stuffed animals.

Florida Conference’s Vision: To be a 21st-century missionary movement, effectively reaching people of all ages and cultures.

One of our five Values embodies this Vision: We are committed to the empowerment of every member to serve as a 21st-century missionary where they live, work, and play.

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A Church For the City

posted on January 17, 2014, under Conference by

by Gerson Santos, D.Min., Director of Urban Ministries Study Center, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland

Reprinted by permission, Ministry Magazine, May 2013

The world is rapidly moving from a rural calm to an urban explosion. In 1800, only 3 percent of the world’s population lived in cities. One hundred years later, the urban population jumped to 14 percent, with 12 cities having over one million in population. More recently, the world has experienced unprecedented urban growth, and today over 300 cities have a population of one million and more. Today, the majority of the global population lives in urban areas. That majority is expected to rise to 70 percent of the world population by 2050.1 Currently, more than 20 megacities, each with more than 10 million people, make up the urban landscape.

Urban growth is staggering, and this poses a formidable challenge to the proclamation of God’s Word. Every minister, evangelist, and church member faces a mountain to climb as we expect the church to accomplish its global commission. Mission to cities can no longer be called an option but a commanding call.

Mission To the Cities
How do we reach the teaming masses of our cities? How can evangelism keep up with the exploding population? How can people of every language, tribe, and nation hear the good news of salvation and soon return of Jesus?

Perhaps we should begin by recognizing that the mission does not belong to us, but to God. This mission encompasses His activity of grace and love toward the world. “He is a sending God, a going God, a God who incarnates Himself in a specific time and context, so that every person may come to know and love Him. If that was what Jesus did, then we, His followers are to do likewise. Going in mission is not an optional extra—an upgrade for the mature disciple. Going in mission is fundamental to the journey of discipleship.”2

Because mission has become so important, it cannot be just a sporadic, haphazard activity, for mission encompasses the very reason for the existence of the church. Without that crucial focus of mission, rooted in the great commission of the risen Lord to preach, teach, baptize, and make disciples of all nations, the church could well be an association of the like-minded or a social club with ethical stints. Being a disciple and making disciples for Christ describes the mission of the church. Reggie McNeal describes it this way: “We must change our ideas of what it means to develop a disciple, shifting the emphasis from studying Jesus and all things spiritual in an environment protected from the world, to following Jesus into the world to join him in his redemptive mission.”3 Thus the mission of church does not live of its own; even the proper existence of the Christian church is founded in its engagement of fulfilling God’s purpose for herself. “There is church because there is mission, not vice versa.”4 Christopher Wright goes as far as to say, “Mission is what the Bible is all about; we could as meaningfully talk of the missional basis of the Bible as of the biblical basis of mission.”5

How Does Mission Occur?
Even before we become involved in mission, we need to know the condition of the people who are objects of our mission. Jesus described that condition through picturesque words: lost son in the distant land, sheep without shepherd, sick unto death, and more. Ellen White says, “Multitudes are so sunken in sin that they have lost the sense of eternal realities… Many of these can be reached only through acts of disinterested kindness.”6 Jesus gave us a twofold strategy to accomplish His mission: witness and service. “Deeds as well as words of sympathy are needed. Christ prefaced the giving of His message by deeds of love and benevolence. Let these workers go from house to house, helping where help is needed, and, as opportunity offers, telling the story of the cross. Christ is to be their text. They need not dwell upon doctrinal subjects; let them speak of the work and sacrifice of Christ. Let them hold up His righteousness, in their lives revealing His purity.”7

Restoring relationships among people, and between people and God, is another essential part of mission. Human history began with a perfect, loving relationship between God and humans. Adam and Eve shared a loving and positive bond with God. But with the intrusion of sin, this perfect relationship was ruptured and in its place a marred, sinful, selfish relationship reigned between human and human and between humans and God. Against this background, God set in operation His redemptive mission. He sent His Son, Jesus, to become the first missionary—not only to carry the good news of salvation but also to be the embodiment of that good news.

At the foundation of God’s mission is the motive of love—“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV)—and the movement toward reconciliation—“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10 NKJV) At the end of history with the second coming of Jesus, a restoration of perfect relationship will mark the triumphal close of God’s mission. “The mission of God is a redemptive mission. Everything that sin broke is being addressed and restored through God’s mission. This includes not just the ruptured relationship between God and humanity, but also the relationship of humans with themselves, with one another, and with the rest of creation.”8

Thus, mission joins with God in the work of healing all the areas of brokenness. “If we follow the example of Christ in doing goodness, our hearts will open up as well as His.”9 We need to learn from Christ how to apply a healing touch to broken people.

God’s Plan To Reach the Cities
About 100 years ago, Ellen White challenged the Advent movement to reach the cities with the gospel, using innovative methods: “There is means now tied up that should be in use for the unworked cities… These cities have been neglected for years.”10 She urged church leaders to establish centers of influence in urban areas to develop a variety of activities such as lifestyle education, bookstores/reading rooms, restaurants, literature ministry, lectures, small groups, health and culinary seminars, and more. Her burden for city work is without compromise: “Workers with clear minds are needed to devise methods for reaching the people. Something must be done to break down the prejudice existing in the world against the truth.”11

The ecclesiology that was behind such forceful commitment to reaching the cities is one that considered the church not as a building or social club, but an ecclesia—a body of those called by the redemptive mission of Jesus in order to be participants of that mission both personally and among the people in which they live. The church shows itself, not as an architectural showpiece but a redemptive witness: it is God’s community of redeemed sons and daughters, called to make the ecclesia and extend the invitation for others to join and experience the divine wonder of salvation. Jesus spoke of His church, “This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.” (Matthew 16:18 The Message)

Perhaps we have spent too much time trying to protect the church from the world in fear that the world would come inside the church. In the process, maybe we have forgotten the need to go out to reach the world. I believe that Jesus was saying that the world should be afraid of the church and not the other way around. Consider the city of Chennai in South India. In this teeming megacity of some 12 million people, 30 years ago there were some five churches. Great evangelistic series were held by great preachers, but the development was slow. Evangelism, wonderful as evangelistic campaigns are, expected people to come to a central place to hear the good news. The churches did not grow to be many, although the existing five were vibrant, financially strong, and carried an Adventist ethos for all to see. But a large megapolis cannot remain content with limited centers of influence.

Then came a young man, Johnson, full of passion, vision, and mission. Instead of expecting people to come to hear him preach in a great hall, he decided he would go where the people are: to their homes. With much prayer and little cash, he turned his church office into a recording studio, used blankets to make it sound proof, borrowed some cameras and recording machines, recorded a series of TV Bible studies in the local language, and went around the city looking for a TV station that would broadcast the messages. Rejection followed rejection and after weeks of painful visits to numerous TV centers, God answered in a mysterious way. One TV station offered a slot at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday morning—hardly the time to get a large audience. But Johnson took it, and his message was a simple one—what Jesus can do to you. The gospel has a way of penetrating rock-hard souls, and soon letters from the hearers flooded the little Adventist church, many of the letters with a little gift to enlarge the ministry. This single pastor, with his highly motivated members, kept the TV show going, conducted group meetings in homes where neighbors can gather, and soon there were baptisms. Cottage meetings, block sessions, home visitations, and prayer marathons over the phone followed, and today in the megapolis the Adventist churches have multiplied to some 80 congregations, fully self-supporting, and organized into a conference. Johnson did not wait for people to come and hear him. He went where people were—hurting, searching, sick, and looking for a blessed hope. With Johnson, mission is go where people are with the One who loves them all. That’s Jesus’ way.

What makes a successful church? A church that meets our needs? A church that has great preachers who make us feel good or challenges us just a little, but not too much? A church that has music pleasing to us? A church that has a program or two that makes us feel as if we have a place to serve? There is nothing wrong with good preaching, good music, and well-run programs; but these things do not define a successful church.

A great church, a healthy church, is one in which we find Jesus Christ in word and deed. A God-honoring, gospel-loving church is one where we find the Word of God as the primary motivator for doing the work of God—a church seeking the shalom of the city. “Shalom is much richer than the absence of conflict or a trendy way to say good-bye. Biblical shalom connotes universal human flourishing. By seeking the shalom of the city, God was asking those in Babylonian captivity to live and invest in the midst of the social and cultural world of their enemies, encouraging and supporting the goodness and enjoyment of life by creating shalom in every niche of society.”12

The God of Shalom has not changed His method or purpose. He seeks after the lost. He wants the wanderer to come home. He wants the slave to be set free. Every one of the billions living in the concrete jungles today, in nameless communities, is precious to Him. God searches for them. He wants to bring them into the fellowship of the redeemed.

Four Ways To Relate To the City
There are typically four ways a church relates to the city. The first: the “church in the city.” Their heart beats to get people in the doors to hear the gospel. They are geographically in the city, but they are not effectively engaged with the people and culture of the city. The second: the “church against the city.” The church adopts a defensive posture toward the city. They are located in urban areas, but everything about the surrounding culture is seen as not just bad, but irredeemable. The third: the “church of the city.” Here the church embraces the culture of the city so much so that they lose the flavor in their salt and the brightness of their light. Then, there is the “church for the city” that speaks the truth of the gospel and does not fear upholding a biblical worldview and moral standards. Such a church proclaims the truth of Scripture with passion, clarity, and boldness, while seeking to commit itself for social, spiritual, and moral well-being of the city.13

How does a “church for the city” become a reality? How can your church boldly and faithfully proclaim the gospel and engage your community with acts of service and mercy? Cities are at the epicenter of God’s earthshaking movements today, and it is important that any model for starting new churches takes into account the unique nuances of ministry in an urban context. Many of these principles are applicable and transferable, from an urban church in New York City to a metropolis in West Africa. We need to fulfill God’s will, and catch a vision of biblical ministry by churches that preach and serve as Jesus intended. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we want our churches to be places where Jesus is preeminent, God’s presence is obvious, and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the church loves its city.

Last fall, right after superstorm Sandy had reached the northeastern part of the United States, I was walking in one of the most affected areas of New York—Far Rockaway. As I left a church building that was adapted as a distribution center, I saw another one down the road. The first one was messy; volunteers were busy unloading trucks, distributing canned food, clothes, blankets, and hot meals to hundreds of residents. The second one looked very clean and tidy, with a tall young man standing by the door, sharply dressed in a black suit. I wondered, “If Jesus were passing by that day, which church would He be attracted to?” I saw the answer in the faces of those who were meeting the needs of the community. I saw Jesus’ face on each of those in line to receive assistance.

God’s purpose for His church includes being an agency for the salvation of all of His children. “It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world.”14 The main goal of the church is to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), connecting people to Jesus. To be His church is a high calling: a church visible, dynamic, interrelated, integrated, irradiated, and not segregated. God’s church should be a community of grace, enthusiastic, and Spirit-filled. To be church involves embracing the cities with the love and care of God.

  1. (assessed on January 8, 2013).
  2. M. Breen and A. Absalom, Launching Missional Communities, Kindle edition, Loc 431-432.
  3. Reggie McNeal, Missional Renaissance (San Francisco, CA: Josse-Bass, 2009), 10.
  4. David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1991), 390.
  5. Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press Academic, 2006), 23.
  6. Ellen G. White, Christian Service (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1947), 190.
  7. —————, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1948), 7:228.
  8. Reggie McNeal, Missional Communities, Kindle edition, Loc 624.
  9. Ellen G. White, Christian Service, 150.
  10. —————, Manuscript 11, 1908.
  11. —————, Evangelism (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1952), 129.
  12. Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter, For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel (Zondervan, 2010), 23, 24.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ellen G. White, The Acts of Apostles (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1911), 9.
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Church On a Mission To Move Forward

posted on January 17, 2014, under Conference by

by Abel Paulín, Florida Conference Center For Mission Coordination (Evangelism Department) Director

Paul came to Ephesus with the mission of expanding God’s kingdom in that city. Ephesus was a cosmopolitan port city in Asia, bustling with commerce and culture. It promised to be a real prize for the kingdom and a great challenge. After some inquires at the local synagogue, he found a handful of Christians. They were happy in their fellowship, Bible studies, and meeting their own needs but not really making an impact on the city.1

Paul thought there was something in Ephesus that did not sync with Christianity. He was an apostle. Apostles were there to guard the faith from impurity and expand the kingdom—in other words, to establish the Church in new territories.

In his eyes, the Ephesus church was missing a spark and a crucial foundational block. As Paul knew it, the church was organized on four core functions: apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers.2 These functions were to equip the saints for the work of ministry.3 He saw that the Ephesus church was missing what he was there to provide—apostolic vision and impulse.

Things changed drastically when the Church received the apostolic vision provided by Paul and the spark that comes with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Afterward, members of Ephesus went with Paul to the synagogue to talk about Jesus, then to the school of Tyrannus, and then to many other places. In two years, “all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”4 It was quite a turnaround for a dwindling church. What a difference apostolic leadership, fueled and led by the Holy Spirit makes. It says a lot, also, about the influence of a large city on a whole region.

The biblical organizational setup is the same for today’s Church. The core functions still are apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers. In order to flourish, the Church still needs apostolic vision and impulse at its foundation; otherwise, it will plateau, become weak, and die.

In the words of Jesus, apostolic vision comes with the spark that propels the Church forward, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”5 He plainly expresses His personal support for an advancing Church, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”6

The Church that Paul knew was a Church on the go, a Church with such fervor that it constantly expanded. Fervor and expansion were in the DNA of the Church.

Newton’s first law of motion easily applies to the spiritual realm and to the nature of churches, “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”7 Often, the “unbalanced force” that changes the motion of the moving Church is the human tendency to stay at rest. When that happens, God acts to get His Church going again. It happened in Jerusalem. When the Church got too comfortable and wasn’t inclined to go places anymore, God sent persecution and there came the diaspora.8 When early Adventists got too comfortable in Battle Creek in the safety of an Adventist Community, in a nice sanctuary, listening to great sermons and serenaded by good music, God sent His message with literal fire and got them moving again.9 The Church is fundamentally apostolic, and God designed it to be in motion, to always multiply and establishing itself in new territories.

Church planting has been a hallmark of the Church in Florida, and God has blessed His work here through the years with growth. Undeniable proof of this is the many Adventist churches that dot the Florida landscape—not just in the large cities but in small towns and communities, as well. There are Adventist churches in places like Starke, Interlachen, Jasper, Madison, and Perry in North Florida, and small towns like Wauchula, Fort Meade, Arcadia, Immokalee, and Lake Placid in the Southwest. There are Adventist churches in Palm Coast, Vero Beach, Indiantown, and Jupiter in the East; Homestead, Key Largo, Marathon, and Key West in the South, to name a few. All are witnesses to the apostolic vision and impulse of the Adventist Movement in Florida.

The first Adventist that came to Florida was an African-American who came to visit his loved ones in 1873. Pastor S.N. Haskell reported that many were eager for his books and tracts, and even some were willing to adopt the Sabbath.10 The first groups of Seventh-day Adventists were found in the Jacksonville area in 1876. The first organized church was Palmetto Church in 1885, south of the Tampa Bay area. Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was organized in 1893 with six churches and 139 members.

Today, Florida Conference has more than 250 churches and 62,000 members. These churches and members are in small towns and large cities. This is not said in triumph but in gratitude to God and in admiration of those who came before us. They invested considerable money, time, and effort in going to new places to establish the Church.

But the work is not yet done. If anything, there is more work than ever. Florida’s large cities are a challenge greater than us. There are hundreds of towns and communities still without Adventist presence, and the Ephesus challenge is still here. We still have the temptation to be content in one place with fellowship, good worship, preaching, and Bible study.

If the apostle Paul came to us today, he would want to see apostolic vision and the spark of the anointing of the Holy Spirit among us. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he would ask; and we would respond, “Yes, we have, and it is the spark that propels us forward to claim new places for the kingdom.” It is up to this present generation of Adventists to continue to move forward.

  1. Acts 19:1-2
  2. Pastors and teachers are considered one function
  3. Ephesians 4:11-12
  4. Acts 19:10
  5. Acts 1:8
  6. Matthew 18:19-20
  7. Holzner, Steven. Physics for Dummies (Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2006), 64.
  8. Ellen G. White, The Acts of Apostles (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1911), 105.
  9. Ellen G. White, “The Work Before Us,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, April 14, 1903, 7-8.
  10. Adventist Encyclopedia (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1976), 465.

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The China Connection

posted on January 17, 2014, under Conference by

To show a liberal, self-denying spirit for the success of foreign missions is a sure way to advance home missionary work; for the prosperity of the home work depends largely, under God, upon the reflex influence of the evangelical work done in countries afar off.
—Gospel Workers, p. 465

by Phil Bond, Florida Conference Planned Giving and Trust Services Director

Recently, I was in a church on a weekday attending a seminar. During the morning break, I walked through the lobby and noticed a bulletin board with an update from a missionary this church was obviously sponsoring.

China MapMy heart was thrilled that this church had made such a commitment. Unfortunately, I was not in an Adventist church! I wondered right there and then: if we Adventists profess the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, why aren’t all of our churches sponsoring an overseas missionary?

I’m excited to announce that we now have the perfect opportunity to do just this. After a series of providential meetings between the president of China Union and our president, Mike Cauley, Florida Conference has agreed, with God’s help, to match up 133 Florida churches with 133 Bible workers who are willing to go to unentered areas of China to begin Bible studies and share the good news of Christ’s soon return. Sponsoring a Bible worker in China for one year is $1,500.

We need your help. Often, with projects like these, everyone looks to someone else to get the job done. Please don’t let this happen. Talk to your pastors and elders about your church adopting a Bible worker in China. For more information, contact the Conference Planned Giving and Trust Services Department at (407) 644-5000 x251. Thank you.

Wall of China

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The Challenge of the Florida Mission

posted on January 17, 2014, under Conference by

by Tim Nichols, Florida Conference Vice President for Pastoral Ministries

How can we effectively fulfill our calling to go to “…every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6 NKJV) in our own territory? Florida is the fourth most densely populated state in the United States. With a current population of more than 19 million residents, more than fifty-five percent live within one of four major metropolitan urban areas:

  • Miami/Broward/West Palm Beach—5,502,379
  • Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater—2,441,770
  • Orlando—1,510,516
  • Jacksonville—1,065,219

Eighty-nine percent of Floridians live within one of twenty cities. Wherever we go, there are thousands of people around us who have not heard, in a meaningful way, the story of God’s grace and love for their lives.

The realities of the human condition—loneliness, addiction, and broken families—are all around us, but seldom openly acknowledged. Even more common are the troubles of a comparatively affluent society that is without Christ: hopelessness, selfishness, insecurity, and a sense of never having enough. How can we introduce them to the hope and wholeness found in the grace of God?

Our greatest challenge is not the number of people living in our mission field. We do not face the overwhelming odds of places like China, India, or Japan. Our greatest challenge is how we perceive our role in reaching the thousands around us. Consider the unique hurdles within our context.

The Culture We Are Seeking To Reach Has Shifted
The growth of the North American Adventist Church in previous decades has largely been based upon reaching a biblically informed population. Our evangelistic methods have been designed around reaching Christians with a richer understanding of biblical teachings like the Sabbath, death, and the second coming.

Today, the mission has changed to a population of largely secular people who have very little practical understanding of the Bible. This does not mean our message as Adventists has changed. It means we must do more to prepare the hearts and minds of those we wish to reach with the basics of the Word of God and the Gospel. If being a missionary is to go where people live in a culture that is different than our own, then we really do need to become missionaries in Florida. Our methods may need to be refocused to achieve the original mission we care about so much.

“We do not at first proclaim to these souls doctrinal subjects of which they have no understanding. The very first and the most important thing is to melt and subdue the soul by presenting our Lord Jesus Christ as the sin-bearer, the sin-pardoning Saviour, making the gospel as clear as possible.”1

Our Support Is Important, but Our Influence Is Essential
While God calls us to be faithful in supporting His work with our financial resources, our money alone will not complete the mission. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to offer our whole selves to Him. Where we place our treasure may be an indication of where our heart is oriented. (Matthew 6:21) Yet, if our heart is devoted to the kingdom of God, it will also be evidenced in our attitude toward people not like us. It will be reflected in the way we shape friendships and in the time invested demonstrating kindness and compassion for the people God has placed in our path.

While we perceive our generous gifts to be enough to finish God’s work in our city, our challenge here is that God is asking for our greater influence in the lives of people all around us.

We Are Depending On Professionals In the Ministry To Accomplish the Mission
Aren’t we paying them to do this work? Of all the great obstacles in the way of fulfilling our mission, this may be the largest—not because we have failed to teach the value of every member becoming involved in ministry, but because we may not have adequately described how essential every member is to the significant role they have.

Too often, we think the definition of being involved in ministry is to hold an office in the church or to lead a program for the church. While these are important, the primary ministry we should value most is the ability every person has to be a disciple who can form friendships with a circle of people unique to them.

To become a disciple-maker requires first being a disciple in a circle of people who need to meet Jesus. Or, as described in an often-quoted statement in the book, Ministry of Healing, Christ’s method begins with mingling.2 If we do not maximize our mingling, no one will hear us when we finish with, “Follow me.” The church needs to give greater recognition to individuals in the church who are effective at creating new personal connections in our community.

There are about 170 full-time district pastors in Florida Conference. Add to that another 80+ volunteer lay pastors who have been assigned the pastoral leadership role in Mission Groups, Companies, and Churches. These are all well-trained, gifted, and capable men and women serving as true missionaries across the state of Florida.

Yet, if you begin to think of how they would make contact and develop trusting relationships with 19 million people living in Florida and begin to influence their lives, the scope of the endeavor seems insurmountable. The ratio of contact would be 1:76,000.

However, if each of us made it our personal ministry—our mission field—to minister personally to the “neighbor” around us in our workplace, our marketplace, our school, and our neighborhood, the ratio to reach every person in Florida would be 1:306.

This is our greatest challenge—to develop life-changing trust relationships with the people all around us. It will not happen with billboards, handbills, or mass media. It must be done one person, one conversation, one prayer at a time. Let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to give us the courage to become true missionaries in Florida.

“By [your] being social and coming close to them [people we wish to reach], the current of their thoughts will be changed quicker than by the most able discourses. The presentation of Christ in the family, by the fireside, and in small gatherings in private houses is more successful in securing souls to Jesus than are sermons delivered in the open air to the moving throng, or even in halls or churches.”3

  1. Ellen G. White, Ministry To the Cities (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2012), 87.
  2. —————, Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1942), 143.
  3. —————, Ministry To the Cities (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2012), 95.

Miami Skyline

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Mission To the Cities

posted on January 17, 2014, under Conference by

by Mike Cauley, D.Min.
Florida Conference President

Florida Conference has begun an initiative called Mission To the Cities. It is actually one ingredient of a two-part emphasis about returning to our purpose as a movement. At the beginning of the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Conferences were organized (beginning with Michigan Conference in 1861) for two reasons—to evangelize their territory and to connect with the world-wide mission of reaching “…every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.” (Revelation 14:6 NKJV)

A call to reach the cities was strongly woven through the writings of Ellen White, especially during the last 20 years of her ministry. “The work in the cities is the essential work for this time. When the cities are worked as God would have them, the result will be the setting in operation of a mighty movement such as we have not yet witnessed.” (Medical Ministry 304.1) Florida is the fourth largest state in population, and 89% of our state population is in the context of a metropolitan community.

The second ingredient of the emphasis upon returning to our purpose is overseas missions. Our Executive Committee recently voted to encourage churches, schools, and individuals to consider sponsoring a Chinese church planter in China for one year with the possibility for renewal of the sponsorship for two additional years. The cost is $1,500 per year.

The ratio of Adventist to nonAdventist in North America is 1:330. (The ratio here in Florida is 1:190.) The ratio in China is 1:3,300! China is a country about the size of the continental United States with 1.4 billion people. The 410,000 members in China have a primarily congregational structure due to the political context. Prosperity is coming to China, and religious oppression is easing. The opportunity to enter with the Adventist message is now.

Facilitating the work of evangelism and church planting, as well as connecting with the world-wide mission of the Church, are the reasons that conferences were organized at the beginning of the Adventist movement. By the grace of God, this is what we will re-embrace as our emphasis.

May God bless us as we keep our vision focused upon the heart of our movement and calling.

Miami Skyline

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Members Give Away Gas Cards

posted on January 12, 2014, under Church by

by Ann-Marie Jackson, Gleacia Phillips-Wilson

In an effort to show God's love in tangible and practical ways, North Port Church reached out to its community by presenting $25 gas cards to the first 60 people who registered. (Photo: Aaleyah Dawes)

In an effort to show God’s love in tangible and practical ways, North Port Church reached out to its community by presenting $25 gas cards to the first 60 people who registered. (Photo: Aaleyah Dawes)

North Port, Fla., Church members take their mission seriously to reach out in the community. This past October, the congregation hosted its second Gas Card Giveaway and presented $25 gas cards, along with goodie bags and refreshments, to the first 60 people who registered.

Recipients were initially skeptical, then pleasantly surprised to find there were no strings attached. Many asked, “You mean I don’t have to do anything?” Members responded, “We, as a church, want to show God’s love in a more practical way.”

The Gas Card Giveaway program began after Pastor John Mills challenged members to be creative in reaching out to the community. Carol Stephenson was among the first who was inspired to take on the challenge, followed by several other members.

Demographic information was gathered during the second event which will help the church members express God’s love in a more practical way through targeted programming and missional outreach.

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